Holiday marketing essentials

5 copywriting tips for the holiday season

copywriting for the holidays

The holidays always roll around quicker than we expect. One minute it’s April and we’re just getting settled into the new year. Next thing you know, it’s August and the pressure is on to get your holiday marketing campaigns locked down.  

As well as creating the campaign plans, designing emails, building segments and ensuring that tracking is set up, most of you will also be responsible for writing your emails.  

And is there anything more daunting than a blank page? Where do you start? What do you say? What’s the point of it all anyway? 

But have no fear, I totally get it. The holiday season is a big opportunity which means the competition is tough. As soon as November hits it feels as though everyone in the world is sending out holiday-themed marketing campaigns. Creating copy that stands out in the inbox is a lot of pressure.  

To help you through the holidays this year, I’ve put together our top five tips to help you smash your copywriting this holiday season

1. Have a clear plan

It may seem like I’m stating the obvious here but stick with us. 

You need to have a clear reason behind every post or email you send out. What is your goal? Are you trying to drive sales? To attract people to your blog? To educate or inspire? What’s the purpose of your marketing campaign? 

Having clear objectives will help give your writing direction. When you know the purpose behind every message you’re creating, you’ll find yourself significantly less daunted by the blank page. You’ll be less tempted to fill the space with empty holly jolly messages that fail to connect with the reader.  

To help you keep you on track, we’ve created a content marketing plan which you can use throughout your holiday marketing campaigns.  

2. Understand your audience

Without trying to sound like Captain Obvious, you need to understand who you’re talking to before you start writing.

Understanding your audience will help you adopt a tone and message that resonates with your customers. It will also help you remember that the recipient of your email marketing is an individual. Customers want to feel unique, like a human being.

Customer behavior changes often, so data is vital here. In the lead-up to the holiday season, you need to be learning as much as you can about customers’ actions from the year before.

What products or services were most popular last year? Which emails generated the most interactions? Asking yourself these types of questions will give your campaign direction and make writing email copy significantly easier.

3. Make subject lines clickable

Easier said than done, I know, but customers’ inboxes are a crowded place, you need to put the work in to stand out.

There are a number of ways you can do this.

  • Urgency. During the holidays there are a lot of deadlines and limited time and availability of goods and services. Creating a sense of urgency is a well-established tactic. If you have a shipping deadline or the end of your sale is approaching, ensure you’re communicating this in the subject line, but don’t be pushy.
  • Actionable. Using actionable words and phrases is another tactic that helps inspire urgency and action. Limited availability. Selling fast. Online exclusive. Including actionable language in your holiday subject lines will significantly improve conversions.
  • Personalization. This goes back to understanding that your audience is individuals, not just contacts on your mailing list. Whilst subject line personalization is a popular tactic year-round, many marketers forgo it for the sake of ease during the holiday. Don’t be one of them.
  • Emojis. A fun emoji can be an eye-catching addition to your subject line but they should be used sparingly. Too many or irrelevant emojis can end up having the opposite effect of disengaging the reader. And don’t forget some emojis have more than one meaning.

4. Keep things simple

You never want to overwhelm your customers. Too much information, too many images, and too many CTAs will cause readers to switch off before they’ve even read a word of your email.  

The purpose of your email is to engage and encourage readers to learn more by clicking through to your website. The more customers you can drive to your website, the more chances you have to convert. Keeping your email copy simple prevents readers from getting overwhelmed by too much choice.  

Having a clear plan before you start reading will help guide you about how many sections, CTAs, and words should be included in your holiday marketing campaign.

5. Get personal

Personalization isn’t just for your subject lines. To make the body copy of your email marketing resonate, you need to be thinking about how to personalize the whole campaign.  

As a marketer, you know that data is your best friend. But it can sometimes be hard to know what information is useful to use in your marketing campaigns.  

During the holidays, when opportunities to convert are vast, you need to be including customer insights like recently browsed pages or items viewed. These can be used in your emails via product recommendation blocks.  

Similarly, marketing preferences can help you create segments of customers based on their interests. This will enable you to deliver personalized, relevant, and targeted messages en masse.


Jenna Paton, Content Marketing Manager
Jenna expertly writes thought-leadership content about cross-channel marketing and customer engagement and manages the creation and execution of Dotdigital's content marketing strategy.

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More holiday marketing tips and tricks

‘Tis the season of opportunity. Personalized messaging will be the differentiator between you and your competition during this busy sales season. Discover more ways to make an impact this holiday season in our holiday edition of Hitting the Mark.  

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