(Updated: December 2020)

Here are some great emails that can help you send better holiday email campaigns – the ones that your subscribers will notice and act on.

Here we go!


1. Keep the holiday theme going in all of your emails.

Martha Stewart popularized the “Christmas all through the house” decorating ideas in the 1980s. It works in email, too, where you can add seasonal interest to your triggered and transactional emails.

This fun Ulta win-back email evokes the holiday season without getting too specific. Not a Santa, elf, or sleigh in sight, and the only Christmassy red you can see is in the wreath.

Tip: It can be time-consuming to create new templates for all of your triggers or transactional emails. So, choose the ones you’ll use the most: win-backs, abandoned-cart reminders, and – most important – welcome emails to greet all of your new subscribers.

Ulta holiday email campaign

Find more Ulta emails here.


2. Add service to the message.

Adding a sales message to a holiday greeting is standard operating procedure for many brands. But we like how CVS elevates a basic store-hours email into a caring message that fits the spirit of the holidays. If your brand operates physical sites, letting them know your hours is a service for them and a business-builder for you.

CVS holiday email campaign

More CVS emails here.


3. Invite subscribers to participate in your brand story.

This email, part of McDonald’s UK’s #ReindeerReady 2019 Christmas campaign, offers customers two fun ways to connect with the brand: making a video (which presumes customers will share it in their social media) and downloading a book/audio book with a branded story. Both are nice ways to promote the brand without a “buy now” message.

McDonald's holiday email campaign


 4. Level up your gift-guide game.

The gift guide is an early-season staple for many retail brands. If you time it right, it can become your customers’ shopping guide. They also help you showcase products of various prices and styles that customers might not find by themselves, no matter how good your search engine might be.

This Bloomingdale’s holiday email campaign combines three notable elements: a celebrity influencer/tastemaker, a wide range of gift suggestions and a design that spotlights one product but includes other suggestions, without overloading the message or confusing the reader.

Bloomingdales holiday email campaign

More Bloomingdale’s emails here.


5. Focus attention with an Advent calendar.

If you grew up with an Advent calendar in the house, you’ll remember the appeal and anticipation of that once-a-day treat that counted down the December days until Christmas. The email Advent calendar uses a daily, focused email whose elements of mystery and intrigue should help it stand out in the inbox and compel subscribers to open it and find out what the day’s treat will be.

The UK supermarket chain Asda (owned by Walmart) is a great example. It has a recognizable subject line – the email below came with the subject line “Jumping junipers! Asda Advent Treat 14 is ready for you” – that hews closely to the colors and theme of the Christmas campaign “Let’s Make Christmas Extra Special.” It has little other content to distract from the daily offer.

If 24 is too many, you can apply the same principles to a “Twelve Days of Christmas” campaign.

ASDA holiday email campaign


6. Share your values.

If you ramp up frequency during the holidays, you need to vary the message. Use one email – or more – to remind your customers about the values that set your company apart from others.  The next two emails show two ways of accomplishing this.

The first approach is by the Vermont Country Store. It includes photos of the owners, company history and even its “Customer Bill of Rights.” It reinforces its values of family and tradition.

Vermont Country Store holiday email campaign

See more Vermont Country Store emails here.


The second approach is more subtle. While most jewelry retailers feature traditional couples (heterosexual, usually the same race), jewelry retailer Brilliant Earth regularly mixes things up as an expression of its own inclusive company values, a view that this holiday email emphasizes.

Brilliant Earth holiday email campaignMore Brilliant Earth emails here.


7. Don’t forget other holidays.

Hanukkah might not loom as large as Christmas, but it’s still worth recognizing holidays that are important to your customers. In 2019, Hanukkah and Christmas coincided, and many retailers took advantage of that alignment to include related messages before or on the first night of Hanukkah.

We love this Nordstrom email, which features a subtle animation and a recognition of what makes Hanukkah different from other celebrations. Click the email to view it in the Email Creative Archive so you can also see the cleverly animated preview text at the top of the email.


See more emails from Nordstrom here.

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