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Holiday marketing
Running a business

Holiday email marketing campaign with examples

This guide will quickly cover what you need to know for holiday marketing, and to make the read more streamlined, we have split this guide into the following three parts:

  1. Exclusive rewards for your loyal customers 
  2. Gift cards to boost sales and average order value
  3. Reminder email: maximise Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales

Reward your best customers with holiday exclusivity

For e-commerce businesses, Black Friday and Cyber Week (BFCW) can be one of the highest revenue-generating times of the year.On this festive occasion, shoppers come prepared to buy. Your customers will be especially receptive to your offers because they expect BFCW deals wherever they shop.

Offering a discount during BFCW can be an effective way to attract first-time customers to try your products, but it’s also an opportunity to increase customer lifetime value by encouraging repeat purchases from existing customers.

Here’s how to create a campaign that rewards your most loyal customers with an exclusive offer.

Done-for-you example email: Reward your top customers

The following example email uses two important tactics to help drive sales among existing customers:

  • Reward loyalty with exclusivity. Many brands use Black Friday as an excuse to spam their audience with discount codes. Recognising your best customers and rewarding them with exclusive offers can keep your costs down on marketing efforts (versus running ads or influencer campaigns), while simultaneously increasing the customer lifetime value.
  • Suggest top-selling products. Based on your store’s sales history, you know which items are most popular. Help your audience get their holiday shopping done quickly by suggesting your most popular products in this email.

Here’s an email template you can use to help drive loyalty (and sales) this Black Friday and Cyber Week:

Subject: A little something to say thanks

Hi Jane,

Tomorrow our Black Friday sale will go live, offering some of the biggest discounts of the year.

But as one of our best customers, you get early access to our Black Friday deals before we open the doors to everyone else.

We expect many items to sell out, so we want to give you first dibs on [TOP-SELLING ITEM], so that you can get your holiday shopping done early.

We’ll open the doors to everyone in 18 hours. Until then, take advantage of the first picks on the colours and sizes of our best-selling items.

This is our biggest sales event of the year, so be sure to find something nice for yourself, too.


You’ll also get: A $25 gift card when you spend $100 or more 20% off storewide including [BEST SELLING ITEM]


Exclusive reward email marketing campaign tip: 

This email example makes use of merge tags, a method for using your subscribers names in your email. This makes the email more personalised than a generic greeting.

How to set up your Black Friday campaign for loyal customers

Before you create your email campaign, you’ll need the following:

An e-commerce store that’s integrated with Mailchimp. This will allow you to sell your products directly from your emails. You’ll also need products listed in your store, so you can provide personalised recommendations based on your customers’ previous purchase history.

Active promo codes in your e-commerce store. Ensure there’s a 20% off promo code in your store, so you can incentivise purchases this BFCW.

Here’s how to put it all together to create your Black Friday email campaign:

  1. Create an email using Mailchimp.
  2. Add product recommendation content blocks to your email.
  3. Schedule your email send date. If you’re going to run your sale over the weekend, consider sending this email on Wednesday or Thursday. That way, your VIP customers will have enough time to make purchases before you open the sale to everyone.

How rewarding loyal customers can help boost profits

Increasing customer lifetime value by encouraging repeat purchases is one of the highest leverage activities an e-commerce store can do.

If your initial cost of acquiring a customer is more than their lifetime value, then your store likely won’t be profitable. Rewarding your most loyal customers with exclusive, early access to deals should help boost both customer lifetime value and profits because the initial cost of acquiring customers remains the same.

Now that you’ve got your first BFCW email ready to go, it’s time to add a second email to this campaign to open your sale up to everyone.

Gift cards to boost sales and average order value

Many retailers (both online and off) rely on heavy discounts to stand out during Black Friday and Cyber Week.

Discounts can lead to increased sales, but if they’re not offered strategically, they can also cut into your profits and leave you with less capital to invest in your marketing once BFCW ends. Relying on deals also trains your customers to expect those kinds of discounts from you regularly. To ensure your e-commerce store is fiscally healthy, you want to find alternative ways to incentivise purchases.

