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Your merriest guide to Christmas email marketing

Ilma Nausedaite Ilma Nausedaite
· 28 min read · Email marketing · November 16, 2022
Developer, João, getting festive in Istanbul

It’s the day after Halloween. You walk into a shopping center and then you hear it: Christmas music streaming from a loudspeaker. “Really? Already?” you think.

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Christmas, without a doubt, is the most wonderful time of the year for businesses around the world.

Your customers are already primed to buy during the holidays and all you have to do is set up the right strategy to turn their interest into sales.

There's no better way to win new customers than through email marketing. With 2022 holiday season sales once again expected to surpass 1 trillion USD, it's time to start thinking about your Christmas newsletter ideas.

Strap into that sleigh and get your elves in a row—we're going to show you how to create a Christmas email marketing strategy to tap into that joyful holiday revenue stream.

Before you give your season’s greetings and create a new Christmas email campaign, you first need to analyze the data from campaigns of Christmas past. The goal here is to learn as much as possible from previous successes and failures so you can achieve greater results this year.

Looking at data from your past holiday campaigns should reveal:

  • What products drove the most revenue last Christmas? You may want to offer them to your email list again this year.

  • Which promotions were most successful? Consider running something similar again.

  • Which customer groups brought in the most sales? Align your campaign to focus more on these groups.

  • Which Christmas campaign ideas failed? You might avoid using them this year or attempt to rework them if they seem viable or more relevant now.

  • What were customers’ purchasing habits during Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year? This could give you a heads-up on what to expect for the rest of the holiday shopping season. 

The answers to these questions will better inform this year's marketing decisions and increase your campaign’s chance of success.

In recent years, shopping habits have increasingly favored e-commerce. Our own data shows that the average number of orders per e-shop has increased a whopping 82.9% since January 2020.

Average orders per e-shop graphic - MailerLite

With online shopping stronger than ever, many of your competitors will be offering deals and discounts. So this Christmas time, you’ll need to get creative to stand out from the crowd! 

It’s important to remember that successful Christmas email marketing campaigns are a year-long effort. Email marketing runs on the quality of the relationship you've built with your subscribers. The more rapport you build with them before Christmas, the more successful your campaign will be.

When it comes to the festive season, get the most out of the holidays by dividing your Christmas email campaign into three stages:

  1. Pre-Christmas: A few weeks before the Christmas period.

  2. Christmas: Christmas and the days surrounding it.

  3. Post-Christmas: A few weeks after Christmas.

Pre-Christmas email campaign

Christmas shopping starts early. So your campaigns should too. In fact, our data shows that Christmas campaigns sent in October and November generate higher click rates than those sent in December.

With over 66% of marketers waiting until December to start sending Christmas newsletters, you have the added benefit of less noise to fight against in subscriber inboxes. So you can tell the Grinch it’s in your favor to start celebrating early.

Pre-Christmas emails are a subtle way of keeping your brand and products at the top of your subscribers’ minds. You're trying to warm them up for what's coming at Christmas.

Pre-Christmas emails are usually in the form of:

Wishlists: A great way to gently hint at the upcoming holiday is to show your customers products they might be interested in so they can add them to their wish list for when Christmas arrives.

pre-christmas newsletter example hunting for george wishlist
Image credit: Hunting for George

Gift guides: Pre-Christmas emails can also come in the form of gift guides. If you have a comprehensive understanding of who your customers are, then you can offer relevant product suggestions that match their interests.

Here's a Christmas email template with a gift guide from P&Co.

Gift guide email from P&Co.
Image credit: P&Co.

Christmas email campaign

The season has finally arrived and, if you started nurturing your subscribers with pre-Christmas emails, the next step is fairly straightforward. In fact, since you acted early and used personalized content to show your subscribers products that they're interested in, they most likely already have some of your products on their minds. This is when you go in for the sale.

Providing your customers with Christmas email discount codes on products they've already shown interest in is an easy way to encourage them to buy. And don’t forget to give them a chance to share these discounts with friends and family members!

