Search the website

Christmas in July? 6 Quick Wins & Best Practices for Holiday 2019 (and Beyond)

The holidays will arrive faster than you realize. Don’t let your holiday email marketing efforts get lost among others in your customers’ overcrowded inboxes. Plan ahead using these quick tips, and be the early bird that gets the worm.

Redundancy, inbox oversaturation, and the overall lack of freshness in holiday emails have an effect. This unsatisfactory ‘bundle’ makes it more difficult for marketers to create innovative emails that convert, engage, and entice brand loyalists, versus those only looking for holiday season deals. However, Optimove has several quick wins and email marketing tips that will take you through the holiday season and beyond to help you stand out from the crowd.

Plan Now

Thanksgiving Day in the United States is Thursday, November 28th this year. This means that Black Friday will be on the 29th and Cyber Monday will be December 2nd. Following a routine schedule, most marketers begin sending holiday-inspired messages to inboxes as early as mid-October through November 1st, which means that you have about 3-4 months of planning if you get started now. Consider the fact that only 20% of email marketers plan for this peak season more than 3 months in advance, you’ll be ahead of the curve. Start by developing a strong segmentation plan that includes promotions, creative, and content, personalized for your audience and based on your goals.

Once 2019’s holiday season is complete, analyze your performance results and uplift from your holiday campaigns while it’s still fresh. Understand what worked, what didn’t, and develop a set of rules. These insights will get you started on 2020’s holiday planning even earlier – building on 2019’s successes as well as A/B testing creative elements such as subject lines, CTAs and more, so that you can confidently roll out proven winners during the next holiday season.

Content is the King of Engagement

Stand out from the crowd and demand your subscribers’ attention by integrating kinetic and dynamic content elements. When you list your top five favorite or memorable email campaigns from the holidays – or from any other period, they typically have an interactive element, an animated GIF, or gamification that helped create engagement with a brand, product, or offer.

One of the easiest ways to gamify a holiday campaign is with a “Reveal Your Deal” campaign, i.e. creating a scratch-off (or the illusion of one) within the message itself and giving your subscriber the tease of not knowing what their discount will be until it’s revealed. This method not only increases click throughs, but also the likelihood to convert as customers have already invested in your promotion by taking action – so with added urgency and a strong call-to-action, you can catch them while they’re still hot!

Speaking of urgency, another great way to easily amp up engagement while creating dynamic and exciting content is to add a countdown timer to your message that updates in realtime upon open. Optimove’s DynamicMail offering provides our customers with the ability to customize a countdown timer for email campaigns that update in realtime – adding an increased sense of urgency to messages.

Segment and Target

Segmented email campaigns with content targeting specific segments see 14.3% more opens and 100.9% more clicks than non-segmented campaigns. The holidays are the best time of year to put months of customer and subscriber data to good use!

For those users who still haven’t made an initial purchase, utilize browse and abandonment data to promote products and categories they’ve viewed throughout the year. Recent purchasers should be targeted with personalized content based on purchase behavior. Additional data points to consider include browse/purchase price points when looking at recommendations for gift ideas, etc., as this data can be useful to understand relative price points that are more likely to convert.

Make a Wish

Retailers, if you don’t already have one integrated into your site, get wish list for your customers. This functionality can be a huge asset during the holidays and throughout the year. It’s a great opportunity for automated email campaigns as well; it allows you to create a series of early holiday messages promoting customers and subscribers to create a wish list, drives additional traffic to your site, and can create additional sales and revenue during the holidays.

By utilizing a wish list and branding yours specifically to the holiday season, you’re able to start collecting data for highly relevant post-holiday messages in the future:

  • Out of Stock/In-Stock Notifications: When items on your subscribers’ wish lists are back ordered or back in stock, you can communicate that uniquely and in a more personalized way
  • Price Alerts: Create immediate urgency when you message your customer that an item on their wish list has just gone on sale
  • Share Your Wish List: Customers can send their wish lists to friends and family members – presenting your brand to potential new email subscribers and purchasers. Now, your wish list has become a great acquisition effort!
  • Segment & Target: Utilize data collected from customer wish lists to customize product recommendations, upsells, and cross-sells in other email messages

Personify and Personalize

Many companies struggle with online gift guides and translating them into engaging emails. This challenge raises a couple of questions: How do you segment your products for the holidays? What’s the best way to merchandise and promote your best categories during the biggest season? It’s important that your emails and your site have consistent messaging and design for a smooth user experience, but during the holidays users are looking for guidance beyond “Gifts for Her”, “Gifts for Him” and “Gifts Under $25.”

While there will always be a large group of customers who shop based on price; consider switching up your holiday gift guide strategy for 2019 to reflect the personas of the recipients. For example, “The Social Teen”, “The Health Nut” and “The Cool Dad” are more relatable and easier to visualize (and help with the click and conversion). Also, consider “Stocking Stuffers” vs. categorizing low-cost items.

The Party Isn’t Over

Some marketers start sending out their last holiday campaigns a few days before Christmas, based on standard shipping dates and holiday shipping as a key message. However, hardly any brands continue to connect with their subscribers with holiday-related content just after the holidays end.

We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that:

  1. Customers don’t always get everything they wanted or everything that was on their wish list during the holiday season
  2. Customers also receive gift cards, cash, and checks during the holidays.
  3. Customers tend to return items in the days right after Christmas, leaving them with money and/or refunds burning “holes” in their pockets

A great campaign to send post-holiday is one that focuses on your customer gifting themselves what they really wanted for the holidays. It allows for personalization and segmentation while also fostering a 1:1 relationship that targets your subscriber at a specific moment in time when they are thinking about making a purchase – and now you’re getting them to think about making that purchase with you.

If you’ve read this far, you’ve seen some ideas and tips to optimize your holiday email marketing campaigns. We hope you found a few that you can integrate into your 2019 holiday plan. This year, strategize early, get creative, and use your data to guide content, and you’re destined to have a successful and engaging holiday season!



Published on

Dana Shirlen

Dana Shirlen leads Optimove’s internal email marketing agency as Director of Email Marketing. Dana has over 15 years managing the email marketing strategies of many recognizable global B2C and B2B brands. As the Director of Email Marketing, Dana is bridging the gap for Optimove’s customers in providing a data-driven marketing plan and timely implementation grounded in best practices, targeted content and visually engaging design. Prior to her role at Optimove, Dana managed the CRM and email marketing strategies for enterprise clients at Tinuiti. Dana holds a BS from Ohio University, with a major in Advertising Management and concentrations in both marketing and creative writing.