The key to an effective discounting strategy is to create a compelling reason for your customers to buy, while also ensuring that your offer is profitable.You want to give a discount to your customers that also increases your revenue now and in the future. Giving a gift card to your customers in exchange for a purchase of a certain value can be the way to accomplish exactly that.

Here’s how to do it in Mailchimp. 

Done-for-you example email: Offer a gift card in exchange for a purchase

The following example email uses two tactics to help boost your revenue:

  • Increase the average order value with a gift card incentive. For your customer to receive the gift card incentive, they’ll need to reach a specific cart (or order) value. This increases the average order value, which generates more revenue that you can then reinvest into your marketing efforts or inventory.
  • Extend customer lifetime value with a gift card. By incentivising purchases with a gift card, you’re encouraging them to come back and buy from you again (using the gift card). This will extend their customer lifetime value and potentially increase the average order value if they fill up their cart with extra items that exceed the card’s value.

Here’s an example email you can replicate to help increase sales and drive loyalty with a gift card this Black Friday and Cyber Week:

Subject: A gift card with your name on it

Hi Jane,

Our Black Friday sale is on now -featuring some of the absolute lowest prices of the year: 20% off storewide.

But it gets even better:

When you make a purchase of $100 or more, you’ll receive a $25 gift card to be used any time of the year.

From now until midnight AEST on 29 November, all orders include: A $25 gift card when you spend $100 or more 20% off storewide, including [BEST SELLING ITEM]

Here are a few items to unlock the $25 gift card (and make you the best gift giver this holiday season):


This deal closes at midnight AEST on 29 November.

And don’t forget: The gift card can be used on full-priced items throughout the year.

Top gift card email marketing campaign tips:  

Tip 1: Suggesting your best-selling products in your email helps curb decision fatigue. 

Rather than force your customers to browse your whole store, suggest an item that others love. This generates social proof, and it saves them the effort of choosing what to buy.

Tip 2: Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself in sales emails. 

In the example email above, you’ll notice how the incentive was introduced and then restated in the following sentence. Not everyone processes content the same way. That’s why you should emphasise each distinct benefit of your offer to ensure that your readers really get it. Say it again, but differently.

Tip 3: Avoid using words like “free” and “sale” in your email subject lines.

These words might get picked up by your recipients’ email providers as Spam and filter your emails away from the main inbox.

How to set up your Black Friday gift card campaign

Before you create your email campaign, you need the following:

  • An e-commerce store that’s integrated with Mailchimp. This will allow you to feature your store’s products directly from your emails. You’ll also need products listed in your store, so you can recommend products within your email.
  • An active 20% promo code in your e-commerce store: Ensure there’s a 20% off promo code that expires at the end of the weekend so you can generate urgency for your audience to buy now.
  • A gift card that’s listed as a product within your store. Once a customer reaches the order threshold, they’ll be sent a gift card to redeem another time. Adding it as a store item will allow you to create an automation that follows up with them after purchase.

Here’s how to put it all together to create your Black Friday email campaign:

  1. Create an email inside of your Mailchimp account. You can name the campaign “Black Friday 2021: Email 2.”
  2. Be sure the email audience is the one that’s connected to your e-commerce store. Since you’re now opening up your Black Friday sale to everyone, send it to all subscribers in the audience.
  3. Create your email subject line.
  4. Start designing your email and filling in the content by referencing the example above. You can replace the placeholders from the email template with a product content block. Select products from your store that are both popular and have a higher price point. You want to encourage your customers to get to the cart threshold that unlocks the free gift card.
  5. After you're done with your campaign's design and settings, it's ready to go. Schedule it for delivery.

Pro tip: Send your Black Friday email on either Thursday night or Friday morning. This will likely increase the odds that your email gets read and acted upon by your audience.

