The Top 10 Tips to Boost Your Holiday Season Email Marketing Campaigns

Eyal Katz
Eyal Katz

This article was created in cooperation with Oktopost.

When you level up your Q4 and holiday email marketing with these tactics, increased sales are sure to follow.

Once again, ‘tis the season to shop until you drop. The holiday season and Q4 are critical to the bottom line for most businesses, but especially in retail and ecommerce. Considering the challenges of 2020, the holidays present a final opportunity for any business to make up for lower sales earlier in the year — and email marketing is a great way to bring in customers.

Email marketing is a classic strategy employed by you and practically every other consumer-oriented business who wants to get an edge in the ultra-competitive holiday shopping season. The question is, how do you make your campaigns stand out from the endless reams of promotional emails people will receive this season? And how do you bring in both new and returning customers?

With the mad dash to brick-and-mortar stores this shopping season most likely at a minimum, having an optimized and well-organized email marketing strategy will be paramount to success. Let’s take a closer look into some powerful tactics that will have your customers opening your marketing emails like presents, and boost your holiday sales.

Why Email Marketing?

Email marketing is one of the most successful and widely-used channels for holiday promotions. Emails were responsible for 20% of all online visits during the last holiday season, and consumers who clicked through email offers spent 138% more. Email marketing is also very cost-effective, with an average return on investment (ROI) of $44 per $1 spent, and 40 times more effective than social media for customer acquisition

Email marketing is also very suitable for audiences in today’s mobile world. Half of all email opens occur on a mobile device, and 23% of consumers who open an email on their mobile will look at the site again at a later time.

Considering the many benefits of email marketing, it’s not surprising that so many businesses employ it. Recent statistics showed 89% of marketers employed an email marketing strategy, and not just organically. Nearly a third of those marketers also reported collaborating with partners to promote their email campaigns in their separate customer databases as well. 

There are many tools and services available to help you create and manage effective email marketing campaigns in a compliant and organized way. So how can your business or ecommerce store’s email stand out in the overcrowded inboxes of your potential customers?

10 Tips for Boosting Sales with Holiday Email Marketing

1. Plan Ahead 

The holiday season will sneak up on you fast, and moves quickly. Your email marketing needs to be ready well in advance. It’s not enough to have a vague outline, assume your stock is logged correctly, and that everyone is on the same page with logistics. This season is money-time, so maximizing opportunities for success through detailed advance planning will mean more ROI and fewer headaches. 

There’s a reason retail stores put out holiday decorations early. Sending out your emails early enough can help customers buy early and avoid waiting until the last minute. Also, don’t forget to implement the insights from your 2019 campaigns as you build your holiday strategy. It’s strongly advised to consider the current financial year, but the former is just as relevant.

2. Deliver Relevance with Segmentation and Targeting 

Update your lists, expand them, and check them twice — it’s not the holiday season everywhere (Middle East, India) or for everyone. Make sure you greet your subscribers with the right seasonal greetings for them. The last thing you want is to lose a potential customer because your theme doesn’t resonate with them.

You should also ensure your emails are being read by those who truly want to read them. Segmenting helps target relevant users who are more likely to be interested in your holiday offerings based on geographies, demographics, consumer behavior, interests, and more. The more you can accurately group and cluster your email lists, the more overall success they will have. 

3. Personalize Your Email Campaigns

If you want to deliver the right content to the right subscribers, personalized messages are paramount, along with the proper Call To Action. The holiday season is the time to put historical customer data to use. 74% of marketers said targeted, personalized email campaigns increased customer engagement — and had a 26% higher likelihood to be opened. 

A personalized subject line also helps your email stand out in a jam-packed inbox full of similar offers. Personalization doesn’t just stop at the subject and text, however. Segmenting your email lists to reach your target audiences more efficiently, emails triggered by consumer behavior, and responsive email formatting are other effective ways to personalize and customize your email campaigns for the holiday season.

4. Increase Open Rate with Emojis in Your Subject Line 🎁

Another way to take personalization to the next level is by adding a bit of whimsy to your titles. As emojis have increasingly become part of everyday digital discourse, jumping on the trend can bring significant gains to your campaign success. Brands saw a 56% increase in their unique open rates when they added an emoji to the subject line, but only 2% of brands employed it last year.

This holiday shopping season is a perfect time to introduce the tactic and differentiate your email from the competition. When using emojis, it is important to understand that different platforms may display emojis differently. Some may not display them properly at all. Test the emojis you choose to ensure that they are as universally compatible as possible. 

