by Anna Wybieralska Dec 8, 2020

It’s the season to be jolly! Yes, the best time of the year has come to snuggle by the fire, eat some good food and interact with family you usually don’t get to see that often.

For many, Christmas is the most lucrative season to gain some revenue by effectively promoting your company and products across social media. And what is the most important channel you should take into consideration while creating your holiday campaign? Email. It’s one of the most engaging ways to reach existing subscribers as well as gain some new customers especially during this time of the year. However, it poses another question - how do you make your holiday email marketing campaign great? Well, the good news is that you don’t need to wonder. We have a great email marketing checklist perfect for the holiday season.

Why email is the perfect channel for a holiday campaign

Emails are not only perfect for maintaining a certain level of trust among your recipients that will influence their purchase behavior, but it’s also a great way to show off your offers that won’t get lost in the shuffle. Let me tell you how.

1. Emails get double the exposure

During winter, people tend to spend more days at home wrapped in a warm blanket and sipping hot chocolate. Nowadays, even more than ever, given the situation in the world. One of the things that helps while staying inside is browsing the vast world of the internet, and more precisely - their inboxes.

People like to know what’s going on but they like even more when the news and offers are in some way catered and personalized towards them. The best source to find such content is looking through their email messages. After all, they signed up for a reason.

2. They are made for people on the go

During the Christmas rush, people are extremely busy. They not only have to compromise their work with personal life, but they also frantically search for perfect gifts for their loved ones, set up Christmas parties and plan their new resolutions (just to break them two months later).

People don’t have the time to scroll through the rabbit hole of the social media shopping features or physically go to the store in search of inspiration. They want quick solutions, and they want them in the easiest possible format. Here is where email comes to the rescue. An email has the potential to deliver extremely curated content, wrap it up in attractive design and top it off with an intuitive “Buy Now” button, that will bring people straight to their shopping cart. 

An interesting thing about the buy buttons too is that over 41% of retailers will use them in their holiday campaigns. This means that emails will be even easier to navigate through the holiday season and possibly for any other occasion in the future.

3. It can support all your campaigns

Nowadays, you can’t just put out an email campaign and call it a day. Similar to dating apps, if you go out in the world, you usually have two or more profiles to meet potential partners. 

So when you work on your holiday campaign, you create separate ads in Google, launch social media posts and add email to the mix. The one thing is that social media, while they can get you a loyal following, are not that useful for creating a truly lasting connection with subscribers. Email helps you build a relationship based on regular contact, landing directly in personal inboxes and personalizing content in a way that makes people feel as if this email was made exactly for them. 

A cherry on top is that email can help you build up your social media and offline campaigns as well. By giving a compelling CTA, adding a hidden bonus, or simply inviting contacts to an exclusive VIP list will get you from people mindlessly swiping through their channels to actively participating in your brand.

The only holiday email marketing checklist that you need

When it comes to holiday email campaigns, there is no room for guessing. You need to make it perfect and you need to make it quickly. If you want to make your current holiday campaign unforgettable or simply want to build a fool-proof way to create your seasonal emails that won’t consume your whole week - we’ve got you covered!

Here are some of the most important elements of creating a great holiday campaign without worrying. So sit back, relax and cross “creating an email campaign” off your letter to Santa.

Keep your list up to date and squeaky clean

This starts with the collection of your contacts. Make sure your web forms are double opt-in which means that users must confirm their email address and wish to be on your list. This might seem like more work for your users, but the people who want to receive your mail will gladly take a few extra seconds to ensure the proper email address is provided. Now that you have a good way to build your list, you still have to maintain it. Watch your Block List closely for unsubscribes or hard bounces and remove them. Sending to invalid email addresses is a sure-fire way to land your email in spam folders. Make sure you are frequently keeping your list up to date. Inactive email accounts turn into spam traps and hitting a trap is the most unknowing way of getting blacklisted.

Test your creatives before blasting to your entire list. Time and time again, we have clients that send out an email to their entire list before checking to see how the email content ranks on spam tests or if their email will land in their own inbox. One mistake like this can cause ongoing delivery issues for you. Take the time to make sure your mail arrives in some test accounts you should use with the main providers like Gmail, Live/Outlook/MSN/Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc. It takes only minutes to set up these accounts and create a group to send to and evaluate it's delivery. You might even catch some spelling mistakes you didn't see reading it from a customer's perspective. Use sites like http://www.mail-tester.com/ to see how your email ranks on the spam scale. If they are reporting issues, fix them before you send them to your list!