Next steps

Offering a gift card can incentivise your customers to take action. It can also lead to repeat purchases in the future -and often, it encourages your shoppers to splurge on more expensive products.

Now that you’ve got the first two BFCW emails created, it’s time to add the third and final email to this campaign.

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Reminder email: maximise Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales

If you’ve sent the first and second email in this series, then you may have driven additional traffic to your store.

It’s likely that you saw some sales right away, but they might have begun to taper off throughout the weekend.

This is fairly common, as an average of about 70% of e-commerce shopping carts get abandoned. Why? Because it’s just like window shopping at a brick-and-mortar retailer - looking doesn’t mean someone intends to buy.

Mailchimp offers a powerful marketing tool to bring shoppers back to the items they left behind: retargeting.

Turning passive interest into revenue is one of the best ways to close out BFCW. Here’s how to create an email campaign that encourages shoppers who browsed your items to return and make a purchase.

Done-for-you example email: Turn attention into sales

The following email example uses two conversion tactics:

  • Remove all objections to make buying now an easy yes. This email should address barriers that someone might see in the way of purchasing your product. Barriers to purchase can include price and shipping costs. To lower the overall cost to purchase your products, consider adding free shipping and a generous return policy. If you’re unable to offer free shipping across the board, consider offering free shipping once a certain dollar threshold has been met.
  • Turn your marketing efforts into revenue. You’ve already done the work of setting up a discount and getting visitors to your site, so now it’s time to close the sale by asking if they’re ready to buy. Using a retargeting campaign, you’re going to show a specific message to your target audience based on a relevant action they’ve taken on your website.

Here’s a holiday email example you can use this Cyber Week:

Subject: Did you see something you liked?

See something you liked?

Finish checking out here:


Here’s our promise to you:

Free shipping on all orders over $100.

Hand-picked products that we’re proud to sell and use everyday.

30-day free return policy.

And if you order $100 or more in the next 24 hours, you’ll also automatically receive a $25 gift card that can be used any time.

How to create your retargeting campaign for Cyber Week

Before you create your email campaign, you need the following:

  • An e-commerce store that’s integrated with Mailchimp. This will allow your traffic data to be used within Mailchimp to automatically send an email to opted-in store visitors who didn’t make a purchase.

Here’s how to put it all together to create your Cyber Week retargeting campaign:

  • Create a retargeting campaign within your Mailchimp account.
  • When it’s time to choose your retargeting criteria, choose to send your email 24 hours after a subscriber browses a product on your site.
  • On the template step, select the product retargeting template.
  • On the design step, add the example email copy above and make any changes to reflect your store and brand.
  • When you are ready to activate the product retargeting email, click start sending.

Keep your messages clear to build trust and boost conversions

A lot has happened in your customers’ lives since getting your first email, checking out your site, and receiving this final reminder. That’s why retargeting works best if you remind your customer exactly what you’re offering. The most effective way to do this is using short sentences and bulleted lists, which will make reading your email quick and the offer clear.

Although things like free shipping and a return policy have become standard expectations, they’re worth mentioning because they reduce the risk of the purchase. By showing customers exactly what they can expect (shipping times, return policy, discounts, and product benefits) and then presenting them with a link to finish their existing order, you’ll be removing barriers to purchase.

How to continue sales momentum beyond Cyber Week

The tactics and examples featured in this series can be applied to campaigns any time of year, not just Black Friday and Cyber Week. Simply modify the copy in the emails and be sure to generate urgency by limiting discounts to apply for only a few days.

Maximise Your Holiday Season Efficiency for Your Small Business

As the holiday sale season approaches, empower yourself with a great tool for financial success. Take advantage of QuickBooks Accounting Software to gain precise control over your business accounting, save time on administrative tasks, and make informed decisions to boost your holiday sales.

Make this holiday season your most profitable yet with QuickBooks by your side. Try it free for 30 days now! 

See more tools that can help you boost holiday sales


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