How To
17 min read

How To Craft The Perfect Holiday Email Marketing Campaign

Momina Asif
November 20, 2022

While researching for this article, I wondered whether I do a lot of holiday shopping, and let's face it — yeah, I do. 

As it turns out, I am not alone. 

The holiday retail sales were projected to be between 843.4 to 859 billion US dollars in 2021

Due to the pandemic, it was predicted that sales might decrease during the 2020 holidays. Spoiler alert, they didn't. On the contrary, according to the National Retail Federation, 2020 holiday sales grew 8.3 percent despite the pandemic. 


Image Source: National Retail Federation

These statistics show that consumers can't and won't stop shopping. 

And that's great for your business. So, how do you make sure your target audience buys from you and not from your competitors (isn't that the goal)? It's done by nailing your holiday email marketing campaigns. 

This article will talk about the why, what, and how of holiday email marketing. 

Let's dig in! 

Why do you need a holiday email marketing campaign strategy?


The thing with emails is — that they are super effective at getting people to buy your products. Although most look at it as hard, it isn’t. These are customers that have already purchased from you or opted in to receive emails from you. You already have their interest, which is the hard part. But, this is not the time for shortcuts. 

Mobile email marketing is big 

72.9 percent of all retail shopping in 2021 was expected to be generated through mobile commerce. 

Consumers are increasingly online shopping on their phones, and email is the best way to target them. More emails are getting opened on mobile phones than on desktops. 

When a person receives an email, their journey from reading that email to buying your product is just one step. 

Personalized email marketing benefits for holidays 

Personalization is a word that keeps getting thrown around by marketers everywhere. Fun fact — Personalization was named the marketing word of the year by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) in 2019. And for a good reason. 

On average, retailers saw 5800 U.S. dollars in monthly revenue from their primary personalization efforts.

And email is one of the few marketing channels that offer great ways to personalize content according to the subscriber. 

Personalized emails also increase click-through rates by 8 times and transaction rates by 6 times

Instant purchasing options 

Checking your favorite brand's email and something catches your eye? With just one tap, you can add it to your cart, checkout, and start looking out the window to see when it will be in your hands. 

It is that simple (minus the staring-at-the-window-longingly part). 

You can include call-to-actions like 'Buy Now' that take readers to their cart with holiday emails. 

Holiday email marketing tips for nailing your next campaign! 

We get it — emails are one of the best ways to reach your audience, market your products, and increase sales. 

But how do you make sure your customers like what they see and feel compelled to click on that Buy Now and complete their purchase? 

Let's look at some of the best tips and tricks I have compiled and expert advice from marketers and email strategists! 

The subject lines of seasonal email campaigns are critical

What's the first thing you read when you receive an email? 

For me and 33% of the email recipients, it's the subject line that determines whether I open an email or not. 

So you can see how important it is to nail your subject lines. You can play around with words for holiday email marketing subject lines and make them relevant to the holiday offer. 

Use words or phrases that are holiday-related like Season's Greetings, Happy Holidays, Holiday Special, etc. 

You can also add emojis to make your subject line pop in your subscriber's inbox. Adding emojis increase the open rate by 45%. Some of the most common emojis sent during the holiday season include:

Image Source: Omnisend 

You can also try and have fun experimenting with different emojis. But make sure you know what your emoji means before sending it to thousands of your subscribers. 

Drizly, an alcohol delivery platform, had one of the best Halloween email subject lines. They did a shot/chaser combo from subject line to pre-header brilliantly.


Image Source: Drizly 

Personalize all the way 

We have talked about the importance of personalization in your emails. Here are a few things you can personalize:  

Subject lines 

Adding the recipient's name in the subject line increases the open rate to 18.30% compared to the 15.70% open rate for a subject line without a name. 

One of the easiest ways to personalize your emails is by adding the recipient's first name in the subject line. It works because it feels like the email is specifically for them, making them excited to open it. 

I got this email from Netflix, which made me feel like they wrote it for me.


Image Source: Netflix 

Email content

You can personalize the content of your email based on your recipient's demographics and location. You can show a different copy to different segments by adding dynamic content to your email. 

For the Originals series, Adidas added dynamic content to their emails. They dynamically switched the products based on the subscribers gender, ensuring they saw the content most relevant to them.


Image Source: Adidas 

Personalize "from" 

68% of Americans say they base their decision to open an email on the "from" name.

