Christmas Email Marketing Guide – 8 steps to Silly Season Success

With less than 4 weeks till Christmas I imagine most of you are busy bombarding your subscribers’ inboxes with pre-Christmas newsletters? If not, don’t worry, it’s not too late. Do you remember how many of your customers read your holiday emails last year? If the answer is – not as many as you had hoped – perhaps you need to revamp your Christmas email marketing strategy.

This time of year our inboxes get flooded with pre-Christmas specials, offers, gift ideas and the like. If you’re anything like me then you have probably subscribed to way too many newsletters and as a consequence you end up bulk deleting the majority of them on a daily basis. But if you are like me then you probably also leave your Christmas shopping till the last week of December and then find yourself racking your brain for last minute-ideas. What on earth am I going to buy Aunt Hilda this year, more eco-friendly candles???

What is it that makes you stop, open the email and actually read and/or click on some of the content? In a report conducted by Vision6 on Australian Email marketing statistics the open rate was around 22% and the overall click-through rate was only 4%. So, what is the secret to getting more of your subscribers to read your Christmas newsletter and visit your website or online store as a result?

Here are 8 helpful tips to make sure that your email stands out from the rest this year…

1.  Punchy Subject line.

According to 35% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone. The perfect subject is short (50 characters or less) simple, to the point and doesn’t include words that tend to trigger the spam filters. Spam trigger words such as “free”, “discount”, and “percent off” are all to be avoided in your email subject line. One subject line strategy is to ask a question e.g. Struggling to find the perfect gift for Dad? The use of numbers in email subject lines is also popular – “Top 10 Tips for…”, “5 Must-have stocking-fillers” “6 Things We Love About…”as people like to know what they are going to get out of reading your email. Using punchy phrases and festive terminology will also make your email sound more exciting and fun. A few good examples that I have seen this year so far include “Silly Season Savings” (National Pharmacies), “The Holiday Hit List” (Mecca Cosmetica) and “Your time to Shine this Festive Season” (Diana Ferrari).

2.  Responsive.

Make sure your emails are responsive (the email template recognises the device and adapts accordingly i.e. your newsletter can easily be read on mobile devices). People are on the move even more during the festive season so many of us will be reading our emails on the go. Emails should be designed for finger-pointing with short text, big images and clear calls-to-action. With around 40% of emails now being opened on email mobile devices this is not a factor to be ignored. Chances are many crazy last-minute Christmas shoppers like me will be checking their emails on their smartphones whilst going into battle at their local shopping centre or grabbing those last couple of gifts online and checking their Christmas gift list which they saved onto their tablet…

 3. Engaging Content.

Don’t just promote your products. Give your readers a good reason to buy. Give them great gift ideas, home decorating tips, or seasonal style advice. Include useful links to a Christmas gift guide or the appropriate product page on your website. Provide gift shopping advice and add links to any relevant pages on your website such as your Gift Card page. It’s a good idea to customise your gift voucher page and the cards themselves if possible for the holiday period. Coles and Myer have some fun festive Gift Cards this year.

Let people know when you are open over the holiday period and if you are an online retailer, when last order dates are and what your returns policy will be on gifts that are purchased. This information should be provided on your website so it’s just a matter of creating the appropriate links. Victoria’s Secret has a separate page where their Christmas Delivery Guaranteed conditions are listed.

 4. Segmentation & Personalisation.

By giving your subscribers what they want you can increase your chances of your email cutting through the elevated email noise at this time of year and being opened, read and clicked-through. There are many different ways of segmenting your email lists.

One way is to create buyer persons. HubSpot found that targeting emails by persona increases email click through rates by 16%. Think of personas as personalities that you create for your ideal customers. They are based on your customer demographics and their online behaviour. Creating personas allows you to segment your email lists and send personalised email messages to targeted groups with your lists. That way your subscribers will find your campaigns more relevant and engaging. If you simply haven’t got time to do any segmentation right now you could pick the most important characteristic for your business and use this to divide your email list into two groups.

For example, you might divide your customers into males and females. Women might want to see gift ideas for hubby, the kids and the in-laws but whilst they do their Christmas shopping they would probably be interested in browsing through a few little gifts for themselves. I know that if there is a sale on fragrances, shoes or handbags this weekend then I would want to know about it and I’ll probably end up spending as much time browsing products for myself as I will actually purchasing gifts for my friends and rellies. Hubby, however is unlikely to be distracted by products he doesn’t need right now as like most men is he much more goal-oriented.  But he may very well get distracted if you throw an image of a 65 inch LED TV in there somewhere.

Guys and girls’ shopping habits are extremely different and you can benefit from reflecting this in your email marketing to these groups.

5.  Effective Design.

Take a good look at the design of your email. It needs to stand out in the crowd but still be clean and easy to read whilst encompassing the perfect mix of images and copy. Time poor readers and keen online shoppers alike love eye-catching images that instantly draws our attention to all the right places or all the right products. But we also love an image or video that is so captivating, breath-taking or down-right hilarious that it provides us with a much-needed 5 minute escape from our busy day.

Here are some examples of some very creative and attractive marketing emails.

While it’s important at this time of year to distinguish your email from that of your competitors and give it a seasonal feel, it’s essential to implement a design which reflects a consistent brand experience from the email to your website and of course social media pages. Let’s use Mecca Cosmetica as an example. The look and feel of the brand is completely maintained in the transition from the website to the eDM. This approach gives the user a strong sense of familiarity and adds to the overall strength and integrity of the brand.

6. Noone can pass up a great deal!

This is the perfect time to run competitions, special offers, gifts with a purchase promotions, free shipping etc. Don’t forget to add those all-important links to your Christmas offers.

7. Tie your holiday marketing campaigns into your social networks.

Don’t forget to include links to Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram etc. and vice versa. Post your newsletter on Twitter and Facebook. The more you can integrate your Christmas email marketing with your social networks and the rest of your digital strategy the better.

8. Send out a few festive emails and then send out a few more!

Remember that all your competitors will be doing the same so make sure you send out more than one holiday newsletter and at least one reminder email including your opening hours over Christmas, last order deadlines etc. That way your brand has more chance of surviving in your customers’ inbox this festive season.  Don’t stop post-Christmas either, the new year presents new opportunities for email marketing what with new years’ resolutions, parties and boxing day sales.

Once you have gone to the effort to put together an effective Christmas email make sure you monitor and measure the results of your labour. It’s vital to identify which newsletters have the higher open rates, click through rates, and whether this has resulted in increased sales over the festive period. Google have put together a list of useful tips for tracking email marketing campaigns.

To promote your Christmas specials email marketing is one of the most direct and cost-effective tools out there. If you’ve just realised that you or your staff don’t actually have time to do any of the things I’ve just discussed AWD would be happy to help you with your Xmas email marketing campaign. Happy holiday emailing!

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