Include text versions of your content

You have no idea where or how your email will be read and some devices or programs prefer or can only read text formats.  The easiest way to send a text version along with your HTML message is to use our setting on the Setup tab - "Auto-create Text body when only the HTML body is present".  This will convert the HTML into plain text and make it readable on devices that are not able to read HTML.

If you have a specific creative on a topic, don't just direct them to your homepage hoping they will find their way to your information. Create specific, creative landing pages that are clear they have come from your email and landed on your website to learn about the topic you have sent them. Having one clear "call to action" button to make a purchase, sign-up, order, or anything else is a great idea. You can even go a bit further and create a special holiday landing page that will get your recipients in an extra festive mood.

Your subject line matters

People start to get a solid impression about another person within the first seven seconds of meeting them. And just like with email, it all starts from the very first action you take. In case of an email message, it's a subject line. This is the thing that makes your recipient decide if it's even worth to click on your email. That's why you need to make it well.

If you want to add emojis, go for it! Just remember that the emoji cannot be used instead of a word, as different inboxes and devices use different emojis. If you decide to use one, keep it relevant to the email theme and follow some rules on how you should use them well.

Make sure your subject is not setting off spam alarms by checking common words to avoid. This list is ever-changing and most likely growing but you can Google this topic for words to avoid in your email subjects. Below are a few that might surprise you:

  • Get
  • Avoid
  • Act Now
  • Free
  • Your Family
  • Your Own
  • Opportunity

Also, it is worth noting as I have mentioned it in the past, but do not put your SUBJECT IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.

Making people want to read your email

Once the first barrier of the subject line is down, you need to focus on the actual content of your email. And let me tell you, it's not that easy.

Make your creatives easy to read, to the point and do not try to cram every piece of information about your company in one email. Use easy to read fonts like Arial or Verdana and break your content up into either 4 or 5 sentence paragraphs or use bullets for even more reading efficiency. Readers likely won't read your entire email, so think about how to catch their attention and bring the main points forward in your creative.

When it comes to seasonal emails, you need to pay even closer attention to the above rules as people have less time and there are significantly more distractions that they need to endure. Keep it short and sweet, make it relevant to the recipient you're sending it to and, if all goes well, expect a sale!

Using images in emails

Another thing on our email marketing checklist is pictures. Images provide some zest and brand identification. Without them, the email will be a boring black on white wall of text that won't make anybody interested. However, having too many pictures can impact your delivery. Our best advice?

Never use one big image for your entire email. This will cause you problems as spam filters do not like emails with basically no readable content (text). Use images for your logos and splash, but do not put an extensive amount of text in your images. Instead, try to put yourself in the customer's shoes. What type of email you would like to receive? The one with little to no content and a big picture plastered across it or the one with balanced 60/40 text to image ratio that will be easy to read but still provide some eye-candy?

When it comes to the aesthetic of your images, you can go all out for holidays. Christmas (or any other December holiday) is nowadays more commercial, which means companies produce elaborate content to appeal to people's need for spending. Go traditional with typical elements like festive trees, gifts, familiar color schemes to put recipients in a holiday spirit, or try a different approach and go for a more modern, sophisticated look. Include GIF's (but not too much), embed a cute holiday video or add a product carousel for this seasonal spark.

Monitor after you send

Creating and sending an email is not all there is. You still need to pay close attention to your statistics once the message goes out to the world. Monitor your opens , clicks and any action after you've sent an email to check your results and learn what you can do better. If you want to get even more feedback, you should consider using A/X testing with every single message you send, gather the details and then make your own ultimate email that will please your customer base.

Then, you will be able to figure out the day and time you should send your messages, what pictures get you the most clicks and who actually opens your emails. Just keep in mind that everything should be taken with moderation, so don't overdue the testing process, especially during one of the most lucrative selling times of the year.

Santa travels the Earth within one day, but you can't

Finally, probably the most important thing is to plan ahead. When it comes to any seasonal email campaign, you need to realize that people start looking for possible purchases two weeks or even a month early. What this essentially means is that you can't just "wing it" and plan your email campaign a week ahead hoping to get some revenue.

You need to build your campaign carefully, and even better, send multiple (not too much though) emails to keep reminding your recipients that you are here to deliver all of their holiday gifts. Luckily for you, this email marketing checklist is here to assist you on your way.

Anna Wybieralska

Anna is working as a Content Manager in Elastic Email. An email marketing enthusiast with a millennial approach. She's either writing, buying plants or avoiding social interactions.

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