4 minute read

How to Make Your Holiday Emails Stand Out in a Crowded Inbox

The following post was written by Kevin George, Head of Marketing at EmailMonks, one of the fastest growing email design and coding companies. EmailMonks specializes in crafting email newsletter templates, PSD to HTML email conversion, and provides free email templates. Take it away, Kevin!

The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year, making it a golden opportunity for marketers. In fact, the average consumer was expected to spend an average of $1,226 during the holiday shopping season 2017, and retail sales are expected to grow 5-5.6% this year. While others are busy munching nachos and binge-watching Netflix, this is go-time for email marketers to impress subscribers and drive higher conversion rates.

But despite best efforts, the probability of getting those holiday emails noticed in the inbox is low due to intense competition. The truth is that all of your competitors are also going to send tons of emails—and the challenge here is how to stand out and present something remarkable to win over your customers. 

The best way to get ahead this holiday season? Plan ahead and often, execute on killer subject lines and content, and keep your messaging timely and innovative, yet on-brand. Here’s how:

1. Make a holiday email calendar.

Note down all the lucrative holidays that your business will be targeting. For example, Columbus Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and New Year’s. By doing so, you can stay organized this holiday season. Make sure you plan your holiday email marketing well in advance so that you can meet the deadlines without any last minute rush. It would give you plenty of time to prepare enticing content that your subscribers will love.

2. Craft a strong subject line.

The first great impression for emails starts with a strong subject line. The three key points for designing eye-catching subject lines this holiday season are:


Subject lines that are personalized get more open rates than normal subject lines. Segmenting your email list is the best practice to employ personalization in your holiday email marketing. Your current subscribers should be separated from your prospective subscribers. Even holiday email subject lines should have the ability to touch the chords of every subscriber or buyer at every stage. Also, you can segment subject lines based on what they are looking for to increase personalization (and your results) even further.

Informative and straightforward:

Your subject line should be clear enough for your readers to interpret the message conveyed in the email. Be clear about what subscribers are going to find inside your email. Generate curiosity by using words like "Free Shipping," "Savings," and "Surprise." 

Generate urgency:

Create a sense of urgency with your subject lines. Use key words like, “last few hours left,” “two days to go,” “exclusive offer,” and “limited time.”

Here you can see how perfectly the brand BaubleBar has created urgency within their email by clearly mentioning that the discount is live only for 12 hours. It taps into the “FOMO” instinct, tempting the customers to take immediate action. 

Tip: Include a countdown timer within the email to highlight the limited time offer in a more effective way.

3. Get creative with your content.

Plan an innovative email campaign that aligns with your brand and matches the holiday mood. Give your email a good makeover by adding more interactive elements to it—rather than sending plain text and graphics, use GIFs, cinemagraphs, and videos to entice subscribers to pay attention to your content and click through. If resources allow, use gamification and elements like counters and accordion menus to drive engagement.

Holiday Email Marketing Ideas

This Halloween email by Postable is the perfect example of how you can make a promo email more interactive and memorable. 

Tip: Consider designing an interactive email with surveys and polls asking what products customers are planning to buy during this holiday season.

4. Leverage machine learning.

Sending holiday emails 24/7 can spoil customer relationships and lead to spam complaints and unfollows. Such a situation is a nightmare for any marketer during the holidays. Ask yourself three questions before launching your holiday email marketing campaigns:

  • How often should you send these emails?
  • How many days prior to the holidays should you start sending them?
  • What time should you send these emails?

Once you have the above questions answered, employ machine learning tactics and behavioral marketing tools to send the right emails to the right person at the right time. And utilize all of that customer data to drive future campaigns and conversion in the new year, too.

5. Incorporate social integration.

Kill two birds with one stone: Connect all of your marketing platforms with your holiday email campaigns. Direct your subscribers to your social channels and vice versa, because everyone might not read all of their emails during peak holiday time (especially if their inbox is overcrowded). Doing this will allow you to continue to reach customers wherever they may be—and wherever they may prefer to communicate with your brand—all season long.

Thanks Kevin! Read more of his email marketing best practices over on the EmailMonks Blog. 

For holiday tips on on the top behavioral email campaigns to drive revenue and customer retention, read our Holiday Campaign Guide.