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3 Emails to Send Now to Improve Your Holiday Campaign Results


The email marketing holiday season will kick into overdrive during the week of Thanksgiving. But before we get to that point, here are three emails that B2C brands should be sending now to get their databases in good shape for a successful holiday campaign season:

1. Re-permission Emails

It’s hard for some marketers to accept, but permission expires. Subscribers lose interest, find brands that they like better, change jobs, move to new cities, abandon email accounts—there are lots of reasons why a subscriber would stop engaging with your emails.

Because ISPs take the engagement of your subscribers into consideration when making blocking and filtering decisions, and because the holiday season is a devastating time to have deliverability issues, we recommend trying to re-permission subscribers who haven’t opened or clicked any of your emails in the past 13 or 25 months. Going a little bit beyond a year or two ensures that you capture the activity of seasonal shoppers, those who typically buy only once a year.

Exactly where you draw the line depends on how you manage your email list and how frequently you email your subscribers. For instance, brands that email their subscribers daily may find that they can only tolerate 6 months of inactivity from subscribers before their deliverability is put at serious risk.

Here’s an example of a re-permission email that Dell sent earlier this month:




While the subject line could have been more explicit and urgent, Dell’s preview text helped clarify that action was required. We also like how they made the messaging of this re-permission email relevant to holiday shoppers by saying, “Don’t miss out on incredible Black Friday deals…” That gives subscribers a much more compelling reason to confirm their subscription.


2. Win-Back Emails

For most brands, it’s not enough to have an engaged subscriber. You want subscribers to be purchasing, since a subscriber who purchased recently is far more likely to buy again.

That’s where win-back emails come into play. Their purpose is not to reengage inactive subscribers; that’s the job of reengagement and re-permission emails. The purpose of win-back emails is to reengage inactive customers, generally by offering them a great deal to get them to convert.

Here’s an example of a win-back email that West Elm sent earlier this month:


The subject line is clear—with “We miss us” being common language for both reengagement and win-back campaigns. And if we ignore the coding for the non-breaking space character, the preview text does a great job of clarifying the offer made in the subject line. It specifies the duration of the offer and makes it clear that it’s good on the entire purchase.

In the body of the email, the key message is up above the fold, giving subscribers the discount code that they need to take action. (They could have also included that code in the preview text.) And for the people that do scroll through the email, that key message is repeated with a bar code after the mobile-friendly navigation block.

The email then smartly finishes with some individualized product recommendations based on the subscriber’s recent browse behavior. Perhaps the subscriber wasn’t ready to buy those items at full price, but a 20% discount might make them attractive enough for the subscriber to convert. The personalization also reinforces the message that “this email is just for you.”

3. Preference Update Emails

Subscribers’ buying priorities change going into the holiday season. Not only are they doing a bunch of once-a-year gift buying, but they’re also buying gifts for themselves that they might not normally buy. Nearly 56% of consumers will splurge on themselves and/or others for non-gift items, and will spend an average of $131.59, according to the National Retail Federation’s Holiday Consumer Spending Survey.

Because your subscribers’ buying behaviors can change drastically, predictive analytics that run off purchase and browse histories may not generate the best recommendations. For this reason, going into the holiday season is a great time to simply ask your subscribers what they’re interested in. This is especially true if they haven’t made a purchase recently.

Marketers can do this by sending a preference update email, like this example from Threadless from earlier this month:


Threadless’ subject line is supported by solid preview text. They offer a sweepstakes incentive as a sweetener to spur action. And the email and the landing page are both mobile-friendly, which is not always the case, unfortunately.

Their preference center is focused on questions that make a difference. They ask for the subscriber’s first name so they can greet them by name. They ask for their birth date, with the expectation that Threadless would use that to trigger a birthday email.

They ask about category interests and style preferences, which allow them to send more relevant content. And they ask about frequency preferences, which help them ensure that they’re not over-sending. Relevance and frequency are the top two reasons that people unsubscribe from marketing emails, so address those is key.

And lastly, Threadless asks which social networks subscribers are active on. This information could be used to trigger emails about Threadless’ presence on a particular social network where the subscriber is active but not following Threadless there. It could also be used for segmentation and dynamic content about content, contests, or special promotions that Threadless is running on those social networks.

While the start of the holiday season is an inflection point for subscriber interests, keep in mind that the end of the holiday season is as well, so consider sending another preference update in January or early spring.

Good luck using these three types of emails to engage your subscribers and I hope everyone has very merry email marketing Christmas!


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