top of page

How to Improve Your Email Open-Rates This Holiday Season

The holiday season is officially underway, and—if you haven't already—it's time to start thinking about your business's email marketing strategy for the busiest shopping time of the year.

As consumers will be bombarded with marketing emails, it's particularly important to outdo your competition during the holidays. According to The Wall Street Journal, data from the Yes Lifecycle Marketing agency show retailers sent 15 percent more email blasts last holiday season compared to the rest of the year. But despite the spike in sends, open rates from consumers declined by 15 percent.

Monica Deretich, vice president of marketing and consumer-relationship management for online women's fashion retailer JustFab, told WSJ her company focuses on send-time to help maximize open rates. Specifically, JustFab determines send-time based on what time of day recipients opened their emails in the past. This strategy helped yield a 40 percent hike in first-time sales after it was implemented in 2015.

"If you tend to open our emails around noon, that's when you'll get them," Deretich told WSJ.

Other marketing executives shared these email best-practices with WSJ:

  • Customize offers based on shoppers' past browsing and purchase history

  • Send emails for price cuts, abandoned shopping carts and after-purchase recommendations

  • Tailor emails based on the preferences of highly-detailed shopper segmentations

In addition to these strategies, here are four more ideas to increase your business's email open-rates this holiday season.

Avoid Subject Line "Buzz" Words That Will Trigger Spam Filters

While it's important to be specific about your business's offer, it's crucial to keep in mind that lots of sales-related language will trigger email filters that will send your offer directly into your recipient's spam folder. They can't make a purchase if they never see your offer, now can they?

According to customer flow communication platform SimplyCast, the following phrases are among the 100 most likely to send your email right to the spam folder:

  • "Act now"

  • "Order now"

  • "Purchase"

  • "While supplies last"

  • "Only"

  • "Lowest price"

  • "$$$"

  • "100%"

We should note that, while SimplyCast uses the examples "$$$" and "100%," our past experience has shown that any use whatsoever of "$" or "%" can trigger spam filters.

Get Right to the Point in Those Subject Lines, Too

We often hear it's important to shoot for about 50-60 characters or less (including spaces) when creating email subject lines. This ensures that your entire message will show up in your recipient's web browser.

But when taking into consideration that people often check email on their phones, it's advisable to go even shorter if possible. Our review of the mailbox on an iPhone 6—as well as the Gmail app—shows subject lines cut off at around 40 characters. According to analytics software-maker Kissmetrics, Android's mailbox does wrap subject lines to a second line.

So while there's no perfect character count for all the different formats out there, there's no question that shorter is better when it comes to subject lines.

Personalize Subject Lines with Your Recipients' Names

Another great way to improve your open rates is to personalize your subject lines with your recipients' names.

Popular email marketing platforms such as MailChimp and Constant Contact allow you to easily tailor your messages to include personal information about your recipients, such as their name or company name.

This simple strategy can drive meaningful impact on your email campaigns. Personalized email subject lines see a 26 percent increase in open-rates, according to Campaign Monitor.

Change Your "Sent From" Name to That of an Actual Person

On the topic of personalization, adding a "human" touch on your business's side can be beneficial as well.

Email inboxes display three pieces of information when an email is received: who the message is sent from; the email's subject line; and a preview of the email body. Instead of using your business's name in the "sent from" section, try including the name of a real person from your company.

A personalized "sent from" name increased open rates to 7.1 from 6.6 percent, according to data from HubSpot.


Get in touch with A Willing Participant today to set up your

FREE creative audit to discuss email marketing tips and tricks.


Do you have more email marketing tips to share this holiday season? We want to hear them! Join the conversation in the comment box below.

Follow Us
  • Twitter button
  • Vimeo button
  • LinkedIn button
  • Facebook button
Recent Posts
bottom of page