Email Academy: Holiday email campaigns that drive results

In the third episode of our Email Academy series, Sinch Mailjet’s Sr. Product Manager, Natalie Lynch, and Sr. Email Marketing Manager, Julia Ritter, went through everything there is to know about holiday email campaigns.

A Greek god and goddess holding shopping bags



The craziness that is the holiday email storm has started to sweep through everyone’s inbox. And while your Halloween email campaign might already be trick or treating customers’ inboxes, that still leaves Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday, Thanksgiving and, well...every holiday up until New Year’s Day.

To say it can be a stressful period for email senders is a bit of an understatement.

So, to help calm the nerves a little, Julia Ritter, Sr. Email Marketing Manager at Sinch Mailjet, and Natalie Lynch, Sr. Product Manager at Sinch Mailjet, were on hand to go through some of the common questions senders have around this holiday period in the latest edition of our Email Academy webinar series: Holiday email campaigns that drive results.

So, how can you get your emails to stand out in a crowded inbox? How do you set goals? How can we get people to open and engage with your content? Let’s see what they had to say and go through their suggested steps for building out a successful holiday email campaign.

Setting goals for your holiday email strategy

First thing’s first: Before you get started with any holiday email campaign you need to have a clear goal in mind.

Now, this needs to go beyond the simple “Oh, my goal is just to make more money…”. Yes, we know that – every business’ goal is to make more money. However, you need to be more specific in your approach if you’re to launch a successful campaign.

These specific objectives – such as boosting engagement, growing your subscriber list, or increasing brand awareness – give your campaign a strategic focus. It helps you tailor your messaging, design, and timing to align with your desired outcomes, ensuring that every email you send serves a meaningful purpose.

“You want to try defining your goal as much as you can before you execute. This way, you’re not just sending an email out into the ether that’s going to fall flat, not get the engagement you need, and not deliver the desired results.”

Julia Ritter, Sr. Email Marketing Manager at Sinch Mailjet

Goals are also critical for measuring the success of your holiday campaign. They act as a yardstick to help you determine what worked, what didn’t, and how to optimize and improve for the future.

So, with that said, let’s look at some of the goal options – beyond just making more money – that Julia and Natalie went through to help direct your own campaign:

  • Product adoption: This could be an interesting goal if you have a product that could help customers over the holiday period, such as pre-made festive newsletter templates for email senders.

  • Inspire brand loyalty: The holiday season is also a good time to just stay top of mind with your customers, so a simple Happy Holidays or Festive Greetings might be all that’s needed.

  • Educating your audience: Educational content can help tie your products or services to a particular customer need. For example, a clothing retailer might send out content titled “Outfit ideas for Halloween” to show customers how they can mix outfits from a clothing line to create a spooky-themed piece.

  • Fundraising: The holiday season is traditionally associated with generosity and gift giving. People are often in a more charitable mood, making it an opportune time to present your fundraising cause.

  • Encourage upgrades: We are often in a spending mood during the holiday season (if you’re not a complete Scrooge, that is) making it a good time to suggest upgrades. Customers maybe be more open to investing in a better version of a product or service, or perhaps even gifting it to friends and family.

These are only a few general goals, but there are many specific goals that could make sense to your business around this time of the year. Get a pen and paper out and start defining what these goals will look like.

How to select the right content

Over the holiday period people receive hundreds of emails from brands on a day-to-day basis. And while we know this might set the alarm bells ringing and deter you from contacting customers for fear of overwhelming them, that’s not necessarily the case.

We asked over 2000 people about their communication preferences around Black Friday and Cyber Monday in a recent Sinch survey and data showed that consumers want to hear from brands about upcoming deals early on. Their preferred channel to get these updates? Email, of course.

Data showing customers’ preferred communication channels over Black Friday and Cyber Monday

As an email marketing platform, it’s pretty neat to see email top the list.  – nearly 70% of consumers selected the email inbox as one of the places they want to hear about holiday deals.

While email marketing should be an indispensable part of your holiday marketing strategy, it should not be the only channel. As part of our Email Camp series, Greg Zakowicz, Sr. Ecommerce Manager at Omnisend demonstrated just how powerful a combination of SMS + Email can be. You can watch Greg’s session “Black(hole) Friday and beyond: Launching a winning holiday email marketing strategy” here.

But while it’s clear your customers want to hear from you over the holiday period, it’s still important to produce content that resonates with them and adapt the style to match your audience’s preferences. Remember, you still need to stand out in an extremely busy inbox.

For example, if we were writing content specifically aimed at Natalie, our Sr. Product Manager, it should be sassy and littered with puns, just like her.  But that’s just our Natalie – your audience might be receptive to a completely different style of content.

Style aside, let’s look at some of the different content types that Julia and Natalie reviewed in the webinar:

  • Blog: During the holiday season, your readers are often looking for tips, advice, and inspiration for everything from gift ideas to holiday recipes and decorating tips. By including blog posts, you can position your brand as a helpful resource and provide your audience with the information they seek.

