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Guide to Successful Holiday Email Newsletter Campaigns

Wrapped Christmas gifts over a blue background

For marketers around the world, the holidays represent massive, recurring opportunities for outreach. Whether it’s for leads, conversions, or simply strengthening customer relations, nothing quite matches the impact of “justified” outreach. Still, crafting successful holiday email newsletter campaigns takes effort and patience. Thankfully, each year’s oversights can be next year’s insights, but this still does not suffice. So, let us explore how you may approach those strategically from start to finish.

The elements of success for any email campaign

First and foremost, holiday email newsletter campaigns are, at their core and before all else, email campaigns. Thus, they need to have all the elements of successful email campaigns to guarantee effectiveness. Here, in order, consider the elements that the best of the best always profess.

#1 Clear objectives

The very first element is, understandably, clear objectives. That is, a strict focus on what exactly your emails seek to achieve. For your holiday newsletters or otherwise, your goals may include:

  • Lead acquisition. Having generated leads, your emails may now seek to nurture them into qualified leads.
  • For qualified leads, your emails may intend to convert them into customers – as all email marketing ultimately does.
  • Follow-ups. Finally, you may want to follow up on prospects or customers instead. Consider lapsed leads, for example, or cross-selling and upselling to existing customers.

This step is indeed crucial, as your exact objectives will inform your copy, timing, and more.

#2 Segmentation and personalization

Next, having covered “why” you’re reaching out, you may now define exactly “who” you’re addressing. Personalization is imperative to success, even for cold emails, so you may segment your audiences to facilitate it. Among other types of segmentation, consider the following:

  • This type pinpoints your audiences’ demographical characteristics, such as race, sex, age, education, income, and so forth.
  • Conversely, this type segments audiences based on their interests, values, and other psychographic factors.
  • Behavioral segmentation. Similarly, behavioral segmentation hinges on patterns of behavior, such as past purchase history, purchase frequency, and so forth.

Such software as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) can offer invaluable assistance in this regard. What’s more, segmentation can inform buyer personas and customer journey mapping, further enhancing your marketing and content strategies.

#3 Inbox looks

Next, for successful holiday email newsletter campaigns or otherwise, you may address email open rates. Marketing emails of all kinds are often ignored or marked as spam, so you must make first impressions count.

Starting with your inbox looks, the 3 elements to note and optimize are:

  • Sender name. Unsurprisingly, sender names make an immense difference in email open rates. Here, ensure your name reflects your company and appears trustworthy.
  • Subject line. Next, carefully examine your subject line. It should be brief, concise, and to the point, as well as enticing. If your brand identity permits it, you may use emojis here to enhance engagement rates.
  • Finally, your preheader serves as your “grabber” and will ultimately convince your recipients to open your emails to read more. As above, keep it brief, and ensure it flows logically from the subject line.

These elements are particularly important for mobile devices, as they offer less screen real estate. Sendinblue’s illustration should serve as a visual example:

An illustration of an email on a mobile device, which distinguishes the sender name, subject line, and preheader.

#4 Compelling copy and layout

Once your recipients have opened your emails, the next step toward your objectives lies in convincing them. Here, your layout will encourage them to read on, and your copy and Call to Action (CTA) will handle conversions.

The fundamentals in this regard include:

  • Logical layout. First, your layout must flow logically from one point of interest to the next. Consider your recipients’ reading habits, and opt for such layouts as the inverted pyramid or the zig-zag that enhance readability.
  • Impeccable copy. Then, your copy must effectively outline your proposition’s value. To do so, you must address your recipients’ pain points, all while adopting the tone that works best for them. As you do, ensure your copy is completely error-free and highly readable to complement your CTA.
  • Effective CTAs. Finally, your CTAs will ultimately seal conversions. For maximum effectiveness, ensure your CTAs are bold and readable, in line with your insights. As you do, remember to incite urgency and suggest exclusivity to increase their chances of success. Finally, limit each email to one CTA to avoid option fatigue.

Of course, your exact copy and layout optimizations should ultimately depend on your own insights and A/B testing.

Crafting successful holiday email newsletter campaigns

Still, all that said, those elements alone do not suffice for successful holiday email newsletter campaigns. That’s because these are not typical emails, but come with a very specific premise; to leverage holidays for marketing purposes.

So, with the above foundations in place, you may now delve into the intricate details of holiday-fueled emails.

#1 Remember non-promotional emails

As highlighted above, your first goal should be to segment your audiences for enhanced personalization. With that in mind, you may use your holiday newsletters for non-promotional purposes. Or rather, for non-transactional purposes.

