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Tips for Building Better Holiday Email Templates

Mailgun Team
5 min read
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Not everybody looks up tips for holiday email templates before using a brand new template - that's how you end up with hundreds upon thousands of terrible holiday email templates each year. Imagine that you’re the Clark Griswold of holiday email marketing, and thousands of Cousin Eddies land in your inbox every week. That really puts you in the holiday spirit, right?

Unfortunately, it's the nature of the beast. Businesses wait until the last minute to get their Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Christmas emails out the door and into as many inboxes as possible, and that results in sloppy emailing. While it's important to start thinking about your email marketing tactics sooner rather than later, sometimes it can't be helped. But, before you send out that holiday email blast to your subscribers, there are few things you should double-check to keep your sender reputation in the green this holiday season

Styling your holiday sales campaigns

We've covered this before in more detail, but it's essential to inline your CSS and media queries for responsive email templates before you start styling and sending HTML emails. Otherwise, you can end up with a busted template that makes your holiday campaigns look illegitimate and spammy. 

Once you've done that, you can move on to styling your holiday templates. A mistake some senders make is thinking they have to create brand new email designs and HTML email templates from scratch for these holiday templates. However, you can usually use an existing template as a model, and then all you have to do is make minor tweaks to fit into your holiday newsletter or email theme. For example, if you already have an email newsletter template, you can either choose to tweak the HTML elements and create a new template, or change out the campaign elements in a different version of the core template

Basically, this means you can keep your campaign’s normal style and structure, but change out the coding and elements to feature holiday images, festive fonts and colors, and more. For example, you can feature “spooky” fonts for Halloween email templates, Christmas gift and Santa designs for Christmas email templates, and “happy New Year” content for post-holidays greetings.

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Holiday template variables 

When you build a holiday email template - whether it’s for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or the New Year- you'll likely want to adjust your personalization variables to fit the season’s greetings and the occasion you’re celebrating. These variables are dependent on customer data, and if you've never adopted some form of email personalization, now is the perfect time to start.

Email campaigns that contain zero personalization perform poorly, and it's easy to understand why - subscribers want personalized messages that assuage their needs and answer their questions. If you send plain, unpersonalized emails, your readers will unsubscribe and your open rates will drop.

Email is much more common than it was in its early years, where marketers could get away with bland subject lines and poor email templates. Nowadays, you need to get creative in order to stand out in a crowded inbox . If you already have personalization tokens in your email templates, consider adjusting for or creating new ones to be more in line with your holiday initiatives for each time of the year.

For example, if you want to push more traffic onto your ecommerce site using Christmas email templates, you might want to change out your personalization tokens to be less about what the user wants, and more about what someone important in their life - like a friend or loved one - might want. These emails have the benefit of being targeted and personal, while also giving you an opportunity to promote gift ideas or even create a special gift guide with products you want to sell. Tweaking your holiday messages within the body of your email alongside these tokens will make sure that your holiday emails make an impact. . 

Deliverability tips for holiday templates

Outside of making sure your templates look nice across all inbox service providers, most of what you're going to want to do revolves around email marketing tips. While we won't go into those details, there are few things you can do to help improve the deliverability. For starters, you can look at cleaning your email list to make sure that any outdated addresses are out of your latest holiday campaign.

From there, it's a great idea to segment your engaged users from your unengaged users. If the same reader opens your emails week over week, put them on a separate email list. This email list can be your primary mailing list for all holiday promotions, whereas the unengaged list can still get some of the same deals. However, in doing so, your entire email campaign and sender reputation won't be as profoundly affected by those users. 

For more information on holiday deliverability, check out our recent post on deliverability tips for the holiday season. Whether you’re celebrating a merry Christmas, a happy new year, or a Festivus for the rest of us, our tips will help you ensure that you make it to the inbox. Wrapping Up

Whether you're just now prepping your Thanksgiving email template, or you already have your Cyber Monday email scheduled for sending, remember that a solid technical foundation and engaging, varied email elements set you up for success during this time of year. After you’ve optimized your holiday season email templates, double-check to make sure that your deliverability is in tip-top shape so that you won't be stuck in the spam folder. 

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Last updated on November 30, 2020

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