By personalizing the "from" name, your subscribers can see the human behind the email and are more likely to engage. 

You can also use different names for different types of emails. You can select another name for customer support emails, while you can choose something else entirely for marketing emails. 

Whenever I see a holiday shopping email from Anne from Bonsai in my inbox, I make sure to open those emails because these are filled with valuable nuggets.


Image Source: Bonsai

Holiday email marketing ideas that are effective and friendly

I am a big fan of storytelling. 

And I love a good heart-warming story — something perfect for your next holiday campaign. 

You can share how your business celebrated the holiday season last year and give your subscribers a little behind-the-scenes glimpse of your team. 

Holidays are a great time to reflect on where you are now and from where you started. You can do a year-in-review or share a quick story of how you started your business. 

Have a look at this year in review email from Grammarly, which is an excellent way to keep the audience engaged and show them their progress throughout the year.


Image Source: Really Good Emails 

If you are doing Christmas-related email campaigns, you can incorporate the 12 days of Christmas in your storytelling and showcase how your product/service can be used. 

I love this email from Trello as it shows different ways to use the platform in the most fun and unique way.

Image Source: Really Good Emails 

Make your emails festive

Holidays are the perfect time to get creative with your email marketing campaigns. With email copy, design, and relevant offers, you have several features to play around with and make your emails more festive. 

Use festive imagery and color schemes 

Who doesn't love a Christmas-themed email or a spooky Halloween email? 

You can adapt your email design by adding images and colors that evoke the holiday spirit. Try different colors and imagery and see what works best for your brand colors and guidelines. But don't forget to have fun with it!

Image Source: Really Good Emails 

Use holiday-themed language  

You can have fun with holiday-specific language and incorporate it into your subject lines and email copy. Some examples include: 

  • All I want for Christmas is [your offer] 
  • Ho ho ho [free shipping], here we go!
  • Fang-tastic Halloween savings
  • It's black Fri-yay! 
  • We're feeling very merry.

You should also make your customers feel happy and cheerful during the holiday season. Shayla Price, Founder of PrimoStats, says, "Think about how you want your subscribers to feel. The holidays are usually happy and reflective moments in people's lives. Bring those feelings into your holiday emails through expressive text and symbolic images."

Add a video 

Video content boosts click-through rates by a whopping 65%. Why wouldn't you use video in your emails with this number in mind? 

Videos are a great way to engage your audience and share more fun and relatable content. 

With holiday emails, you can use videos for multiple purposes like: 

  • Create behind the scenes content of your team celebrating the holiday 
  • Share a video message by the CEO (year in review or thanking all the supportive customers) 
  • Announce the new sales with a video 
  • Celebrate a grateful message for a milestone you have hit during the Thanksgiving holiday 
  • Holiday how-to videos 
  • DIY or recipes 

With video content, remember to showcase your brand's personality. Engage your customers and ask them questions to increase the engagement rate. 

Don't forget to add subtitles for the video content to make your emails accessible to all people. 


Write like you speak 

Writing a practical and action-oriented holiday email can feel like a daunting task. Trust me; I have been there. 

But with a few quick tips up your sleeve, you can nail your email copy. Let's dig in! 

Use a conversational tone 

When subscribers read your email, they need to feel like it was written for them specifically. 

So, how do you achieve that? 

By using a conversational tone. Instead of writing for thousands or millions of people, imagine you are writing the email for one person. Pretend you are talking directly to them and detail all the exciting products and how they can avail of the holiday offers.  

Use the words "I" and "you" to make the email feel like a personal conversation between friends. 

Be authentic and natural

I can't stress this enough. If you are phony or robotic, your subscribers will see right through you. 

Focus on the pain points of your audience and the benefits you are providing them. How is your brand helping them overcome an obstacle? 

Be as natural as possible. Don't try to use words that aren't on-brand. 

Avoid sounding formal or stiff 

No one wants to read stuff that sounds too formal or stiff. Avoid industry jargon and technical terms in emails, as your average customer might not know about these words. 

Make your email conversational and engaging. Ask questions, reference a movie or a song, and add humor to your email (but please don't make it cheesy). 

Bring your brand to life

Email marketing is the second most popular distribution channel behind social media. So, it's no wonder it's a great platform to bring your brand to life and boost your business. 

With holiday email blasts, you have the freedom to be more fun and creative. You can play around with words, be creative with your holiday offers, and create cheerful campaigns. 