  • Discounts: With people already in a shopping mindset – particularly around Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas – a well-timed discount offering might just be the nudge some readers need to make a purchase.

  • Statistics: Whether you're sharing industry trends, consumer behavior, or the success of past promotions, statistics can be great at engaging your readers over the holiday period. For example, we gathered data on customer channel preferences for BFCM to write an incredibly helpful resource for email senders.

  • Testimonials: While this might not have been the first content type to come to mind, testimonials can provide social proof from satisfied customers about the value of your product or services. During the holiday season, when consumers are inundated with promotional emails, trust is a precious commodity!

Crafting the perfect holiday email

So, now you know how to set your holiday email campaign goals and have decided which content to include, it’s time to put it all together.

Crafting the perfect holiday email is about finding a delicate balance between two key elements: design and copywriting.

Let’s look at some useful pointers Natalie and Julie suggested when thinking about design and copy for your holiday emails.

Design elements

An email’s design is the first thing that captures a reader’s attention. Typically, during the holiday season you’ll have a little more leeway to play around with vibrant colors, add graphics or GIFs that are slightly off-brand to help your email stand out.

Here are some elements to consider when you design your holiday emails:

  • Vibrant colors: During this busy time of the season, you need all the help you can to get your email to stand out. Eye-catching hues like red, green, and gold can immediately grab the reader’s attention and entice them to explore your email further.

  • Images or illustrations: If you're promoting products or special holiday offers, then you’re clearly going to want to show readers what they look like. High-quality images allow customers to see the products in action and get a better understanding of their features.

  • GIFs: Similarly to images, GIFs add that visual spark and an element of excitement to an email, especially during the holiday season. You’ve got so much creative freedom that it would be rude not to add one (maybe a dancing Santa or cart-wheeling pumpkins?).

  • Plain-text: However, don’t be afraid of plain-text either! In fact, Emily Ryan, Co-founder and Email Strategist at Westfield Creative, and Noami West, Product Marketing Manager at Parcel, did an entire session on the power of minimalism and plain text in email design at our recent Email Camp event – check it out!

Whatever design choices you make, though, your templates should always be mobile-responsive. Why? According to Adobe Analytics, 55% of online sales during the 2022 Thanksgiving weekend and 51% of sales during Cyber Week happened on mobile. Ensuring that your email looks great on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets will be critical in maximizing your conversion rates.

The Sinch Mailjet platform is an excellent tool for designing mobile-friendly emails. Check out a demo for our Email Editor, or find out how to use MJML, an email framework to code responsive emails that’s easy to learn.

Crafting engaging copy

We see the copywriters getting a little edgy in their seats with all this talk of email design, GIFs, and cart-wheeling Santas. Not to worry, we also have some tips for you.

In addition to design, the copy in your holiday email also plays a pivotal role.

The language you use should be engaging, concise, and personalized to your target audience. This is true whether you're promoting special holiday offers, sharing relatable testimonials, or exclusive discounts, your copy should always convey the value and excitement of what you're offering.

Here’s what Natalie and Julie had to say when it comes to crafting irresistible email copy:

  • Add call-to-actions (CTAs): Think of CTAs as signposts that guide your readers on what to do. This could be clicking a link to view your holiday promotions, shopping for gifts, or learning more about your festive offers.

  • Consider personalization: When you personalize your email content, you tailor it to the individual reader's preferences, behavior, wants, and needs. Always keep this in mind when drafting copy – your readers are far more likely to engage with you if they feel the content speaks directly to them.

  • Maintain consistency in tone and brand voice: While there is a little wiggle room in design over the holiday period, you really want to stick to the script when it comes to brand voice. Consistency reminds customers why they love your brand and encourages them to continue engaging with your content.

Getting copy right can be hard, but Julia and Natalie had great advice to help you, including some recommendations directly from Drunk Elephant in the full webinar video.

Mailjet holiday email campaign templates

At Sinch Mailjet, our mission is to make the life of email senders as stress-free as possible.

That's why we created an entire gallery of holiday email templates that you can easily customize and adapt to your needs with our email editor tool. The best part is that all our templates are responsive by design and display perfectly on both your computer and your mobile devices  – across multiple inboxes!

Here are a just a few examples of holiday email templates available in the Mailjet app:

Sample of Mailjet's holiday email templates

Want to see all our holiday email templates? Jump into your Mailjet account to view the full template gallery and start designing stunning holiday campaigns.

Sign up for Sinch Mailjet’s Email Academy

If you find this article helpful, you’ll be happy to hear we’re running an entire webinar series to help you develop and launch a successful email marketing strategy.

Throughout the series, we’ll teach you how to craft amazing campaigns, incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) and optimize your strategy using email performance insights. Plus, we’ll show you how to do all of this on Sinch Mailjet.

Check out past webinars in our YouTube channel and sign up to our Email Academy email list to stay in the loop regarding new episode releases.

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