Ho-ho-holiday Emails

by Patricia Fitzgerald

The holidays may be the most wonderful time of the year. But are they best time for email marketing? After all, people are in spending mode. Their wallets are already open. Seems only natural that they’d open your holiday-themed email as well. Right?

That depends. The success of your holiday email campaigns relies on a number of factors — including when you send your emails, and how you craft them. There’s a great study by Yes Lifestyle Marketing that offers up all manner of stats on holiday-themed email marketing. We recommend reading it, if you have the time and inclination. But if you’re just looking for the Cliff Notes version, then take a gander at these key take-aways.

Save the Hard Sell

Most businesses start sending out holiday-related emails in October, gearing up for Halloween. Then comes Thanksgiving in November, followed by Hanukkah, Christmas, and general holiday seasons greetings in December. You’ll want to approach your pre-December holiday email campaigns a little differently than your December campaigns. And here’s why.

Emails with a hard-hitting sales or promotional message have a lower open rate when sent in October and November. That’s typically because folks are not looking to buy stuff then; instead, they’re focused on their children, family, decorating, cooking, and getting through this busy time of year with their sanity intact.

As such, emails that provide some kind of value-added content related to the holiday at hand enjoy a higher open rate. So for October, think tips on carving pumpkins, DIY Halloween costumes, or setting up a haunted house in your garage for the neighborhood kids. For Thanksgiving, think recipes, suggestions for eating healthy, unique place-settings for your family feast, how to avoid talking politics with your uncle. If you can tie this content into your products or services, even better. But avoid the hard sell.

There’s always an exception to the rule, right? Same here. When it comes to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, your email should by all means tout amazing sales and offers on your products/services. Research also shows us that emails sent right before Black Friday/Cyber Monday or on the actual day have a better open rate that those sent earlier.

December Do’s and Don’t’s

So what about email marketing in December? Well, that requires a different approach. Holiday-themed email volume is around 40% higher in December, compared to October. At the same time, the open rate for emails sent in December is lower than in October. The simple explanation for this is: by the time December roles around, people are sick of seeing holiday-related emails. And instead of clicking on them, they tend to ignore and trash them.

So how do you increase the open rates of your December emails? Here are a few tried-and-true tips.

Get in the Holiday Spirit

Emails that focus on price have lower open rates than those with content that centers around the holidays. Recipients saw enough of those emails during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. So don’t just scream about discounts and offers. Demonstrate how the products/services you’re selling will make the holidays more enjoyable, convenient, magical, memorable, and overall better.

Craft your emails in the spirit of giving, rather than saving. Instead of centering your message on how much much money your recipients will save, show them what amazing gifts your products/services will make. Create a holiday giving guide that showcases your products/services, and who they’d be great for. Tailor your gift guides to your recipients. Here are some great examples of holiday emails featuring gift guides and plenty of seasonal spirit.

In the Words of Foreigner: It’s Urgent

Create a sense of urgency. Let your recipients know you have a limited number of certain products. Remind them to order by a certain date to make sure it’s shipped in time for Christmas or Hanukkah. If you’re offering a discount or promotion, give it an end date and urge recipients to purchase before the offer’s over.

Santa’s Little Helpers

Yes, this is the most wonderful time of the year. But it’s also the busiest for your customers and their inboxes. Carefully crafting, planning and timing your holiday-themed emails will help them break through the clutter and connect with recipients. And if you’re thinking of sending out any emails not related to the holiday, we strongly recommend waiting until after the new year to do so. Whether you’re considering an email campaign for the holidays or otherwise, we’re happy to help. Just give us a jingle.

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