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6 Tips for End-of-Year and Holiday Email Marketing

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6 Tips for End-of-Year and Holiday Email Marketing

Well friends, it’s November. As shocking as that may seem to some (legit this year is FLYING!) that means more than just the reality of crunching leaves, Thanksgiving food, Turkey Trots, and holiday merriment on the horizon.


It also means that…


1. End of year sales pushes are happening NOW


2. Holiday campaigns are fast approaching


After attending the two-day GURU Email Marketing Conference last week, I have distilled down the top six things you need to know about what’s working in email marketing so those campaigns are as effective as possible.


Quick note: All info referenced is based on email performance in the last 60-90 days. 


Ok, here’s what we are going to cover.



Tip 1: Using a colon in your subject line will increase open rates.

Tip 2: The ellipsis in a subject line continues to hold strong.

Tip 3: The most effective email campaign for a single offer has five emails.

Tip 4: Expect email open rates to go down around Christmas and New Years. 

Tip 5: Emojis in subject lines are still boss. 

Tip 6: Resend your holiday newsletter within three days to boost open rates. 


Now let’s dive into each.

1. Using a colon in your subject line will increase open rates.

This sounds like the silliest thing ever, doesn’t it? A little two dots can increase open rates? Well, just as smile from a stranger can make someone’s day, it’s often the littlest things that have the biggest impact. (Anyone who is raising tiny humans can attest to this, am I right?)


Subject Line Examples:


What’s Next: The Best Thing You’ll Read All Day

Coming Soon: Your Favorite [PRODUCT] Gets the Black Friday Treatment 

Inside: Black Friday Savings Start NOW!


The data shows that little colon can increase open rates by 9% in B2C emails and as much as 21% in B2B emails.

2. The ellipsis in a subject line continues to hold strong.

You know when you are texting someone and those 3 little dots pop up to show they are writing? (Sorry Android users.) It gets you excited a little to see what they will say right? It captures your attention because it indicates something is coming.


That anticipation has you waiting for the message to come through before moving on.


The same is true for email marketing. By using the “…” in your subject line you tap into that “need to know” feeling and your email gets opened.


Boom! One step closer to ending 2022 with a higher revenue number.

gif of woman holding hands up and the word BOOM across the screen

3. Most effective email campaign for a single offer has five emails.

This applies whether you are looking to promote Black Friday deals, Small Business Saturday specials or simply have an end-of-year sales push planned.

The keys to success:


  1. A single offer (not multiple) tied through the emails
  2. Spread the email frequency across two weeks


So this campaign could look like:

Email 1: Intro offer. The bonus, discount, new product, etc.

Email 2: A piece of FREE content on topic related to the original offer.

Email 3: “Time is running out” message (following subject line guidelines expressed throughout this article)

Email 4: Secondary FREE content on topic related to the offer.

Email 5: “Last chance” type message.

4. Expect email open rates to go down around Christmas and New Years.

This insight may be the last thing you want to hear, but the management of expectations is just as important in business and email marketing as it is in life and personal relationships. According to Jay Schwedelson, the founder of the GURU conference and Subjectline.com, you can expect the dates your open rates dip to be roughly December 20 to Mid-January.


If you take a minute to remove your entrepreneur/marketing hat and put on your “I’m a human hat”, doesn’t it make sense that emails get opened less during this time? We’re usually busy with family and friends or simply in need of a break.


No matter what your business (or financial) goals are, it is important to remember that on the other end of every email, social media post and other marketing tactics is a HUMAN you are trying to connect with.


So keep in mind how your ideal client would be spending their time this holiday season and adjust your own sending schedule and expectations for opens/clicks accordingly.

gif of a man dancing in an elevator as the doors close

5. Emojis in subject lines are still boss.

This has been true in the past and it remains true today. What’s interesting is that the placement of the emoji in a subject line has changed. Rather than bookending your subject line with emojis, as Schwedelson has recommended in the past and my own research has confirmed, stick that funny little symbol at the beginning.


Here’s a breakdown of the effect certain emojis can have on subject lines:

chart of emojis and the percentage they increase open rates on emails for consumer and businesses

6. Resend your holiday newsletter within three days to boost open rates.

Some of you may not have a big holiday promotion on the horizon, but that does not mean you shouldn’t be actively engaging with your list, as per my usual recommendations.


Send out an email newsletter with a holiday twist. Set it up as an A/B test with different subject lines to see how much the tactics you’ve learned here can boost your own list engagement.


Then, resend it three days later to non-openers. Will you catch everyone who didn’t open on that second push? Probably not. Will you catch people who didn’t have time to read it the first time? I guarantee it.

Bonus Tip:

Acknowledge the fact that they missed the first email on the resend. Insert “Oops you missed this…” or “ICYMI…” or “Don’t forget” before the rest of your subject line to boost open rates and watch those numbers go up! (By as much as 31% on that second send according to OutcomeMedia.)

gif number counter with nubmers going up

Want some 1:1 help planning your end of year campaigns? 

Book a complimentary strategy session on my calendar and let’s get you moving in the right, less-stressed direction.





*Data: Unless otherwise stated, all data points referred to below have been gathered & provided by OutcomeMedia, which is in the business of email marketing data so yeah, they know this stuff.

Channing Muller is an award winning marketing & public relations consultant and the principal of DCM Communications. She works with event professionals and business owners to grow and scale their businesses with refined marketing strategies developed through one-on-one and group consulting, customized marketing programs and public relations. She has been named a "25 Young Event Pro to Watch" by Special Events magazine and "40 Under 40" by Connect Meetings. Channing is an avid runner, lover of labrador retrievers, good food, delicious drinks, and an advocate for the American Heart Association. Follow her on Instagram @ChanningMuller.

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