The holidays are a time of traditions. Seeing the same family for Thanksgiving, stuffing yourself with turkey and cookies, rushing to the mall for the best Black Friday deals, and buying last-minute gifts before Christmas.

For email marketers, the holidays are perhaps the most influential period in the entire year for audience engagement. However, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, much has changed. 

With social distancing restricting in-person shopping, 73% of holiday shoppers planned to purchase primarily online for the 2020 holiday season (Netimperative/Rakuten), speeding up the growing trend of digital shopping surpassing in-person shopping during Cyber Week, according to NRF. 

Many businesses are relying much more heavily on digital marketing to produce sufficient sales. Marketing emails are the perfect avenue to expand on the quickly growing e-market. It’s time to start a new tradition with holiday email marketing. 

To craft a campaign that will thrive in this changing digital marketing landscape, use some of these essential tools for successful holiday emails, straight from Santa’s workshop.

Writing a Strong Holiday Email Marketing Campaign

The foundation of every strong email campaign is the effectiveness of the writing. All the bells and tinsel of design and coupons won’t hide poor messaging. 

In addition to the key building blocks of effective email content, holiday emails need some extra emphasis on personalization and urgency.


The secret ingredient of any good email is personalization — letting your customer know that you care for them as a person and not their money. Just as Santa knows what every child wants, you need to let your holiday email recipients know that you also understand their needs, and can help them achieve joy during this holiday season. 

While the financial weight of 2020 may ease for future holidays, it’s likely that we will see a trend of shoppers spending more conservatively. Personalized emails are the best way to convince them that your brand is worth investing in amongst all the competing emails they will receive. Personalized email messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10% according to Aberdeen. 

Personalized subject lines are the perfect hook to get your customers to open your emails; Campaign Monitor claims that emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. Here are some ideas for some heartwarming subject line personalization:

  • Emojis: Subject lines with emojis have seen a 45% increase in their unique open rates. It’s a great eye-catching option to add some holiday flair. 
  • Holiday: ‘Tis the season, after all! Throw some holiday puns in there. Something like “Good cheer,” “Season’s Greetings,” etc. 
  • Words of gratitude: Everyone loves feeling appreciated! Use words such as “Thank you,” “appreciation,” or “Your support.”

With the hundreds of emails customers receive daily, the biggest hurdle is to make yours stand out, and personalization is the best Christmas cookie in the jar. Automated emails and subject lines may be easier, but customers can easily tell an authentic email from a general one. Show your customers you’re willing to go the extra mile for them, and they will respond generously.


While it’s essential for your customers to know you have their best interests at heart, they also need a call to action — those presents can’t buy themselves! If you’re offering a sweet deal, you need to be clear that NOW is the time to act on it. The last thing you want is for your customer to think that they have all the time in the world to purchase and navigate away.

At the same time, nothing is more frustrating to a customer than finding they missed out on the best price of the year. So be extra clear about what you’re offering — put the promo front and center, use an enticing CTA button, and make sure it leads to a festive landing page. The use of “Buy Now” buttons is a rising trend that bypasses the usual long checkout process for extra speed. 

Subject lines are another great place to emphasize urgency. Here are a few key words to use in your main email or preview text: 

  • Timeliness: Your customers need to know when these deals are available and for how long. Words such as “order now,” “limited-time,” “today-only,” and “last minute,” help deliver the sense of urgency. 
  • Sales-driven: Perhaps the greatest incentive for customer engagement is the promise of a deal they can’t miss out on. Make the purpose of your email clear with phrases like “Hot deal, promotion, discount, savings,” and “free shipping.”
  • Ask a question: Nothing intrigues a customer more than a question. Ask them something that makes them curious enough to open the email. Something like “Did you know…?” or “Guess what?”

Urgency also applies to the planning of your campaign. The holidays always come and go too quickly, so don’t fall behind the curve — or the competition. Deloitte claims that consumers who do holiday shopping before Thanksgiving spend nearly $400 more than their later counterparts. In other words, don’t wait too long to start your holiday email marketing campaign. 

Finally, while the initial holiday announcement email is your launch point, you should follow up with several other emails announcing new deals and reminding of the promos that will be available, leading to the peak at Cyber Week. Don’t send just one email on November 1st and then wait until Thanksgiving to send another, but also, don’t spam your customer’s inboxes. 

Final Thoughts

Amidst everything that has changed in the wake of the pandemic of 2020, it’s clear that the need for cheer in the holiday season is only increasing. So is the importance of holiday email marketing in driving engagement and sales. 

These crafting tips are a good start, but you’ll need some strong templates to really make your campaign soar. Keep an eye out for our next blog, “6 Emails You Need In Your Holiday Marketing Campaign.”

Whether you’ve never written a holiday email before or are looking to maximize the impact of your current holiday campaigns, 829 Studios is ready and willing to help. As an integrated agency, we can help you do everything from crafting responsive email templates to analyzing marketing statistics. 

Contact us today to get a head start on a holiday email marketing campaign that will jingle all the way to greatness!

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