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Holiday email planning: should you talk about Christmas this early?

As part of our holiday email planning blog post series, we started by looking at ways of setting the tone for holiday shopping in September without going over the top. This month, we continue our top tips by sharing examples of what emails we’ve seen in October and pointing out the type of strategies you should steal, and what you should avoid.

Continue reading to find out what type of messages you should send, how to keep your subscribers engaged as email volumes rise, and keep your brand top of mind during the holiday season.

Ba-humbug! Let’s not rush into it yet

While there are many people who wish Christmas was all-year round, most of us like to enjoy one season at a time. It’s a good idea to keep an idea on what your competitors are doing, but also look at last year’s data. When you first emailed your contacts about Christmas last year, did you see a drop in engagement or a rise in unsubscribes? If so, it might have been too early. Your database might have changed slightly, but you’re likely attracting like-minded people to your email list. It’s also better than basing the decision on gut instinct.

So which are the brands setting the mood and celebrating the autumnal season in October? Topshop and Accessorize have used copy and images to bring up the coziness level and those warm fuzzy feelings.

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Accessorize-christmas-email

Another way of not overdoing the Christmas spirit too early is to look at the party aspect of the season. M&S and H&M have great examples of this, having subtle references to Christmas and a focus on building up the glam.

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h&m-christmase-email

Restaurants have a VIP pass to holiday emails

Because of the nature of their business, restaurants need to start advertising their holiday offering earlier than other industries. Venues get booked up earlier every year and it is actually in the subscribers’ best interest to hear from restaurants early on. That said, you shouldn’t rest on the laurels of your VIP pass to the inbox. Strada makes a great example of how tongue-in-cheek humour can help you stand out amidst your competitors who are just announcing availability and menus.

strada-christmas-email

cafe-christmas-email

Christmas emails are coming to town

It’s no doubt that Christmas fever has entered some inboxes! Fortnum & Mason was the first to break the ice in our inbox on the 3rd of October, followed by M&S on the 9th and Hotel Chocolat on the 10th. Their campaigns introduce the main offering and product categories without a particular focus, although Hotel Chocolat sent a follow-up email with a discount code soon after.

fortnum-&-mason-christmas-email

M&S-Christmas-shop

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Hotel Chocolat’s first email introducing their Christmas collection

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…followed soon by a discount code for early shopping

When automation goes wrong – don’t end up on Santa’s naughty list

Technology doesn’t always work the way we want it and it’s important to test and double-check before you launch your next campaign. This month on Santa’s naughty list we almost had an email from Hallmark informing us that (gasp!) Christmas is in 8 days! We realised that they were counting down to their countdown, so the confusion is actually due to bad copy, not a technology error. But even so, remember that email automation shouldn’t be ‘set it and forget it’.

Hallmark countdown

All I want for Christmas are…responsive emails

It’s all great fun deciding what goes into your next campaign, but before you get too tangled in fairy lights and tinsel, think about your subscribers’ experience. Unfortunately, out of the 12 examples we’ve shared, only 3 actually have responsive email design. With an increased competition in the inbox, not using it could cause you to lose subscribers.

Have you seen any interesting examples you’d like to share with us?

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