07 December 2023

The perfect Christmas campaign: A guide to meeting your customers’ expectations

Create holiday emails easily
Table of contents
  1. What do customers expect?
  2. Christmas email marketing ideas
  3. The best time to send your Christmas emails
  4. Wrapping up
What do customers expect?

Are you sure you have an accurate picture of what your customers expect during the winter holidays?

Customers’ expectations of holiday emails often do not match what they receive, which leads to low conversions. How can we ensure that the potential of the holiday season doesn’t get buried under a snowdrift of unopened emails?

Bridging the gap between expectations and offerings is key. You can create more effective campaigns by aligning with customer preferences and developing creative and personalized offers. This approach not only enhances the customer experience but also improves engagement and loyalty, making the festive season rewarding for both parties. In the next steps, we will explore strategies for achieving this harmony, ensuring a joyful and prosperous holiday season for everyone.

What do customers expect?

We have studied data on customer expectations from resources such as the National Retail Federation, Statista, Shippo, Forbes Advisor, and Altavia Watch. We’re happy to share our findings to help you create an impressive Christmas campaign:

  • 50% of US consumers start Christmas shopping in October or earlier, 40% in November, 10% in December, and almost nobody continues shopping after the holidays;
  • 40% of British consumers began their shopping before October, with 15% starting even earlier;
  • in France, early birds represent 35% of consumers;
  • in Italy, early purchases account for 22%;
  • Christmas preparations in Australia, despite its hot season, are similar to those in other countries. In 2023, over 45% of Australian shoppers began their holiday shopping in October and November;
  • 43% of U.S. consumers preferred online shopping, representing the highest rate globally. Conversely, more consumers in Austria (38%), Finland(35%), New Zealand (39%) and Portugal (39%) favored physical stores;
  • the UK, Germany, and France are the leaders in terms of projected Christmas sales in 2023 in Europe;
  • 62% of consumers won’t purchase from a retailer that does not offer free shipping, and 47% are ready to add a few more items to their carts if there’s a minimum spending requirement for free delivery;
  • 38% of American consumers plan to spend up to $1,000 on holiday gifts, and some are ready to spend about $255 on decor.
  • in Canada, consumers spent an average of C$1,308 on gifts, C$616 on decorations, and C$451 on food in 2022;
  • over 50% of Australians opted for clothes, shoes, and accessories as gifts, while around 38% planned to purchase gift cards;
  • despite the fact that in Scandinavia, time with family is valued more than gifts, people still spend $1,000 on the holiday, including $600 on presents. One of the most popular presents is the advent calendar;
  • the most desired gifts in 2023 are as follows: gift cards (55%), clothing and accessories (49%), books and other media (28%), personal care and beauty items (25%), electronics (23%), home décor (23%), and jewelry (22%).

Popular gifts

(Source: NRF)

Stripo also ran our own survey. We asked 1,260 people in North America and Europe about their holiday email expectations. (Many thanks to everyone who participated!) Here are the results:

  1. Content preferences: Most subscribers (70%) prefer emails that offer discounts or bonuses. 15% enjoy receiving heartfelt greeting cards, 10% like interactive games, and only 5% are interested in personal annual reviews, such as purchase summaries or app usage.
  2. Match with current emails: Over half (54.5%) of respondents feel that their current holiday emails match their preferences. However, 45.5% find that the emails they receive don’t align with their desired content, indicating a gap between email content and subscriber expectations.
  3. Best time to send Christmas emails: Most respondents (54.5%) prefer receiving holiday emails on the weekend before the holiday, as they don’t read messages on Christmas itself. About 31.8% like to receive them a few weeks in advance for early preparation, while only 13.6% want them on Christmas Day.
  4. Number of emails: A majority of respondents (59.1%) favor receiving just one email. In contrast, 40.9% prefer a series of 2–3 emails sent over the two weeks leading up to Christmas to avoid missing these messages.
  5. Importance of festive email design: A significant 91.3% of respondents believe that the design of the email matters, indicating that appealing and well-designed emails are more likely to engage recipients. Only 8.7% think that the design is not important.

Overall, the survey indicated a need for targeted, well-timed, and visually appealing holiday email campaigns to meet subscriber preferences. This can be either a single message or a short series of emails leading up to the holiday.

Christmas email marketing ideas

In this section, we will share tips and ideas for making your emails powerful and what your customers really want to see when they open your happy holiday newsletter.

1. Tell customers about the terms of work for the festive season

Share about the delivery terms and highlight the "Free Shipping" offer. If this is too much of an expense, you can run a special limited-time Free Shipping Day promotion on the eve of the holidays to encourage customers to make last-minute purchases.

Merry Christmas email _ Free shipping

(Source: Email from Ameri Mark)

Present free shipping in the best ways:

  • in the hidden preheader;
  • in the email header;
  • on a special banner.

Don’t forget to specify the terms and conditions of delivery

During the holiday season, brands and marketers should clearly communicate delivery timelines for purchases in consideration of the increased workload for postal and delivery services. This helps ensure customer satisfaction by managing expectations about when orders will arrive.

Christmas email ideas _ Delivery dates

(Source: Email from Adidas)

Timers could be of great use to let customers know how many days they have left to order items so that they will arrive in time for Christmas.

You might also like

How to add a countdown timer in your emailhow-to-add-a-countdown-timer-in-your-email

Another idea: Surprise your customers by dressing up your delivery staff as Santa or his elves when delivering within your city!

Set your working hours

No matter if you run an online or offline business, customers need to know when they can reach you.

Christmas email marketing ideas _ Work hours

(Source: Email from Kittery Trading Post)

This is not optional, especially if you are not planning to work through the holidays.

2. Share about special offers for the holiday season

Customers are expecting Christmas discounts, so we offer the following tips to engage them.

