Practical Ecommerce

5 Holiday Email Marketing Tips

For ecommerce businesses, September is crucial for planning a successful holiday-sales season. For email marketing, starting the planning now will allow more time for last minute changes and time-sensitive promotions. Below, I’ll offer five tips to make the most from your holiday email program.

1. Clean Your Database

Email databases tend to go stagnant over time. Before the holidays is the perfect time to clean your database. Verify older email addresses, process change of email addresses, and eliminate subscribers who haven’t opened, clicked, or purchased from you in a reasonable time. Cutting valuable email addresses can be painful, but having a more responsive list will ultimately help with deliverability and reputation, and motivate you to seek new subscribers.

2. Analyze Last Year

Take time to analyze what worked last year. Go through old emails, offers, and messages and analyze sales and conversions. This a good starting point for what will work this year. Likewise, examine all of the emails you’ve sent this year. Rank their performance in terms of opens, clicks and sales. Moreover, identify the biggest failures of the year — to avoid this holiday season.

3. Get Creative

Consumers monitor offers and messages, especially great deals or limited-inventory notices of a hot new product. Black Friday and Cyber Monday — i.e., the Friday and Monday after Thanksgiving in the U.S. — are crucial indicators of overall holiday sales success. Come up with a new offer or campaign — such as contests and giveaways —that is creative and exciting.

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MIchael's, the arts and crafts retailer, offered this contest in a holiday-related email.

MIchael’s, the arts and crafts retailer, offered this contest in a holiday-related email.

4. Avoid Unnecessary Hype

Not all ecommerce merchants offer products that are suitable for gift giving or have products that otherwise sell during the holidays. If you fall into this category, don’t try to capitalize on the holidays. If you simply don’t have a product or service that is in high demand this time of year, proceed with a “business as usual” approach. Otherwise, you could waste time and money promoting your products.

5. Remember the Season

In the end, holidays are a time to enjoy family and friends, and to be thankful. Ensure your email communications reflect the voice and mission of your company. Have a little fun. Provide an online game or free e-card to break up offer-driven communications. Send a simple “thanks for being a customer” message. Adding a personal touch can resonate with your subscribers.

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Limoges Jewelry sent a holiday email featuring photos of its marketing staff.

Limoges Jewelry sent a holiday email featuring photos of its marketing staff.

Carolyn Nye

Carolyn Nye

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  1. Rachel Miller September 21, 2012 Reply

    I like #5. The holidays are an ideal time to say thank you to customers/clients. A little gratitude will build rapport much better than 15% off coupon.

  2. cathlyn November 3, 2012 Reply

    Number 5 has great advice! If you stop giving offer driven communications and focus on something a bit more festive and giving, you might actually get better responses from email marketing. I know my list is probably fed up with too many “marketing emails”. I am actually considering using real mails this year, see this ( It might actually be the thing to surprise my customer list.