Beat the holiday rush: strategies and campaign ideas for early holiday email marketing and planning

Beat the Holiday Rush

I was wandering through the aisles of a big box store recently and when I turned a corner, I had suddenly been transported to Christmas town. Normally, this wouldn’t seem surprising, but it was JULY! After recovering from shock, it did get me thinking that even though it’s still summertime, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about your holiday email marketing plan.

While we’re all familiar with big holiday days like Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the days leading up to Christmas and the campaigns associated with them –  the 12 days of deals, the sneak peek/early access emails, etc., there is plenty of opportunity to capitalize on some specific themes and less popular days leading up to the holidays. Let’s start with a good theme for the holidays: family.

holiday email marketing theme 1: family time

Family-centric campaigns utilize common values and familial notions as a way to connect with viewers on a much more emotional and heartfelt level. While every family is different, there are central family themes related to the holidays that most people will identify with

By showcasing families in humorous or heartfelt situations, email campaigns tap into a more touching and sentimental side that viewers can easily relate to. Consider creating family-centric campaigns that will make an impression with their relatable concepts this holiday season.

a general “holiday wishes” email is always a safe bet

Rather than push a product or sale, these type emails simply wish the subscriber a happy holiday.

Even though there is no real sales push in these emails, retailers do generate sales from them so it’s important to make sure you’re in your customers’ and subscribers’ inboxes on the big holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas day

A brand wishing readers a happy holiday season from their “family to yours” like the example below is a nice touch that gives a personal feel to the email campaign.

holiday email marketing campaign ideas



If you’re planning on sending a “Happy holidays” campaign, consider incorporating new mediums, such as video, into your email campaign. In fact, in a HubSpot survey, 43% of consumers wanted to see more video content in email.  This example from Publix plays off the family theme, but takes it up a notch by incorporating a heartwarming, seasonal video.

holiday email marketing strategies using video



Visuals matter in email and when thinking of a family themed campaign, a picture of your client’s employees together like a family will go a long way to instilling a sense of comfort with readers.

37% of marketers said visual marketing was the most important form of content for their business. (Source:

Like the others, this goodwill message doesn’t include a sales push of any sort, but the email is clickable to the website, so those that want to shop can and will.

holiday email marketing strategies


pre-holiday checklist

holiday email marketing theme 2: Friendsgiving

For many folks, friends are family and for folks who live far from home and can’t make the trip, Friendsgiving is a popular way to celebrate. In fact, 52% of Millennials host their own Thanksgiving including both friends and family members at their “Friendsgiving.”

This frame of mind provides an opportunity to market to customers hosting or attending a Friendsgiving event.


This Living Spaces email targets customers and subscribers who may be hosting a Friendsgiving event. It does a great job of acknowledging Friendsgiving, appealing to the host’s need/want to be a good host and has a prominent CTA button. Additionally, a banner at the top does a good job of reminding folks that Thanksgiving (or Friendsgiving) is almost here and serves to remind about shipping timelines.

holiday email marketing strategies for friendsgiving

holiday email marketing theme 3: Giving Tuesday

Now let’s talk about a day that is gaining steam each year: Giving Tuesday.

Last year saw 63% YOY growth in the total amount donated ($274M) on Giving Tuesday.

Companies that choose to take part in this day can get into the spirit of Giving Tuesday by incorporating some of the following into their email campaigns:

  • Raise awareness for the Giving Tuesday movement via email and social using the hashtag #givingtuesday
  • Consider a matching program: ask folks to make a donation and the company will match the donation
  • Create a video asking for donations for a Giving Tuesday cause and send it via email

Giving Tuesday is becoming more widely known, as charities seek to use digital channels to raise awareness, and dollars, in the overwrought holiday shopping season.

If you’re planning to take part in #givingtuesday, be sure to tout this via email.

holiday email marketing for giving tuesday


holiday email marketing theme 4: non-traditional

Even if your company is not an ecommerce company, or one that easily ties into the holiday season, there is still opportunity to incorporate holiday themes into your emails.

This informational holiday health email from is doing a lot of things right. Although they aren’t a company that you’d typically expect to receive a holiday related email from, they have included holiday imagery and a helpful holiday travel checklist. This is a great example of a company getting creative during the holidays. Another thing to include, if you’re not a 24/7 service or business, could be holiday hours – extended hours, early closings, etc.

non-traditional holiday email marketing

wrapping up:

The holidays are an optimal time to have fun and great creative with your email campaigns. Sending campaigns that surprise and delight are going to stand out in a very busy inbox, boosting traffic, revenue, and customer satisfaction.

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