The Only Playbook You Need for Holiday Email Campaigns

signs of Christmas and holiday ecommerce such as a television with a santa hat

he winter holidays are an intense time of year for email marketers. Turning out holiday email campaign after campaign can feel like a mad crazy sprint starting shortly before Thanksgiving and lasting through the New Year.

There’s a lot to keep track of: creating the perfect layout, images, copy and CTAs for your holiday and Christmas campaigns.

But it doesn’t have to be a ton of work. In particular, it doesn’t have to be last-minute work.

With some strategic planning and some fresh inspiration, creating this year’s holiday campaigns can be as easy as Christmas pie.

You’ve come to the right place to plan your holiday email campaigns. Chock full of inspiration, examples and proven strategies, this playbook will help you get absolutely everything in place you need to be the marketer who wins Christmas.

Topics Covered

Plan Your Holiday Email Campaigns Like a General

Email campaigns. Social media campaigns. All marketing campaigns are called campaigns for a reason.

Because preparing for them is just like preparing for battle.

Did Cesar just rush into battle without first planning his campaign? No. Did George Washington cross the Delaware on Christmas Eve without a plan? No. Did Dr. Strange rush in to save the day in Endgame without knowing what he was doing? No.

And for the retail and e-commerce world, the holiday season is the bloodiest war there is. Every other marketer is trying to get their hands on the same cash you are.

Forget about doing things like a boss. No, as an email marketer, you need to approach the winter holidays like Julius fricking Cesear. #holidaymarketing Click To Tweet
As a marketer, you’ve got to plan how you’re going to be heard above the fray of Jingle Bells on repeat, the 1000s of Christmas commercials that’ll be airing, and the red-green flood in every consumer’s inbox.

So, forget about doing things like a boss. No, as a marketer, you need to approach the winter holidays like Julius fricking Cesear.

Take charge of your campaigns like a general going to war, and then, come early December, you won’t be running around like an underslept, overworked elf hyped up on Santa’s mochas.

Cover Your Bases

Before you jump into picking out this year’s holiday color scheme and dreaming up snap copy for your email, zoom out to consider the big picture.

This is the scene in the movie when generals and their advisors crowd around a large map, speculatively moving pieces around, examining the security of their bases.

Brainstorm answers to the following questions:

✨Assess last year’s successes and failures. Look at the products you sold last year, the channels you used, the campaigns you deployed. Where did you hit the ball out of the park? How’d this happen? And, the toughest question of all – what can you attribute your success to?

Ask the same questions for last year’s failures. Where did you miss the mark? Again, how and why did this happen?

✨Define this year’s goals. After assessing how your campaigns performed last year and accounting for changes that have taken place over the past year, take a look at your current situation.

What are this year’s holiday goals? How do you envision email marketing driving revenue? What types of campaigns will you need to send to meet those goals?

Determine this year’s campaign plan and segmentation strategy. When you start planning your holiday email campaigns, think in terms of automation. Plan a series of campaigns with branching results to make the most of your assets.

For example, if someone fails to open an email campaign the first time you send it, re-send it in a few days with a different subject line. On the other side of the branch, plan a high-impact follow-up campaign for those who clicked but didn’t convert.

When you’re thinking about segmentation, you want to segment based not only on email behavior but also target group.

How will your messaging and your campaigns change for the target groups within your audience? This can be something as broad as those who shop for men’s clothing and those who shop for women’s clothing. Or it can be something as specific as buying frequency, last website visit, current location or industry and seniority level (for B2B).

Make sure your campaign plan and segmentation strategy will bring the goals you’ve set to life.

Drill the troops by cleaning your email list. Email addresses are the soldiers in your little army doing all the hard work.

As you’re preparing for your holiday campaigns, you need to make sure your troops pass muster. Outdated email addresses can be turned into spam traps, which can seriously harm your overall deliverability. So, before deploying your troops, make sure there aren’t any turncoats among the soldiers.

At the most basic level, cleaning your list means going through and deleting old email addresses, for example, deleting any hard or soft bounces. (Newsletter2Go offers automated bounce management to handle this, so you don’t have to worry about it.)