5. Showcase Unique Seasonal Offers & Exclusive Limited-Time Discounts

The most direct way to distinguish yourself from the competition is through exclusive holidays and limited promotions. This is your time to highlight your best sales and discounts, drawing in the crowds to do their holiday shopping with you. If you don’t have a physical product, digital products and services are more enticing than ever, as the world is increasingly forced indoors.

One tactic is to create an email version of a non-denominational social Advent Calendar campaign. Each day your subscribers get a new singular offer or list of exclusive deals before the public, and special discounts leading up to the big sale days (Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday). You can also use additions like countdown timers, reminders for specific products when landing on certain product pages, and other tactics that cue customers to take advantage of a finite shopping bonanza.

6. Send Holiday Gift Guides & Catalogs

‘Tis the season to be giving — and encouraging gifting in the spirit of the season is a classic tactic to drum up business. It is not always simple to find the “perfect” gift for that special someone, or even for the random person at the office you picked for the secret gift swap. An easy way to attract customers is to seemingly do the work for them with a gift guide or catalog. 

Offering potential customers a way to navigate towards the ideal gift takes a lot of stress out of gift shopping by allowing them to efficiently sort through your wares. Promoting a gift guide via your email newsletter is a perfect way to deliver the solution right to their inbox.

7. Create and Maintain Hype Using Strategic “Abandoned Cart” Reminders

In every holiday season, you can be sure there will be two kinds of shoppers: those who get their shopping done as soon as the sales start, and those who buy their gifts two days before the holiday in a panic. Sending strategically placed reminders to not miss out on a deal, or to close a purchase on a product they left in their cart, can often result in sales you might otherwise miss.

This is also a chance to offer individualized last-minute deals and offers based on the search history and the type of items the individual was considering buying. So, in addition to the product your customer “forgot,” offering related product suggestions in addition might give the added value that your potential customer was looking for — or that they didn’t know they needed.

8. Synchronize Your Marketing Tactics

Nothing is worse than not having all your marketing tactics synced up in time for the holiday rush. Multi-channel marketing is an essential part of wringing the most out of the holiday season. That means making sure your website, social, paid advertising, and other marketing tactics are on point across all channels, defining your brand’s focus, and reinforcing it repeatedly. 

Customers can’t stand it when they want to reach a specific product or page, then click and instead get sent to the home page or an irrelevant category — so double-check your links. Be sure that your email offers are correctly included in your social media calendar, blog, and ad space. Lastly, to ensure a cohesive holiday message, work with your staff to make sure everyone is on board and on-brand.

9. Measure Everything and Make Use of Data 

Another critical element to a successful email strategy is A/B testing of every aspect of your planned holiday email campaigns. This includes email design and layout, subject lines, CTAs, and more. Proper use of email-open signals can also help you refine your strategy as you execute the campaign and further hone your targeting.

Beyond A/B testing, it’s valuable to measure and store all of your site interactions and consumer data. Then big data, machine learning analysis, and automation can be employed to gain deeper insights into your campaigns. This can allow for the development of predictive algorithms to hone things like timing, or the best product/service combinations for specific target audience segments, and more. 

10. Make It Gradual & Employ A Calendar 

The last thing you want as a business is to be placed on someone’s spam list because you flooded them with too many promotional emails. A content calendar is a great way to keep track of all major (and minor) holidays throughout the season without getting overwhelmed. It makes it easier to adjust and optimize when you don’t just hit “send” on a million emails at once. 

A holiday email calendar helps you space out your email deliveries periodically to target specific audiences at the exact right time. It can also help manage your team’s time and off-days, along with email design, writing, and scheduling. Plan your holiday email calendar in advance with your up-to date-campaigns, so you can focus on creating engaging content and hitting your deadlines.


The holiday season of 2020 holds the potential to give many businesses, especially small ones, the cash boost they need to survive and grow in 2021. With email marketing being such a useful tool, it’s no wonder so many businesses employ it to promote their holiday sales and events. With some creativity, the right toolset, and wise use of data, your New Year’s gift to yourself might just be some record ROIs.

Syncing marketing tactics, emojis in the subject line, and limited-time offers are just some of our favorite tips to bring your business some holiday cheer. It’s also just as important to learn from your past performance and not just look ahead. By employing these 10 tips in your email marketing, you should see a sales boost that will fill your stocking this season.


Eyal Katz

Interim VP Marketing at Oktopost

Eyal Katz is a marketing consultant specializing in B2B Marketing. Eyal is also the Interim VP Marketing at Oktopost, a social media management solution dedicated to B2B social media management.

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