Here is an example of a big Christmas discount offered by Rifle Paper Co.

christmas discount email example from Rifle Paper Co.
Image credit: Rifle Paper Co.

Post-Christmas email campaign

Christmas might be over, but that doesn't mean your campaign is. The new year can also be profitable and you should take advantage of it. What you do in January can even set the pace for the rest of the year.

Start your post-Christmas emails with:

Discounts: Give even more discounts to consumers who purchased during your Christmas promotions. They might have liked a product or service enough to purchase it again, or maybe there is something they had their eye on. With the commotion of Christmas over, people have more ability to focus on items/ services that would benefit them. Without your email reminder, they might just forget.

Here's an enticing post-Christmas email template including a discount from Leesa.

post-Christmas discount email example leesa mattress light blue background offer
Image credit: Leesa

Show appreciation: Remember what we said about email marketing and relationships? Thank your customers for their support and tell them what your company has planned for the year. You may even want to offer them a gift to show how much you appreciate them.

christmas customer appreciation email example from &Open
Image credit: &Open

Share useful content: Don't just drop off until the next holiday season. Provide your subscribers with helpful content that delivers value: keep them updated on the latest developments in your company, share articles and even video content that can make their lives better.

SkillShare does an excellent job of engaging subscribers with a post-Christmas email inspiring New Year’s resolutions.

post-christmas gift email example from Skillshare setting new year's resolutions.
Image credit: SkillShare

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There's one incredibly important part of your email to focus on and that's your email subject line.

Subject lines get people to open your email in the first place, so finding the right one should be your top priority.

Remember that Christmas is competitive. Not only are people receiving a lot more marketing emails, but their subscribers’ inboxes are also filled with emails from friends and family.

Your Christmas subject lines should intrigue your subscribers either by invoking curiosity, highlighting a real benefit or being drastically different. 

You can also experiment with emojis to catch the reader's eye. Emojis have the power to increase your open rate. You can test your subject line with an A/B split testing, where one subject line includes an emoji (or several) and the other doesn't. 

We've gone to the other side of the Internet and back to find some effective Christmas email subject lines to give you an idea of what works.

Gift-themed Christmas subject lines

Configure IT - We’ve got an early gift for you

Victoria’s Secret - Your FREE holiday gift awaits (but not for long)

Moment - Get All Your Gifts Yet?

Taco Bell - Happy Holidays! We made you a game! Want to play?

Prezi - Our little gift to you

Avon UK - P is for Personalised gifts…

Seafolly - All she wants for Christmas is S E A F O L L Y

Birchbox - Free boxes. Ohh Yeah.

Minted - Find a gift for everyone on your list

Promotional Christmas email subject lines

Finn - Oh no! Christmas is only 10 days away

Frank Body - Babe, free shipping this holiday season

Vertical Response - Are your holiday cards in the mail yet? Get 60% off!

World Market - Ho-Ho-WHOA! 50% off Wine Gift Baskets + Holiday Food and Decor.

UberEATS - Brr – warm up with some free hot chocolate.

Porter Airlines - A songbook of savings!

Extended Stay Hotels - Jingle All the Way with 35% off! - Day 1 of 12 Christmas Deals!

J. Crew - It’s ok to have seconds (or thirds) of this sale

Macy’s - Extra 20% off? Our After Christmas Sale is on

Holland & Barrett - Email Exclusive | Get 15% off this Christmas Eve

Topical Christmas email subject lines

TWO - XmasHTreeMaiL

BarkBox - Dog people give the best gifts

Francis Lofts and Bunks - How many bunk beds can fit in Santa’s sleigh?

Shutterstock - Hand-picked images for the holidays

Apple - Give iPad. And put some fun under the tree.

JOY - Just in time for Christmas Jumper Day! - For the person that has everything

Papa Murphy’s - Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle… let us help with dinner!

