4 holiday email tips to stay on the nice list this season

Nathan She

3 minute read

Like every year, the 2020 holiday season will undoubtedly be stressful. Unfortunately, this blog will not help you find that new and clever way to say ‘happy holidays.’ However, it will provide some tips for creating and maintaining more positive subscriber relationships.

Here is our advice to help you survive the season and close out the year with success.

1. Consolidate email cadence

Inboxes are already filling up with holiday offers. To avoid recipient fatigue, be mindful of email frequency and look to consolidate content into fewer emails filled with meaningful content. For example, rather than sending out multiple, redundant emails that say “Check out all our holiday deals!”, send emails that each highlight sales in specific departments. This encourages subscribers to look forward to the next email that will showcase deals in different categories, rather than thinking “Seen this already” before moving the email to trash.

Regarding holiday email timing, you need to evaluate your audience’s level of engagement. Have you been keeping them engaged throughout the year? Or has engagement lapsed? If the latter is true, you are at risk of damaging your domain reputation before (or once) the holiday season is underway. You might not be able to revive your engagement sufficiently by the time you expect to send your most important holiday email campaigns.

That said, save some time and frustration by reviewing email cadence. Consolidate it to send only the highest-priority content at the times when you expect to receive the best engagement. You’ll avoid an increase in unsubscribes, too.

2. Evaluate segmentation

At Trendline, we help our clients understand how to segment their audience using data from throughout the year to tailor emails to their audience during the holidays. If you’re not measuring engagement throughout the rest of the nine months of the year, the holiday season is not the time to try to launch such an initiative. All things considered, there’s a lot of data to digest, and it’s not solely customers’ interests and previous purchases that matter.

Send-time optimization/segmentation is also vastly important. Know the time zones and when customers are most likely to engage with emails––before work, during lunch, after work, and so forth. Start to understand their patterns with clicks, opens, purchase dates, etc. By evaluating your segments throughout the year, you can tailor your content strategy and increase your chances of consumers engaging once the holiday season arrives. Plus, you’ll grow their appreciation of your content. That’s a big win in a time when people are less likely to put up with anything that brings more frustration or stress.

3. Clean email lists

The holiday season is not the time for winback campaigns. Sending winback campaigns this time of year could cause your ISP to flag your increased volume, and if those campaigns receive low engagement or yield complaints, it will actually harm your reputation, not help it. Every year, we see email teams buckle under internal pressure by sending to their entire list in an effort to get strong Q4 opens, clicks, and purchases.

Resist that urge, if at all possible. (We describe the potential damage in tip #4.) Instead, work on properly segmenting focused campaigns. Send content to people who are most likely to engage, continue building your reputation, and begin gathering data for next year.

4. Think big picture: prioritize and align campaigns

The holiday season also happens to be a time when many companies are making a last-ditch effort to meet business targets. While this seems like an obvious move, it might actually set you back. That’s because the failure of one email campaign can quickly impact the success of other campaigns.

Consider an insurance company that sells annual policies set to expire at the end of the year (e.g., roadside assistance) and also sells short-term products that are a hot commodity (in non-COVID times) around the holiday season (e.g., travel insurance). Both of these products will find the end of the year to be very important, with one product looking to obtain annual renewals and the other capitalizing on trends over the holiday season.

Now let’s imagine that the subscribers of the annual policies have not been engaged all year, while subscribers to the travel products have. If the insurance company blitzes on both campaigns, they may find that low engagement from the renewal campaign will lead to reputation issues that spill over and impact deliverability of the travel campaigns.

If you are in a similar situation, then think big picture and make sure you are aligning campaigns. You may still decide to run both campaigns. If you do, just be mindful of cadence and timing, and look to avoid the temptation to engage old subscribers all at once. Keep an eye on the stats, and pivot as necessary. If you’re not following this guidance, be ready to do some cleanup in 2021, and try not to fall into the same trap next year.


When giving special attention to all of these different aspects, you increase your chances of consumers engaging with content this holiday season and, ultimately, staying on the holiday email ‘nice list.’

We wish you success this holiday season. If you need someone to bounce your ideas off of, contact us. We’ll be happy to help.

Trendline Interactive

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About the Author(s)

Nathan She

BS in Computer Science from Kennesaw State University. Nathan is an avid tennis player and certified USPTA teaching professional who competed at the collegiate level for KSU. After univserity, Nathan found his way into the email world through MailChimp and Inbox Pros. Nathan's competitive spirit is still present to this day at Trendline where he helps clients combat poor deliverability. Interestingly, Nathan was once hit in the head by a motorcycle. Follow Nathan on LinkedIn

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