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Email Marketing Tips for the 2009 Holiday Season

by Alex Williams  |  
October 27, 2009

The holiday season is the most important time of year for retailers, when aggressive goals are set for increased traffic and sales, both in-store and online. Email marketing is a powerful tool that retailers can use to build their brands and increase sales during that crucial period.

In the second episode of my new email-marketing podcast The Tip Jar, I chatted with Chad White, research director at Smith-Harmon and author of the Retail Email Blog.

We discussed White's annual "Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season" and shared many tips and best-practices for creating a successful holiday-email campaign for the 2009 season. Below are the key takeaways from that conversation.

2008 Takeaways

Discussion point: How can email marketers learn from the 2008 holiday season to help improve the success of their campaigns this season?

Summary: The first important step is to examine the results of your holiday-email efforts from last year. There are definitely best-practices you can learn from looking at other retail email marketers, but imitation isn't the best bet.

Your holiday campaign should be tailored to your customers' needs and your brand image. Retailers need to look at the results of last year's holiday campaigns early and often; the postmortem should take place at the beginning of the year rather than the pre-holiday season, which starts in mid-August.

When examining campaigns from last year, you look at your big wins, big misses, and how people responded to certain aspects of the campaign, including frequency, subject lines, calls to action, etc. Use all that data as a baseline for where to start this year's holiday-email planning.

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Alex Williams is the online marketing strategist for eROI ( Contact him via or 503-290-3103.

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  • by James Sun Nov 1, 2009 via web

    Great article, very thorough. E-mail marketing and advertising is a huge field and innovation usually stands aside. During the holidays there are millions upon millions of people shopping online, searching online for those certain items that family and friends have asked for. The demand is incredibly high for retail shops and suppliers.

    As a human being, I know what shopping online is like around this time of year. It can be CRAZY and confusing. The motto of "supply and demand" is no good for the holidays. It needs to be inverted, it needs to be customized. Demand and Supply is what I am a believer of now, and I will tell you why.

    Online shoppers do not know where to begin. Search engine sites...tell the engine what you want, then "weed-out" 58+ million results to narrow down what you want. Think about it from the consumers point: loads of searching and frustration and never ending up where they intended on going or finding what the need. This is because there is a supply and the people create the demand, right? What if the people can not find what that want in a timely fashion? What if the Internet becomes a huge complication for some?

    Think like this, a consumer should have the ability to say what they want, and retailers and e-shops should listen. If this were the case, consumers speak and retailers answer. Here are the possibilities this causes; retailers can see exactly what is demanded and issue the supply. Direct per item, per consumer, directly connecting them. Store owners can target crowds of people that have this established interest in items retail stores have. If the interest is desiered and spoken by consumers, the retailers should comply.

    This is me jabbering on about how I feel.
    Bottom line is, I have created this. I have made a system where consumers speak and retailers listen. Direct Item E-Mail Marketing is here. Retailers target the people by very specific item names and keywords. Beautiful idea none-the-less. I will post my link here as a reference, but I assume it will be considered spam and removed, but hey, the net is all about the money and not what is availble to people.

    Thanks for reading and once again, good article. I will read more.
    CEO, Founder

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