Gift guides/lists Christmas subject lines

FlipBoard - Christmassy ideas for your travel bucket list

Trello - 12 Presents To Make You More Productive These Holidays

Tory Burch - Presenting: Tory’s Gift Guide

UGmonk - Find the Perfect Gift for Everyone on Your List

Google - Get last-minute gifting help from Google

Printivo - Four Cheap but Tangible Gifts to give this Christmas

Rapha - Rapha Gift Guide – presents for all who pedal

Christmas subject lines using emojis

Sony - Looking for last-minute gifts? 🎁

The Showpo Team - SLAY your winter vacay! 🎄🎁

MacPaw - Just a thank you note (and a 30% off coupon)🎄

Norm Thompson - 🎁 Our gift to you - $50 of $100

Fleur & Bee - 🎅Straight from Santa's bag.

MacPaw - Want to impress someone with a perfect gift? 🎁

Straightforward - ✨ Complete your Christmas wish list with Straightforward gifts! ✨

Free People - 50% off ⚡ The Season’s Greetings Flash Sale

Now that you know the overall strategy your Christmas newsletter ideas should follow, here are some excellent tips for getting the most out of every email you send.

1. Offer free shipping

You're not the only one trying to get your subscribers to buy during Christmas. The holidays are competitive for marketers, so you have to reduce every friction point that can stop consumers from buying—and shipping costs are a big one. In fact, Shopify’s Future of Commerce report shows 75% of Shopify merchants who generated sales between March through September have free shipping enabled on their stores

If you sell physical products consider offering free shipping, just like Tattly did in their Christmas newsletter below.

Tattly Christmas email campaign offering free shipping with flashing GIF
Image credit: Tattly

2. Take advantage of segmentation 

Email segmentation helps your emails perform much better than non-segmented emails because the content your subscribers receive will be more relevant to them. Increased relevance leads to better-performing email campaigns. You can choose to segment your subscribers based on gender, interests and even purchase history.

👉 Tip

In MailerLite you can tag subscribers with Groups based on criteria that will help you reach your targeting goals.

Resy takes this newsletter idea to another level, using their Christmas campaign to look back on their customer’s journey with them so far.

Resy Christmas newsletter example smiles year in review graphics
Source: Really Good Emails

3. Write captivating email copy

Remember that people see tons of marketing messages during Christmas. The usual newsletter copy won't do it here; you need to go the extra mile with your Christmas email copy. The value you offer must be noticeable within the first few seconds.

👉 Tip

Read the guide below to learn how to write captivating email copy and increase your engagement.

Coffee company Goat Story immediately grabs your attention with the line, ‘Hey! It’s almost Christmas!’ in their email newsletter, before asking whether you’ve found gifts for your loved ones yet. This Christmas newsletter idea creates a sense of urgency around last-minute gifts and encourages the reader to take action straight away.

Goat Story Christmas newsletter example coffee beans dark background
Image credit: Goat Story

4. Optimize your emails for mobile

People are opening more emails on mobile phones than ever before. Nowadays, 85% of people use mobiles to access email, and according to Statista 2022, nearly 60% of all online traffic is conducted on smartphones.

You have to ensure that your emails are mobile responsive, so your subscribers get a smooth experience no matter what device they use.

👉 Tip

If you use MailerLite, your email design is automatically responsive. It’ll format correctly regardless of the device your subscribers are using.

SKAF’s Christmas email campaign reformats perfectly for mobile viewing.

SKAF Christmas newsletter example cars offers white background
Image credit: SKAF

5. Add sharing buttons

An easy way to get more exposure for your Christmas campaign is to let your customers become your promoters. Add a simple share button to every email so customers can tell other people about your offers. But, don't overwhelm them with too many options. Pick 3-4 platforms your subscribers are most active on and add social media sharing buttons for those. 

👉 Tip

Add the variable {$forward} to a button or hyperlink to allow subscribers to forward your Christmas newsletter to their friends with a personal message.

Wildist had a creative Christmas newsletter idea when it came to sharing. They encouraged subscribers to forward Wildist newsletters to friends and family to inspire gift ideas for themselves!

