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Holiday Email Design: How to Stay Festive Without Losing Your Brand

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As heat rolls across the country in waves, there’s obviously one thing on every email marketer’s mind: the winter holidays! Grab your sunglasses and a glass of lemonade, sit back, and start thinking about bundling up and tossing some snowballs while jolly ol’ Saint Nick squeezes down your chimney.

There is a freedom to your email designs during the last few months of the year; you can easily use non-brand colors and imagery because it’s accepted as a norm by consumers. But be sure you don’t lose sight of your brand in the midst of all this festive cheer.

Your first instinct may be to take your regular marketing messages and just sprinkle some holly leaves on a bigger discount. Sure, you’ll get conversions, but could you get even more people clicking with a more brand-specific approach?

If you stay loyal to your branding while adding a festive flair, your customers will respond to the consistent message of your brand throughout the holidays and into the new year.

Cookie cutters may be great for Santa, but not for conversions!

Your customers are special, so a cookie-cutter design style or promotional concept may not be very effective on them. Make sure you’re creating a holiday campaign that speaks to your customers, not someone else’s.

Before planning your campaign, take some time to check out your analytics from the past year. While it’s important to look at the performance of your previous holiday campaigns, it’s even more important to see what kept your customers engaged throughout the whole year.

Ask yourself: What makes my customers act? Do they respond to beautiful lifestyle imagery? Do they love your catchy subject lines? Maybe it’s the big discounts that really hit home. Whatever it is, make sure you incorporate those favorite elements into your holiday campaign. These needs combined with the holiday aesthetic will connect with your customers and help lift conversions.

Updating your automated campaigns takes time and valuable resources.

Thinking of adding snowflakes to all your transactional messages? While this is a sweet ode to the season, keep in mind that you are spending valuable resources on these campaigns that could otherwise be allocated to your holiday marketing messages.

Every minute you spend adjusting the creative of your current automated messages, is time you could be investing in your holiday marketing campaigns. It’s best to treat your automated campaigns as “set it and forget it” while you focus on revenue-driving holiday marketing messages.

Plan ahead

As T. Boone Pickens said, “A fool with a plan can outsmart a genius with no plan.” You’re already a smart cookie, so why not take that masterful marketing mind and capitalize with a strategic holiday marketing plan?

A handful of emails across November and December offering 50% off with a picture of Santa in the corner isn’t going to cut it. Begin your campaign with subtlety by featuring your top products and a gift guide. Slowly amp it up by giving small incentives here and there, and then release the big guns when your customers are most open to purchase.

Again, be sure you’re checking your analytics and incorporating your customer’s favorite discounts, and sending at a time you know your customers are more apt to open. If you’re unsure where to start, check out our Holiday Survival Guide.

Choose festive colors that compliment your brand palette

While you may have the leeway to use non-brand colors at the holidays, don’t forget to coordinate that holiday color palette with your existing brand colors. Pure or saturated red and green are great for the holidays, but will they clash with your logo? Try to find colors that evoke that holiday spirit but also mix well with your colors.

For example, here is a Christmas motif in the typical Christmas color scheme:

The vibrant red and green are quite festive! But your brand colors are less saturated. Let’s say you have four brand colors: orange-red, navy, black, and light grey. Christmas red and green just aren’t going to fit naturally.

By using the brand orange-red, you already have half the equation. If you use a bluer and more subdued green, you have the same festive message that’s perfectly on brand.

Christmas doesn’t need to be your primary focusWhile Christmas is the big hitter in the holiday season, it doesn’t need to dominate every message you send. For some messages, why not keep it simple and focus on winter itself? Find a nice lifestyle image of a puppy playing in the snow, or a create a GIF of a cozy, crackling fireplace. You can also celebrate other winter holidays like Hanukkah or Kwanza. Heck, have some fun and celebrate Festivus!

Mixing things up will help keep things fresh for your customers in the never-ending sea of red-and-green emails filling their screens. By playing to the beauty and coziness of winter and recognizing multiple holidays throughout the season, you’re standing out in the inbox while also creating an emotional bond with more of your customers.

Don’t forget to recommend additional products!

As much as every designer and marketer would love all customers to be engaged with every single message, the reality is far more ominous: there will be people who do not engage with your main promo, or at any point in the message at all.

There are a ton of reasons a customer may not connect with an offer or product, so be sure you give them something else to click. Whether they be dynamic or static, add three to four products at the bottom of the email. Even if they already scrolled past your lovely hero image, additional products give your customers another opportunity to get onsite and shopping for the perfect gift.

Are you feeling the holiday spirit yet? Start planning your holiday campaign now, and don’t forget to check out our Holiday Survival Guide!


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