A next-level cleaning involves running a re-engagement campaign for inactive subscribers.

An inactive subscriber is someone on your email list who’s stopped opening your emails. Plan a re-engagement campaign for early fall to determine if you’ve lost their interest. After running a re-engagement campaign, delete or bench those email addresses whom you weren’t able to reactivate.


Consider your troops drilled.

Clarify the essentials to communicate. People shopping online over the holiday season will have a lot of questions. About how long sales last. How long deliveries will take. What your return policies are. How late your retail locations will be open, if you have them.

Ask yourself how, how often and when during the holiday season you’re going to communicate these essential pieces of information. In addition to your fancy image-heavy HTML email campaigns and gift guides, make sure you relay the most crucial information customers will need.
In addition to fancy image-heavy email campaigns, make sure you relay the most crucial information customers will need: return policies, store opening hours, and delivery windows for online sales #holdiaymarketing Click To Tweet

Remember this point if any changes come up on the fly, too.

For example, if you’re a small retailer, and you find yourself behind with shipping in early December, get ahead of customer anxiety.

Send them a brief email letting them know about the delayed shipping and request their patience. Remember, email is an excellent medium for quick, factual updates that soothe customers’ frayed holiday nerves.

Now, during the planning phase, put on your risk management hat and create a shortlist of email contingency plans for any issues that may arise.

Schedule the Dates

Now that you’ve hashed out the hard work of the generals hovering over the map, it’s time to put the finishing touches on that holiday road map. Put it into an editorial calendar.

Some things to remember when planning your holiday emails:

✨ 40 percent of shoppers start their holiday research before HalloweenMake sure any new products you plan to sell over the holiday are fully launched by early fall.

✨ The revenue brought in by Black Friday and Cyber Monday has been growing steadily year-over-year. In 2018, Black Friday brought in $6.2 billion in the U.S. e-commerce sales and Cyber Monday earned $7.9 billion. Set your holiday promotions to start running by Black Friday at the latest.

✨ Green Monday falls on 9 Dec. It’s the highest-earning e-commerce day during the holiday season. Consider launching a campaign push around this date.

✨ Don’t forget last-minute shoppers! 40% of all holiday sales occur between December 15 and 24. Set up promotions for procrastinators!

✨ Remember to send follow-up emails, to address post-holiday returns and to run a New Year’s sale to clear out old stock. em> End the season on a high note.

✨ Promote inclusivity to reach all members of your target group. December is full of additional holiday to observe. Try saying something other than “Merry Christmas.” Do any of these 2019 holidays resonate with your target audience and therefore deserve their own campaign?

    • The start of Advent on 1 Dec.
    • Kwanzaa from 26 Dec. through 1 Jan.
    • Winter Solstice on 22 Dec.
    • Hanukkah from 22 Dec. through 30 Dec.

The 2019 Winter Holiday Calendar

calendar with 2019 winter holidays: Thanksgiving 28 Nov, Black Friday 29 Nov., Small Business Saturday 30 Nov, 1st day of Advent 1 Dec, 1st Sun. of Advent 1 Dec., Cyber Monday 2 Dec, Giving Tuesday 3 Dec, Green Monday 9 Dec, Winter Solstice 22 Dec., Hanukkah 22 through 30 Dec., Christmas Eve 24 Dec, Christmas Day 25 Dec, Boxing Day (UK)., Kwanzaa 26 Dec through 1 Jan., New Year's Eve 31 Dec., New Year's Day 1 Jan

Viewed as a whole, this means you need to start your holiday emails early and keep them going through the New Year.

But don’t just blast your email list repeatedly! One sure-fire way to experience dropping open rates around the holidays is to send too many emails. This is why you need to segment and track your campaigns.

Hint: An important best practice that’s particularly important this time of year is to keep your holiday email campaigns distinct from each other. Double check that you’ve segmented correctly!

