30 Creative Email Ideas for Your Holiday Email Marketing

If you’re like a lot of small businesses, email marketing will play an important role in your promotion plan this holiday season.

With email marketing you can create a series of timely messages to announce your holiday plans, remind people about important dates and deadlines, and thank people for shopping small during the holiday season.

You can connect with potential customers across their different devices, and reach them in the place they are going every day — the inbox.

As you start to plan your holiday email marketing, you’ll want to think of ways to make your emails stand out during this busy season.

To help you get started, we compiled a list of 30 creative holiday email ideas:

1. Holiday preview sale

Give your audience the chance to beat the holiday rush — bring people into your store early with a holiday preview sale! You can encourage current customers to bring their friends, and even offer additional discounts for helping you spread the word about the event.

Constant Contact Customer - La Provence

La Provence, Rockport, Massachusetts

Bonus tip: When hosting a sale early in the season, make sure to offer a convenient way for new customers to sign up for your email list. Let them know you’ll be following up with more updates about holiday offers later in the season.

2. Cyber Monday offer

If there’s an e-commerce side to your business, make sure to participate in the annual online shopping event, Cyber Monday. You can send a series of emails leading up to Cyber Monday letting people know about special discounts, and send a final reminder when the big day finally arrives.

This year Cyber Monday takes place on December 1!

Constant Contact Customer - Door County Coffee

Door County Coffee, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

3. Free shipping

There are small things you can do to add value this holiday season. One of the easiest ways to add value is to offer free shipping leading up to the December holidays. You can encourage people to shop online or provide details so that customers can call to place an order.

Constant Contact Customer - Bead Shop Scotland

The Bead Shop Scotland, Haddington, East Lothian, United Kingdom

4. Gift card bonus

In addition to traditional discounts, you can also look for ways to reward people for shopping small by adding a bonus prize, like a gift card or gift certificate.

Offering a gift card as a bonus can increase sales during the holiday season, and can also help introduce you to new customers in the process.

Constant Contact Customer - Wine Station

Wine Station, Ottawa, Ontario

5. Holiday gift guide

Help your customers find the perfect gift with a holiday gift guide.

You can send a general mailing to your entire list, or create separate lists for different audiences and come up with different gift ideas for all of your different audiences (gifts for moms, gifts for your husband, gifts for your grandkids, etc).

Constant Contact Customer - Fairy Dog Parents

Fairy Dogparents, Duxbury, Massachusetts

Bonus tip: Constant Contact makes it easy to segment your mailing list based on interest, location, and other relevant criteria. Visit our Contact Management Resource page to learn more.

6. Holiday coupon

Coupons can be used in a variety of different ways throughout the holiday season. You can use them as the focus of your email, or add a coupon to your regularly scheduled email newsletter as an extra bonus for your readers.

Constant Contact Customer - EZ Orchard

EZ Orchards, Salem, Oregon

7. Sample sale

Showcase some of the different products you offer with a holiday sample sale. For a business like Sugaree’s Bakery, a sample sale lets customers experience their different recipes and share with holiday guests.

Think of ways you can let people sample your products and services this holiday season.

Constant Contact Customer - Sugarees

Sugaree’s Bakery, New Albany, Mississippi

8. End-of-year update

One of the best ways to celebrate the holidays is to reflect on all that you’ve accomplished in the previous year. As a small business, you share a special connection with your customers and they’ll be happy to hear about all of your success.

Use the holidays to say thanks to your loyal customers and give them something to look forward to in the New Year.

Constant Contact Customer - Ipswich Ale Brewery

Ipswich Ale Brewery, Ipswich, Massachusetts

9. Extended holiday hours

Keep customers up-to-date about any changes in your schedule throughout the holiday season. Customers will be thankful for the reminder, and will be more likely to fit you into their holiday shopping plans.

Constant Contact Customer - Fed by Threds

Fed by Threads, Tucson, Arizona

10. Early pricing

A successful holiday season can help you end the year on a positive note, and can also set you up for success in the New Year.

Don’t wait for the holidays to be over to start planning for next year. Look for opportunities to offer discounts and special offers to get people to schedule services or sign up for appointments in advance.

Constant Contact Customer - Bicycle Adventure

Bicycle Adventures, Issaquah, Washington

11. Naughty or Nice

With so many businesses vying for your customers’ attention during the holidays, you’ll need to come up with creative ideas to get your emails noticed. Boston-based burrito restaurant Boloco, uses humor to make a lasting impression, while also promoting their holiday special.

Constant Contact Customer - Boloco

Boloco, Boston, Massachusetts

12. Say thanks

What is your business thankful for? The holidays are a great time to let people know that you appreciate their support. Saying thanks can humanize your business and help build the trust you need to build customer relationships.

Constant Contact Customer - Property Minders

Property Minder, San Jose, California

13. Holiday announcement

A successful holiday email promotional plan will include a mix of announcements, reminders, and thank you emails.

Think about the big things you’re promoting this season. For some businesses it may be an annual holiday sale or event, or it could be a new line of products for the holidays.

You can use a holiday announcement to get the word out early, and start the season off on the right foot.

Gourmet Coffee - Holiday Announcement

Gourmet Coffee Service, Van Nuys, California

14. Holiday video

Add some personality to your holiday emails with a special holiday video.

You can use video to go behind the scenes and let people know how you’re preparing for the holiday season. You can also showcase your employees or just use the video to say thanks for a great year.

Constant Contact Customer - Awesome Merchandise

Awesome Merchandise, Wellington Bridge, Leeds

Bonus tip: Smartphones make it easy to create professional-looking videos on a budget. Here are 6 examples of videos you can create without spending a dime.

