7 Email Marketing Tips to Boost Holiday Sales

This year, marketers are facing an unusual holiday season: it’s the end of what many have described as the worst year in recent history, while economic struggles and the COVID-19 pandemic continue to impact people’s lives. Consumers are eager to make the most of their holidays, and that means it’s more important than ever to connect with them. Despite the economic impact of the pandemic, the upward trend of online holiday shopping is expected to continue. Here are eight tips for your holiday marketing campaigns.

Focus on Human-Oriented Content 

After months spent indoors and with the holidays fast approaching, people are craving human connection now more than ever. Give them what they want: send emails that feature real photos and videos of their fellow customers, as well as your team! Here are some ideas:

  • collect user-generated content via social media, e.g. ask people to share selfies with one of your products, then feature your favorite submissions in your email 
  • take photos of your team in holiday garb and include them in a “meet our team” email 
  • create a case study of a customer who has particularly benefited from your services and feature them in an email as an example of your holiday spirit 

This approach not only promotes a strong brand community but also affirms a key message: “We’re all in this together.” Shifting away from overt sales promotion (which may seem opportunistic during these difficult times) toward a spirit of togetherness can actually boost your sales, as people feel more kinship with and trust in your brand. 

Refine Your Audience Segmentation 

The holiday season is certainly a time when consumers are spending more, but that doesn’t mean that they are spending without discretion. Remember, most people are shopping for gifts, which means they are looking for very specific products. That’s what a one-size-fits-all approach leads to one-size-fits-none results. Generic holiday promotions won’t land if you’re not sending your audience products they want to see.

Break down your audience based on demographics, behavior (what they search for, what they do on social media), and engagement (how many purchases they’ve made with you). This way, you can send highly targeted sales messages. Remember, even when people are shopping for gifts, they’re working from their own purchasing tendencies. Look at the types of products they tend to buy, then offer them recommendations based on their demographic data (e.g. “gifts for Mom/Dad,” “gifts for your spouse,” “gifts for coworkers”). With a powerful CRM and email marketing provider, you can personalize each email campaign and generate at least 6 percent more revenue

Create a Sense of Urgency

2020 may have dragged on, but the holidays are starting to fly by. Many people are hoping to make the most of these last couple of months. Tap into their fear of missing out (FOMO) by creating a sense of urgency in your email campaigns. Here are some simple ways to do this:

  • Drive customers toward action by including urgent language in your emails, e.g. “only X days left in this sale!”
  • Run flash sales with enticing discounts. Use language that makes your subscribers feel special and like they can’t miss this opportunity.
  • Include a “holiday countdown” to encourage customers to shop sooner and more frequently.

Remember to keep these emails short and sweet to maximize their impact. Your goal is to give your subscribers a quick, time-sensitive way to get their holiday shopping done. 

Optimize Your Post-Purchase Sequence

People are anxious this year, so make sure that your email automation is set up to keep customers up-to-date about their purchases. At a bare minimum, you should send:

  • a purchase confirmation/thank-you email. You can include upsell or cross-sell product links, such as gift recommendations.
  • appointment confirmations for service-based businesses
  • shipping confirmations and delivery updates, if applicable. Make it easy for consumers to track packages.
  • a follow-up email with an additional thank-you and an opportunity for feedback. (Tip: incentivize this with a discount code if they leave a review.)

You can also send emails that encourage people to recommend your product/service. Again, you can boost engagement by offering a free gift or discount code in exchange. 

Promote Charitable Giving

Even during rough times — and often, because of them — people want to support their neighbors. Tap into this generosity by sponsoring a charitable giving campaign. Let your customers know that you will donate a portion of holiday sales to a charity, and encourage them to share your giving campaign on social media. Send an email sequence that highlights your chosen charity, explains how your donation will help the organization, and connects its mission to your company values. 

This tactic affirms your brand reputation and incentivizes your customers to purchase from you. People enjoy feeling that they can help others while meeting their needs. 

Offer Digital Perks

This year, people have become accustomed to consuming video content and communicating digitally as they shelter in place. Now, virtual experiences are all the rage. Keep up the trend by delivering enhanced digital content via your email campaigns.

Start by embedding videos in your emails. These could include tutorial videos, behind-the-scenes footage, inspirational PSA-type videos, and perhaps even an amusing holiday skit by your team.

If you’re a service-based business, you can host a virtual event, such as a webinar or livestream. Think outside the box: try a mix of product demos, holiday tips, and special guest Q&As. This tactic engages your customers with your brand, then primes them to purchase a package or recommend your service to their friends and family. 

You can also invite people to exclusive online sales. According to Klaviyo, holiday e-commerce sales will reach a record $1.1 trillion this year. Make it compelling for your customers: create a VIP experience by offering special discounts during a specific time frame. Improve your campaign targeting by having people register for the event, then pump them up to get their wallets ready. (Look at Amazon’s Prime Day as an example.) 

And of course, don’t forget to promote COVID-safe and socially-distanced giving with digital gift cards. Make it easy to purchase them straight from the email.

Lead with Empathy, Not Sales Talk

This is not the year to encourage people to max out their credit cards or spend frivolously. Many people are strapped for cash. They want to purchase gifts for loved ones and perhaps treat themselves, but they will be very strategic with their purchases. When promoting your specials, focus on the discounts and value you’re offering customers. Your email copy should reflect this attitude. For example:

  • DO write benefit-oriented copy such as “Show your appreciation” and “Give the perfect gift”
  • DON’T write sales-y copy such as “This is your only chance to get X” or “Spend X, get Y off”

Remember, you can promote urgency and tap into FOMO without coming off as opportunistic. Place the emphasis on holiday togetherness and connection rather than outright pushing for sales. A subtle approach will get you more mileage this year. 

Wrapping Up

For consumers, it’s easy to get fatigued by the whirlwind of holiday emails. Make your messages stand out by prioritizing your customers’ needs and interests. Focus on providing value and opportunity that will make them feel empowered after a rough year. Keep all emails digestible, human-oriented, and highly relevant. With a careful strategy, you can boost trust in your brand and generate more revenue this holiday season.


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