For example, don’t send two different offers for the same product to the same customer, and make sure individual offers don’t have different start/end dates for different customers. Not only will this make things easier for your customers, it’ll also save you time answering customer questions.

Create Your Holiday Campaigns

You’ve rolled up your sleeves and planned for battle. Now it’s time to dive into the fray.

Remember to have fun as you do!

Hint: Don’t just plan straightforward sales emails this holiday season. The most successful holiday emails inspire. They’re fun, with a light touch, and they tap into the festive spirit playfully! See our campaign ideas below.


How are you going to make your emails stand out from the campaigns you send the rest of the year?

HTML holiday emails need to maintain the overall feel of your brand but also be distinctly “holiday” enough. Coordinate the color palette, header and other images and tonality to harmoniously achieve a holiday feel that still matches your brand.

Email Marketing Templates for You to Use

In a rush? Try using one of our preprogrammed ready-to-go holiday templates. Standard and Pro users have access to a wide variety of ready-to-go templates. Create your Newsletter2Go email marketing account today.

Here are a few samples of our holiday templates!

four holiday email templates with red and white color palettes

Need a holiday email template that perfectly matches your corporate identity? Order a template from our custom product solutions team. Learn more about our custom templates.

Visual Elements

Coordinate all the visual aspects of your email for perfect email marketing holiday harmony: color palette, imagery and icons!


a set of 5 holiday color palettes with 5 colors each

Choose a consistent color palette for all your holiday emails. This will ensure your emails all present a coherent look.

Remember, though, not to stray too far from your brand colors.

Here are some possible color palettes you might want to try out for your 2019 holiday emails.

Bright reds and dark greens make good accent colors. Blues and gray-silvers lend a touch of elegance.

Warm browns round out your color palette.


When planning the images you’ll be using in your holiday email marketing, ask yourself two questions:

    • What feelings do you want your images to inspire in your readers? Quirky hilarity? Coziness? A sense of elegance and distinction?
    • How will these images match your corporate image but still stand out as winter holiday images?

Choosing one single header image for all your holiday emails – or variations on one header – is a good way to ensure visual coherence across all your holiday campaigns.

Take a look at the images below as inspiration when planning your email marketing campaigns. Would any of them work with your corporate branding?

If so, go ahead and nab them. They’re royalty-free and available for commercial use (sourced from Pexels, Stocksnap and Unsplash).

In addition to pictures, a few simple holiday icons sprinkled throughout your mailing can add a subtle level of festiveness. Here are a few ideas to get you started ….

Iconic Holiday Imagery

  • Christmas tree
  • Hanukkah menorah
  • Dreidel
  • Snowflakes
  • Santa Claus hat
  • Mrs. Claus
  • Angels
  • Christmas tree lights, ornaments and Christmas bulbs
  • Presents
  • Wrapping paper
  • Fir branches
a set of 6 holidays icons reindeer, snowflake, present, christmas tree, holly, christmas bulbs
  • Mistletoe
  • Stars
  • Reindeer
  • Holly & ivy


You can also pull from a range of pre-existing holiday emojis to bring color and lightness to your mailings. Insert them into your subject line or preview text to stand out in the inbox.

Get creative with these holiday emojis. Just copy the emojis below and paste them directly into your email or subject line.

🎅 Santa Claus
🤶 Mrs. Claus
🎄 Christmas Tree
🕎 Menorah
🦌 Deer
⛄ Snowman
⭐ Star
🌟 Glowing Star
🌠 Shooting Star

👼 Baby Angel
🔔 Bell
🥧 Pie
❄ Snowflake
🎁 Wrapped Gift
🍬 Candy
🎆 Fireworks
✨ Sparkles
🎀 Ribbon

Hint: Create holiday-specific landing pages, too! Your holiday-themed email should link customers to a matching holiday-themed landing page. Not the standard home page you use year round.

Use similar color palettes, headlines and imagery to create a recognition effect when they click on a link.

Tonality and Copy

Holiday email marketing copy and CTAs need to awaken emotions. Even more so than they do the rest of the year. The holidays are an emotional time of year! Use that!

