How to Get Small Business Emails Noticed During the Holidays

Today, I bring you a guest post from Dayne Shuda. (And no, it’s not too early to start thinking about holiday marketing!)

* * *

In 2011, top retailers sent an average of 22 promotional emails to their subscribers in December. The number of emails sent in November and December last year was up 20% from the previous year.

It’s safe to say that inboxes are full during the holiday season.

Top retailers have big budgets and can blast emails at consumers and that makes it difficult on small businesses. When there is more email in the inboxes it’s difficult to get noticed, but the good news is that a small business can still win the war of the inbox with a couple smart email tactics.

Here are three ways you can get noticed in the inbox this holiday season.

You Get What You Give


Yes, but clichés become clichés for a reason. Life works by giving. The people that focus on the other person first usually end up happy in life and in business.

Your customers are going to be bombarded with promotions this holiday season. There will be more percentage symbols in email subject lines in the next two months than in a high school math class.

It’s hard for people to ignore discounts on merchandise and services, but there is something that can make your customers pay attention even more.

Offer something tangible.

For almost any industry there is something you could offer in terms of a download. Maybe you could put together a guide for holiday shopping for the entire family that includes all the latest toys for the kids.

Any kind of guide, graphic or similar electronic item is perfect to giveaway during the holiday season.

You’ll be offering something tangible, which customers will appreciate. You’re also bringing the Reciprocity Theory into play, which will add to your sales through the holiday selling season.

Sometimes it’s better to focus on giving instead of asking. Asking for the sale all the time is one of the common email mistakes.

Partner Up

When you send out emails to your subscribers you are the only company invested in making that email a success.

One way small businesses can increase the odds of email marketing success is to partner with other businesses during the holiday season.

Basically, you’re trying to get someone else invested in the email campaign. You’ll be getting access to your own subscribers and the subscribers of the other company.

An example of this strategy in action would be a design studio that partners with an email provider to offer a great rate on holiday email designs. The two companies can each send the offer to their respective subscribers and get more exposure than they normally would.

Use Current Events to Add Relevance

So many emails focus on discounts and other promotions during the holidays. After a while these messages tend to get lost. It’s too difficult to find something that stands out in the inbox when every company is offering 20% off.

To get attention in the inbox you need to be different. One way to do this is to use current events to add relevance to the message in your email.

Here is an example — the holidays are often a time when families are together and often the entire family will go see a movie at the theater. A restaurant could mention the latest family movie that’s in the theater and offer a special movie-themed dinner special.

Imagine getting an email with the subject line: Get Brave on DVD. Enjoy Haggis, Neeps and Tatties!

Maybe you’re not interested in Scottish cuisine, but it’s certainly an attention getter and the kids will already be interested in the movie and they might pressure their folks to check it out.

There are lots of current events during the holidays. Reference them to add relevance to your business and the products you offer.

Final Thoughts

Inboxes will fill up over the next few months just like the gifts under the tree.

Some small businesses might struggle to keep up with the big retailers for marketing email attention over the holidays, but there is opportunity for clever companies.

Try the three suggestions above this holiday season and your email response will increase. Make this holiday season even better with more subscribers and more sales for your business.

Is something missing from the list? What are the questions you have about holiday email strategy?

About the Author: Dayne Shuda is a contributing blogger for Fluttermail, an email provider for small business. He has worked on a variety of email marketing campaigns including email newsletters and e-commerce emails.


Image Credit:
 Randy Son Of Robert

Share This Post

Picture of Laura Click

Laura Click

Laura Click is brand strategist, speaker, podcaster and the founder of Blue Kite. Learn more about Laura and her work at Blue Kite.

2 replies on “How to Get Small Business Emails Noticed During the Holidays”

Hi Dayne,

I like your idea of incorporating “current events” the most because it reads like “counterprogramming”. In other words, when everyone else is Zigging, you Zag.

May I suggest another alternative as well?

In the link embedded in the article (“email provider”), readers are directed to another Blue Kite blog post recommending one of two email providers, either Emma or Mail Chimp. Our firm has been using Emma (there are pro’s and con’s with this service, as I’m sure others can attest). However, one of their new services is A/B testing of subject lines, which we’ve been waiting to try.

So, if small businesses have a mailing list with enough depth, why not give an A/B test a shot and see whether “Get Brave on DVD. Enjoy Haggis…” does better than “Enjoy a 20% Discount on Haggis…”, or even the current-events version, “Election Night Viewing Party: Enjoy Haggis with Friends…”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We thought you might like these