8 Holiday Email Marketing Ideas that Will Inspire You

Updated: July 15, 2021


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Holidays are the time of year that everyone selling online has been impatiently waiting for.

If there is time to dazzle your audience, it is definitely now.

While there are multiple ways you can impress your audience, nothing beats a stunning holiday newsletter.

To help your holiday emails better stand out in the crowd (and the inbox!), we have gathered 8 inspiring holiday email marketing ideas, along with examples and explanations on what makes them so great.

Buckle up!

Table of contents

Why does email make the best holiday marketing tool?

Holidays - no matter what time of the year - provide a great opportunity to reach out to current subscribers, while helping generate even more leads. With emails, you can achieve these things faster and better.

As a matter of fact, email marketing is more effective at attracting prospects and driving conversions than social channels, and for a good reason. In addition, email marketing can:

  • Offer better opportunities to send personalized communication.

  • Offer instant buying options, as with a CTA button in your email, you can highlight a special gift, offer, or even an event that subscribers can buy in a matter of a couple of clicks.

  • Support all of your campaigns; you can take advantage of emails to promote sales, invite your subscribers to holiday events, showcase unique gift guides or ideas, and so on.

  • Subscribers rely on their mobile devices for all kinds of information, and research shows a growing number of customers are doing their holiday shopping on mobile devices.

8 inspiring holiday email marketing ideas

As an email marketer, you might already have some ideas in your toolbox. However, just spend several minutes going through 8 below holiday email marketing ideas. We believe you can find something really interesting for your next holiday email marketing campaigns.

1. Offer gift guides

Helping your prospective customers while promoting your products… Sounds too good to be true?

With holiday gift guides, you’re able to do that.

Many shoppers are not sure what to purchase for their family and friends. If inspiration is what your prospects need, give it to them. Create a gift guide that gives your subscribers some ideas.

You can deliver more than one gift guide throughout the holiday by breaking them into categories. For example, send a guide that has gifts for moms or gifts for under $10. Some categories you can use include:

  • Title (Dad, Mom, Boss, Teacher, etc.)
  • Price point
  • Personality
  • Age group (gifts for teens, seniors, etc.)
  • Color
  • Product type (clothes, electronics)

Let’s go through 3 examples to understand more.

Example #1. Recommended gifts by price point

Customers love brands that understand their pain points.

And Ban.do is no exception. The brand knows that most of us purchase gifts for different people before major holidays (and we take a big hit to our wallets). That is why the brand takes a realistic approach to gift-giving and sends a gift guide with only two categories: gifts under $50…

…and gifts under $25:

Notice how the brand explains the reason behind this holiday gift guide at the beginning of its email. Ban.do tells you that they understand not only your wishes but also your budget.

While acting like a considerate friend helping you limit your holiday spend, the brand cleverly shows you how to do that (through buying their products).

Example #2. Recommended gifts by personality

Many brands simply categorize their holiday gift guides based on who the recipient is, such as “for my mom,” “for my dad,” or “for my best friend.”

One Kings Lane found a great angle in its gift guide emails. Knowing that people have different interests and personality types, the brand recommends gifts for gourmets…

… and modern bohemians:

Hence, if you have a modern bohemian in your life, you’ll click through the email to see the brand’s suggestions without much thinking.

Notice how the brand uses personal copy with employee photos and quotes instead of displaying only products. This makes its email look less salesy and more selfless.

Example #3. Recommended gifts by category

If you have ever sat down to find a gift for someone you love, you know that it is not easy.

That is why companies like Wool and the Gang work so hard to simplify the process of finding the perfect gift. The brand divided its gift guide into different categories, based on the recipient’s level of expertise…

… as well as the type of craft they are interested in:

With this email, Wool and the Gang makes your gift search much easier.

Moreover, the brand goes beyond the simplistic for him/ her division and provides various categories to choose from.

2. Send out exclusive and targeted offers

Deals that are exclusively for subscribers make them feel special and create a sense of community. You may do a few rounds of these, for both post-Thanksgiving and the spending rush leading up to Christmas.

Send out exclusive and targeted holiday offers
Send out exclusive and targeted holiday offers

Below are a few examples of holiday email marketing ideas along these lines:

  • Offers for new customers. Show people who were not around for last year’s holiday email marketing campaign how you can actually help them with what they are looking for. Offer something exclusive, such as a free promotional product or a discount on a specific item with their first purchase.

  • Create an opt-in series of flash sales for insiders. Build a set of emails, each promoting a discounted item only available online for a limited time (just a few hours, or a day). Give subscribers a way to opt-in to the targeted list that receives these emails.

  • Send exclusive deals based on customer behavior. Notice your click-through data and do some trigger-based marketing. For instance, if you delivered a comprehensive holiday gift guide with specific sections, you may send a follow-up email that contains a discount on children’s toys to people clicking through the “for kids” section.

