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Everything I learned about holiday email design I learned from Santa

Nicky Copland
Everything I learned about holiday email design I learned from Santa

The holiday season is in full swing for businesses, with Halloween just around the corner. And Christmas is only two months away! For most people, holidays are a time of family, fun, and happiness. For marketers, it’s a time of stress, probably fear, and maybe even a little crying. Or is that just me?

Anyway, one thing we can control during the holiday marketing rush is our email program. At least, we can do everything in our power to build the best, most effective emails we can, and then hope nothing goes haywire upon delivery. Some things do still require a little faith, and email is one of them. Here are a few items you can focus on before turning it over to the email gods (mailbox providers, ISPs, and spam algorithms), and surprisingly enough, most of these lessons I could have learned just by listening to Christmas songs.

1. Know when your subscribers are sleeping or awake

Creepy? Perhaps. Important? Absolutely. By looking at engagement signals, you can better optimize the send-time of your deployments to ensure you’re reaching not only the majority of your list, but at a time in which they’re most primed to actually open and click. Of course, no one time will work for everyone, but if you’re segmenting your groups appropriately, you can likely find a nice groove in which you’re not sending your most important emails to people who are dead-asleep when it hits the inbox.

2. Make a list and check it twice

This is a two-parter. Do not make a list of email subscribers willy-nilly. Collect email addresses ethically, and ideally, use a confirmed opt-in practice to reaffirm each subscriber’s interest in receiving your mail. That’s check one. Check it twice by using a list verification service, which can flag risky addresses, identify typos, and keep your reputation shielded from little dings caused by sending to bogus boxes.

I’m stretching this one but for a good reason. There’s obviously a list of key things in an email that absolutely need to work properly, be it gifs, HTML, images, or links. Understand what all of those elements are and test, test, test. Invest in a tool in which you can test every aspect of your email design to ensure you’re not sending broken links, wonky images, or an otherwise unprofessional-looking email in one of the most important times. Santa really got this one right.

3. Be good, for goodness sake

This is my catch-all. There is never a more important time to be a good sender using best practices across the board. Are you planning to send a higher volume of messages in the next few weeks? It’s time to start warming your IPs and slowly escalating your sending practices. Beyond testing your actual emails, test all the systems affecting your deliverability: Do you have a clear and easy unsubscribe process? Does it work? Make sure. Are you segmenting your lists based on engagement signals (like we mentioned above) to ensure you’re providing wanted, welcome mail? Have you properly protected all your domains with strong authentication standards to better guard your recipients and your own organization?

4. Respect the craft

While there aren’t any songs detailing the efforts of Santa and his elves in making crafts and goodies for the children of the world, there’s a big lesson to be learned from them in general. They toil away all season, and so do we. You shouldn’t be sending any email without thinking deeply about some very key elements: subject line, preheader text, layout, and copy. Much like how they’ll never stuff a stocking with toys held together with tape, you should never send an email to your subscribers in which you haven’t optimized each aspect for the reader.

For instance, don’t forget to load in preheader text enabling smart devices like Alexa to read your emails and truly convey the gist. Consider framework and hierarchy, using a few key touchpoints to help your reader navigate the email. You’ll also want to think about harnessing the power of Gmail’s Annotations feature.


And above all…like we said before, always, always test your emails. Make sure you’re seeing renderings on all your subscribers’ most used devices and clients. Truly know what they’ll see before you let the message fly. Otherwise, they’ll feel like you’re dropping big ol’ coal bombs on their inbox. Here’s a little holiday miracle for you: You can test them using 250ok Design right within your account with Mapp!

The big guy is coming to town. Hopefully for you, that means big bucks. If you listen and learn from these simple lyrics, I think you’ll find your season holly, jolly, and bright.


Author Bio:
Nicky Copland is the senior marketing manager at 250ok, where she manages all content for the advanced email analytics company. With nearly 10 years of content marketing experience, she brings her depth of knowledge of writing and thought leadership to the email industry.

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