Email can be a powerful marketing tool for the holiday season. But this time of year, email messages can easily get lost in the shuffle.

A lot of your competitors are in the midst of a year-end marketing blitz; they’re going after the same customers you are desperately trying to win over. And these customers have a lot on their minds! On both the business and personal fronts, they are bombarded with distractions that could very likely keep them from noticing you.

The good news is, you can use email marketing to cut through the clutter, drown out the noise, win their attention and end the year on a high note. Check out these 10 holiday email marketing tips.

Tip 1: Emulate Successful Email Marketers

See something inspiring in your inbox? Try to emulate it in your own marketing. Obviously, this isn’t a call to plagiarize or steal, but to understand what makes great marketing work.

By re-imagining an aspect of an email that catches your attention, you’re really uncovering why it’s so effective. So go ahead, unravel that clickable subject line and see if you can make it work for your audience. Or scour the web for your own funny gif to see if you can boost the click-through rate on your nurturing email.

Tip 2: Run a Contest to Grow Your Email List

Everyone loves giving and gifting during the holidays, so what better time of year to run a contest?  

Whether it’s awarding the best “tacky Christmas sweater” a discount or raising awareness for a cause you want to support, contests can do wonders for your social media presence, as well as grow your list of email subscribers.

For instance, CrossFit is running a video contest that requires you to login or create an account to enter – an effective way to capture new contacts in their target audience.

holiday email marketing


Use name and email address for entries, and spread the word through social media and to your current email list.  Make sure you include a way to share the contest in your emails and on your contest landing page.

Tip 3: Send Your Subscribers Something Unexpected

Take a break from your cadence of lead nurturing emails and give your readers a reason to take notice.

Even if you’re doing a great job of sending valuable blog content and resources to your audience, taking an unexpected turn is a solid approach for getting noticed in the inbox.

This Holiday Calendar from The Starr Conspiracy, a marketing agency out of Forth Worth, TX, is a great example of how you can do something fun and different for your audience.

holiday email marketing


Shaking things up on the content side is a great way to remind your audience why your brand is special.

Tip 4: Send “Twelve Days” Emails

One of the most effective resources on our website is our Lead Generation Course.  This is a series of tutorials sent via email over five days.


holiday email marketing


You can create your own email course and even give it a holiday theme with “Twelve Days of Emails.”  This might be a great opportunity to send a series of emails delivering useful content that keeps you in your customers’ minds and builds goodwill, trust and credibility that leads to more sales.

Tip 5: Cross-Promote With Strategic Partners

Partnerships with vendors, customers and other businesses who aren’t competitors but have a similar audience can grow your reach during the holidays. Cross-promote each others’ brands. For instance, you could each offer a discount to the other’s audience.  Or you could partner to create a holiday-themed resource and cross-promote to each others’ email lists.

For example, at Hatchbuck we teamed up to create a resource for small businesses marketing on a budget with our partner, Kabbage.


holiday email marketing


Tip 6: Focus On A Great Reader Experience

Your email audience is super-distracted during this time of year. So once you win their attention with a clickable subject line, you don’t want to squander it with a bad-looking email.

The experience of opening and reading your email is just as important as the content you provide. Eliminate clutter, and focus on one call-to-action per email.

Quick Tip: Simple, one-column email designs will look best across all devices – from the desktop to mobile.

Send a test email to yourself to make sure your email looks as good in your inbox as it does in your email builder.

Finally, don’t be afraid to test a text-based version of your email.  It might resonate with your audience and feel more personal in an inbox chock-full of HTML email blasts.

Tip 7: Remember The Procrastinators

Do you know anyone who procrastinates when it comes to gift buying? A lot of us do. And lots of us are guilty as charged.

So why not send out one or more emails directly aimed at this audience?

For B2Bs, the end of the year is wrapping up, and the new year is right around the corner. Give them a specific reason to come in and buy early – whether it’s investing in new technology, hiring a consultant to analyze business processes, or making that big equipment purchase before the year is out.

Tip 8: Consider The “Anti” Black Friday Approach

Black Friday deals start Thanksgiving week and stretch through Cyber Monday.  While B2C retailers might need to participate, as a small B2B, consider giving your audience – and your team – a break to recharge.

Absence from the inbox during Thanksgiving and Black Friday just might mean you can stop competing with the noise and make a greater impact on other days or in other ways.

You can even make it a movement, like REI did with their #OptOutside campaign. It just might resonate in a big way.

Tip 9: Reflect Back. Look Forward

This time of year, we naturally tend to reflect on the year past and start thinking about the one to come. As a thought leader with a pulse on your industry, this is a good time to email content related to one or both.

Reflect on the major changes in your industry over the past year, or make predictions about what’s to come.

Tip 10: Give Your Business An Awesome Gift

The right tools can make all the difference in turning your holiday email marketing dilemmas into email marketing success. An all-in-one sales and marketing platform integrates your list of contacts with your email marketing tools.

This means that as you email your audience, you can measure their engagement with your emails and track their activity on your website.  The more you learn about your audience, the more personalized your messages can be – and that’s a foolproof way to get noticed in a busy inbox any time of the year.