It means you can sprinkle some personality into your brand. Here are a few tricks to pull that off: 

  • Show off your company culture. Give people a behind-the-scenes (BTS) look at your team and how things get done at your business. See if those BTS scenes can incorporate your products. 
  • Be humorous. It always works. But make sure you stick to your brand guidelines and don't start to sound like someone your audience doesn't recognize and relate with. 
  • Share your employees celebrating the holidays with their families. It would be interesting to see the holiday traditions your team has. 
  • You can also share a gift guide or product recommendations with your subscribers. 

Sarah Jameson, Marketing Director, suggests adding gift guides to make it easier for people to scan through your products and narrow down their search. She says, "Curate items you have on sale based on your customer segmentation, so the right products are being advertised to the right audience. Gift guides can be flexible or versatile enough to make various ones based on price points, type of product, or age."  

Speak to your audience's interests and passions 

Holidays are the perfect time to get new customers, earn trust, and strengthen relationships. So you have to make sure your offer and email content is relevant to your target audience. 

Know your audience 

Before you decide to write your holiday email, you need to know your audience in-depth. Make sure the messaging reflects the region and culture of your recipients. 

Make a note of their preferences and the kind of content they like to see from you. If you have data on their holiday shopping habits, you can use it to personalize your email content. 

Justin Kerby, Founder of Something Great Marketing, emphasizes knowing your audience. "It's important to remember that not all audiences are the same and that some holidays will resonate with your audience more than others. Audience matching is the most effective way to make holiday email marketing work for you. Don't just think about Christmas; look at all holidays and see where your audience would want to hear about your brand.

Use segmentation 

By segmenting your contacts based on their interests and buying patterns, you can increase your engagement rate. 

You can segment your holiday email marketing campaigns by:

  • Interests: You can separate your contacts into different groups based on their buying behaviors, previous purchase categories, or sections browsed on your website. 
  • Shopping patterns: Holiday campaigns see different types of shoppers, including loyal year-round shoppers and seasonal shoppers. You can customize the frequency, content, and offer based on their shopping patterns. 
  • Sale lovers: Some people only purchase when they have a coupon or during a sale. You can send and double-down on your sale offers for these customers. 

Provide value 

Your emails need to pass the "what's in it for me" test. 

Whatever holiday offer or campaign idea you have come up with, make sure it's valuable to your recipients. 

Apart from exclusive holiday deals, you can also communicate important information like the last day for shipping in time for Christmas, the last day of the Black Friday promotion, or if you are running out of products due to increased demand. 

Focus on what has worked before 

When planning a holiday campaign, it's a great idea to revisit old campaigns from last year and see what worked and what didn't. Make a note of the language and CTA buttons your audience responded to the most. 

You can also see what offers were the most popular among your subscribers. See open, click-through, and conversion rates and note what worked best. 

Use urgency to your advantage

Urgency in marketing works because of two reasons: 

  • It gets people to act on a situation to extend positive emotions or reduce negative ones. 
  • No one wants to miss out on a great opportunity or, as marketers call it, FOMO (fear of missing out). 

So, how can you create urgency with your holiday email marketing? Let's have a look:


Use the right language 

You won't come across as pushy or desperate with the right words. You can create an aura of urgency and scarcity by using specific words and phrases. 

Which ones, you ask? Here's a shortlist: 

  • Scarcity: one day only, limited stock left, last chance to buy
  • Time: last day to avail of the offer, this is for today only.
  • Speed: act now, don't delay, rush to get the offer 
  • FOMO: offer expires in 1 hour. It's now or never.

Deni Ivanov, Digital Marketing Director, focuses on creating urgency in your CTA buttons. "Including a good time-bound CTA in your holiday email campaign to drive urgency. Emails with "order now [time], and receive before [holiday]" are one of the most effective ways to create a sense of urgency during the holiday shopping rush." 

This email from Lucky Brand reinforces urgency by using Final Hours to avail of the sale.


Image Source: Milled

Use numbers to push hard  

According to Yesware, subject lines with numbers get a 45% higher open rate than others. 

You can strategically use numbers and time limits to create urgency and get people to avail the holiday offers. Some examples include: 

  • The offer lasts till December 26 
  • 5 hours left before this offer goes away forever 
  • 10 products left in stock 
  • 1 day left before the webinar 

Look at this example from Birchbox with the email content creating urgency and FOMO with "It only happens once every four years."


