Christmas Email Strategy

December 25, 2019

MailCharts saves you the trouble of secretly subscribing to your competition’s emails and then spending hours trying to find something actionable.

Below you’ll find the canonical reference for Christmas email planning. From email examples to specific promotional strategies, we’ve included everything you need to ace your campaign.

Email Examples

Christmas Email Campaign Planning

Use the calendar below as a starting point to plan your email campaigns.

This Clinique email calendar is based on Clinique (UK), who sent 7 emails for Christmas in 2018.
Want to see a specific company’s email calendar?

Christmas Email Marketing Statistics

Day-by-day volume distribution

Will you simply send one email on Christmas or will you send a few emails leading up to it, including a “last chance” email once the event is over?
Emails sent before Christmas
Emails sent on Christmas
Emails sent after Christmas
Based on 10145 emails mentioning "christmas", "ornaments", "santa", "present", "xmas", "stocking stuffer" in the subject line.

Christmas promotional strategy

Discount Analysis

Discover the most popular types of promotions used for Christmas.

Note: One email might contain more than one type of promotion — this is why these totals may not add up to 100%.

Distribution of Promotions

Understand how steep a discount companies offer for Christmas. You can toggle between Dollars Off and Percent Off.
Be prepared for every holiday with the
perfect cadence and discount strategy.

Christmas Content Strategy

Ace your Christmas email content with these ready-to-implement strategies. Enjoy!

Holiday spending for holidays ranging from St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 5), Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve and secular events (school, office and social events) can account for 20% to 30% of the average retail company’s annual revenue, according to the National Retail Federation. So, it’s no surprise that email marketers focus so closely on it.

The strategies below aren’t a definitive list you should use to build your holiday email marketing plan. Rather, they are suggestions you can use to extend and add value to your email content and inspiration to help you create messages your subscribers and customers will open, act on, and value.


Strategy #1: Feature a collection of products in an email gift guide

Gift guides are nothing new. However, many marketers give them short shrift in email and instead save the goods for their websites.

Your subscribers are looking for help everywhere, and they’re more likely to see your products in an email before going to your website. Gift guides also allow you to spotlight items your shoppers might not find on their own.

Organize your guide by variables that make sense for your brand and guide shoppers without overwhelming them with too many unrelated choices. A few gift guides ideas for you to consider:

  • Price (low, medium and high)
  • Persona (young sporty girls, intellectual men, daredevil college students, bookworms)
  • Interests and ability level (books, games, specific sports, cooking, novice to expert)
  • Product types or categories that cover a cross-section of your merchandise line.


Strategy #2: Send “white space” email messages

A “white space” email is a message that isn’t overtly promotional and gives your subscribers a little break between sales-oriented messages.

High frequency is as much a part of the holiday shopping season as long lines and fighting over the last $24 TV in the local discount store. While they might hate it, subscribers have also come to expect it. “White space” emails give you a valid reason to be in your customers’ inboxes with something other than a “buy me” message, and buyer’s guides are an excellent vehicle for this.

Different from gift guides, buyer’s guides are set up to help shoppers who don’t know the ins and outs of tricky products. Your goal is to help your customers succeed, and buying the right present that won’t have to be returned is a great focus.


Strategy #3: Create a gift-card campaign for before – and after – the holidays

Gift cards are often treated like last-minute, last-ditch efforts for the harried shopper. The people who work with your customers on the front lines, whether at a cash register or computer terminal, will tell you differently. A well-timed word from a salesperson can snatch a sale out of the jaws of defeat when a shopper just can’t decide or sees nothing else she wants.

Devote at least one email earlier in the season to an end-to-end promotion of your gift cards. Promote their flexibility and encourage their use with a step-by-step guide to buying and redeeming them. Be sure to highlight what gift cards cannot buy to avoid disappointing recipients.


Strategy #4: Help customers succeed

Your holiday email program might focus mainly on extracting as much cash as possible from your customers’ wallets (don’t be embarrassed to admit this!). But, as we explained in Strategy #2, you’ll do better when you help your customers shop efficiently and accurately.

Emails devoted to customer-service topics offer useful breaks in your promotional cycle. Some marketers include this information in an early season message while most make it a regular section in their holiday templates.

Topics to include:

  • How to buy, give and redeem gift cards
  • Shipping deadlines and policies
  • Contact info and policies for returns, problems and other inquiries
  • Store locator
  • Store hours and policies


Strategy #5: Say “thank you”

It’s a simple thing. But not enough marketers do this. Even though some recipients didn’t buy, at least many of them opened your emails. After a year of saying “Buy this,” a message that says “Thank you” spreads good cheer. And, it might even prompt a lapsing customer to come back and check out your site again.

If you do send a thank-you email, consider upping your creative game to make the other thank-you emails pale by comparison. (Yes, that’s not really in the spirit of Christmas, but business is business, right?)

Devote one message to a sincere thank you for their patronage, for reading your emails and visiting your website. This message can come in many ways – a general message, something over your CEO’s signature, a behind-the-scenes group photo, or whatever fits your company’s brand, voice, culture or customer expectations.

This can be as simple or as complex as you want. However, it can also be a great way to turn your creative staff loose and experiment with things you’ve been curious about (emojis, animation, video, etc.).