4. Use photos, especially ones that evoke the holiday spirit — but don't forget about your copy! "People are inspired by photos," says Lysa Miller, lead designer & Web strategist at Ladybugz Interactive. "If you are selling a product or offering a service, offer a visual that appeals to your market to make them want to click on your offer. For example, if you are selling pajamas or nighties, have pictures of those products in a holiday setting or holiday theme," she suggests. Even better: "have a photo of someone opening a gift with the product."
That said, "don't rely solely on graphical elements," says Janelle Johnson, director of demand generation at Act-On Software, a provider of marketing automation software. "Yes, images make an email beautiful, but many email clients strip out [or don't display] images. So your copy must be engaging to provide recipients a reason to enable images," she says. Therefore write the copy first and ask yourself: "If all someone saw was the text, would they be interested? Once you have the copy spot-on, add graphics and visuals to enhance the email," she says. Finally, "don't forget to test to see how your email will render across multiple email platforms."
5. Don't forget a call to action! Tell people what it is you want them to do. And "if you're selling something, include a direct link to that service or product," says Mario Mirabella, founder & creative director, MSM DesignZ. "Even if you aren't selling or promoting anything, you should always add a link to your company's website to the email with a call to action such as 'For more details' or 'Learn more at,' to encourage clicks to your website."
6. Notify customers of delivery deadlines. "Be sure that your email messages provide clear and concise instructions to ensure gifts ship and arrive on time," says Warren. "You can create a sense of urgency with strong reminders to buy now, rather than waiting until shipping costs go up and guaranteed delivery is unavailable." Also, as this is information customers consider very important, consider putting it in the subject line as well as in the body copy.
7. Make customers feel as though you are giving them something. "Create an offer that your audience can't resist," suggests Miller. Whether it's "free shipping, by one get one free, [or whatever], make the holiday offer your holiday gift to your customers."
8. Employ limited-time offers. Another good strategy is to "offer something that has a deadline," she adds. "Offer a specific deal to targeted customers, which has to be redeemed by a specific date. Then send a follow-up email a day or two before the offer expires."
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.