There are many ways to get emotional with your copy.

Below are three sample techniques for you to try out.

Hint: Check out our post on holiday and Christmas email subject lines for ideas just on subject lines!

Evoke Classic Holiday Elegance

Norman Rockwell cover of the Saturday Evening Post of Santa dozing over his toys and elves helping out

Christmas brings with it a bag of cultural memories larger than Santa’s bottomless bag of gifts. Reference these to tap into familiar holiday emotions.

Think of Charles Dickens’ iconic Christmas Carol, a tale of a miser reformed by the spirit of Christmas.

Or the many Norman Rockwell illustrations depicting an industrious Santa and cozy families home for the holidays.

Or any of the hundreds of popular Christmas movies such as “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Shared cultural Christmas references can serve as a shortcut to trigger pleasant emotions.

Copy Hacks for Classic Holiday Elegance

  • Use catchphrases from known Christmas carols or greetings to trigger holiday feels
  • Conjure up celebratory associations by using the language of all five senses
  • Focus on the home, family and creature comforts
  • Deploy CTAs that focus on giving, celebrating and sharing

Know Your Classic Holiday Elegance Audience

  • Warning: This is the standard approach to holiday marketing. Many people feel it’s overdone!
  • That being said, it’s a surefire bet with a traditional or conservative audience base
  • Be sensitive to the fact that “family” can be difficult for many people. Sending someone an email claiming to have “the perfect present for Mom” can be triggery if Mom’s no longer around! A way around this is to tell a story about a customer buying a present for her mom. Make it specific to one customer to take the generalizing sting out of it.

Soothe the Christmas Hulk

a shallow focus image of a hulk action figure

I once witnessed the most spectacular parking lot blow-out in the late 90s before online shopping had exploded into what it is today.

I’m not talking about a tire blow-out.

I’m talking about a full-on Christmas hulk-out.

There I was: December 24th. Just recovered from college finals.

I woke up at 2 p.m. after a solid 36 hours of sleep and realized I didn’t have any presents for the family.

My solution? Borders’ Books and Music, which promised not just Christmas presents for the entire family but also breakfast in the form of a triple-shot cappuccino and a chocolate-chip brownie as big as my face.
There are a ton of shoppers out there just one step away from turning into Christmas Hulks. #holidaycopywriting Click To Tweet

The Borders’ parking lot resembled a gridlocked highway during a zombie apocalypse, but I couldn’t believe my luck when a spot right near the entrance opened up. I zipped into the empty spot.

And promptly came face-to-face with a man’s fist thudding on my window. A 6-foot tall man towered over my car, beating on the window and gesticulating wildly to his still-running car, driver’s side door hanging open, where he’d been waiting for the spot.

“Get out!” he screamed. “Get the h*!% out of my spot right f*!% now!!!”

Loyal Borders customer that I was, I still did not want to die in that parking lot.

So I did the sensible thing.

Heart in my throat, I high-tailed it to Barnes & Noble. The biggest Borders’ competitor and a store I had sworn never to patronize.

Now, whenever I think of stressed holiday shopper, I think of this guy with holiday anger management issues, the Christmas Hulk, if you will.

He was probably (maybe?) a perfectly friendly family man most days. But the holiday season had turned him into a Christmas stress bomb ready to explode all over an undercaffeinated teenager.

Even though this guy was an extreme caricature of holiday stress, in a toned-down version, he’s a common holiday persona. Or, think of it this way: there are a ton of shoppers out there just one step away from turning into Christmas Hulks.

Christmas Hulks are the men and women whose base-level stress is already high.

And then the holiday season comes along – with its shopping lists, cooking to-dos, parental and filial expectations, and a never-ending musical loop of enforced merriment – and that puts them over the edge.
One of the biggest benefits of e-commerce is how convenient it makes life for the potential Christmas Hulk. #holidaymarketing Click To Tweet

Not only is this Christmas Hulk – in all his parking-lot rage glory – common. There’s also a piece of him in most holiday shoppers.