Wildist wishlisht email forwarding example
Image credit: Wildist

6. Split test your campaign

One of the fastest ways to grow is through continuous experimentation. Testing your Christmas emails lets you discover what works best and what doesn't so you can improve. You can A/B test everything from your subject line, headline, and even email content to see which variation performs better.

If you run your campaigns with MailerLite, you can test different parts of your email with ease.

👉 Tip

Our A/B testing feature will automatically detect the change that drives the most engagement and send that email to the rest of your subscribers.

7. Add urgency

Do you know what drives even more sales than a discount? A discount with a time limit. Most of us delay. We think we'll have time to buy something later, we might even bookmark the page, but then it's forgotten as soon as we close our browsers. Adding urgency to your email campaigns incentivizes people to take action quickly.

👉 Tip

You can easily add a countdown timer like this to your email using MailerLite's simple drag & drop editor.

In this email, Harry's adds urgency by indicating that free holiday shipping ends in 2 days.

holiday email urgency example email marketing red background
Image credit: Harry's

8. Add GIFs

Use these animated images to make your Christmas newsletter pop! You have nanoseconds to catch your subscribers’ eye and a GIF is the perfect way to do that.

👉 Tip

Check out our guide on using GIFs in emails to find out the correct file size to use, how to display them correctly and how they can benefit your email campaign!

A cool example of GIFs well done is this email newsletter by Brit+Co, in which flashing images promote different gift ideas. Eye-catching and effective (we’re especially big fans of the Christmas tree glasses)!

Brit + Co Christmas newsletter example animated collage white elephant
Image credit: Brit + Co

9. Create a powerful CTA

You want people to respond to your email, right? A good CTA will tell your audience what to do, and motivate them to go ahead and do it! Here are a couple of techniques you can use to create a CTA that stands out:

  • Keep it clear and tell your subscribers exactly what to do

  • Use a command verb to inspire action

  • Add power words that provoke emotion and/or enthusiasm

  • Create urgency

  • Show the value of what you’re offering

👉 Tip

You can learn all the best practices to create an email CTA that converts in our ultimate guide on call-to-actions.

Deki promoted their Christmas sale with a simple but powerful CTA: ‘Start gifting’ to inspire action with affirmative language.

Deki Christmas newsletter example with green background
Image credit: Deki

10. Use emojis

To emoji, or not to emoji? It depends on your target audience, but emojis can be a fun way to add some personality to your email newsletter. Just make sure they’re relevant. If they don’t match your brand or campaign, it’s better not to use them. But if they do, then great! Get creative and play around with different emojis, keeping your target audience in mind.

👉 Tip

Did you know that emojis are particularly effective in subject lines? Take a look at our guide to using email emojis in subject lines, to find out more!

Experiment with your own emails to see how people react, and adjust the amount of emojis accordingly (you might find out no emojis at all is best).

Christmas lead magnet email example
Created in MailerLite

11. Tap into the last-minute gifts market

We’re all guilty of some last-minute shopping here and there! Some smart email marketers have tapped into this trend and created favorable deals for last-minute Christmas shoppers. To do the same, you could send a reminder email with a countdown timer for orders to be made and delivered on time before Christmas. Or you could offer express shipping, for people who have left it too late.

Take Fleur & Bee, for example, who offer ‘a last minute gift that doesn’t feel last minute’, with free priority shipping. 

Fleur & Bee Christmas newsletter example box with bottles products light purple
Image credit: Fleur & Bee

12. Use Christmas colors in your email design

Go for bold holiday colors or opt for soft festive tones. It’s completely up to you! But just like a Christmas card, your Christmas email design needs to have a festive color scheme to mark the season.

Whether that's a hint of red or a Christmas email template that goes all-out, like in this holiday newsletter by Starbucks.

Starbucks Christmas email in red and green colors with festive drink cups
Image credit: Starbucks

13. Be funny

‘Tis the season of good cheer, after all! Add a touch of humor to your Christmas newsletter to make it memorable. Take it as an opportunity to use all those holiday puns for email marketing you’ve been saving, like this one from Wonderbly.

