Ilma from MailerLite

Ilma11 min readTips & ResourcesNovember 10, 2015

Recipe for Christmas Email Marketing

Recipe for Christmas Email Marketing

Christmas is, without doubt, one of the best times of year for countless retailers around the world.

You may be skeptical about Valentine’s Day, hate Halloween costumes or forget your wedding anniversary, but you can’t ignore Christmas.

No wonder it is the time when the most personal spending is taking place. In some cases, the festive season can make a difference between success and failure for a small business owner.

What part does email marketing play in Christmas? Well, 43% of marketing experts say that email is very important channel to generate additional sales during the Christmas period. Email affects at least 10% of the total holiday sales.

Do you have email marketing strategy for Christmas?

Don’t worry. I will help you to work it out.

Where to start?

First of all, let’s get back to your Christmas marketing in 2014. See what worked and what didn’t.

  • Which product lines performed better/worse than others?
  • What were your top sellers? Across which channels?
  • Has the competitive landscape for your business changed in the last 12 months? Are you aware of what online strategies/programmes your competitors are implementing?
  • What did change within the year? Do you have bigger audience? Did you expand your business in different cities, countries, or continents?

Collect and analyse all the information about your past experience, customers and competitors.

Stages of the email marketing in the Christmas period

There are 5 stages of the email marketing in the Christmas period.

Here is our Holiday Email Marketing Calendar that covers all the holiday period.

Christmas Email Marketing Calendar

If you are interested in one particular stage, click on the name link below and jump to your desired chapter.

  1. Pre Holiday
  2. Shopping Weekend (Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday)
  3. Christmas Countdown
  4. Christmas
  5. After Christmas

1. Pre Holiday

Some companies start to promote Christmas very early. You may get emails “Christmas in July”. I suggest reminding your customers about the Christmas from November.

Gift guides or Christmas catalogs are a major selling tool during the holiday season.

To my mind, there are two kinds of presents that we search for:

#1. Presents for our family & close friends that we know very well and want to surprise.

#2. Presents for people that we don’t care much about, but we MUST buy something. Anything. The cheaper the better.

#3. Decoration for my house.

Save your customers time in solving the issues and they will be grateful.

How can you do that?

Suggest Christmas ideas for different price ranges, especially the cheapest:

Christmas Email Marketing pre holiday
Write an email where readers can choose gifts according to the particular interests:

Christmas Email Marketing personalised emails

CB2 turns the gift guide into a fun decision tree that all starts with rating the gift-recipient on a scale of 1 to 10. It’s hard to resist following every path to its recommended gift (see the newsletter here).

Christmas Email Marketing gift guide

More ideas for your newsletters:

    • Suggest to create wish list.

J.Crew encourages to make a wishlist showing their own example (see the full newsletter). That’s a great way to interact with your customers.

Christmas Email Marketing wishlist
    • Offer a value-add gift wrapping service

Take a look at funny J. Crew email:

Christmas Email Marketing gift wrapping
  • Offer free shipping for the holiday season or on special days
  • Write about leasing and the financial services that are available to use while buying your products

2. Shopping Weekend (Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday)

The weekend is when people buy the most in response to the email. It is an official kick-off of the holiday shopping season.

And it’s all about the SALES!

Email themes for Shopping Weekend:

    • Offer pre-holiday clearance sale
    • Create “We Miss You” campaign for the inactive subscribers
    • “Choose your own Christmas gift this year!” email for active customers

Be creative in expressing the message. Forever 21 sent a winning email that requested to click to reveal the discount:

Email Marketing Holiday Shopping (Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday)

Email Marketing Holiday Shopping (Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday) #2

DearMissModern changes Black Friday to Pink Friday Sale (because black just sounds so dark). This is simple yet genius, right?

Email Marketing Holiday Shopping Black Friday

Paradigm chooses no pitch on Thanksgiving. Instead they thank the customers.

Being personal and showing your company’s values is always a great idea to engage with your customers. You don’t have to sale in every single email. You really don’t.

Email Marketing Holiday Shopping Thanksgiving

3. Christmas Countdown

From the beginning of December, it is all about the Christmas. You have an excuse to send emails daily. But be aware how your customers react about that. Don’t forget to segment the customers according to the results and provide useful content.

How to be useful?

Remember, how you feel about the Christmas just before the Christmas. I struggle with three gifts every year.

#1. What gifts to buy for all my male relatives and friends?

#2. What gift to buy for the 2nd cousin you haven’t seen since the ’90s?

#3. Oh I’ve forgotten to buy a present for that friend! And the Christmas is tomorrow.

I am sure I am not the only one facing the issues. Here are few examples of emails that would be very very welcome at the time.

