The countdown to all the key dates and selling opportunities over the holiday selling season starts here.

“Dear Santa,

I know you’re kind of busy right now.

And I know how you’re feeling, because things are getting pretty full-on here too!

The holidays are our busiest sales window opportunity. But we just don’t have the time or resource to keep up with all the holiday email marketing opportunities.

This year, is there any chance you could deliver my gift early, and send me a solution to this challenge?

Thank you.

P.S. Don’t worry about trying to wrap it!”

First off, forget Santa. He’s good, but he’s not that good.

The solution to this email marketing challenge – faced by all online marketers over the coming weeks – is right here, in this blog.

If you haven’t already, it’s time now to put together a tightly planned and executed holiday email marketing automation program.

You’re quickest win right now is to set up a holiday countdown automation program that covers off the key dates and opportunities. Then push it live, and let it run itself while you get on with all the other things you need to be doing.

Here’s our holiday countdown email automation program checklist:

  • Email 1. Gift suggestions
  • Email 2. Wish list sharing promotion (encourage customers to create and share their own gift wish list)
  • Email 3. Delivery cut-off date calendar
  • Email 4. Black Friday
  • Email 5. Cyber Monday
  • Email 6. Gift suggestions and price promotions
  • Email 7. Last second class mail date before Christmas
  • Email 8. Last first class mail date before Christmas
  • Email 9. Last minute gift suggestions
  • Email 10. Gift card promotion
  • Email 11. Christmas Eve
  • Email 12. Christmas Day
  • Email 13. December 26th
  • Email 14. New Years Eve
  • Email 15. New Years Day (Happy New Year, and start of January Sales)


This gift guide email from shows how a countdown can effectively include discount promotions to help drive engagement across an entire month.

Gift Guide categories make it easy for your customers to find what you want them to look for. Here’s a nice approach from The Terrain. The brand’s holiday gift guide email leads with staff picks and gifts by personality.


The shipping forecast…


It helps to use your email automation program to sow some seeds of urgency into your customers’ behavior.

Letting customers know final delivery dates in advance can prove an effective call to action in its own right, as demonstrated by this email example from vintage clothing store

When you wish upon a…

Wish list promotions can be effective sales drivers over the holiday period.

Encourage your customers and subscribers to create a wish list then share it.

This wish list email from works equally well for the holidays as it does for Birthdays, spelling out all the advantages to the customer of creating and sharing their list.

Here’s a great example of a holiday wish list email promotion from J.Crew, themed around ‘how to get what you really want this Christmas’.

The tongue in cheek step-by-set guide provides an effective prompt to action, without feeling ‘salesy’.’s wish list email provides proof that a little incentivization can go a long way.

Banishing the last minute jitters

This email example from Netflix shows how services that are not delivery date sensitive can be effectively promoted over the holiday season as last minute gift solutions.

The popularity of click-and-collect means retailers with customer pickup options can extend their last minute online gift purchasing emails beyond their delivery cut off dates.

Lowes do a good job here of promoting last minute online gift orders and driving footfall to their stores.

Its’ all in the cards…

  1. Gift cards

If your ecommerce solution includes gift card functionality, then the holiday shopping season above all is the time to promote gift cards to your customers.

Gift cards offer a flexible way for your customers to solve their gifting problems, and an opportunity for you to extend the reach of your brand to friends and family of your customers.

Lovenfreshflowers provide a simple but compelling message and call to action in their gift card email.

Online clothing store delivers a holiday gift card email that sells the benefits to consumers of gift-carding.

See our free guide to Email Marketing for the holiday season for more festive inspiration.

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