Holiday email preparation

How to Get Your Email List Ready for the Holiday Season


While getting ready for the holiday sales season, ecommerce businesses often focus only on what they see as the most critical activities. They make sure they don’t run out of stock, that their products are delivered on time, and that their offer is better than what their competitors can come up with.

While making these preparations, they rarely find time to give enough attention to one of the fundamental parts of their business – their email list.

In this article, I’d like to focus on steps that are often neglected but can have a significant effect on your marketing campaigns’ performance during the busiest part of the year. We’ll look at how you can get your email list ready so your emails won’t be left unread out in your customers’ inbox or promotions tab.


Step 1: Enrich Your Customer Data

Look at your marketing stack. How many different tools do you use to collect, track, and manage your contacts?

More often than not, you’ll have several different platforms that all contain bits of information about your customers. This could be your ecommerce software, a CRM, email marketing platform, landing pages or web form builder, and so on.

This approach is fine if there’s a central place where you’ll store all your customer information. Ideally, all these services should feed each other with data or pass it on to your CRM so when you’re going to run your next marketing campaign you’ll have the full overview of who your customers are.

If you’re not there yet, make sure that the first step in your holiday marketing preparations is to connect your individual tools, so that they’ll communicate with each other automatically.

Now, what could happen if you don’t do this?

Consider this scenario:

Someone visited your site, added a couple of products to their basket, then closed his browser. A couple of hours later he logs in again and finishes his order.

If the tools that you’re using don’t feed each other with updated information, the odds are that you’ll have already registered him as someone who abandoned his cart.

For the next couple of weeks, instead of trying to nurture this customer and convincing him to buy from you again, you’ll be burning your budget on retargeting campaigns that’ll will probably annoy him.

Here’s an example of Airbnb using customer data to make their offers more personalized and relevant:

Air BnB customer interest email

Step 2: Segment Your Customers

You might have already heard that segmenting your email list is important.

It helps you improve customer satisfaction, increase campaign performance, recapture lost leads, and build strong relationships with your audience.

But there’s much more to email list segmentation, especially when you’re planning your next holiday campaign.

Segmenting your contacts based on their past purchase behavior is particularly useful. It can help you identify the most promising customer groups, such as:

  • Early adopters – Those who bought from you before you started your promotional campaigns or who purchased something from your new line of products shortly after launch.
  • High-spenders – Those whose average order value (AOV) was significantly higher than what your regular customers spend.
  • Frequent buyers – Those who buy from you on a regular basis
  • Recent first-time buyers – Those who’ve recently made a purchase for the first time.
  • Selected category buyers – Those who purchased a product from a particular product category.

Here’s how you can approach these customer groups:

  1. When launching your holiday campaigns, start with the early adopters. They are the ones who can help you verify whether your offer’s interesting enough to reach your entire audience. Also, it’s likely that they’ll buy full-price items instead of waiting for better discounts later.
  2. Take high-spenders and frequent buyers and create a lookalike audience in your ad campaigns. This way you’ll be able to reach similar audiences – those who’re very likely to convert – at a fraction of what regular campaign would cost you.
  3. Engage your recent buyers by offering them product recommendations or an additional incentive on their second purchase. You’ll want them to be active before your holiday campaigns.

UTM Parameters

One more piece of advice: Make sure you use UTM parameters in your email marketing campaigns targeted at these individual segments. This way you’ll know which of them generate the highest conversion rates and you’ll be able to allocate your marketing budget better.

Best of all, once you’ve gone through this process, you can set up automated workflows that’ll help you tag your subscribers for future campaigns. Or like in the example below, to offer product recommendations based on past purchase behavior.

Marketing automation workflow
Example of a marketing automation workflow using past purchase behavior data to offer product recommendations.


Step 3: Nurture Leads and Manage Your List Hygiene Automatically

Keeping inactive subscribers on your list isn’t just about mailing people that don’t generate conversions. It’s about diminishing deliverability and lost sales opportunities.

After all, people who sign up to your list are interested in hearing from you. They don’t want to become inactive, but it will happen if you don’t meet their expectations.

Before running your next holiday marketing campaign, set up a couple of important automated campaigns:

  1. Lead-nurturing campaign that will keep engaging your audience from the moment they’ve signed up for your list. After onboarding your new customers, you should maintain the contact by sending them regular updates. It could be your recommended products, new contests, latest content, or guides that are related to what they’ve previously purchased.
  2. A re-engagement campaign that’s going to send reactivation emails to those who haven’t opened your messages in a while. For example, after 90 days, send an email and follow it up with an SMS message or a retargeting ad. If after a couple of attempts they’re not responding, feel free to remove them from your list.

Remember, sometimes all it takes to reactivate someone is to offer them an additional incentive, like in this example from Sevenly:

Incentive email from Sevenly

With these automated campaigns in place, you’ll have a cleaner and more engaged list when you launch your holiday campaign. That’s when you can get creative and make your holiday marketing campaigns really impactful.

Step 4: Double-Check Your Signup Forms and Landing Pages

When was the last time you signed up to your own mailing list? When was the last time you looked at all your landing pages, filled out the forms, and went through the usual onboarding process?

If you’re like most marketers, it’s been a while.

While this may sound unimportant, think of all the new potential leads you’ll be attracting during retail’s hottest season. And then look at the marketing budget you’ll allocate to acquire new leads. Improving your conversion rate – even by 0.1% – will be worth the effort.

My advice is that you should take a virtual ‘walk’ in your customers’ shoes; go through all the popular channels where they’re finding you and test whether the forms work.

When auditing your subscription process ask yourself:

  • Are you asking for the right data (is it information you’re using)?
  • Are all the forms working correctly?
  • Are the lead magnets still relevant or should they be updated?
  • Are new customers receiving a welcome or subscription confirmation emails?
  • Are the thank you pages relevant and designed in a way that makes your customers stick?
  • Can you include any of your latest content in your onboarding campaigns?

Marketers often spend a lot of time optimizing their paid ad campaigns. Different copy, assets, targeting. But while doing so, they often forget about what’s happening after people sign up to the list. There’s no point in generating leads that are going to become inactive right away.

Check out this seasonal sign-up form from Department56:

Seasonal signup form

Final Words

Some marketers think it’s only necessary to offer good deals and send beautiful emails during the holiday season. But given how competitive the email inbox can get, it’s worth using all the cards that you’ve got in your hand. Especially if it’s the one that most competitors are going to neglect.

So, when’s the last time you did an email list check-up? Hopefully, after reading this article, you won’t be waiting till next spring.

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Author: Michal Leszczynski

Michal Leszczynski is the content marketing manager at GetResponse, where he’s responsible for coordinating content marketing projects. His main mission is to provide valuable and educational content for marketers – those just starting out as well as pros already rocking in the online world. You can say hi to Michal on LinkedIn.

Author: Michal Leszczynski

Michal Leszczynski is the content marketing manager at GetResponse, where he’s responsible for coordinating content marketing projects. His main mission is to provide valuable and educational content for marketers – those just starting out as well as pros already rocking in the online world. You can say hi to Michal on LinkedIn.