Modcloth suggests Christmas presents for different types of guys:

Christmas Email Marketing gifts by person type

J. Crew email includes gift ideas even for that 2nd cousin:

Christmas Email Marketing gifts

“Perfect Last Minute Gift”. Just before Christmas offer to buy eGift card that will be delivered via email within hours or minutes of being purchased.

Here is example of email by Zady:

Christmas Email Marketing last minute gifts

More email themes for Christmas countdown:

    • Advent calendar
    • Add countdown to Christmas
    • Suggest gift ideas for him, her, kids, teens, grandparents
    • Suggest gift ideas for different price ranges
    • Inform about the last shipping date
    • Be clear about last order date
    • Inform customer about the working hours of your shop/restaurant, especially if you are working during the holidays

4. Christmas

This is the time when we send greetings or Thank you letters to your customers. It might be just a greeting card or Christmas photo of your team.


Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to make a connection with the customer.

Here are some ideas for the Christmas newsletter:

    • Share your success. Inform your customers about your company’s big accomplishments over the past year, especially if your partners can benefit from those new features, products, or services.
    • Give a sneak peek to the future. Introduce new products or features that you are planning for the coming year. Let your customers be the first to know the good news, especially if they are going benefit from that.
    • Send a small gift. It might be an e-book about insights on your industry. You may give priority access to your new product, new feature, article, video or recipe for Christmas drink (I ♥ the idea).
Christmas Email Marketing connecting with customers

5. After Christmas

I believe that there are three main issues after Christmas that your customers would love you to solve.

#1. New Year’s Eve: where to go & how to dress

#2. What to do with the presents that you hate

#3. How to deal after Christmas depression?

Email themes for After Christmas period:

    • Offer outfit/jewellery/perfume for the New Year’s Eve. “Start the year off with something new”
    • Inform about the sale. “Get what you really wanted” letter
    • Offer redeem the gift cards they received. “Your gift cards + our clearance = goodness” email
Christmas Email Marketing after Christmas

10 tips for holiday email marketing

1. Integrate your newsletters with social media.

Don’t forget to include links to Facebook or Pinterest (it is perfect place to show your products). And vice versa. Share the newsletter on your Facebook and Twitter.

2. Design responsive emails.

Remember, people are on the move during the holidays. Design the email for finger-pointing with short text, big photos and clear call – to – action.

3. Let subject lines show what is inside the letter.

People love coupons, sales, prices reduction, especially when they shop for the presents. You may use emoji to squeeze a lot of information in a single character and stand out in inboxes:

Here’s how Product Hunt use emojis to help readers visualize the topic in subject line:

Christmas Email Marketing subject lines

4. Be creative with words you use.

Use more than just “Buy it now” message. How about: Get Giving, Get Inspired, Make wishes come true, etc. Best subject-line keywords for Christmas: perfect gift, gift under, gift list, and gift guide.

Surprisingly, the least popular themes are: Santa, Christmas, celebration; perhaps they sound a bit cliché.

J. Crew says Grab Your Mouse and Shop Now:

Christmas Email Marketing creative copy

5. Don’t just promote your products – motivate your customers to buy instead.

Send them gift ideas, home decoration tips, photos of fashionable holiday outfits and make them smile. Give and then ask!

For example, Shop Terrain gives ideas how to decorate house with lights instead just selling the lights:

Christmas Email Marketing motivate your customers

6. Segment your customers.

If you have international customers, keep in mind that not every country is celebrating Christmas. Also, not everyone has Christmas on the same day – take Russia for example, they have Christmas on January 7th in 2016.

At the same time, don’t be afraid to re-mail for the less active subscribers. They might wake up for Christmas.

7. Test the different sending times.

For example, consider sending email on less-heavy days such as weekends.The click-through rate is the biggest on weekend.

8. Target appropriately.

You should never forget that your business is not the only one undertaking a Christmas email marketing campaign. Your rivals are doing it as well, meaning that inboxes are more crowded than ever.

Therefore, effective targeting could give a real advantage over less well-thought-out campaigns. Mention each customer by their name and reference their purchase history, such as giving them a “Christmas bonus” for being such good customers or a “We miss you”, if it’s been a while since their last purchase.

9. Use limited time offers.

The main point of any marketing is to actually close the sale. Limited-time offers are easy to roll out but can be super effective. Use autoresponders to automatically inform customers about the limited time they have to cash in on a Christmas discount. Make it clear that this offer will expire soon and watch the purchases roll in.

10. Don’t forget A/B tests.

Remember you can use A/B split tests with MailerLite to check which header, emoticon or content is enabling your campaign to perform better. Give at least 4-5 hours for the results to decide on winning A/B version. Make the most of this powerful feature!


Visit our Holiday Newsletters Pinterest board to get more inspiration.

Christmas Email Marketing Holiday Newsletter Pinterest board