Improve Holiday Email Subject Lines to Boost Open Rates

David Luther

Are your holiday emails not achieving the open rates you hoped for?

Here’s a suggestion, adjust your subject lines: thirty-five percent of recipients use them to decide whether to open an email or not.

We get it. Changing your strategy during the middle of the holiday season isn’t ideal. But subject lines with emojis and excessive capitalization don’t work — instead, try a clear line of text telling your customers what they need to know.

Here are some more ways to use subject lines to improve your holiday email open rates:

1. Say it all in the subject line

Your shoppers have been frenetically spending since the week before Black Friday, and at this stage, a lot of their shopping is done and their inboxes are packed. Combat email exhaustion by telling them what they need to know.

  • Shutterfly: Just 3 days: get 50% off + NEW Disney Frozen Stockings
  • KSL Deals: Save 10% with Promo Code: Christmas10

2. Consider the self-gifters

About 42% of holiday shoppers are shopping for themselves. Including gifts with a purchase in your holiday subject lines is a good way to get their attention while they’re shopping for others.

  • One Kings Lane: Post-Christmas grab bag: pick a present for yourself
  • BloomThat: It’s all for YOU.

3. “Sleigh” the inbox with puns

Marketers try all sorts of tactics to get their subject lines noticed during the holiday season. It’s always best to let your offers speak for themselves, but if you want something extra, try making them chuckle rather than cramming emojis and all caps into your subject lines. If you’ve got a pun, go for it.

  • World Market: Ho-Ho-WHOA! 50% off Wine Gift Baskets + Holiday Food and Decor. LAST DAY for two HUGE coupons.
  • Southwest: Snow Fare Like A Low Fare!

4. Offer something that isn’t a coupon or discount

People are paying attention to their inboxes this time of year, so even if you’re not pushing a sale or coupon, you can join in on the holiday spirit with holiday-themed subject lines.

  • Instacart: This week’s forecast? Stress-free holiday grocery shopping!
  • UberEATS: Brr – warm up with some free hot chocolate.

5. Give them useful info

Planning travel, finding gifts for that difficult relative and trying to keep up that holiday cheer. Your shoppers have a lot going on. Consider giving some tips and guidance — they’ll remember it when they need more.

  • Oribe: 10 Holiday Tips for Your Salon
  • Food & Wine: 27 Recipes for a Holiday Cocktail Bash

6. Just say hello to your subscribers

Take a break from selling and send your subscribers a message with a holiday greeting subject line that shows you appreciate them.

  • Lyft: You guys are amazing, you know that?
  • Audible.com: A Free Holiday Gift Just for Our Members

Christmas subject lines don’t follow any discernible pattern. Remember, it’s not always about deals and promotions. Consider trying to solve shoppers’ problems with gift ideas, extended tips, shopping guides, and even a simple thank you. Whichever path you take, just remember to keep your subject lines upbeat and easy to digest.

25 Holiday Email Subject Lines for Further Inspiration

Here’s what retailers across all industries are doing to entice customers during the five seconds it takes to determine whether to open an email or not:

  1. Michael’s: the Black Friday Savings Continue! Up to 70% Off AND Big Coupons!​
  2. philosophie: last day! receive 6 clean, peel & treat deluxe minis with purchase! ​
  3. Rip Curl: 5 reasons you need a SearchGPS this Xmas
  4. Freshbooks: Deliver Some Cheer this Holiday Season
  5. De Beers: There’s still time…
  6. Rapha: Last express shipping days for Rapha Gifts
  7. Capsule: Christmas Deadline: TODAY – Best stocking stuffer ever!
  8. Musician’s Friend: Perfect last-minute gift–a gift certificate
  9. Papa Murphy’s: Don’t Get Your Tinsel in a Tangle…Let Us Help with Dinner!
  10. Groupon: Groupon’s Most Wanted This Holiday Season
  11. JetBlue: Up to 50% bonus – ’tis better to give AND receive!
  12. Utah Valley Massage Therapy: Last Minute Stocking Stuffer Ideas
  13. Bass Pro Shops: Final Hours! Stretch your payments for 6 months
  14. KSL Deals: 14 Awesome Gift Ideas
  15. Guitar Center: 12 Deals of Christmas—Updated Daily
  16. Cabela’s: You’ve made your list…
  17. Backcountry.com: For the Person that Has Everything
  18. Musician’s Friend: St. Nick’s here with two ways to save
  19. De Beers: Find the Perfect Gift
  20. Bass Pro Shops: Save up to 25% on Santa’s Toy Shop!
  21. Dot & Bo: Ring In The New Year – Plus: 12 Days of Christmas Gifting Starts Now
  22. Seafolly: All she wants for Christmas is S E A F O L L Y
  23. Birchbox: Free Boxes. Ohh Yeah.
  24. J. Crew: It’s OK to have seconds (or thirds) of this sale
  25. Provisions by Food52: Gifting Made Easy: Free Shipping + Discounted Gift Cards + Our Best Picks

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