How to Optimize Your Holiday e-Commerce Email Marketing in 2018

Holiday Email Marketing for e-Commerce 2018

CyberWeek and the holidays are a great opportunity to increase sales. According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales account for 20% of all retail sales; and in November and December 2017, those sales accounted for nearly $7 billion. Specifically, holiday email marketing is a big driver of the seasonal sales boom. According to Mailcharts, email marketing is responsible for 20% of holiday sales. Cyber Monday drove $2 billion dollars in one day through mobile sales. Via email, you are reaching out to your highest engaged audience. To get a piece of this holiday pie, review the following strategies you should be using to optimize your email marketing for the holiday season. 

Know Who You’re Dealing With

With the number of emails consumers are receiving during the busy holiday months, you want to go beyond the sending basics and look for opportunities to target messages to different groups of people on your list. Start your planning process by thinking about your customer base. Who are they? What motivates them? How can you reach them effectively? 

Breaking your email list into various segments allows you to show relevant products to each group of e-commerce customers. Holiday shoppers often fall into two distinct groups: those who buy ahead of time, and those who wait until the last minute. Creating targeted messaging for each of these customer segments will improve your conversion rate compared to a generic one-size fits all email. Holiday email marketing groups to consider are:

• VIP/High average order value/high total transaction customers;

• Lapsed-purchase/haven’t bought recently customers;

• Subscribers who have not made a purchase; and

• Demographics: age, location, income.

Theme Your Subject Line

If you want subscribers to open your holiday marketing emails, your email subject line has to be right. That’s why one of our top tips for improving holiday email marketing is to tap into that holiday feeling with your subject lines.  Next time you send a holiday email, try including a seasonal emoji. The research shows that using emoji in subject lines gets attention, and results in 56% more opens. Emoji aside, you can get more attention by referring explicitly to the holidays or your holiday offers in your emails. Here are some examples:

• Barnes and Noble: “20-50% Off: Save on Books Before Black Friday!”

• Harney and Sons: “Eight Nights of Savings”

• Hot Topic: “It’s the night(mare) before Black Friday…”

• Just Give: “Gifts that do good…and feel good”

• Kate Spade: “Why wait until Black Friday? Enjoy up to 75% off now”

• Kathryn Aragon: “Christmas in July”

• Shutterfly: “We’re feeling very merry. Get 50% off your order”

• Starbucks: “Win at Friendsgiving. Bring breakfast sandwiches.”

• Target: “Black Friday Early Access event starts now”

• Zoe’s Kitchen: “Give Thanks for No Cooking!”

Optimize Your Email for Mobile

Mailchart’s Holiday Email Marketing Guide reveals that 63% of emails are opened on mobile devices. However, only 40% of these emails are mobile optimized. This is a huge problem. More and more sales happen on mobile devices every year, so it’s important to make sure that your email marketing campaigns are mobile optimized. This means:

• Using responsive templates that resize for different screens.

• Optimizing images so they look good and load quickly.

• Writing short subject lines or making sure the key information is at the start.

Types of Emails to Optimize

Many websites change colors and themes to signal the holiday season. You can do the same with holiday email marketing campaigns. As you prepare for the holiday season, take the time to review and update these key holiday emails:

Welcome Emails

Welcome and receipt emails are the most opened of any type of email. And, when a customer opens your email, it’s a signal to your customer’s email service provider that you are a welcomed sender – this way you don’t end up in the spam folder. How do you craft a successful welcome email? A few tactics include sending it immediately, asking the recipient to do something, and delivering opt-in incentives and rewards.

Relevant Promotional Emails

Give your holiday shoppers insights and set expectations on what promotions you are running during the holiday season. A few things to include in your promotional emails to subscribers are shipping information, gift card services, gift wrapping options, and customer service contact details.

Abandoned Cart Emails

An abandoned cart is a sad thing. It means that something was wrong with or missing from the shopping experience. We know that 70% of customers will abandon their shopping carts. During the holidays, three of the main reasons people abandon their carts are:

• Shipping costs, so determine whether it’s feasible for you to offer free shipping.

• Better deal elsewhere, so tempt them back with price and emotional cues.

• Out-of-stock, so include how to capitalize once products become available again.

Lapsed-Purchase Emails

Sending a lapsed-purchase email is a great strategy to win back customers who previously showed an interest in purchasing from you. The email should focus on:

• Reminding them about your brand and why they initially showed interest in purchasing.

• Show what product or related products they viewed.

• Including an offer like free-shipping as an incentive to help them make the purchase.

Offer Instant Buying Options

Using urgency is a great way to boost sales with your holiday email marketing campaign. A time-limited holiday offer encourages visitors to take action now because nobody likes to miss out. If you use this strategy for your own company, you can also segment your audience according to the package they buy so you can send appropriate offers their way. You can also leverage urgency by:

• Promoting early bird pricing for some of your products and services.

• Including last order and last shipping dates in all your emails so subscribers know exactly to order so they get their stuff on time.

• Displaying holiday discount codes with a countdown timer.

Create a Holiday Gift Guide

One great holiday marketing idea is to create a holiday gift guide. Holiday gift guides are the perfect opportunity to curate your best sellers, top rated, and other top products in your inventory for your target audiences. This is a resource for email subscribers and web visitors that showcase gifts that match their interests. Include different sections in your guide, so your subscribers can easily find the things that interest those most. For example, some guides divide their featured products by gender, age, price, and interests.


Email is important and can be a high converting traffic channel for your business, especially during the holiday season. But remember, before you even start writing your message, here are some tips to keep in mind:

• Subject lines: 50 characters or less is the perfect length to catch the attention of your subscribers. 

• Length of text: About 20 lines of text is the sweet spot for many industries, but the most important thing is to have a clear call-to-action.

• Colors and fonts: Stick to three colors or less and a maximum of four fonts — too many will be distracting.

Here’s one final holiday email marketing tip: Once you have a plan in place for the messages you want to send this year, get started creating your messages ahead of time and schedule them in advance. If you have a series of emails to send out, you can set up an autoresponder series. 

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