  • Give VIP access for loyal customers. Early access to an in-store event or online sale can be a great reward for your most devoted and faithful customers.

On top of generating much more sales, your holiday email campaign is an excellent way to build your brand’s identity. Strengthen your relationship with your subscribers by showing them the value of being part of your email list.

3. Offer services that make gift-giving easier

Sometimes, customers can’t decide what to buy as a gift. It could be worth your efforts to create products to address this uncertainty.

Offer services that make gift-giving easier
Offer services that make gift-giving easier

Consider the following special holiday items:

  • Gift cards. These are good last-minute presents, so keep that in mind when scheduling your emails near Christmas. In addition, you can use gift cards/ certificates as bonus items along with receipts of purchases of a specific amount.

  • Curated gift packages. Make these as general or detailed as you want. Gift packages can actually range from a set of sample-size products to themed collections, such as “for dad” or “for mom” options.

  • Free gift wrapping. Sending purchases already gift-wrapped can be a blessing for busy people. This is an attractive add-on if you also allow purchases to be delivered to a location other than their billing address.

The above examples are all ideas counting on purchasing actions. What about subscribers who haven’t bought anything in a while? Coupons may be useful.

You may add coupons in all your holiday emails, or even go the extra mile and deliver unique coupons to targeted segments of your email list.

4. Target last-minute shoppers

Ambushing procrastinating shoppers is not a new strategy.

If you really want to win over last-minute shoppers, you should offer them a helping hand.

While last-minute customers often turn to physical stores due to delivery concerns, it doesn’t mean you can’t target procrastination with your emails.

Well-known for its cute, puppy-filled emails, BarkBox proves that you’re able to target last-minute shoppers while being helpful.

5 days before Christmas last year, the company sent its subscribers this email with the reassuring subject line, “You Pupcrastinated. We got your back.

Target last-minute shoppers
Target last-minute shoppers

From top to bottom, the brand aims to comfort you, even if you have postponed buying Christmas gifts until now. Rather than stress you with urgency triggers, the brand simply offers a fast shipping option to get your gifts on time.

While the first CTA - “Get It In Time” - focuses on the benefit of making a purchase, the second one - “Click For Peace Of Mind” - powerfully communicates the emotional benefit of purchasing from BarkBox.

After all, all of us want to have peace of mind, especially during the holidays. With this email, the brand successfully relieves you and solves your gift-giving problems, while increasing its holiday revenue. It’s a win-win.

Remember these points when targeting your last-minute shoppers:

  • Remind customers of your shipping deadlines. Ensure your customers know the last day to order something online as well as the day to receive their gifts.

  • Include last-minute gift suggestions. These can include gift cards and curated gift packages.

  • Promote extra shipping solutions. If your brand can offer free, overnight, or expedited shipping, you should promote them.

Not all small businesses can afford convenient shipping options for all their customers. If this sounds much like you, sending targeted emails to offer free shipping only to particular locations could be something to consider. You can also offer reduced shipping costs for big purchases. Or, offset the loss of profits from free or reduced shipping by charging expedited shipping for a fee.

5. Know your niche holidays

Let’s face it: while holidays are good excuses to appreciate subscribers and engage them with your campaigns, not all holidays will fit your business.

For example, Valentine’s Day may not be your busiest marketing today if you are selling hardware online.

Fortunately, there are thousands of holidays to celebrate all year round. All you need to do is look for the ones that fit your niche and resonate well with your customers.

That’s how BarkBox does:

Know your niche holidays
Know your niche holidays

Going beyond a normal celebratory message, the brand runs a special campaign for “National Dog Day” and then reduces the price of its boxes to $5. Given that the company is a monthly subscription box for dogs, the choice of this day makes sense.

Its campaign is not about the $5 subscription box anymore; it is about how your dog deserves a $5 box. That’s why the brand concludes the email with a hard-to-resist CTA:

If you don’t click that button, you’d almost certainly feel guilty. After all, doesn’t your dog deserve a gift on National Dog Day?

6. Run holiday contests/ giveaways

Contests/ Giveaways are a great way to celebrate the holidays with your biggest fans. This email should focus on the current holiday contest/ giveaway or promotion instead of selling. It should also:

  • Remind recipients what the prize is and why it is valuable
  • Remind recipients how they can continue to participate in the contest or earn more entries
  • Include a solid CTA to share the contest/ giveaway with their friends and/ or to follow your social media profiles
  • Remind entrants of relevant dates, such as when the contest/ giveaway ends and how winners will be notified.
Run holiday contests/ giveaways
Run holiday contests/ giveaways

These emails should convey a sense of urgency to motivate immediate action. Some phrases like “Don’t miss one more chance to win our grand prize!” or “3 days left until we choose a winner!” can go a long way to getting the re-engagement you are looking for.

