Sales & Marketing

Five ways to improve your email marketing campaigns at Christmas

5 min read

02 December 2013

Here are top tips on how to capture the attention of your email subscribers this holiday season.

The weather has turned, the evenings are growing ever darker and the most commercially critical time of the retailer’s year is here. 

For many retailers, the countdown to Christmas is in full swing and festive marketing strategies are in the final stages of preparation. While consumer uptake of online shopping continues to boom, email marketing has a big part to play for retailers looking to generate interest and sales during the yuletide period. 

Here are five tips to help retailers make their seasonal email campaign work harder to boost their winter revenue. 

Plan to send – and build – more emails

The old adage “fail to prepare and prepare to fail” is never more pertinent than at Christmas. Ahead of the big day, shopping is on the mind of more consumers, more often, so people have a greater tolerance for an increased frequency of emails. 

You should seize this opportunity to maximise your brand presence in the subscriber’s inbox – building interest and excitement as the days pass by. However, sending more emails means generating more ideas and additional creative, so planning for the additional resource required is the first step towards success. 

Map out your whole messaging strategy and customer journey 

There’s nothing like a good story at Christmas. With customers engaging with retailers across multiple channels nowadays, it is crucial to think through their journey and the story you want to tell. Organisation might be a dull word for some, but adopting a key theme that runs through all of your messages will give subscribers a clear sense of where you’re heading. 

Complement any seasonal promotional emails with suitably festive service and transactional messages to ensure consistency across all of your customer interactions. 

Tackle tradition head on

On the topic of Christmas related themes in particular, remember that one person’s tired cliché is another person’s nostalgic tradition. Play around with some different takes on the holiday season and decide where your brand should be positioned on the scale of Christmas clichés. Think about your typical subscriber – which approach are they most likely to identify with? Subscribers to a traditional brand are likely to expect a classic theme, whereas a more modern brand might be able to pull off a tongue-in-cheek approach. 

Don’t forget that there is no rule on sticking to Christmas. Why not create a campaign for the “holiday season” or the more universal concept of “winter sales” instead? Either way, it’s still wise to avoid being cynical and disrespectful about such a celebrated festival as Christmas. 

Anticipate buyer behaviour over the holidays

Keeping up with buyer behaviour has never been as important as in the digital age. Customers expect to be able to buy later and later, so making deadlines for last orders clear should be a priority. 

Thinking ahead to after Christmas day, when retailers have to deal with huge volumes of returns will also put you in good stead. Why not pre-empt returns with a tips email on how to avoid buying unwanted gifts? Going above and beyond sales pitches in your emails will help to improve relationships with your subscribers at a time when spending is at its highest levels. 

Remember to begin promoting accessories and additions ahead of December 25 as sales of these items always spike once the – wanted – gifts have been unwrapped. 

Work your subject lines

Since discounts and special offers are often part of festive ecommerce strategies, it is vital to maximise the visibility of the email subject line. Discounts and special offers should feature prominently in subject lines to show recipients the value of being an email subscriber. What’s more, big-ticket deals should be repeated to ensure subscribers remember available offers, especially over weekends when lots of people are doing their online gift shopping. 

Ahead of sales, it can be effective to promote full price items in subject lines, so that once you start to discount, subscribers appreciate the full value of price drops. Even if a recipient doesn’t read every email you send them, they will certainly see the subject line – making it your moment to make an impact.

Dela Quist is founder and CEO at Alchemy Worx.