The Step By Step Holiday Email Marketing Checklist

Holiday email marketing checklist

Online sales are trending more than ever this holiday season, and as an eCommerce owner, preparing a mind-blowing holiday email marketing strategy will make your brand stand out from the crowd. According to Statista, in 2017 holiday season retail eCommerce sales in the U.S. amounted to a record of $106.14 billion. Fast forward to 2023, Adobe predicts $221.8 billion in online spending for the U.S. holiday season, with a consistent 1% year-over-year increase in online sales. The projected holiday spending per household in 2023 is expected to increase by a healthy 7% this year, allocating an average of $1,530 for gifts, travel and entertainment4. Those with household incomes of $120,000 or more will exceed an average of $3,0004. The landscape has changed significantly due to the pandemic and the shift towards online shopping. This means that you need to try harder in order to be properly prepared this holiday season and effectively defend, or even extend, your market share during these very challenging times.

It is a fact that human beings are creatures of habit. Over the past decade, shoppers increasingly choose to avoid the crowds and instead surf the web for the best deals from the comfort of their couch. In 2017, new record highs for the time of around 58 million people shopped online over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend (November 23 – November 27), versus only 51 million at physical stores. Retail sales in brick and mortar stores are projected to increase 5 to 5.6% during the 2018 holiday season, while online sales are projected at a booming 17 to 22%.

Based on the latest holiday email marketing stats, Email accounted for over 20% of online sales during the holiday period in 2020. The concept of drip marketing becomes a strategic answer, notably so when research highlights that an impressive 70% of consumers lean towards spending more with brands that customize their services. So, communicating your brand with potential customers is key to driving online sales this holiday season. You can easily grab your customers’ attention by crafting a stellar holiday email campaign, and our convenient step-by-step holiday email marketing checklist is the perfect way to prepare your brand for the holiday season and reach your sales goals.

Table of Contents

Why it all starts with your holiday email marketing strategy

A recent study shows that over 4.4 billion people are estimated to be using email worldwide in 2023. This number is forecasted to increase to 4.73 billion by 2026. That’s a growth of over 100 million more, year-on-year! In order to reach your potential audience, crafting an email marketing strategy instead of just releasing newsletters is a must. A successful marketing campaign not only means higher visibility and the ability to reach billions of customers via their inboxes, but you can also fine tune your campaign based on metrics it provides. And, that’s just the beginning.

There are many benefits to constructing a holiday email marketing strategy. Perhaps one of the most valuable is that email allows you to share informative and helpful content about your brand. This, in turn, allows you to build a relationship based on trust with your audience.

Another perk of developing email campaigns is that you are able to produce higher productivity. This is because you can segment your email lists to target specific customers based on their interests and set up automated triggered emails. Thanks to automated marketing, you’re able to continue to communicate your brand and its value to potential customers, even after they have left your site.  And, you can track all of this data while continuing to adjust your campaign based on the results, and ultimately, increase sales

Your holiday email marketing strategy checklist for 2023

Step 1: Define your email marketing strategy

Important things to decide here:

  • What’s your goal (eg. +30% email revenue than last year)
  • What competitors do for email marketing?
  • How will your brand build its email list (list building techniques)
  • How many newsletters will your brand send, and when
  • Do you have any out-of-the-box holiday newsletter ideas to attract customers’ attention?
  • What email subject lines will you use?
  • What will you do with your triggered emails? Do you have any? Do you need to set new email automations?
  • Time management to achieve all the above

Step 2: Prepare holiday email templates

ContactPigeon Email Templates
Selection of Holiday-themed email templates from ContactPigeon

Creating holiday-themed email templates is easy to do and is really worth the time. First off, templates help boost your holiday email campaigns efficiency. When engaging your audience with fresh and current holiday emails you stay relevant in their shopping journey. They are looking for the best holiday deals, and you are delivering them to their inbox. Also, preparing holiday email templates can help you address different segments of your email marketing list by creating messaging and information that is specifically relevant to them.

Tip: check out image generators to skyrocket your email campaigns.

Step 3: Brainstorm and define your holiday email subject lines

A valuable holiday email marketing tip is to avoid sending out email blasts to your email list to promote your sales. The majority of email recipients decide on whether to open an email purely based on the subject line, and personalized subject lines get as much as 5% higher open rates.

Here are some eye-catching and attention-grabbing Christmas email subject lines to rock out your holiday email campaign this year!

Tip: Try out some cheerful holiday savings emails to promote your sales and savings; the more personalized, the more value. Holiday shoppers are looking for mind-blowing deals. Show them you have what they’re looking for!

  • Save 15% with Promo Code: Christmas2023
  • We’re Feeling Merry. Santa Gets Free Shipping on Christmas Orders!
  • Our Gift to You, (Name). Happy Holidays! From, (Your Brand) (Thank you/Free Giveaway)


Tip: Spread the holiday cheer with gift giving/suggestion emails to offer savings and solutions/purchase suggestions.

  • T’was the Night Before Christmas…Shop Our Last Minute Gift Ideas!
  • All She Wants for Christmas is (brand)
  • From: Santa’s Helpers: Save 15% on (Toys, games, children’s gifts) at the Top of Kids’ Wish Lists!


Tip: Get a jump start on filling Santa’s sleigh with Black Friday/Cyber Monday related themes. Create value by offering savings or free give ways/door busters to draw customers to your site and create a FOMO-like atmosphere, which drives up sales!

