Email marketing for the holidays

We know email isn’t “sexy” sexy. It’s reliable, consistent, a little older, but there is a refinement to it that, when packaged properly, can be (dare we say it?) exciting. 

It’s officially the time of year of email BOMBARDMENT. Everyone is having a Black Friday sale, Holiday Gift Guides are being delivered by the dozen. And while consumer’s credit card bills go up, their attention span is going down. 

But, as a business, you still have to participate, right? You can’t just disappear during a season where, yes, a lot of sales can occur. For many, Q4 is clutch. So the question becomes, how do you stand out and rise above the noise?


Offer a Seasonal Freebie


This may not be the most original way to kick off an email marketing campaign… but it is the most effective! Even if you have a really robust list, there’s a chance some of your subscribers have grown inactive or complacent when it comes to your emails. We are all guilty of letting brand emails fall by the wayside and sooner rather than later, AI takes over and rids your inbox of emails whether you wanted it to or not. 

So before the holiday season hits, make sure you are freshening up your lists with a new free offer. 

You can either adjust an old freebie to be more seasonal, or you can create something entirely new. It can be as easy as a discount code or as enticing as a free course, but a fresh offer will breathe new life into your list before you start promoting. 

People will be more excited about something new than they are likely to engage with a brand they’ve long since forgotten. 

Unsuck Your Subject Lines


If before you were one of twenty emails, now you might be one of forty. The reality is, MOST emails won’t be opened at all. A huge reason for that can be because your subject lines are blending in with everyone else’s:

  • Stocking Stuffers Under $50
  • Best Black Friday Deal
  • It’s Cyber Monday

We have seen these subjects hundreds upon hundreds of times. To stand out you HAVE to get creative. 

And no, we don’t mean eight Christmas tree emojis. Humor, unusual wording, and yes, the occasional emoji will help you rise above the noise.

Instead of “Stocking Stuffers Under $50” try “Stick this in a sock”

Instead of “Best Black Friday Deal” try “Badass Black Friday Deals”

Instead of “It’s Cyber Monday” try “Monday Funday is the new Sunday Funday minus ?

Anything that takes the repetition out of their inbox will stand a better chance of being opened. People grow numb to repetition very fast, so if your wording can catch them off guard or if you’re the only without a Santa face in the first twenty characters in the subject line, you are more likely to catch their eye. 


Direct Your Audience to Your Emails


We all have a tendency to be super siloed on each of our platforms. Instagram is for Instagram, YouTube is for YouTube and email happens inside email, but you have to use all the platforms you have to get customers to your products. 

If email is your main hub for holiday promotions, that doesn’t mean you can’t tell your Instagram audience to sign up! Go live and explain to them the benefit of being subscribers. Remind them that during this time of year, your best deals might fall into their promotions tab so they better go check. 

It’s okay to provide a map that leads straight to your emails on other platforms. People need regular reminders to engage.

And if you happen to be wearing an ugly sweater when you do it, so be it!


Gamify the Experience


Play is a natural human experience. During a time of year when it can be stressful, chaotic, and intense, give your fans a game to play. 

An email scavenger hunt will inspire your audience to open every email you send during the season, perhaps unlocking your best discount code. 

A holiday season challenge will have your fans checking in regularly for tips, tricks, and encouragement. 

A content series can be a simple automated campaign that unspools information a little at a time for your busy subscribers. Maybe you show them how to DIY a home decor gift with ten minutes to spare a day. Or you give them a meal plan every week to help them stay on track during the holiday season. 

If the emails require more of your subscribers than “open and click” they are more likely to engage for longer and remember you in moments outside the receipt of your email. 

No matter your business, there is likely a way you can bring joy into their experience. Even if you aren’t a straight-forward product that fits into a gift guide, you can find a way to help your fans during a season of mayhem. 


Tell a Story


Not every email has to be about your products. 

Not every email has to force a sale. 

Not every email has to have a link to click and shop.

You can just be a person sometimes instead of a personal brand. Share how you are handling the holidays in 2020. Express a desire or fear or frustration that this time of year brings about for you. Talk about the state of the world and the ways people can give back. 

Most people don’t spend all 60 days of November and December shopping. They have lives. Real lives that they go on living in between orders. Remember that. 

Email alone isn’t exciting. Discounts and deals aren’t exciting. Your brand is exciting. Your personality is exciting. Your story is exciting. Don’t lose yourself in snowy metaphors and holiday-themed headlines. We’ve had enough “Tis the season” and “Have a Very Merry” to last us a lifetime. Continue to be you… but with twinkle lights.

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