Here, consider types of emails that may help acquire leads or foster trust instead, such as:

  • Welcome emails. A welcome email will help warm up newly-generated leads. The holidays offer an excellent opportunity to do so, through more informational, humorous, or otherwise festive emails with no immediate transactional CTAs.
  • News emails. Similarly, newsletters should naturally include actual news about your business. Consider “year in review” emails, for example; end-of-year holidays like Christmas are perfect opportunities to do so. What’s more, showcasing your employees’ stories through them will help humanize your brand.
  • Charity initiative emails. Similarly, you may opt to share your charitable work. Especially for local-based businesses, doing so helps foster trust within local communities and build meaningful bonds.

For instance, Infinity Nation takes the opportunity to simply wish their subscribers Merry Christmas. As they do, they end their appreciation email with a discreet contact CTA that may attract leads:

A Merry Christmas email by Infinity Nation.

#2 Offer shipping incentives

On to transactional emails, then, it should come as little surprise that holiday shoppers value shipping highly. From undecided to last-minute shoppers, shipping plays a crucial role in incentivizing holiday purchases. Who doesn’t want to ensure their loved ones get their gifts on time, after all?

You may address shipping in such ways as the following:

  • Ensure full shipping fee transparency. First, you must offer full shipping fee transparency. Unexpected extra fees such as shipping are by far the primary reason for shopping cart abandonment. In busy holiday seasons, this phenomenon can only emerge in full force.
  • Offer free shipping if possible. To remedy this and very likely allure more holiday shoppers, you may offer free shipping whenever possible. This tactic holds value throughout the year.
  • Arrange for overnight shipping if possible. Finally, holiday shoppers really care for fast shipping, and understandably so. Thus, if you can, you should arrange for overnight shipping to assure them their items will arrive on time.

Nasty Gal’s newsletter email best illustrates how you can dedicate entire emails to promoting your shipping conveniences:

A holiday email on shipping schedules by Nasty Gal

#3 Opt for festive designs and copy

Next, you must understandably infuse your emails with the aesthetics and tone of your campaigns’ targeted holiday. Your recipients must clearly understand your festive message through both visuals and copy; that’s the hallmark of successful holiday email newsletter campaigns.

You may do so in two main, distinct ways:

  1. Use festive designs. As regards visuals, you may liberally draw from your holiday’s established aesthetics. Use classic, recognizable iconography; snow for Christmas, pumpkins for Halloween, and so forth. We are distinctly visual creatures, and such visuals are often worth thousands of words.
  2. Use cheerful, holiday-specific copy. Second, you may fine-tune your copy to fit your message and aesthetics. You may mention the holiday by name or simply imply it. You may draw from its vocabulary instead, especially in the case of religious holidays. Of course, always consult your analytics to ensure any humor you inject matches the tone your audiences expect and respond to.

Nasty Gal’s above example of wordplay aside, consider the following from American Eagle Outfitters. Such tones may not resonate with all audiences, but they evidently did with theirs:

A holiday discount email by American Eagle Outfitters

#4 Incite engagement

Finally, you may face the most pressing challenge of any email campaign; inciting actual engagement. All of the above aside, you may do so by both enticing your audiences and addressing the holidays’ unique needs.

For examples of both, consider the following:

  • Suggest urgency and exclusivity. First, regardless of theme, all marketing emails find increased success by suggesting urgency. Holidays are a perfect fit for this tactic, through such means as offering countdown timers. Similarly, you may offer exclusive discounts to your most loyal customers, helping ensure better customer retention rates.
  • Offer gift guides. Nothing incites quite as much urgency as holiday gifts, and you may leverage this in a non-promotional way. That is, instead of promoting your offers directly, you may gift guides to help your customers make their decisions. This email type directly addresses some segments’ pain points without coming off as entirely “salesy”.
  • Expand to post-holiday campaigns. Finally, not all holiday shoppers will make it in time. For them, you may extend your campaigns to after the holidays end, and combine higher discounts with limited discount windows or limited supplies.

Naturally, there are multiple other ways to do so that will depend on your industry, audiences, and other factors. But most importantly, they will rely on your own creativity and insights.

Conclusion

To conclude, successful holiday email newsletter campaigns hinge on universal email campaign qualities; clear objectives, personalization, a great inbox look, and compelling copy. At the same time, they address specific holidays and their unique factors, such as shipping schedules, availability, and copy style and tone. Securing both may take effort and creativity, but it will undoubtedly pay off.

Author’s bio

Jason Thorpe is a content writer and a marketing enthusiast. He has written numerous articles on the topics of SEO, content marketing and other digital marketing areas. In his spare time, Jason enjoys playing basketball and watching cooking shows.

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