Make Your Holiday Email Campaigns Special: Ideas and Best Practices

Holiday email campaigns

Did you know that 57% of consumers prefer to shop online during the holidays? And 43% of people plan to shop at stores? 

This is a unique opportunity for email marketers to expand their reach and increase sales during the last quarter of the year through holiday email campaigns.

A whopping 196.7 million customers shop between Cyber Monday and Black Friday, making the holiday season the most profitable time of the year. Email campaigns allow people to preview holiday offers from brands and purchase online or offline. 

A mindful holiday email marketing strategy involves innovative ideation, custom design, and careful timing. If sending a holiday email campaign is what your business needs, now is the right time to get started. To help with your seasonal marketing planning, we’ve compiled a guide on seasonal email campaigns with our favorite ideas and examples designed to bring holiday cheer to your revenue. 



What Are Holiday Email Campaigns?

Holiday email campaigns are marketing strategies used to engage subscribers and encourage them to purchase, especially when the festive spirits are high. 

Planning your seasonal promotions in advance will help you make the most out of the high-sales period. You should focus on offering new value to your subscribers that can help boost sales and foster customer loyalty

Among the opportunities festive emails provide, you’ll find the following:

  • Festive atmosphere: Holiday email campaigns are a great way to integrate celebratory messages into your brand marketing. They create feelings of belonging and enhance brand perception when done well. 
  • Best time to create urgency: Limited-time offers are a proven way to increase revenue during the holiday season. Offering limited-time discounts, coupons, and promotions can help create urgency. Urgency also helps reduce the cart abandonment rate because when the customers feel the need to act fast, they’re more likely to click the “buy” button.
  • A chance to be creative: The quirky designs of the Halloween email marketing campaigns are but one example of how you can get creative with your jolly emails. Use eye-catching email designs and typefaces to boost engagement.
  • Better open rates: The curiosity levels are usually high during the holiday season, and customers actively look for deals, promotions, and gift ideas. Including these in your holiday sales will give recipients a compelling reason to open your emails and interact with your messages.
  • Opportunity for brand building: You can make the most of the emotions broadcasted during holidays by adding messages of joy, warmth, and happiness to your emails. It is also a chance to showcase your brand values, for example, sustainability, community, and social good.

Holidays are a great time to experiment with email marketing campaigns because of the increased opportunity to drive more conversions toward your business. 


What to Expect When Preparing for Seasonal Campaigns

Seasonal campaigns are promotions businesses develop for specific times of the year — for example, Hanukkah or Black Friday. Knowing that during this period web and foot traffic will increase, sellers should offer special deals to both new and existing customers to make the most out of it. 

According to Consumer Insights, 70% of shoppers claim they make decisions based on digital inspiration — for instance, from email promotions or while watching an ad on YouTube. Seasonal email sequences help businesses convert leads into paying customers and boost product sales. 

Creating effective seasonal campaigns requires knowing your audience and market niche. 

Let’s break down the steps you need to take for successful campaigning:

  • Advanced planning: Seasonal campaigns are complex because of the need to create topical and trending content. To create highly relevant emails, plan early and create your campaigns around the sentiment of the season. Then, test and re-test your email campaigns to see if they struck a chord with your audience.
  • Clear Objectives: Define your goals and objectives first. Is it to boost sales, engage with customers, or tell your brand story? A clear objective will help you create effective sequences without wasting resources.
  • Research: It is important to understand your business niche and who you are marketing to. Creating an ideal customer profile helps you produce laser-focused, compelling, and informative emails.  
  • Use an ESP: As an email marketer, the best way to help yourself is to work with an email service provider. With built-in tools and processes, an ESP makes it simple to create any type of campaign while following up with the email marketing best practices for increased deliverability and open rates. There are many ESPs on the market, but we have compiled a list of the most popular ones with their unique features to assist you in selecting the best.
Email software/Provider Holiday campaign templatesBeginner-friendly UIAutomatic list cleaning Engagement rewardsGamification
Constant Contact 
Campaign Monitor 
Mail Chimp
Campaign Refinery 
Omni Send
Select the best ESP for you – see unique features!

Note that once you migrate your email lists to an ESP, it can become complicated to switch to another provider. Hence, we recommend you evaluate and choose an ESP with unique features that help you stand out from the saturated market.

At Campaign Refinery, for example, we have a library of rich and user-friendly pre-made campaigns that are fully customizable, as well as a set of unique features to help your email marketing efforts truly shine. 

Working with an ESP is advisable but not mandatory. If you are planning to do run your holiday marketing campaigns by yourself, here are key components to include that will hold your strategy together.


5 Must-Have Elements in Holiday Email Marketing Campaigns

As much as sellers look forward to it, the holiday season is a competitive time for all marketers, fighting for a fraction of the buyers’ attention. Sometimes, a single word, pun, color, or image may be what wins them over, so you should be meticulous when creating your holiday emails.