They might not all take to banging on others’ cars, but most shoppers suffer from some level of pressurized stress.

One of the biggest benefits of e-commerce is how convenient it makes life for the potential Christmas Hulk.

Shop from the convenience of your mobile phone.

Get next-day delivery.

Buy a gift card and print it out at home.

All these things save tons of shoppers from hulking out on Christmas Eve in a parking lot somewhere.

Copy Hacks for Christmas Hulk Whisperers

  • Communicate the essentials with the utmost clarity. For example …
    • Order by Sunday, 22 December to have it delivered by Christmas!
    • Return with no questions asked by January 7th for a full refund!
  • Keep copy concise. Adhere to that famous Strunk & White maxim: Omit needless words
  • Choose vocabulary that emphasizes ease, simplicity and the alleviation of stress
  • Write encouraging CTA copy. For example …
    • Show your shopping list who’s boss!
    • Get presents delivered by Christmas!
    • You got this.

Know Your Christmas Hulk Audience

  • This type of copy works best for target groups who have a lot going on
  • Industries such as luxury goods and other high-price-point items usually need more finesse than this kind of copy offers
  • Make sure your images do a lot of heavy lifting in terms of setting the mood. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing the finer details of the holiday spirit

Catch the Distracted Consumer by Surprise

dog with fake reindeer antlers and a rudolph nose

During the holiday season, your competition ramps things up just as loudly as you do. This means that it’s a tall order to actually get eyeballs on your Christmas newsletters and other holiday email campaigns.

The good news is that humor and fun are one of the best ways to arrest people’s attention.

They can also provide a much-needed relief or discharge during the holiday season. (With all those Christmas Hulks wandering around, the rest of us need this discharge!)

When planning humorous or playful emails, think of all the fun you want your email subscribers to have. Celebrate the holidays with interactive email games, adorable multiple-choice segmentation options and cheesy jokes that make your readers stop mid-scroll and laugh out loud.

Many consumers exist in a near-constant state of distracted multitasking.

One of the best ways to nab their complete focus is to elicit laughter.

Copy Hacks for Holiday Playfulness

  • Rely on puns, jokes, wordplay and an all-around good time. For example …
    • An interactive pin-the-nose on the reindeer game embedded in a holiday email
    • Subject line: Yule love these new holiday bathrobes!
  • Don’t hold back. Craft bold copy. Not boring copy
  • Use the subject line of your email to tell a joke. Include the punchline in the body of the email
  • Draw from more contemporary holiday references to catch readers’ attention: “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “Home Alone,” “Love Actually” and “Die Hard” are all contemporary Christmas classics with hardcore fans who’ll perk up at a reference
  • Make the CTAs the cherry on top. Clinch the hilarity or playfulness with a CTA that perfectly fits the email’s whole concept. Don’t spend time crafting knee-slapping copy and then punctuate it with a run-of-the-mill “Buy Now!”

Know Your Playful Holiday Audience

  • Humor can work with any target group – but you have to know what kind of humor works best. Dig deep into your personas when crafting copy
  • If you’re not used to writing humor or aren’t sure what will work with your target group, try A/B testing a few different techniques. Observe which copy gets better click-through rates (CTRs) with which segments. Now you’ve got your holiday angle!

Send Your Campaigns

Now that you’ve planned your campaigns like a general preparing for battle, think about your pacing.

If you have a special campaign, such as an Advent-like “24 Days of Deals” or other themed daily emails, then you’ll be sending daily. If you’re not working with a daily theme, though, we’d recommend against sending daily to one segment.

A good general rule is to make campaign pacing match the amount of information you’re sending. It’s OK to send shorter, focused emails more often. Longer emails should be sent less regularly but on key dates. Take a look at the calendar above to plan your holiday email campaigns.

You’ll find that sending frequency varies widely across target group and industry.

If you don’t already have a good idea of what kind of sending frequency your audience can handle, then you might want to spend some time in October playing around with your sending frequency until you find the right fit for your audience.

Sending Times

Another key sending question is when to schedule your emails to send. What day and time will give you the best open rates?