7. Run a charity

Any business can incorporate donation options in holiday email marketing campaigns. If your brand runs non-profit campaigns regularly, share stories of the people that are in need.

Apart from small monetary donations, offer other participation ways relevant to your product and audience type. For instance, point donation (bonus donation, mile donation, etc.) is the most universal method. People make a purchase, gain points, and then donate them.

This is a win-win situation, where you sell your products and gain a reputation of a committed company; your customers feel they have contributed to something good; and people in need get help.

Run a charity
Run a charity

8. Send post-holiday emails

When holidays are over, it doesn’t mean you should stop sending emails. Instead, consider sending several “post-holiday” deals to your subscribers to nab more sales and get consumers who received gift cards to start using them.

Let’s take a look at the email from Sephora.

Send post-holiday emails
Send post-holiday emails

6 tips for creating for holiday email marketing campaign

Before creating your holiday emails, it’s essential that you are familiar with a few tips. Below are some pointers that you can try out to get the biggest ROI (return on investment) from your emails.

1. Your subject line should be spot on

Your subject line can influence whether or not a customer decides to open your email or simply click the delete button. Here are several ways in which you can come up with a compelling subject line:

  • Use powerful words that grab attention
  • Use personalization. You can add the first name of the subscriber to your subject line to grab their attention
  • Add holiday emojis to your subject line to spark some holiday cheer
  • Consider asking a question in your subject line. For instance, something like “need some gift ideas?” is engaging and offers value.
  • Tell the recipient what your offer is right in your subject line. Customers often have a lot of offers coming their way, and this can make yours stand out.

For more ideas on email subject lines, read our following topics:

2. Optimize your emails for mobile

Ever since mobile phones came into play, email marketing has changed dramatically. Screen real estate has actually become a priority and it’s essential that your emails are optimized for mobile.

3. Add visual appeal

You should use crisp, clean, and high-resolution images in your holiday email marketing campaign. Your brand logos should be compressed so that your emails will load quickly, and also use less of your consumers’ data.

Related post: 11 Email Design Best Practices for Marketers

4. Keep it relevant

You should give customers not only a reason to browse through your email, but also a reason to convert. Give them a promotion or a sale that they cannot say no to.

5. Keep it short and punchy

Nobody really wants to read through a bunch of text in an email. The shorter and more snappy you keep it, the higher the chances that recipients will read and respond to your email’s CTA. Make sure that the message you want to send is being conveyed with clarity and impact.

6. Offer added perks

In addition to your sales and offers, give your customers a bonus. Have them enrolled automatically in your loyalty or rewards program, or give them a gift with a minimum purchase. This will not only make your subscribers feel valued, but it’ll also incentivize them to purchase more.

How AVADA Email Marketing can help with your holiday email marketing campaigns

Now when your creative juices are all flowing, and you are ready to put the above tips into practice, it’s high time to craft a winning holiday email. That’s where AVADA Email Marketing steps in to help you do the trick!

Our easy-to-use email creator is well optimized for easy email building. Regardless of your design skills, you’re able to create a stunning holiday email for your clients with ease. All you need to do to get started is to sign up and get down to work.

AVADA Email Marketing
AVADA Email Marketing

Below, we’ll show some of the best features available for your holiday email marketing campaigns.

  • Appealing and engaging templates. With a number of ready-made templates, you can start sending your emails right away. Don’t worry about your design skills, as its simple drag-and-drop editor can help you a lot!

  • Smart segmentation. If you sell your product for people who truly want it, you’ll have a big chance to win. With the platform, you can make your emails relevant to receivers. AVADA Email Marketing helps send your holiday emails to the right people at the right time with its advanced segmentation.

  • Advanced automation workflows. We’re proud of our pre-done automation email series, which helps follow up with your audiences at any touchpoint. Our app supports automated welcome emails, abandoned cart emails, browse product abandonment emails, win-back emails, etc.

  • Numerous forms. More than just collecting email addresses, AVADA forms let you deliver promo, useful content, or updates to your visitors.

AVADA Email Marketing understands the initial challenge of startups and small businesses, so it offers a free plan with the necessary features. If you find it a long-term companion, consider upgrading to the paid plan (just from $9/ month) for more advanced features.


Turn these ideas into action!

Holiday email marketing doesn’t need to be about pumpkins and mistletoes.

No matter which holiday you are celebrating, there is always something you can do to get a head start in the competition.

Take inspiration from these 8 holiday email marketing ideas while crafting your next campaign and find out what works best for you. And don’t forget that with AVADA Email Marketing, you can get started on your holiday email marketing right now.

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