Image Source: Birchbox

Include a good offer

Your snazzy email copy and a beautiful design won't work without a sound and relevant offer. You need to make sure your holiday deals are relevant and timely. 

Refer to the section where I talk about knowing your audience. Observe their shopping trends and see what makes them hit "Add to Cart." 

Here are a few deals you can offer during the holiday season: 

Discount or coupon code 

According to Juniper Research, Consumers are expected to redeem a whopping $91 billion in digital coupons by 2022. Crazy, right? 

Holidays are a great time to send a discount or a coupon code. People are looking at ways to save money while shopping for gifts, and with a discount code, they are more than likely to shop with your business.  

Mike Perez, Growth Marketing Expert, advises adding the original price of a product and the discounted price. He says, "50% means nothing if there is no mention of original pricing. Percentages are vague and do not excite the users as much as the mention of the dollars they could be saving." 

Include free shipping 

I love free shipping. 

So much so that I keep on adding stuff to my cart till I get free shipping, or I abandon my cart if I don't get it. 

61% of consumers are likely to cancel their order if free shipping is not offered. So, to make the most of your holiday sale, offer free shipping to your customers. 

Include other seasonal promotions 

You can make the holiday sale fun by adding seasonal promotions and rewards. For example, you can create subscription boxes for New Year to help people develop new routines or new products that will help with their resolutions. 

You can include a free gift with a purchase to increase your sales. The promise of a gift will entice people to buy from your business and increase your holiday sales. 

Make your call-to-action stand out 

Emails with a single CTA boost clicks by 371%

Call-to-action buttons are one of those elements you need to focus on the most. CTA buttons can get your readers to take the desired action when done right. Let's look at some of the ways you can optimize your CTA button. 

Make it clear and actionable 

Focus on precisely what you want to achieve through the CTA button and make it the central point of your CTA copy. 

Answer the following questions to come up with the best language for your button: 

  • What do I want a subscriber to do?
  • How will they know what to do?
  • Why should they do it?

Your CTA should be actionable and set the expectation for what your reader will get after clicking on it. 

Some of the common CTAs like 'click here or 'buy now' don't perform so well because they are not specific and the reader doesn't feel compelled to take actions that aren't well-defined or show the value. 

Instead, try these CTAs:

  • See the new collection
  • Start my free trial
  • Register now
  • Get 50% off
  • Avail the offer
  • Reserve your spot for free 
  • Try it out free

Make your CTA stand out

The goal of your email is to make sure the readers tap the call-to-action button. To attract their attention to the CTA, it has to stand out. 

Use bright colors to draw the reader's eye to the CTA. Make sure you use colors that contrast with any background colors or the surrounding text and images. 

Don't forget to optimize for mobile 

According to Litmus, 44.7% of email opens happen on a mobile device. So, it would be best if you optimized your CTA button for mobile users. 


Add whitespace to make your CTA visible and easy to tap. You also need to make sure your CTA button is large enough for thumbs to tap quickly. As a starting point, you can design your CTA 44x44 pt as suggested by Apple

Include only one CTA per email 

By adding more than one CTA at a time, you confuse your readers and overwhelm them with multiple options. 

The thing with the CTAs is that you want them to take one specific action like buying your product, registering for a webinar, or downloading that eBook. 

So, only add one CTA in the email, use enticing words and design them to stand out and you are good to go. 

Examples of holiday emails 

This was quite a read, so a virtual high-five for making it to the end (almost). 

Now what's left is to look at some of the most captivating holiday email ideas and get inspiration from these campaigns. Let's dig in! 

1. Casper 


Image Source: Really Good Emails

Subject line: Snooze through the sale.

Why it works: It stands out from the holiday rush. 

Casper employs a powerful storytelling mechanism with this Black Friday email and urges the reader to go through the whole email. 

When you look closely, each alarm has a unique, witty name. Just as you start getting nervous about missing the sale, Casper gives you a comforting message and tells you not to panic and go back to sleep as you have much time to avail the discounts. 

The promo code is also visible, and the CTA button is simple and to the point.


2. Buffer 

Image Source: Buffer 

Subject line: New year, new social media planner! 

Why it works: Showcases new features with a holiday greeting. 

Finding the right content to feature in your holiday email campaigns is always a challenge, and getting it perfect during peak season becomes even more daunting.