Send when your contacts are checking their email. In B2C, this means the weekends and evenings can be a great time to send. In B2B, you do well with Tuesday–Thursday in the mornings, shortly before lunch.

Hint: Don’t send all your email campaigns at the same time of day. Experiment with different times and observe performance.

Putting It All Together: Holiday Email Campaign Ideas

As an extra bonus we’ve come up with campaign ideas for you.

We’ve even crafted two multi-email holiday campaigns, complete with sample copy and images. Steal these ideas to make holiday campaign planning a breeze!

Classic Holiday Email Campaigns

Here are some classic holiday campaign ideas and a few twists on the classics:

    • Advent calendar: Highlight a select range of products – or even a single product – every day. Offer an impressive discount that’s only valid for a maximum of 24 hours. A good way to showcase product variety
    • Backwards Advent calendar: On 1 December, send a mailing with 24 deals. Each day, a product deal will expire. This increases buying pressure and rewards those who shop early
    • Santa Claus game: Give away the 50th order for free every day. (Or offer 50% off the 50th order.) The chance of winning the “Christmas lottery” will increase order volume
    • Charitable giving:
      • For NGOs and other charities, contract a high-profile sponsor to match every donation made during the holiday season. Advertise this to drive donation volume
      • For non-NGOs, announce that a certain percentage of profits this year will go towards a specific charity. Include this messaging on all your marketing to make people feel good about spending their money with you
    • 12 Days of Christmas: Use the days after Christmas to entice customers to make purchases for themselves for all those wishlist items that never showed up under the tree. Remember, too, that many consumers receive gift cards for the holidays or will want to exchange items

Campaign Copy for the Santa Claus Game

Campaign Launch: End of November
Campaign Content: Every 50th order is free
Number of Emails: 3–6
Advantages: Increased order volume, social engagement, staying top of mind
Multichannel Visibility:

    • Create a badge or eye-catcher to display prominently on your website and include on ALL holiday emails to remind customers of the promotion
    • Make sure to share winners on social media to spread the holiday spirit
An image of a pink gift-wrapped present and an email that reads: Email 1 Send on 29 November Subject line: This holiday season, we’re giving it away! Preview text: Every 50th order for free Dear Sasha, Holiday shopping is twice as much fun when there's a chance of winning something, isn't it? That's why we've got something special planned for December. We’re playing Santa Claus this year, starting on 1 Dec. From 1 December through 24 December, we'll be giving away the 50th order every day – completely free! So be smart: Don't order all your shoes at once. If you don't win on your first order, you can try again the next day. You can take part as many times as you like! Find out more about the terms and conditions. Start Holiday Shopping Now Good luck! Your Shoe Parade Team
Header image of golden sparkles and an email that reads: Email 2 Trigger this email to send daily following 50th order Subject line: … 48, 49, 50. Your order is free! Preview text: Congratulations, you’re today’s winner Dear Sam, We’re delighted to inform you that you’re today's lucky winner in Shoe Parade’s Santa Claus Game! This means your order’s on us. Expect a full refund of Order No. XXXXX within the next 3–4 working days. Every day in December, we’re giving away the 50th order for free. You can try again tomorrow, maybe you’ll get lucky twice in a row! And why not tell your friends, family and colleagues, too? Share Your Win on Facebook Happy Holidays, Your Shoe Parade Team
Image of a red gift-wrapped present and an email that reads: Email 2 Send a variation of this email to single purchasers and non-purchasers 3–5 times in December. Make the wording more urgent the closer you get to Christmas. Subject line: Looking for a last-minute gift? How about one for free? Preview text: Three days left! Every 50th order on us! Hi Taylor, Have you remembered ALL your gifts? You still have the chance to get your entire order for free. Today marks the third-to-last day of our December campaign, and today’s 50th order will still be completely free! You've got to be in it to win it, so complete your order today. Find My Last Present Season’s greetings, Your Shoe Parade Team

Holiday Campaigns That Break the Christmas Jello Mold

Stand out from the crowd with one of these atypical holiday campaigns:

