Practical Ecommerce

Email Marketing: Planning Your Holiday Calendar

Email marketing is a powerful driver of holiday sales. But haphazardly sending emails is not the way to optimize campaigns.

Taking just a few minutes to think about what an email will contain and when it will be sent should help to improve results. What follows is an example holiday email calendar. It can be followed as is or used as a source of inspiration for similar calendars. It assumes certain associated marketing initiatives.

November 21, 2012: Gift Guide Announcement Email

The first email that you’ll be sending this holiday shopping season will announce the publication of your holiday gift guide. This means that you will need to actually have a holiday gift guide ready to go.

Shoppers want help choosing gifts. Anything a merchant can do to offer good suggestions will improve the user experience and, perhaps, boost sales. Sending this announcement the day before Thanksgiving could mean that you’ll get traction on Thursday afternoon as shoppers begin searching for Black Friday specials.

In a pinch, the gift guide can be created on a site like Pinterest, but it may be better to have this on your site.

See Net-a-Porter, Roxy, and Amazon for examples of gift guides in use.

  • Target. All of your subscribers.
  • Message. “Get Help with Your Holiday Shopping. New Gift Guides Available.”
  • Content. Gift guide links and graphics.

November 23, 2012: Free Shipping Announcement

More than half of all online retailers will be offering free shipping during the 2012 Christmas shopping season. Be one of them. Consider offering free ground shipping on all orders that meet a minimum dollar value — for example “Free shipping with any order of $50 or more.”

Black Friday shoppers dealing with the maddening crowds and endless lines at the local mall or big box store need a reminder that they can shop online, too. It won’t cost more and it will be much more convenient.

  • Target. All of your subscribers.
  • Message. “Free shipping.”
  • Content. Site links and explanation of free shipping offer.

November 26, 2012: Cyber Monday Deals

The Monday following the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday — Cyber Monday — is the single most important day in the ecommerce sale calendar. Shoppers expect stores to offer some sort of specials or deals. Not making those offers could even upset shoppers.

Consider offering 10-to-20 percent off of everything in the store or even deeper discounts on selected items.

  • Target. All of your subscribers, or segment the list around product preferences and offer different versions of the email.
  • Message. “Cyber Monday Savings.”
  • Content. Show a handful of specific products at discounted prices with links. If your list is segmented around product preferences, consider using multiple versions that feature products specifically of interest to the recipient.

November 30, 2012: Gift Guide Follow Up

Re-send the gift guide announcement from November 21 to anyone who did not open the message.

  • Target. Any subscribers who did not open the first gift guide email.
  • Message. “Get Help with Your Holiday Shopping. New Gift Guides Available.”
    Content. Gift guide links and graphics.

November 30, 2012: Red-Hot Deal Offer

For any subscribers who have been interacting with earlier emails — meaning they either opened the message or opened and clicked — send a new, red-hot deal offer.

This offer might be 30-to-50 percent off of a small selection of products, free shipping upgrades to 2nd day air on orders over $100, or similar deals.

  • Target. Any subscriber who has interacted with an email, excluding anyone who is getting the second gift guide email.
  • Message. “Save Big on Select Items/Shipping.”
  • Content. Graphics and links supporting the offer.

December 6, 2012: Red-Hot Deal Offer

It is Thursday and time for another offer email. As with the November 30 email, this message is aimed at getting incremental sales improvements and is aimed at subscribers who have already been interacting with your email messages.

  • Target. Any subscriber who has interacted with an email, excluding anyone who is getting the “We Miss You Offer” below.
  • Message. “Save Big on Select Items/Shipping.”
  • Content. Graphics and links supporting the offer.

December 6, 2012: We Miss You Offer

Christmas, which is effectively the deadline for holiday gifts, is fast approaching. Get the attention of subscribers who have been ignoring all of your messages so far.

  • Target. Subscribers who have not opened a single holiday email.
  • Message. “We miss you.”
  • Content. Explain that you want the customer back and you’re willing to give them a special deal.

December 17, 2012: Free Shipping Day

The 17th is “Free Shipping Day.” It is really the last or nearly the last opportunity for shoppers place orders confident that the free shipping option will get a gift to its destination by Christmas Eve.

Many, if not most, online retailers will be honoring free shipping on all orders (with some weight restrictions) today. Your business should too and an email explaining the offer will be key. Check out the Free Shipping Day site for insights.

  • Target. Everyone on your list.
  • Message. “Free Shipping Day.”
  • Content. Explain Free Shipping Day, link to site.

December 20, 2012: Last Chance Sales

The last chance email is an opportunity to discount anything left in inventory that is bound to be a closeout item in January. Better to deeply discount it now than have it lingering in inventory until May. Segment this email’s content by product preference if you are able.

  • Target. Everyone on your list.
  • Message. “Last Chance Offer.”
  • Content. Last minute sale items with links.

December 24, 2012: Holiday Greetings

With holiday sales done, it is time to offer everyone on your mailing list a sincere holiday greeting.

  • Target. Everyone on your list.
  • Message. “Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas.”
  • Content. A digital holiday card.

December 31, 2012: Happy New Year

Like the December 24 email, this one should be more about building relationships than selling anything.

  • Target. Everyone on your list.
  • Message. “Happy New Year.”
  • Content. Another digital holiday card.
Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
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Comments ( 2 )

  1. Elizabeth Ball November 13, 2012 Reply

    I’ve seen these planning calendars before but never the date, target, message AND content suggestion. Thanks Armando!

  2. Carlos Rivera November 20, 2012 Reply

    Killer setup! I’m printing this out and using it this season! :)

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