We get it: The holidays are huge for everyone, from e-commerce and in-store retailers consumed by holiday sales to nonprofits looking to hit their end-of-the-year fundraising goals.

Since you know inboxes will be crowded, your knee-jerk reaction might be to email your subscribers over and over and over with the hope that one email might capture their attention in a sea of party invites, promotions, and festive e-cards from Grandma Sue … right?

Not so fast.

Related: 7 Quick-and-Dirty Tips to Boost Holiday Sales

4 tips for finding the right email frequency during the holidays

If you inundate your subscribers with holiday emails, there’s a good chance you’ll begin to irritate them, losing hard-earned customer loyalty and potentially causing them to unsubscribe from your list — two things no marketer wants.

Thankfully, there are some simple ways to successfully handle holiday email marketing without annoying your subscribers . These are some of our favorite solutions.

1. Watch your analytics

This method is the simplest, but it requires an element of intuition and some time investment on your part. Start with a modest holiday send frequency, then monitor your response results after each send. It might sound counterintuitive, but if you see your engagement rates begin to dip, reduce your frequency, and if they stay the same, you can increase your frequency.

The tricky part is that due to the sheer volume of holiday emails your subscribers will receive these next few months, there’s a good chance your open and click rates will naturally drop off a little. Be sure to take that seasonal factor into account when evaluating the effect of your send frequency on response rates.

2. Send more targeted messages

I advocate for this approach year-round, but it’s especially important to think about during the holidays. Instead of sending generic holiday promos to your entire audience, identify segments that will be more interested in specific products and offers and send them personalized, relevant messaging. Better yet, set up automated emails to fire off based on their behavior — product browsing history on your website, for instance, or engagement with certain elements of past mailings.

People respond better to emails that are relevant to their needs and interests , so this is an easy way to prevent inbox fatigue and reduce unsubscribes. Plus, according to a 2016 study by Blueshift, “triggered emails drive 624 percent higher conversion responses for the same number of sends as compared to ‘batch and blast’ emails.”

3. Ask subscribers to opt into holiday emails

It isn’t something I’ve seen a lot of brands do, but I absolutely love this method: Instead of sending every holiday promotion to every person in your email audience, ask your subscribers to raise their hands and let you know if they’d like to receive special holiday deals and offers.

Starting November 1st, women’s retailer Lulus started adding these banners to their regular campaigns:

Lulu campaign
Lulu campaign

Not only do word choices such as “exclusive” and “private” make the offer sound super valuable, it also allows the brand to easily identify their most engaged subscribers and only send holiday promos to the folks they know want to hear about them. Meanwhile, the rest of their audience can still hear about holiday offers — but only within their normal cadence of mailings.

4. Allow subscribers to opt out of only holiday emails

Last year, the wellness resorts enterprise Canyon Ranch wanted to go big on Cyber Monday, but they also wanted to ensure they didn’t alienate subscribers who weren’t interested in the promos. Their team had a brilliant idea: a mute button that would allow individuals to opt out from just the Cyber Monday emails. They reached out to Emma’s Services Team to help make the idea a reality, and it was a huge success.

Canyon Ranch campaign

“We wanted to be very transparent that, look, if you don’t want to be bothered by these emails, we don’t want to risk losing you from our entire email ecosystem,” said Canyon Ranch’s Josh Surridge. “So that’s where we came up with the mute button, and it ended up saving us hundreds of subscribers.”

Plus, the campaign absolutely crushed it: Canyon Ranch pulled in a record number of sales (think multimillion-dollars) on Cyber Monday.


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Don’t be that brand

The moral of the story? There are ways to run a successful holiday email campaign without being that brand that blasts subscribers with overly frequent, irrelevant messaging.

Rise above it, and we guarantee you (and your audience) will be happy with the results.

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie is a senior content manager at Campaign Monitor (formerly Emma). Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.