    • Winter Solstice greetings: Build a campaign around the theme of “light” (light colors, light-weight fabrics, sun-inspired figures and shapes) for the darkest day of the year
    • Christmas or Hanukkah puzzle: Instead of just pushing sales, engage your customers with interaction so you stay top of mind. Challenge them to a special holiday puzzle, such as a picture puzzle. Offer valuable prizes to encourage participation
    • Festive competition: Another holiday campaign that drives engagement is a photo or video competition. Make sure to promote this across all your channels. Possible submission categories:
      • Best DIY use of our product as a Christmas decoration
      • Best holiday song performance while wearing our [sweater/hats/scarves]
      • Best blue and white [use your brand colors] holiday decoration
    • Bah, Humbug! Not everyone loves the holiday season. Run a series of sales campaigns for the Christmas Grinches. It’s a segmentation strategy that takes a bit more work but guarantees wider appeal with every campaign you send
      • First of all, start with an email that aims to separate the Christmas-lovers from the Scrooges among your subscribers. Ask your contacts to indicate which group they belong to. You can then create two contact segments and design your subsequent emails accordingly
      • When writing to the less festive subscribers in your database, go easy on the holiday cheer. Instead, show solidarity with their holiday stress by promising that it will all be over soon. For every holiday campaign, plan a “Grinch-friendly” version. You can still advertise the same products and offers. Just use discounts to convince your readers to finish their holiday shopping online as quickly as possible. Emphasize the advantages of shopping online and avoiding the chaos of shopping malls. This is the ultimate Christmas-hulk-whisperer campaign
    • Post-holiday donation drive: Set up a donation drive that’s appropriate to your products. Encourage recipients to donate unwanted presents from your brand in exchange for a small voucher. Instead of a straightforward exchange, this encourages them to do something charitable and might save you revenue in the long run

Campaign Copy for Holiday Puzzle

Campaign Launch: End of November
Campaign Content: Prize drawing for correctly guessing the holiday puzzle
Number of Emails: As many as puzzle pieces (4–??)
Advantages: Increased revenue, newsletter sign-ups (lead generation), brand buzz, customer engagement, staying top of mind
Multichannel Visibility:

