Optimizing your Email Program for the Holiday Season

Halloween has come and gone, the leaves are changing, and so have the clocks! Can you believe it’s that time of year again, already?!? Email marketers are gearing up for what tends to be their busiest time of year, and the only thing slowing them down is that pesky little thing called “planning”. But stick with us… we’ve got some great tips and tricks to get you caught up on your holiday season email readiness planning. It’s not too late!

Last year, the EEC put together a different kind of webinar that can get your mental wheels turning, and ensure you aren’t spending some of your much-needed holiday celebration time cleaning up issues related to deliverability or lower-than-expected ROI.

Grab a coffee and settle in to hear Ryan Phelan, Kait Creamer and Anthony Chiulli spend an hour chatting about Holiday Season Email Readiness strategies you still have time to implement prior to the retail holiday rush.

Don’t have an hour to spare? Not to worry! We’ve included a few tips below to help you get started:

Quick-Tip #1: Clean Up Your Automation Strategy

It’s common knowledge that promotional emails tend to have a fairly fixed conversion rate, whereas emails triggered based on a user action are more expected and/or more welcomed by recipients, so they convert at a higher rate.

While you don’t have time to recreate the wheel this late into the season, you may be able to implement some kind of automation or trigger that is reliant on data already found within your ESP. If the data is already there in-house, you can quickly take action to boost your engagement with recipients without spending a lot of time or effort. (website purchase or visit, 2nd email for cart abandonment)

As the old adage goes: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! But do consider adding a new onboarding or nurturing program. Or if you already have an automation program in place, consider small modifications or additions which can make your emails a little more relevant for the holiday season. Also, do be sure to check your existing automation program to ensure something isn’t actually broken!

Quick-TIp #2: Maintain a Strong Brand Voice through Creative & Design

Designs for holiday season should be simple, effective and mindful of what has worked with your subscribers in the past. Don’t send something with snowflakes or dancing Santas just for the sake of the season. Make sure changes to your design have a purpose, and stay on brand. Stand out in the inbox by taking advantage of subscriber data to show recipients that you are listening to their needs and understand their interests.

At the same time, be sure you’re taking full advantage of every little bit of email real estate at your disposal. We all know the stress of chopping down Subject Lines that are just a bit too long, or don’t get to the point quickly enough. Failing SLs can be devastating for your ROI, especially if your recipients view your emails on their phones, where space is even tighter. I’m starting to sweat, just thinking about it.

If your brand operates in retail or a similar industry, consider most people are already expecting emails around Cyber Week or Christmas to be related to holiday sales. Save some of that oh-so-precious space by cutting these unnecessary words or phrases from your Subject Lines!

Don’t forget to add a catchy pre-header text as well, to ensure you’re maximizing every little bit of real estate your email has to offer.

Quick-Tip #3: Focus on User Engagement to Prevent (or Improve) Deliverability Issues

It’s important to keep in mind that user engagement, both positive and negative, is the biggest driver of deliverability. Mailbox providers and ISPs view engagement based on signals available within their email client, which translates into things such as opens, clicks, dragging the mail out of their spam folder, moving a message to a folder, replying to a message, etc.

Focus on data points that can be perceived as good user engagement within the email channel. Often times, marketers will determine their users’ intent or value score through a mix of engagement signals that are not email-centric, such as visits to a website or app, purchase history, or logging in to an online account. While this information is all helpful to understanding a user’s overall intent or loyalty to your brand, it does not always result in engagement with the emails you are sending. If ISPs can’t see that engagement on their side in some way, it’s as if it never happened at all.

If you do run into a deliverability issue, address it head on! Ask for help from your internal team, ESP, or even the lovely and supportive folks in the #emailgeeks Slack channel! Also consider pulling back on your targeting to focus on more engaged subscribers while you take the proper time to diagnose the impact (i.e. what % of your list is it affecting) and determine next steps. While this might not solve your issue on its own, it can quickly help drive more of your emails to the inbox and ensure you’re not digging yourself into a deeper hole.

Listen to the full webinar to learn more tips and tricks on how you can further optimize your email marketing strategy during the holiday season, measure your success and avoid mistakes. It’s not too late!

Lauren Meyer |Global VP of Delivery & Head of Operations, North America | Mailjet
EEC Education & Events Subcommittee Member