  • Okay, You Can Put Down the Drum Stick…Our Black Friday Sales Have Officially Started.
  • Black Friday DOOR BUSTERS End Today! Don’t Miss Out! (include countdown clock)
  • It’s Better to Give AND Receive: Get an Additional 10% Off all (your section of products) when You Shop Our Cyber Monday Sale!


Tip: Grab more inspiration for creative holiday email subject lines at our dedicated article.


Step 3: Schedule your email marketing campaigns

You have your holly-jolly holiday email marketing campaign ready to go with compelling content and cheerful holiday subject lines. All you need now is to land your message in the readers’ inboxes at the right time. Using a feature such as delivery optimization will take the guesswork out of trying to determine when the optimal send time for best open rate results might be. Once you determine the days and time, set a schedule and stick to it. Your readers will become accustomed to receiving your emails at that certain time, meaning that they are more likely to check their inboxes around that designated time in search of your latest holiday deals. Also, be sure to engage your customers with your brand early into the holiday season by sending out regularly scheduled emails with sneak peeks to preview your upcoming holiday sales. Lastly, if there’s a shipping period, make sure to get your holiday promotional campaigns out way in advance to ensure that gifts will be delivered before Christmas arrives. Consistency is the key to scheduling a successful email marketing campaign.  

Step 4: Update your list building pop-up graphics and copy

The holiday shopping season brings a significant uptick in visitor traffic. Now, let’s move on to optimizing and updating your pop-ups to help build up your email lists and increasing your conversion rates from the new visitors. Start by sprucing up your existing pop-ups by creating clear CTAs and also be sure to showcase your incredible holiday offers and incentives. Next, add an eye-catching fresh holiday design.

Now you have the basics, but don’t forget that timing is everything! Be sure to set up marketing automation triggers for your list building pop-ups at the perfect time to capture potential customers before they leave your website. In fact, you can boost your email sign-ups by as much as 1,375% by implementing optimized Exit intent pop-ups. All it takes is targeting the right visitors with updated relevant content and holiday season offers based on their activity.

Step 5: Create personalized offers for visitors

Another way of using on-site popup is to trigger personalized offers or messages that push your visitor to complete the desired action. The desired outcome can be completing an order or suggesting complementary items to go along with the order. Used wisely these nudges can be super effective in order conversion or increasing cart value during the holiday season. Going beyond the basics, you can even vary the offers to different segments of your visitors, thereby allowing you to capture the maxim value from various profile types. For instance, you can give discounts to attract 1st-time buyers while offering limited gift sets only to VIP customers. This helps you to drive more targeted actions from each type of customers to your online store.

Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Present a discount offer or free shipping option for visitors who are leaving with items in cart. Aka on-site abandoned cart reminder.
  • Increase cart value by setting a threshold for qualified free shipping. When a visitor is about to check out, inform him that he just need to add a bit more to qualify.
  • Offer limited gift sets for VIP customers.
  • Geolocation driven promotions to encourage sales.
Triggered messages by geolocation.

Step 6: Create a Holiday-themed cart abandonment triggered emails

Reducing cart abandonment is a constant concern for eCommerce shop owners and during the holiday season, the amount of abandoned carts online only increases. In fact, more than 75% of shoppers abandon their online purchases. Visitors might change their minds about purchasing your brand or simply forget that they are looking at your product and abandon the cart. The good news is that you can recover some sales with optimized cart abandonment triggered emails by segmenting cart abandoners by their interests/categories previously searched. Then, send them a personalized message with relevant deals for their holiday shopping.

Step 7: Optimize your checkout process

Shoppers abandon their purchases when the checkout process is not user-friendly or is a hassle. A clear and informative check out process makes visitors feel safe shopping your brand and shows that your store is updated and run by humans, not robots. And, trust boosts conversions.

Be sure to update holiday-related shipping info on your check out page and avoid long forms. Make all the checkout steps visible and clearly laid out so it is easy to use. Also, try adding a scroll box to your check out page to build your email list without disrupting your visitor’s shopping experience or being annoying. Time it so as they finish up with their purchase it slides down.

3 am-am-amazing Holiday Email Marketing examples

#1: Spoilt Rotten Beads

This email is amazing marketing-wise because it ticks many boxes. It boasts holiday cheer, colorful seasonal graphics, offers valuable savings + free shipping (which is clearly stated), and Monty the Penguin is offering up the chance to win a voucher by shopping online!

#1: Rose & Dove

holiday-email-marketingHere we have a festive holiday email with a rocking balance of copy and images. It clearly explains the sales are lasting the entire week, and, best of all, there is a gift with purchase! (Let’s be honest, everyone loves freebies!)

#1: Neiman Marcus

Free shipping and free returns! Awesome! That really takes the pressure off gift giving. Not to mention on option guaranteeing delivery by Christmas! This email offers great solutions to shoppers for an array of gift ideas. Its festive in great holiday colors and also has clearly placed and popping CTAs.

Next Step: Discover more useful Holiday Marketing resources

Executing your holiday email marketing checklist and preparing your eCommerce site…

Reading this holiday email marketing guide is just the start in preparing your e-shop for an awesome holiday season. Executing each and every step of the above holiday email marketing checklist is really important to rock your holiday sales. You’ll find that this collection of proven email marketing strategies is priceless. It can be repeated by marketing and eCommerce executives on every campaign they run and design and will consistently create a path to achieve maximum results!

Hope you found this holiday email marketing checklist helpful as you launch the seasonal marketing campaigns. For more marketing inspirations and execution ideas, speak with one of our automation specialists.


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ContactPigeon is the ultimate analytics and marketing automation platform. We provide a solution to every marketer's problem: How to send the right message, at the right time.
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