    • Promote the upcoming puzzle competition on your website and social media starting in mid-November to encourage newsletter sign-ups
    • Make sure to share winners on social media to spread the holiday spirit
A silver, blue and white holiday email with a close-up image of a chocolate and the following text: Email 1 Teaser the competition before Black Friday with the first puzzle piece. Resend the first puzzle piece on 1 December & continue sending daily emails in the same vein until all puzzle pieces have been shared Subject line: It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s … a ChocoShock Holiday Puzzle? Preview text: First prize: All-expenses paid weekend in Nashville + ChocoShock Factory Tour Dear Sasha, Which ChocoShock truffle could this be? Welcome to the ChocoShock Holiday Puzzle. We took a picture of fifteen of our most popular truffles, and we’ll be sending you a snippet of that picture every day. We’ll resend this image when the contest officially starts on December 1st, so mark you calendars. Because after December 1st, you’ll only receive each image once in a single email. These emails will run through December 15th. You don’t want to miss any of them! Save the competition dates in your Google Calendar, Outlook or iCal! What’s up for grabs in this competition? → Identify all fifteen chocolates correctly for a chance to win a weekend trip for two to visit our factory in its lovely home town of Nashville, TN. The ChocoShock owners, Sandra Dahl and me, Reagan Dahl, will give you a personal tour of the factory and present you with a private truffle tasting at the end of your tour. ← Three lucky runner-ups will also win a $50 gift certificate to our online store. Need to study up for the puzzle competition? Review the ChocoShock Truffles We’ll be sending out puzzle pieces every day for the next 15 days. Submit your final answer that correctly identifies all fifteen ChocoShock truffles by December 17th. The winners will be drawn at random on December 18th and informed via email. Only one entry allowed per person. For more info, read the terms and conditions. Good luck, Reagan Reagan Dahl Chief Chocolate Officer at ChocoSchock
A silver, blue and white holiday email with a close-up image of a chocolate and the following text: Email 2 Send shortly before the close of the competition; start linking the landing page early so subscribers can submit their solution a few days before the competition closes Subject line: Holiday Puzzle Piece #9 Preview text: Will you be ready to solve the puzzle on December 17th? Dear Charlie, Have you been following along with our puzzle pieces? Here’s today’s: We’re nearly there! Just 6 truffles left to identify in the ChocoShock Holiday Puzzle. Bookmark the link below so you’re ready to submit your answer. Correctly identify all 15 truffles for the chance to win! Solve the Holiday Puzzle The first-place winner will receive an all-expenses paid weekend trip to Nashville, a personal tour of the ChocoShock Factory from the owners, and a special private truffle tasting. There’s only one entry per person allowed, so make it count! Submit your final answer on our website by December 17th at midnight CST for a chance to win. Happy Choco-lidays! Your ChocoShock Chocolatiers
A silver, blue and white holiday email with a close-up image of a chocolate and the following text: Email 3 Send this email to anyone who correctly solved the puzzle (but send the winners individual emails). Write a similar email to participants whose answers were incorrect and offer them a lower discount “consolation prize” for participating. Subject line: The winners of the ChocoShock Holiday Puzzle are ... Preview text: You’re a true choco-noisseur, River! Dear River, Congratulations, you guessed all 15 ChocoShock truffles correctly! We hope you had as much fun participating in the puzzle competition as we had running it. We’re delighted to announce this year’s winners 🍬 1st place: Sarah McGregor Prize: All-expenses paid weekend for two in Nashville, factory tour and private truffle tasting 🍬 Runners-up: Timothy Jones, Maria García and Ryder Craig Prize: $50 gift certificate to the ChocoShock online store 🍬 But that’s not all: Even though you didn’t win big, we still have a small surprise gift for you and all participants who correctly identified our truffles. Get 30% off All Mixed Truffle Orders The discount is linked to this email address and is valid until Dec 30th. Drumroll … and last, but not least, below are the winning chocolates, which you correctly guessed! You are a true ChocoShock choco-noisseur! Congratulations! (From top to bottom, left to right) Chocolate dip Noir coconut White-chocolate orange cream Foil-wrapped raspberry bells Chocolate caramel Sea-salt dark chocolate caramel Noir orange Toasted coconut milk chocolate Coffee milk chocolate Gingerbread Pistachio white chocolate Dark chocolate chew Milk chocolate cream Chocolate wafer Noir raspberry Sending you many chocolatey thanks for participating in our ChocoShock Holiday Puzzle this year. Happy Choco-lidays❣ Reagan, Chief Chocolate Officer, and the whole Choco-Shock Chocolatier Team

In Sum

We hope this holiday campaign playbook gave you ideas to make your holiday season merry.

Remember: Start early. Approach it like a five-star general. It’s called a “campaign” for a reason.

Here’s your checklist to make sure you’ve got everything covered:

Phase I: Planning

✔ Start planning in September or October, at the latest.

✔ Assess last year’s successes and failures

✔ Define this year’s goals

✔ Draft a campaign plan and a segmentation strategy

✔ Clean your email list

✔ Clarify the essentials to communicate, including any contingency plan

✔ Schedule the dates of your email campaigns (see the Winter Holiday Calendar)

Phase II: Creating

✔ Choose your visual themes and catchphrases

✔ Select or create images, icons and emojis for the right look

✔ Pick a tone to match each target group: classic holiday elegance, Christmas Hulk whisperer or playfulness

✔ Draft the copy, subject lines and visuals for your holiday email campaigns

Phase III: Sending

✔ Use marketing automation to send several impactful multi-email series

✔ Schedule emails to send at varied sending times when your consumers will be checking email

Looking for more ideas? Check out our other holiday planning resources below.

Additional Holiday Email Marketing Resources

About the Author

Mara Taylor
Online Marketing Manager at Newsletter2Go

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