Christmas email campaigns _ Cut prices big

(Source: Email from Crello)

Make the early birds happy

Launch special offers in October (or even sooner) for those who start their holiday shopping early. Tailor your early shopping promotions to different countries, taking into account the statistics we’ve provided above.

If you’ve missed this opportunity, don’t despair. There are still many more holidays to come, and you can take our tips into account next year.

Promote discounts:

  • provide a regular offer;
  • provide a purchase report and offer a discount depending on the amount spent. For example, "In 2023, you spent [...], so your additional discount for all goods is 20%! If you make purchases for the same amount next year, then your personal discount will be [...]”;
  • allow customers to win discounts in a game;
  • offer a budget-friendly list of gift options.

3. Entertain customers with interactive games

During the holiday season, we like to relax, have fun, and be entertained.

This is how email gamification can help. Depending on your business, you may let your customers have some fun or invite them to "win" their prize or discount.

You can create a similar game here. For more detailed tips on email gamification, please consult our eBook.

Another way to entertain your customers at Christmas is advent calendars! They can offer more than just chocolate; they can be filled with various products, such as cosmetics, jewelry or movie tickets. Another fantastic idea is a digital Advent calendar that is sent in a series of emails and contains discounts or promo codes.

4. Use real-time content to keep customers informed

Are you promoting a limited edition of a product? What should you do to prevent users from becoming disappointed when you run out of a product that you have already promoted in your Christmas email?

Christmas email campaign ideas _ Real-time content in emails

(Source: Email from Vermont Teddy Bear)

There’s a solution: Use real-time content in emails. You can connect your emails to Google Spreadsheets. Once you run out of a certain item, you will be able to notify users about it through the same email by simply making changes in Google Sheets.

New users who open this email will see updated information indicating sold-out items.

5. Offer gift cards as the perfect present

Highlight gift certificate options in your emails, and promote the ease of purchasing and sending gift certificates.

According to the NRF, 3 of the top 10 gift certificates that customers plan to give are for restaurants, coffee shops, and food delivery. So, if you’re in a related industry, don’t forget to offer this option to your clients.

Consider featuring a festive design for the gift card and personalization for recipients.

Christmas emails _ Gifts cards design

(Source: Email from Brighton)

This is one of many brilliant design solutions, especially for last-minute promos.

6. Provide a review of the year and/or share your plans for the next year

Remind your clients of what you’ve been through together. This is one of the best business Christmas newsletter ideas for consulting and legal services and for SaaS products. First, your clients will know that you track their success. Second, you can remind them how helpful and supportive you’ve been all year.

Annual Review Email Templates
Annual Review Email Templates

Your subscribers may want to share this info with their friends, family, and colleagues, so be sure to include a “Share” option in your Christmas newsletters.

You may also show off about your brand’s achievements so that customers know that they are dealing with an ambitious company.

It is reasonable to share your plans for the next year so if they are transformative and may impact your customers. People would like to know what you are up to and what to expect from you next year.

7. Send heartfelt greeting cards

In Stripo’s survey, the majority of respondents preferred information about discounts, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t appreciate receiving a greeting card as well. After all, it's important to build a friendly connection with your customers.

Here are some ideas for such emails:

  • Christmas cards;
  • photos or video messages from your team;
  • email signed by the CEO.

Christmas newsletter ideas _ Show your gratitude to customers

(Source: Email from French Connection)

Don’t forget to address the reader personally. Send this email before Christmas Eve (say early morning on December 24th), as people are not likely to read your emails on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day—this is family time.

Brighton team

(Source: Email from Brighton)

8. Use a festive design for your holiday email

According to Stripo’s survey, a festive design is important. Even a couple of warm words and Christmas symbols can be enough to create a merry mood in your email. Here’s how to do it:

  • make your email fully Christmas themed (snowflakes won’t work for Australia and the Southern Hemisphere, but you can dress Santa up with sunglasses or use other creative graphics);
  • decorate only a few elements. For example, make a festive banner, header or footer;
  • do NOT change the design of triggers. First, the process takes a long time, and second, after the holidays, you may forget to remove the holiday design from emails. In January, it will no longer be relevant.
Christmas email templates
Christmas email templates

The best time to send your Christmas emails

Today is the right time to start preparations for the holiday season and reach out to your clients with Merry Christmas emails.

As we mentioned before, the Christmas shopping season starts early, and on December 25, most people will be opening their gifts under the Christmas tree, not emails.

In October, you can start making offers without reference to Christmas, and in December, you can start sending holiday newsletters.

What’s the optimal time to send these messages?

  • if it’s a single email, send it the weekend before Christmas;
  • if it’s a series of emails, start a couple of weeks before the holiday.

Keep in mind that these tips mainly apply to ecommerce businesses. Businesses in certain industries may need to consider these promotions at different points in the year. For example, it is better for travel agencies to start holiday promotions in the summer.

Universal Orlando Resort

(Source: Email from Universal Orlando Resort)

Wrapping up

We hope you’ve been inspired by these ideas for your Christmas campaigns. As soon as the winter holidays are over, we will analyze our inboxes and ask marketers what they sent this year and what the results were. Stay tuned for our ongoing report on expectations vs. reality (part 2) in 2024!

Do you have little time left for Christmas preparations? Stripo is here to help with our email editor with tons of pre-built templates!

Create holiday emails easily
Was this article helpful?
Tell us your thoughts
Thanks for your feedback!
Stripo editor
Simplify email production process.
Stripo plugin
Integrate Stripo drag-n-drop editor to your web application.
Order a Custom Template
Our team can design and code it for you. Just fill in the brief and we'll get back to you shortly.

Stripo editor

For email marketing teams and solo email creators.

Stripo plugin

For products that could benefit from an integrated white-label email builder.