Wonderbly Christmas email example
Image credit: Wonderbly

14. Give something back

Christmas is about giving, so what better time to share a little something with your subscribers? A discount code, free delivery or even a freebie could make their day! We love this creative email newsletter from LevelUp, with different gifts that subscribers can ‘unwrap’. 

Levelup Christmas newsletter example orange present wraps green background
Image credit: Levelup

15. Make a family newsletter 

Do you send Christmas cards every year? A family newsletter is pretty similar, and it adds a nice personal touch to your email campaign. It could be anything from showing a portrait of your family sharing in the Christmas spirit, to inviting your audience to do something as a family during the holidays. We love this invitation to a PJs and pancakes party with Santa, in the family newsletter below!

Coffee Creek Church Christmas newsletter example will ferrell elf movie gif
Image credit: Coffee Creek Church

Now, it’s time to share some examples of Christmas newsletters, for each of the stages that we mentioned earlier. Whether you’re prepping your pre-Christmas campaign, or thinking about what to send after the holidays, we have some email inspiration for every part of your holiday timeline. Happy emailing! 

Pre-Christmas email example

ModCloth shows us how to get pre-Christmas emails right with this gift-buying guide they send to their subscribers.

pre-christmas newsletter example from modcloth with animated, graphic design
Image credit: Modcloth

Christmas email example

In this email, Tuleste uses a Christmas-themed, interactive email plus a compelling discount to stay in line with the holiday spirit and remain relevant.

christmas interactive email example christmas tree rose background
Image credit: Tuleste

Post-Christmas email example

Christmas might have been over, but Fandango kept the season of giving alive when presenting subscribers with a money-saving offer.

new year email example fandango yellow background
Image credit: Fandango

Whether you’re creating a Christmas campaign, landing page or pop-up, there’s no need to start from scratch. Instead, you can pick one of our festive templates and customize it to meet your marketing needs.

You can find your holiday templates when creating a new newsletter, landing page or pop-up in your MailerLite account. Simply click on the tab labeled Template gallery and explore the different templates.

If you need some fresh inspiration, take a look at our holiday templates.

Christmas newsletter templates

christmas email templates
Newsletter Christmas templates
christmas landing page templates
Landing page Christmas templates
christmas promotion pop-up examples
Promotion pop-up Christmas templates
christmas pop up templates
Pop-up Christmas templates

With an automated workflow, you can create your Christmas series, turn on the workflow and let MailerLite take care of the rest.

Bring the Christmas spirit into your emails by using one of the Christmas templates from our template gallery. In the editor, you can adjust the template to your liking.

Here’s an e-commerce automation workflow example including 4 Christmas email campaigns.

Date Campaign Description
Mid-November Wishlist or gift guide Gift recommendations
3 weeks before Christmas Early gift Discount or free shipping
1 week before Christmas On-time delivery reminder Deadline to purchase gifts with countdown
1 week after Christmas End of year Say thanks, recap the year or offer a discount
Automated Christmas email workflow - MailerLite
Source: MailerLite

The Christmas season can be more than just merry and bright. It can be positively profitable when you approach it with a carefully thought-out strategy.

Just remember these key steps:

  • Start building interest early

  • Give your subscribers an offer they can't refuse

  • Thank and reward them

We'd love to know what you have planned for your subscribers this holiday season, so leave a comment below and enlighten us all! And finally, we wish y'all a very Merry Christmas!

Editor's note: This post was originally published in October 2019 and has been updated with new insights and holiday email examples for Christmas 2022.

Ilma Nausedaite
Ilma Nausedaite
I’m Ilma, COO at MailerLite. I love seeing our customers succeed. When they win, we win (like being named one of the top 5 fastest growing SaaS companies). Email is my passion, although I took a rather unusual path. Before MailerLite, I worked in finance and art, which turned out to be the perfect mix for marketing.
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