15. Tie in social media

Offer people multiple ways to connect with you this holiday season.

In addition to traditional methods like phone or email, you can also encourage people to connect with you on social media.

Constant Contact Customer - The Basketry

The Basketry, Luling, Louisiana

Bonus tip: Even if you don’t have an e-commerce side to your business, you can still use social networks like Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook to showcase your different gift ideas. Consider creating a special board of gift ideas on Pinterest and promoting it to your email list.

16. Black Friday offer

Black Friday isn’t just for the big-name retailers. As a small business, you can create a special Black Friday offer and take advantage of the rush around the holiday shopping weekend.

This year Black Friday takes place on November 28!

Constant Contact Customer - Cape Fear Aesthetics

Cape Fear Aesthetics, Fayetteville, North Carolina

Bonus Offer: Constant Contact’s holiday email templates make it easy to promote your Black Friday offer. You can customize the email to fit your brand and quickly add details about your deal.

17. Look ahead to the New Year

If you don’t have a lot going on during the holidays but have big plans for 2015, you can use the holidays to promote your upcoming activities. Use online registration to make it easy for people to sign up in advance.

Constant Contact Customer - Bisque Imports

Bisque Imports, Belmont, North Carolina

18. Last minute reminders

Don’t forget to factor your last-minute email reminders into your holiday planning. You can come up with a list of last-minute gift ideas and promote them in the days leading up to the December holidays. Or help customers find last-minute decorations for their holiday parties.

Constant Contact Customer - Floral Hardy

Floral & Hardy of Skippack, Skippack, Pennsylvania

19. Gift certificates

Don’t forget to offer gift certificates as a gift idea this holiday season. This can be especially effective later in the season when people are looking to pick up last-minute gifts.

Constant Contact Customer - Cotton Clouds

Cotton Clouds, Safford, Arizona

20. Celebrate your success

Were there certain projects or achievements that really stood out for your business in 2015?

For a nonprofit organization like Build it Green! NYC, showing their different successes allows them to tell their story and motivate supporters, donors, and volunteers.

Constant Contact Customer - Build it Green

Build it Green! NYC, Astoria, New York

21. Holiday event

Hosting a holiday party is the perfect way to thank employees and customers for their continued support all year long. After all, they are the backbone of your business and you want them to know just how much you care.

Constant Contact Customer - Galuppis

Galuppi’s, Pompano Beach, Florida

22. Gift packages

Put a holiday wrapping around some of your products and services to create special gift packages.

You can create packages that are unique to your different audiences, and add value without adding a discount.

Constant Contact Customer - Treetop Yoga

Treetop Yoga Studio, Gloucester, Massachusetts

23. Local deal

With a local deal, you can create a great offer, like a $25 for $50 voucher that customers and potential customers can purchase and redeem at a later date. This is a great way to generate new revenue during the holiday season, and can help bring new customers into your store.

Learn more about Leeners’s successful holiday deal.

Constant Contact Customer - Leeners

Leeners, Northfield, Ohio

24. Share a story

The holidays are a great time to make a more personal connection with the people who support your business. Share a story about how your family celebrates the holidays.

Adding a personal touch to their holiday newsletter resulted in Second Bloom Design’s biggest order of the holiday season.

Constant Contact Customer - Second Bloom Design

Second Bloom Design, Dorchester, Ontario

25. Shipping deadlines

People need all the help they can get when it comes to keeping track of important dates and deadlines during the holiday season. Email is one of the most reliable tools you can use to notify your audience about any important deadlines.

Constant Contact Customer - Taza Chocolate

Taza Chocolate, Somerville, Massachusetts

26. Affordable gift ideas

Help people find the perfect gift on a budget with an email that shows off some of your affordable gift ideas. This is a great way to bring people into your store so that you can show off all the other great products you have to offer.

Constant Contact Customer - Currier Museum

Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire

27. Local gift ideas

There are a number of benefits of shopping small during the holiday season. Use these benefits to your advantage. Show off the personal touch your business offers, and encourage people to “beat the crowds” by shopping small.

Constant Contact Customer - Nashoba Valley

Nashoba Valley Winery, Bolton, Massachusetts

28. Photo contest

Contests are a great way to celebrate the holidays with your biggest fans. Boston-based burger restaurant Tasty Burger, created a fun “12 Days of Ugly Sweater” contest, and encouraged people to share their best photos on social media. This is a great way to engage your audience and have some fun during this busy time of year.

Constant Contact Customer - Tasty Burger

Tasty Burger, Boston, Massachusetts

29. Fundraising campaign

Celebrate the “Season of Giving” by supporting one of your favorite organizations. You can donate a portion of your sales, or come up with different ways that encourage people to interact with your business and donate.

Constant Contact Customer - Avenue Gallery

The Avenue Gallery, Victoria, British Columbia

30. Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday is a national day of giving, following the busy holiday shopping weekend.

This year, Giving Tuesday is on December 2nd!

If you’re a nonprofit, you can take advantage of this important day by running a fundraising campaign.

Constant Contact Customer - Gorilla Doctor

Gorilla Doctors, Davis, California

Hopefully, these 30 ideas will get you inspired to plan your own holiday email:

30 Creative Email Ideas for Your Holiday Email Marketing

Looking for more holiday marketing advice?

Join us for our free online event, Rock the Holidays with a Great Promotion.

During this webinar, we’ll discuss:

  • How to easily create a holiday marketing strategy
  • 5 ways to make your promotion stand out in a crowded inbox
  • How to create offers that drive results
  • How to determine the best times to send and post

See available dates here

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2014 and has been updated for relevancy and accuracy. 

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