How to Write an Effective Holiday Marketing Email

In 2018, email marketing drove 24% of sales during the holiday season.

This year, according to The National Retail Federation: “holiday retail sales during November and December [are expected] to increase between 3.8 percent and 4.2 percent over 2018 to a total of between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion“.

If you’re doing the math, that’s approximately $174.9 to $175.4 billion in retail sales that are expected to come from holiday email marketing this year.

If your business’ email marketing plan isn’t taking advantage of the season by sending out holiday-themed emails that drive sales, you’re leaving money on the table.

Writing an effective holiday marketing email doesn’t have to be difficult, time-intensive, and stressful. Use the following tips to make it easier, quicker, and virtually stress-free.

Here’s how to write your holiday email content in minutes.

No matter the holiday, you can write your email quickly, and effectively, by focusing on the five key elements that make up a good holiday email marketing campaign: subject line, preheader text, image, message body, and call-to-action.

Let’s take a look at these five elements:

1. Subject Line

When the average office worker receives 121 emails per day (according to DMR), your audience is likely bombarded by emails during the holiday season.

The subject line is your best chance of standing out in this sea of email. Keep it short (4 to 7 words) and eye-catching. Make sure it features the holiday theme.

For example, a Halloween supply store might send an email with the subject line “Want your house to be the spookiest in town?”

Or a clothing store, highlighting a winter season catalog, might want to use a subject line like; “Warm up your winter wonderland wardrobe.”

Try one of the techniques below for writing standout subject lines:

Standout Holiday Subject Lines

2. Preheader text

Since the late 20th century, all great holiday movies have had taglines.

It’s a Wonderful Life: “It’s a wonderful laugh! It’s a wonderful love!”

Elf: “This holiday, discover your inner elf.”

Home Alone: “A family comedy without the family.”

Nightmare Before Christmas: “A ghoulish tale with wicked humour & stunning animation.”

Great holiday emails have taglines, too (only we call them preheaders).

Your preheader is an extension of your subject line and should further tease the content of your email. Like taglines for movies, your preheader should give readers a better understanding of what your email is about in a memorable, attention-grabbing way.

If you’re using a subject line like, “Sweet dreams are made of cheese,” think about using a pre-header like this; “Your Christmas dreams come true.”

If you’re giving more than you’re asking for (80% of your email campaigns should give and 20% should ask), and sharing some shopping ideas with your readers, try a subject line like, “Santa’s secret stash”, with a preheader like: “Gift ideas from stocking stuffers to secret Santas”.

Tip: Most mobile inboxes display 75–100 characters, so limit yourself to 5-8 words to catch your reader’s attention.

3. Image

What are your eyes drawn to when you first open an email?

Is it the big block of text? Or the colorful, fun, interesting picture that pulls you in?

If you’re like most people, you notice visuals first.

constant contact customer door county coffee themed images
Constant Contact customer, Door County Coffee & Tea Co. does a great job of using images that support their message.

Using a holiday-themed image that supports your message is a powerful way to get your email read and remembered. And with a large number of image resources available, you don’t need to be a photographer to have access to great pictures.  

If you have a Constant Contact account, you already have access to free and buyable stock photos. Using these photos will help you avoid potential fines from pulling images off the internet that you don’t have a license to use.

Constant Contact partners with Shutterstock to provide quality stock photos to their customers.

If you’re not a Constant Contact customer, don’t worry, you can get free stock photos from providers such as Unsplash, Pexels, or Shopify’s Burst. Just to name a few.

When using stock photos, make sure you choose an image that doesn’t look staged. If you feature your product, it’s best to show people happily and successfully using it, when possible.

Tip: Keeping your images 600 pixels wide ensures maximum visibility on a desktop.

4. Text

Everyone seems to have different advice on how long a holiday email should be.

While we typically recommend 20 lines of text or fewer for best engagement, the reality is less exact. How long should your holiday email be? As long as it needs to be to achieve your goal.

Keep it simple by answering these three questions to create focused and persuasive holiday emails:

  • What are you offering? — Headline
  • How will it help the reader? — Message body
  • What should they do next? — Call-to-action (CTA)

Don’t beat around the bush. Start by telling readers exactly what you’re offering. The headline should succinctly promote your offer.

Next, explain how it will help the reader. What’s in it for them? The message body should explain the offer, generate interest, and guide readers down towards the CTA button.

Finally, let readers know what they should do next. Include a call-to-action below your message body that makes it easy for readers to know how to take action.

Constant contact customer Floral & Hardy example of email body with headline, message and call-to-action
This clip of a recent Floral & Hardy holiday email marketing campaign has exactly what should be in the body of a holiday email.

5. Call-to-action

Although this was mentioned above, having a good CTA is imperative in email marketing, and therefore deserves its own section.

Every email campaign (holiday or otherwise) should include a compelling call to action. Include a link, button, or clear next step.   

For your call-to-action, resist vague wording like “click here.” Instead, say something specific like “Buy Gift Card Now!”

When someone clicks a link, make sure they are directed to where they are expecting to go.

Tip: The most effective CTAs are 1-5 words long. So keep it clear and concise.

constant contact customer meyer the hatter clear call-to-action example
Meyer The Hatter consistently uses very clear CTAs in their email marketing campaigns

Still not sure what to say? Use this handy phrase chart for inspiration:

CTA Ideas

Don’t struggle to write an effective holiday marketing email.

Now you can write an effective holiday marketing email within a few minutes. Just remember to keep it short and simple; a picture, a paragraph, and a call-to-action.

By following these simple tips, you’ll be creating stress-free, effective, holiday emails in no time.

Log in to your Constant Contact account, and start writing your first holiday marketing email of the season.

Not a Constant Contact customer? Start your free 60-day trial today!

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