To construct engaging email marketing campaigns, you should incorporate the following elements:


1. Holiday Email Banner

The header and footer are the most important parts of email campaigns — they act as a preview of email content for subscribers. It is also an opportunity to include your brand elements, such as logo and brand colors, for better acknowledgment, adorned in seasonal decor.


2. Compelling Subject Line

The subject line is a key part of your email that customers notice. In fact, 33% of customers decide to open an email based on the subject line. Use personalization, curiosity, and urgency to pique readers’ sentiments around the holidays.


3. Holiday GIF

GIFs can help you explore behavior-based marketing while developing entertaining email content. You may also add a touch of humor and brand personality to connect with your customers on different levels. 


4. Compelling Content

Compelling content refers to engaging and value-driven copy designed to benefit customers. In essence, your email’s body copy must contain information that motivates customers to take action. Examples include heart-warming stories, seasonal tips, and gift guides.


5. Clear Call-to-action

CTAs lead customers to take action and drive more sales. Using a unique tone is the most effective way to make it convincing. For example, use ”Shop More With Gift Guide” instead of ” Download this”. 

Building holiday email campaigns revolves around timing, frequency, and design. To bind these together, we have compiled a list of 7 go-to ideas for your email campaigns.


7 Jolly Holiday Email Campaign Ideas

The holiday season comes every year, and although it offers great opportunities for sellers and senders, being original is a challenge. To form a deeper bond with customers and increase sales, your campaigns should feel familiar yet innovative, and getting a new idea around the same topic is not easy. To help you craft your holiday marketing path, we’ve compiled a list of 7 jolly email campaign ideas for you to take and customize. 


1. Eco-friendly Holiday Promotions

Sustainability is a big topic today. If your brand values align with it, you can send them information on eco-friendly holiday gifts, sustainable practices, and tips to reduce holiday waste.


2. User-Generated Content Showcase

User-generated content refers to the videos, photos, text, and reviews created by consumers about a product. Running a UGC campaign is a unique opportunity to make customers a part of your brand journey. You can elevate this by asking your customers to share their holiday stories from the past and use those in your email campaigns during the holiday season.


3. Last-Minute Shopping Guide

A lot of brands offer wishlists for customers (where shoppers create personalized collections for future reference). Use these wishlists to create customized offers and information on price drops, restocks of wishlist items, and gift guides for customers. Gift guides can include your best products for each category targeted around customer wishlists.


4. Countdown Emails

Tapping into customers’ curiosity and urgency is a good way to increase interest in your products, and countdown emails can help with this. Count down to the holiday by sharing interesting bits about your brand, such as: 

  • Highlights from the past year,
  • Customer testimonials,
  • Sneak peek into the next year.

5. Limited Edition Products

Limited edition products are created in limited quantities to create scarcity and exclusivity. If your products have a premium price tag, they can also have a higher perceived value. Create emails promoting holiday-themed limited edition items from your offer, adding an exclusive appeal to your seasonal promotions.


6. Holiday Contest or Raffle

Create a holiday raffle as an incentive for your recipients to participate or a contest where the best photo, story, or similar contribution by a customer would win a prize. Along with detailed instructions on how to participate, contests or raffle emails add a gamification element to your campaigns, which can boost your engagement significantly. 

For example, Campaign Refinery offers a unique gamification feature through which you can easily create contests and engage with your subscribers, generating more opens and clicks and, eventually — a higher revenue. It comes integrated with our software, available to all our clients. 


7. Interactive Advent Calendar

Counting down the days until Christmas is a technique many brands use successfully. While some sell physical products as advent calendars, filled with gifts for each day, you can opt for creating a similar digital variant or offer a different promotion or coupon every day. Personalizing the advent emails with recipient data should boost your sales, as you will surprise your audience with offers on products they already want. 

After you define what kind of holiday campaign you want to launch, you should consider the best practices to stay on the right track. 


Best Practices for Holiday Email Campaigns 

Here’s a short checklist to make your campaigns appropriate, engaging, and relevant for the audiences:

  • Consistent branding: Branding is a critical phase in establishing credibility. Consistent branding refers to using similar colors, typefaces, and image formats throughout email sequences
  • Mobile responsiveness: More than 50% of customers access emails on their mobiles. Optimizing your holiday email campaigns for mobile is crucial for higher open and click-through rates.
  • High-quality festive images: Images enhance the look and readability of email campaigns. Include high-quality and holiday-themed images, and use your brand images instead of sourcing them online.
  • Seasonal colors and themes: Using colors related to the holidays enhances the appearance of your emails. For example, using red and green for Christmas and pastels for Easter.
  • Creative typography: Decorative fonts help highlight important information in your emails while giving the layout a more cohesive appearance. To maintain consistency, follow your brand guidelines throughout the process.
  • Social sharing buttons: Including social buttons in your email campaign is a good way to encourage people to share your message. Customers are more likely to share your emails if they find them fun or useful.
  • Preview text: Preview text, also known as preheader text, is the content displayed in customers’ inboxes, such as the first line of the email. An informative preheader can capture the recipient’s attention and convince them to open emails.
  • Accessibility: Email accessibility ensures that everyone, regardless of disability or assistive device, can receive and understand email messages. It is a foundation of a good user-experience design. Include voice-over or video captions, for example, to improve accessibility.
  • A/B test: Building attractive holiday email campaigns requires constant testing and refining. This includes email body content, images, timing, and frequency to understand what works best for your audience.

There are many elements good holiday email campaigns need and you need to be thorough if you want a positive result. One of those elements is timing, a fluctuating brand-related feature easy to get wrong. 


Best Time To Send Holiday Emails

Around 11% of the people check emails at least 15 times a day. This makes your chances to get people’s attention fairly high, especially during the high-converting holiday season. 

We have compiled a list of the best times to send your email campaigns before and during holidays.

HolidayThe best time to send emails Reason
WeekendsMorning or early evening Customers have more free time to check.
Weekdays Mid-week – early morningsEasy to reach the working sector
Days before holidaysMinimum 3 weeks before the main dayAct as a reminder for shoppers.
During the holidaysOne email everydayAn opportunity to increase sales and connect with customers.
Regular days10 am, 8 pm, 2 pm, 6 amEffective time to connect with different audience segments.
Best times to send holiday email campaigns

Now, all you have to do is create your holiday email campaign.

And we know there’s one more thing you need — inspiration! Take a look at our selection of fun and engaging holiday email examples to boost your creativity.  


Holiday Email Examples

We love getting fun, colorful emails that promote products we (also) love! Although these examples might not be directly related to your brand, take a look at their messaging, layout, and color schemes to see if you can replicate the same principle in your own emails.

Let’s play!


1. LEGO – Christmas Shopping

Nearly 38% of American consumers intend to start their Christmas shopping before the end of October. Early Christmas shopping deals, season greetings, and gift guides will help engage customers and increase conversions. 

For example, during the Christmas season, nearly 28 LEGO sets are sold each second. 

The campaign from LEGO reminds people to shop early to avail of the best offers, making it easier to shop for popular gifts.

Lego holiday gift guide email
LEGO – Gift guide email for 2023

2. Art Of Play – Black Friday Sale

Studies show that customers are more likely to be happy and partake in shopping during Black Friday. Nearly 43% of global consumers look forward to buying products they want during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Sending promotions, gift cards, and deals to customers will improve their shopping experience and foster positive feelings toward your brand.

For example, ”shop our biggest sale of the year, and save 20%” is a compelling way to promote your products. You can play with colors, fonts, and images to support and enhance the CTA. 

Art of Play offer
Art of Play Black Friday offer – cover image

3. Baron Fig – Halloween Event

The exciting tradition of Halloween allows for endless possibilities to create surprises for your customers. Use pumpkins, ghosts, bats, and Jack-o-Lantern images to add a dash of delight to your holiday email campaigns. 

For example, the email from Baron Fig focuses on using Halloween-themed elements (ghosts) and a dramatic font, alongside a time-tied coupon to build curiosity and urgency.

Baron Fig Halloween Email
Baron Fig Halloween Email

Holiday email marketing allows businesses to stand out and use a more creative way to promote products. Get inspired, start early, follow the best practices, be thorough and you should see your results soar.  


Wrapping The Holidays in Success With Campaign Refinery

To see the success of your holiday emails means to be a responsible sender, on top of following advice on campaign creation. And ensuring that all the prerequisites are met beforehand is hard to do manually.

That’s why we at Campaign Refinery offer user-friendly email templates, powerful analytical tools, and automations to sustain performance of your campaigns. 

Users report an increase in stats by 4x, and better inboxing after using our dynamic email tools, including broadcasts, smart goal triggers, and campaign library. And our gamification feature will take your engagement to the next level. 

We’re dedicated to serving the best senders and bringing them elite results. Learn more about our services and apply to join Campaign Refinery nation!  

And speaking of holidays, let us give you a gift: 

Our founder and CEO, Travis Ketchum, created a Lead Magnet Multiplier short course in which you will learn actionable techniques to increase your clicks, get more leads and ultimately increase your chances for conversions. And leads are something you will definitely need during the holiday season!

You can get it for free, today —  access Lead Magnet Multiplier Course.

The only catch is that you must complete it to retain access forever. 

Happy holidays! 

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