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How to Capitalise on the Holiday Rush with Email Marketing

  • Seasonal emails are a great opportunity to engage with customers, new and old.
  • It is also a great time to gather new data that you can use in all of your email campaigns over the next year.
  • Segmentation is the key to driving conversions this Christmas. Learn from these three segmentation strategies.

The holiday season lasts from November to January. Making sure your email marketing is up to scratch (and in line with what your customers are expecting) is a must.

If you want to drive conversions you need to send emails that are ‘congruent’. Emails that entice the recipient to engage. Segmentation is the key to help you build this congruency. Christmas is the busiest time of the year for customers’ inboxes, avoid the blanket approach and use targeted, data rich segments to provide relevant content and offers.

First up, here are the key dates to (typically) drive sales. Use these as central points for email campaigns:

Thanksgiving – 28 Nov Black Friday – 29 Nov Cyber Monday – 2 Dec Boxing Day – 26 Dec

Remember: when you send an email you’re talking to real people! Not just numbers. Treat your recipients as you’d like to be treated.

Here’s three email segmentation strategies to make your campaigns more relevant:

[form_with_options cta=”Get ideas for the holidays” text=”This is the first in our ‘Harness the Holidays’ series of 7 posts. Receive a practical email marketing idea for the holiday season in your inbox each week for the next 7 weeks. Unsubscribe at any time!” link=””]

1. Split customers based on their purchase behavior last year

Dump your sales data from last holiday season and use this to plan a targeted campaign.

Here are three things every online business should be able to dig up on each customer that purchased last year:

  1. Did they buy a gift or something for themselves? For example: if a male customer purchased a dress, it’s likely it was a gift.
  2. Did they purchase during a sale? For example: if they purchased using a coupon code on Boxing Day, you can segment them as shoppers who responded to a discount.
  3. Did they purchase using a gift card? For example: if they purchased using a gift card or offer that identifies them as having received a gift from another customer.

Obviously this is the tip of the iceberg but this information will let you send smarter emails that convert better. One email you could send with the above information is inspired by ASOS. Send an offer on any of your sale dates to the segment of customers that purchased during a sale last year:

Alternately you could single out those customers you’ve identified above as purchasing a gift for someone else last year. This email from Netflix shows how it’s done. Simple, to the point and effective.

Netflix provides inspiration for another email you could send: segment out loyal shoppers (customers that have spent at least $X or purchased Y times) and give them something special, to create loyalty:

Setting up a segment like this is easy with the right tools:


Learn more about sending targeted newsletters with Vero →

The holy grail is to go one step further and get really specific. If you were Warby Parker and knew which customers had a flex spending account you’d be smart and send something like this:

Think outside the box.

To do:

Use information you’ve gathered in the past to create segments of customers that are actually relevant. Don’t simply hit ‘send to everyone’.

2. React to actions as they happen

The next segmentation strategy involves reacting to actions this year, as they happen.

A big component of getting this right is targeted, automated campaigns that literally send to customers on a one-to-one basis. Take this example from Dolphin Music. Rather than sending your standard cart abandonment emails you should rework your campaigns. To replicate this example you would setup trigger an email to customers that begin checkout but don’t complete it in the last month before Christmas:

Another approach would be to send out a campaign around the 20th of December to any customer that has added a product to their cart in the last 6 weeks and has not purchased:

These sorts of ‘last minute’ campaigns are a simple way to retarget customers and they represent value as thy are very specifically targeted at customers that have left things to the last minute.

What about customers that do purchase between November and December? Segment them out and send them a thank you email and an offer encouraging them to do more shopping and buy another gift or purchase again before the holiday season is over:

This final example from Expedia is really powerful. By tracking users who viewed their website using a mobile device after Christmas last year they created a very targeted segment and send them an email promoting the Expedia mobile apps:

This is an amazing example of segmentation. It does two things: 1. targets consumers who are excited about their new iPad/Android/iPhone, and 2. targets consumers who are possibly preparing for a holiday in the cold winter months!

To do: Use customer actions as they happen over the holiday season to create segments and really drive relevant email campaigns.

3. Localize, localize, localize

This is the simplest of the strategies so I’ve left it to last.

It can be easy to get ‘stuck’ on some of the advanced ideas above so starting with some basic segmentation might be the key for you.

The most basic of basic segmentation strategies during the holiday season is to use your customers’ location. Customers experience the holiday season in different ways in different parts of the world.

A simple example: thanksgiving is a North American celebration. It’s not celebrated in the UK, Europe, Australia or Asia. It would be a bit silly to waste precious sends sending a Thanksgiving offer to all of these customers!

It doesn’t have to be that simple though. Take inspiration from Kate Spade. This email targets North American customers that are more than likely to travel somewhere over the holidays.

This email capitalises on this fact by mentioning many of the likely holiday destinations – it’s well targeted to their audience too: not everyone goes to Aspen after all ;). This sort of context is what really drives conversions:


To do:

Use location as a basic segment and think about the context of your customers. Where do they live? Is it hot or cold? Are they likely to travel? Do they even celebrate some of the holiday ‘key dates’? Make every email count.

Happy Holidays!

These segmentation strategies give a good overview of where to begin segmenting this holiday seasons. The key takeaway is: you’ve got an extremely small opportunity to engage your customers’ attention at this time of year as their inbox is overflowing. Segment to ensure customers don’t receive endless emails from you and that every email they do receive is as contextual and as powerful as it can be.

What you need to do now: subscribe below to our “Harness The Holidays” marketing list. Starting two weeks from now we’re going to be sending out one detailed holiday email marketing example each week. They’ll be for SaaS, eCommerce and every company in between.

We’ll keep each example short and sweet and break down exactly what you should send and when.

Simply enter your email below. You can unsubscribe at any time.

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