Here’s How to Get Better Results from Email Marketing this Holiday Season

The 2015 Email Marketing Holiday Calendar Is Here

By Heike Young

The November and December holidays are the busiest time of the year for retail marketers. But planning for the holiday season starts long before the first Christmas tree appears in stores.

Every year, we see marketers get more creative with how they’ll capture attention in consumers’ crowded email inboxes.

What we don’t see is all the research, planning, testing, coding, and design iterations that go into every brilliant holiday email.

It’s time to kick-off your holiday marketing efforts — and Salesforce Marketing Cloud is here to help. Just as in 2013 and 2014, we’ve created an Email Marketing Holiday Calendar for the 2015 season. This guide will help you plan, stay on trend, and send the right holiday email at the right time.

The 2015 holiday season promises to be more mobile, connected, and cross-channel than ever before — and email is poised to maintain its status as a primary tool in gaining and retaining consumer attention. Consider:

U.S. retail e-sales are expected to grow from $263 billion in 2013 to $414 billion in 2018 (Forrester).
72% of smartphone owners and 69% of tablet owners used their devices to help them shop in 2014 (Deloitte).
More than one-third of retailers earmarked between 31%–50% of their total 2014 online marketing budget specifically for holiday (
49% of marketers will launch a holiday campaign before Halloween (SteelHouse).

The Email Marketing Holiday Calendar offers tips on making every email mobile, as well as messaging ideas that are relevant for every month, July-January.

Here’s a sneak peek at the calendar for July. Download the full calendar to keep your marketing momentum through August, September, and the rest of the year.

July Holiday Planning: Get Ready for the Months Ahead

Common Messaging Themes

  • Christmas in July campaigns, which increasingly promote seasonal products like holiday decor, will be common this month.
  • We’ll see a few Black Friday in July and Cyber Monday in July campaigns touting discounts on goods that are appealing year-round, like kitchen appliances and electronics.
  • Offers for super-early holiday shoppers to peek at the best holiday picks may surface in July.

Development Agenda

Now’s the time to plan for fully mobile emails. Fifty-three percent of all emails are now opened on mobile devices, according to Litmus. During the holiday season, that number can climb even higher as consumers open emails on the go while shopping. Get the design team on board now to make every email campaign fully functional on mobile.

Consider how your emails render on wearables. The Apple Watch may be new to the scene, but the number of consumers who open emails on their Apple Watch is sure to skyrocket this holiday season. Messages without a plain text version don’t render on Apple Watch, so start researching how your holiday emails can offer a satisfying experience on wearables.

Use predictive intelligence to send 1-to-1 emails. Want to give your customers even more email content this year? Set predictive intelligence technology in place now. Predictive intelligence uses individual behavior instead of broad segments to target customers. The average conversion rate lift for companies using predictive intelligence is 22.66%.

Internal Review

Do a post-mortem on last year’s holiday campaigns. What subject lines were unexpected winners? Which emails had the best open rate, click-to-open rate, and conversion rate? Can you expect your audience to be identical to last year, or do you now offer new products or services that have altered the average audience member’s profile?

Consider where you could have been more prepared and where you could have been more flexible. Every holiday season, marketers start planning ahead for successful campaigns, but a few things almost always fall through the cracks. On your team, maybe that was a lag in receiving creative or a landing page that didn’t work. Take these learnings into account for this year.

Take time to be inspired. Black Friday isn’t knocking on your door just yet. It’s still early enough in the season that you can take a moment to remember the email marketing examples that inspired you over the past year. Think about interesting designs, calls to action, and social or mobile tie-ins that you can borrow from last year.

Design Prep

Start on that dream email now. Does your team want to create a design- or personalization-intensive campaign that will take months of work? Now’s the time to set the wheels in motion — before you’re already too busy with holiday deadlines.

Focus on functionality and execution. You can imagine impressive new email designs forever, but focus on what you can actually make happen with your team’s time and resources.

. . . And that’s just the beginning of what the full guide offers. Ready to get in the holiday marketing spirit? Download the free 2015 Email Marketing Holiday Calendar today.