How to promote an e-commerce business through email marketing during the holidays

How to promote an e-commerce business through email marketing during the holidays

Choosing the perfect holiday promotion for e-commerce is a lot like choosing the perfect gift.

First, you have to anticipate what your special person (or customer) would really want.

Price is very likely a consideration.

And there are delivery options to think about, although promotions usually take more thought than the gift, since gifts should be presented on the holiday itself. (Yes, here we are talking to the men in the audience.)

The options are especially tricky for e-commerce operations; you don’t have a brick-and-mortar store that potential customers can walk by. On the plus side, you do have an excellent website. But how do you tell people you are there? They might come across it, but some don’t even know they want what you have. So you have to reach them in other ways.

The right email promotion is multi-layered and requires attention to detail from beginning to end.

As we know, an uninvited email is not greeted with the same delight as an unexpected gift. You have to entice the email recipient to open it, which involves writing a brilliant subject line. OK, maybe brilliant is too much to ask. But e-commerce consumers are accustomed to receiving offers online, and you need a subject line that grabs attention and nudges the recipient to open the email.

Strong subject lines have these elements:


Open rates increase dramatically when the subject line makes a personal appeal.

  • Guys, are you stuck on what to get your wife for the holidays?
  • Jewelry any woman would love
  • Surprise the woman in your life with the perfect gift
  • Fishing tackle your man can’t live without

It helps to know your audience. You will want to send simple, informative emails with different messages to each segment of your customer base. Don’t send the email about engagement rings to men who are married, for instance. The more specific the subject line, the better it will work. The owner of the tackle shop won’t suggest bass fishing equipment to people who fish with flies. And if the jewelry store can segment between customers who prefer rubies over diamonds, the email campaign will be that much more successful.

The subject line should be clear and to the point.

Good: Gold necklaces for the woman in your life

Bad: The Holidays are coming!

You can also customize personal gift guide options based on pricing, such as:

  • Under $25, $50, $100, and $150

This type of messaging guides consumers toward gift ideas that fit their budget.

You have a second or two to entice the subscribers who will read the subject line to click open before they scroll through the many other messages on their screen. They don’t want to be tricked or waste their time. If the women in their lives don’t like jewelry (Ha!) the recipients won’t open your marketing message.

However, you still have a chance to entice them to open the next one.

Generate Urgency …

The extras you offer (“Free shipping,” “Free gift wrapping”) and key phrases like (“Last few hours left,” “Exclusive offer”) will build interest and might be the inducement that leads to more clicks than your competition will get. Note: “Free” anything is known to be an excellent keyword that gains attention for e-commerce marketing.

An email marketing program always entails more than one email blast. When you analyze the returns on the first message, you will find out not only how many people responded, but which segments showed the most interest. Your second email will be aimed at those low responders in an effort to engage them further. You can also assume that some readers of the first and second emails were interested but not ready to order just yet. A gentle warning to let them know that the campaign — along with the best sale prices and offers — will soon end, brings in the stragglers.

… But Keep it Simple

There will be plenty of holiday promotions competing with you and potentially overwhelming consumers. Reduce holiday anxiety for buyers by choosing just a few products to promote in each email. A holiday email message should feature just one idea or product and offer one call to action. That approach will make the message easier to write clearly, with the appropriate emphasis.

Design for Easy Viewing

Consumers are even busier than usual during the holidays. They won’t spend the time to read through copy-heavy emails, so design your campaign with more visuals and fewer words.

Show the products you are showcasing, with short descriptions.

Keep the mood festive and align your brand with the holiday by adding interactive elements throughout the email, like gifs and videos that will entertain and inform your audience.

Designing the emails to view and navigate on mobile devices is critical because the number of shoppers reading messaging on their phones and tablets increases every year.

If your e-commerce checkout process has any glitches, fix them now. Not only will you lose the current sale, buyers may not ever return if they are frustrated by complications.

Your Audience Has These Answers

Market research, which includes talking to customers and hearing any comments they mention by phone and email, will assist you as you ask yourself these three questions when creating each email campaign:

  • How often should you send these emails?
  • How many days prior to the holidays should you start sending them?
  • What time should you send the emails?

Past performance will guide your decision-making, and the results of this campaign will help you design the next one. Marketing is a process of constantly interpreting and making informed choices that will make future projects increasingly successful.

Integrate your Social Media

After you send each email, announce the fact on your social media channels. Some consumers may stop paying close attention to their emails because they feel inundated. A social media notice will remind them that they like your products and they want to know the latest offers. Cross-messaging and directing your subscribers to your social channels also offers you an opportunity to grow both your social media audience and your email lists.

At the end of the campaign, Further analysis of the overall campaign will help you tweak and improve the next one, adding to your customer base. And those existing customers, already interested in your product or service, will be easier to connect with, improving your open rate and building your understanding of what works and what needs to change.

There is still plenty of time to build a holiday email campaign for your business. Call Bingley Digital at (203) 241-3551 or email We will discuss your ideas over a cup of coffee and develop a plan for you.