Buffer does a great job of wishing its readers a Happy New Year by announcing the launch of new features. 

With a screenshot of the new feature and social proof, this email packs value for the readers.


3. Google

Image Source: Really Good Emails 

Subject line: Are you ready for Halloween? 

Why it works: Creates a fun Halloween experience.

Creating relevant and valuable content for your audience helps build a strong relationship. With this Halloween email, Google shows different ways to have fun during the holiday. 

After reading this email, readers feel compelled to try at least one, two, or all of these ideas. And that's the kind of engagement you want to achieve from your holiday emails.


4. noissue

Image Source: Milled 

Subject line: Last call for holiday orders! 

Why it works: Clean and straightforward holiday email 

This email by noissue, a global packing brand, sent this minimalistic holiday email with the best-selling products right at the top of the email. 

With a clean Christmas-themed design, noissue made sure their subscribers didn't waste a lot of time browsing the content of the email. 

The email also focuses on urgency and sends the message that users need to place their orders to receive them in time for the holidays.


5. Magic Spoon

Image Source: Milled

Subject line: Our most festive flavor yet!🎄

Why it works: Focuses on exclusive holiday content. 

Magic Spoon, a cereal brand, showcases their limited holiday product, a gingerbread cereal, only available to their subscribers. 

The email also mentions the date by which the shoppers need to place an order to get it by Christmas eve. This drives urgency and also adds an element of FOMO.


6. Ibotta

Image Source: Really Good Emails 

Subject line: Happy Thanksgiving from Ibotta 🦃

Why it works: Short and sweet email that focuses on the reward. 

This thanksgiving email from Ibotta, a mobile technology company, focuses on gratitude and reward. With a giant $50 sign, readers instantly think they get a great deal. 

With short and sweet content, they want to make sure their readers will read till the end of the email. 

The referral code in the email is clear, and the CTA stands out. They also create an element of urgency with the "Ends Tomorrow" at the start of the email.


7. Vans 

Image Source: Really Good Emails

Subject line: The Vans Holiday Gift Guide

Why it works: Great job playing around with animation to catch the reader's eye. 

This is one of the most fun holiday emails I have seen. Vans did a great job creating a little story with this GIF email. 

The email immediately grabs the reader's attention with the person in the trash can and the bunny sliding on the skateboard. 

The prominent CTA "Shop the Gift Guide" directs readers to their store. A graphic email like this one doesn't need product showcases as it has already captured the readers' attention.


8. Adobe 

Image Source: Really Good Emails

Subject line: Spiced Up Season's Greetings

Why it works: A simple email that focuses on the product's features.  

Adobe is an excellent example of showcasing how to use your products during the holiday season. 

The email copy is on-brand and focuses on utilizing the platform to create holiday collateral. With a focus on inclusivity, the design is holiday-themed and doesn't focus on one particular holiday. 

With the CTAs linking to individual features, readers can't resist checking out the free music collection and templates.


9. Offcourt 


Image Source: Milled 

Subject line: NOT another Black Friday email

Why it works: It evokes emotions of friendship and creates an emotional response.

Instead of focusing on Black Friday sales, Offcourt used this holiday campaign to market its referral program. 

This email is an excellent example of how brands don't have to stick to product recommendations or sales for holiday emails. Coming up with different ideas will help your brand stand out. 

The email copy reads like Offcourt is talking to their friends. The CTA also stands out, and you can see that they have two different CTAs added to the email, both with a tremendous actionable copy.


10. Copy AI 

Image Source: Copy AI

Subject line: I'll tell you a story about St. Patrick's Day... 🍀 

Why it works: Shows readers how the platform works.

This email from Copy AI stands out to me as it's an incredibly unique holiday email. 

Instead of doing fancy design or focusing on a sale, this email focuses on how readers can use their product to create content for a holiday. 

With a beautiful poem that captures your attention, the email gives a practical solution to the problem of creating engaging content. 

With two prominent CTAs, the email gives the option to the readers on what they want to help with. 

Ready to increase your sales with your holiday email marketing?


It's crucial to invest time and effort into holiday marketing ideas to create thoughtful, engaging, and relevant campaigns. 

With authenticity and staying true to your brand, you can bring cheer to your subscribers and increase those holiday sales. 

You can use Copy AI's Free Email Subject Line Generator to write the most striking and captivating subject lines to increase your open rates!


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