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Creating a last-minute holiday email marketing strategy


4 minute read

If you’ve waited this long to create a holiday email marketing strategy, your planning might as well be for next Christmas, right?

The holidays are so close you can almost smell the pine boughs—just like at this time last year, and the year before. Holiday dates don’t change (in most cases), yet many marketers find themselves scrambling to capitalize on upcoming festivities. Deadlines can sneak up on even the savviest of email marketing teams, but you don’t want to be the last one in the inbox.

But with the holiday cheer comes hope and you can still create a winning email plan to grab last-minute holiday sales:

Late email marketing can be a good thing

Target dates for holiday email marketing can vary depending on your country’s biggest holidays. For example, U.S. companies bank much of their success in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

However, keep in mind this is also when other stores and services are hitting the same customers with their sales messages.

The truth is, not everyone is an early bird shopper (just like you might not be an early email marketer). Sometimes it pays to arrive late to the party. Studies show that the week before Christmas is most critical for retailers, accounting for nearly a fifth of the entire holiday season’s traffic.

So, don’t think of your last-minute tactics as desperate or ill-timed. Rather, consider it a thoughtful part of your strategy that will help you maximize your impact with minimal effort and investment.

Offer major incentives with urgency

Last minute shoppers know the odds are against them. The stores are wiped out of the things on their shopping list. All the good sales and deals are done. Stores are crowded. They might be feeling anything but merry and bright.

Your perfectly timed email could save their holiday if you offer the right incentives.

Can they get their gift overnight? Are you offering free shipping or in-store pickup? Do you sell gift cards or e-gift cards? Can they get gift wrapping to take some hassle off their plates?

As much joy as the holidays bring, stress comes along for the ride. Anything you can do to take a little heat off your buyers can make you look like the holiday hero they need. And don’t forget to add a little urgency to your message. Running out of time might be the push they need to finally convert.

Give away email gift cards

Gift cards are digital sales magic, plain and simple. Studies show that 59% of Christmas shoppers plan to buy gift cards. Plus, the majority of gift card holders will spend up to 38% more than the face value of the gift card.

It’s a smart business move to offer gift cards in the first place, but a savvy marketing move to promote gift cards via last-minute holiday emails.

For starters, customers can purchase and print gift card codes on the spot rather than making a trip to the store. Or, buyers could email the gift card directly to their recipient, saving them money on postage costs.

Many companies are finding success in boosting gift card revenue by adding bonus gift cards with a minimum gift card purchase (e.g. buying a $50 gift card and get a $10 gift card free).

This is a super easy and attractive way to increase the minimum gift card purchase while also building value and goodwill with your customers. Plus, it gives your buyer a “freebie” gift to give to someone else, if they choose, so you can expose your brand to more than one person during the holidays.

Don’t make your emails all about sales

Is the mad dash for present buying over?  That doesn’t mean the holiday season and feelings of goodwill return to hibernation.

As buyers are home enjoying their gifts and spending time with loved ones, a simple email can remind them they’re part of your business family, too.

This is a great chance to create more top of mind awareness and finish the year with a positive impression of your company. It might not make a direct impact on your sales, but it does give you another chance to create an impression and continue building your relationship with your audience.

Personalize your message as much as possible. Use humor or creative copy to make it memorable. And most importantly, make your message sincere rather than self-serving.  A little humanity can go a long way in building a reputable brand.

Final thoughts

Whatever you choose to do with your holiday email marketing this year, you can use your results as a blueprint for next year. Knowing what worked and what could have been improved helps you create scalable, repeatable success for when you wait until the last-minute next year (because it’s probably going to happen, right?).

Guest Contributor: Benjamin Shepardson is the founder of NoStop Content with an extensive career in digital marketing and web development.


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