Updated for 2022

The Chrissy decs can remain in the box, but right now you need to start thinking about your email marketing Christmas campaigns (including BFCM emails if you’re planning to do any).

Before you break out in a cold sweat, I’ve got you covered with a 4-step plan for getting your email marketing shipshape and primed for one of the most profitable times of the year.

The good news… it’s a time of year where people are already in buying mode, and even more good news… email marketing can contribute up to 20% of your sales*.

The bad news… every other business will be promoting their Christmas / BFCM campaigns too, so you’ll be competing for inbox space and your subscribers’ attention.

That is why NOW is the time to get on top of your email marketing plan, so here’s my top 4 ways you can start doing that today.

1. Start with your subscriber list 

Before you start thinking about what you’re going to send, it’s important to do some list cleaning.

Ideally you should do this regularly, but if you don’t then now is the perfect time to start.


Because over time contacting ‘inactive’ subscribers (those that stop opening your emails), could have a negative impact on your sender reputation. This means that more of your emails could end up in the Junk folder and not get seen by as many people.

Here’s 3 steps to cleaning your list:

Step 1. Decide on what makes an inactive subscriber for your business. Perhaps it’s someone who hasn’t opened one or more of your emails in the last 3, 6 or 12 months?

Step 2. Create a segment of these people and send a reactivation email. It should include an incentive to try to win back their interest or business, e.g. a bespoke special offer or discount. Subscribers who open the campaign can be considered ‘reactivated’ and included in your Christmas campaign emails. Those that don’t open your email can remain in the ‘inactive’ segment.

Step 3. Decide what you’d like to do with the ‘inactive’ segment. Considering the effort you went to acquiring these people, think about how else you could use them, e.g. for Facebook targeting?

2. Revisit your emails from Christmases past

If you’ve been through a Christmas campaign before for your business, take the time to go over your results and see what worked and what didn’t. If this is your first year, then look back at what worked well over the past few emails to understand what your audience responded to most.

Look at results (stats/metrics) that tell you which emails generated the most opens and clicks, drove people to your website and, if you can, what emails generate the most sales.

Ask yourself these questions:

– Which email was the most successful? Consider sending something similar again. Hint, don’t just look at number of opens, also look at clicks, website visits and conversions.

– Which emails didn’t do so well? Can you figure out why? Consider whether to rework them or shelf them with the elf.

3. Creating your email Christmas plan

The easiest way to create your email marketing plan is to think of it in three parts: Pre-Christmas, Christmas and Post-Christmas.

Part 1. Pre-Christmas emails

Timing: October – November (taking in BCFM if that’s your thing).

Online Christmas shopping generally starts ramping up in the first week of November as businesses start to contact their subscribers more frequently in the lead up to the Black Friday Cyber Monday weekend, towards the end of the month.

Warming up your list is a great way to keeping top of mind in the busier season.

Pre-Christmas emails can take many forms such as wish lists, gift guides or even helpful tips for getting through the chaotic silly season that relate back to your business, e.g. productivity tips, staying organised, party-season style guide etc.

Part 2. Christmas emails

Timing: November until your shipping cut-off date.

As Christmas buying starts to ramp so will your promotional emails, especially if you’re taking part in the BFCM weekend towards the end of November. Because you’ve already nurtured your list (see part 1), your main promo or offer should be fairly straightforward to execute. In fact, since you started contacting your subscribers early, they most likely already have your products, offer or brand top of mind.

The simplest way to entice your customer to buy is to offer a deal or discount. And don’t forget to give them a chance to share these discounts with friends and family members.

Side note on your offer: This is the time of year to bring it with your offer!! You need to decide whether to go BIG or go UNIQUE. For example, if you’ve been discounting your products a lot over the past few months at say 10-20% off, then your Christmas offer needs to be up at least 30% Off. If you’ve hardly discounted then you might consider a smaller discount or something unique, like a 2 for 1, free gift or everyone’s favourite, free shipping.

Part 3. Post-Christmas emails

Timing: Late December onwards

Christmas might be over, but that doesn’t mean your campaign is. The New Year can also be profitable because over 50% of people will continue to shop after Christmas, especially to grab bargains or discounts.

Consider these three types of post-Christmas emails:

Give a special offer: With the commotion of Christmas over, consider giving special discounts to your subscribers who purchased from you during Christmas.

This may feel like a quiet period, but because people have more time to themselves, you can still engage them and entice them to shop with you. Think: maybe there was something they had their eye on, but never bought or received as a gift for Christmas, and without your email reminder, they might have otherwise forgotten about it.

Thank you / appreciation messages: This is a time for reflection so why not take stock of what you’ve achieved this year and send a heartfelt thank you to your customers and subscribers for their support. This is also a great time to update them on any charity giving your business may have pledged throughout the year.

Share useful content: Don’t go quiet on email until the next big shopping season. Keep providing your subscribers with helpful content that delivers value, e.g. easy school holiday activities for the kids, 5 classic beach-style looks, best summer smoothie recipes, how to set goals for 2023, 3 homemade facial masks from the pantry etc.

Do you struggle to write open-worthy content for your subscribers? Read these 5 tips for getting your emails read!

4. Optimise your campaigns

Here’s 8 quick tips to ensure your campaigns are optimised over the Christmas buying period.

Tip 1. Offer free shipping: It’s no secret that Christmas is cluttered with promotions and offers. To help your emails stand out from the crowd, address typical objections that online shoppers have and if you know anything about online shopping, you’ll know that the #1 gripe is always having to pay for shipping. This is the main reason why so many carts are abandoned at check out. So for this Christmas why not make free shipping your thing.

Tip 2. Add share buttons: An easy way to get more exposure for your Christmas campaign is to let your subscribers and customers promote your content by adding simple share buttons. Consider the top 2 or 3 social media sites that your ideal customer is likely to use and add these buttons to the bottom of your email.

Tip 3. Add urgency: Providing a discount, or other incentive to buy, is great. Add a time limit to it and you’ll instantly have added urgency to your offer. This adds another reason for you to send a follow up email to remind them of the timely offer ending soon.

Tip 4. Keep everything in theme – this is a time of year where your email template can look a bit different. Think about adding a little motif to your brand or change up your template colours. Whatever you decide, keep it consistent. And don’t forget to keep your Christmas theme going across any discount codes and hashtags you may be using.

Tip 5. Ensure your Returns policy and Shipping policy are on your email footer, or somewhere that customers can access easily. Up to 75% of buyers will check the returns policy before deciding whether or not to buy*, so why not have it front and centre to save them having to search for it.

Tip 6. Gift cards – Yes, you’ll have to consider shipping times in order to guarantee product delivery before Christmas, but don’t forget that after this date has passed you can ramp up your gift card promotion, if you offer them. If not, consider it! It’s easy, convenient and a great way to increase your sales.

Tip 7. Don’t forget about the buyer – Did you know that more than half of shoppers admit to buying a little something for themselves when shopping for others*… and these are likely to be more indulgent gifts than they would normally buy too!

Think about how you can add a little incentive such as a 2 for 1, or buy 1, get 50% off. Think about adding a bit of cheeky copy into your email, or even dedicating a whole email to this offer.

Tip 8. Subject lines: Your subject lines should entice subscribers to open your emails. I’ve gone to the other side of email-land and back and found 51 Christmas and New Year subject lines to help you take your Christmas campaign to the next level.

Sign up to Download 51 Christmas and New Year Subject Lines Swipe File here.


*Source: Deloitte