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How to Create Memorable Email Campaigns this Holiday Season with Salesforce Marketing Cloud

How to Create Memorable Email Campaigns this Holiday Season with Salesforce Marketing Cloud

In 2019, holiday sales grew 4.1% to $730.2 billion. This includes online and other non-store sales that were up 14.6% over the year before. (source: N...

In 2019, holiday sales grew 4.1% to $730.2 billion. This includes online and other non-store sales that were up 14.6% over the year before. (source: National Retail Federation (NRF)

Previous research by NRF has also found that:

  • On average, national holiday sales (U.S) have increased by 3.9% over the past 5 years
  • For some retailers, the holiday season can account for 30% of their annual sales

In Q2 2020 alone, digital commerce grew by 71%.

As the holiday season approaches, it’s important that marketers, particularly email marketers, start planning for their holiday messaging long before shoppers even start thinking about twinkly lights of Christmas. But when consumers are being bombarded by ads and messages coming at them from a million different directions, email marketing success can feel like a constantly moving target. In the midst of this onslaught of holiday marketing campaigns, how can emails still stand out?

Try Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC)!

SFMC provides a number of powerful functionalities to help email marketers create memorable and profitable holiday marketing campaigns. But to take advantage of these functionalities, email marketers and their Salesforce certified email specialist need to leverage the smart holiday email marketing hacks we discuss below. If you do this, your brand will be able to capitalize on increased customer spending during the holidays, and stand out in the cluttered holiday marketing landscape. Take a look at the holiday email marketing examples we have included for inspiration!

1. Plan holiday email marketing campaigns as journeys with Journey Builder

With SFMC’s powerful Journey Builder tool, you can tell the story of the customer’s experience as they progress through their journey along many touchpoints – all the way from initial contact to purchasing and beyond.

From onboarding with a rewards program and signing up for a newsletter, to re-engaging with an abandoned cart and increasing loyalty with a special offer email campaign, Journey Builder, when leveraged with built-in Salesforce templates, can help improve engagement at every step of the customer journey.

How can you make the most of Journey Builder for your next holiday email marketing campaign? 

First, ditch the ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy for email sends. Instead of an overarching campaign or a single deployment that goes out on one day (“Black Friday sale!!”), create a series of emails or segmented emails.

Also, evaluate how customers interact with your brand as they move through the journey, especially before the biggest events of the year. This can be done using Interaction Studio in SFMC, a real-time interaction management tool that can help you see how and where your customers convert. This can help you optimize your email marketing programs ahead of, and even during, the holiday season.

Here are 4 journeys you can create to help you design an amazing holiday marketing campaign.

  1. Welcome Journey
  2. Abandoned Cart Journey
  3. Thank you Journey
  4. Post-purchase Journey

2. Personalize content for the holidays with Live Weather Content Block

Live Weather Content Block is a feature in SFMC Content Builder that allows for personalized images based on local weather conditions to appear when a subscriber opens an email.

How can you make the most of Live Weather Content Block for your next holiday email marketing campaign?

By leveraging local weather conditions, you can curate content that’s relevant for your subscribers while driving traffic to your store or website through your email message. For example, an airline or hotel brand can use Live Weather Content Block to create emails with tempting images of sandy beaches and sunshine, with content reminding subscribers that nicer weather is within their reach. For subscribers living in an area where frigid temperatures and heavy snow are expected during the holidays, these messages can be really enticing. Here’s a cool holiday email marketing example from AirBnB

In addition to images, you can also hyper-personalize content within your holiday email marketing campaigns using Email Studio:

  • Create high-quality and dynamic copy
  • Use reusable content blocks and customizable Salesforce templates
  • Avoid using ‘spammy’ words in content

You should also inject early holiday messaging for the early-bird shoppers. Don’t be afraid to run specials or use messaging that reference the impending holidays.

3. Send emails at just the right time with Einstein Send Time Optimization (STO)

When it comes to holiday marketing campaigns, timing is everything!

During the holiday season, it’s important to ensure that every email campaign is refreshed and inviting, and tells your brand story in a way that encourages conversion. Once this is done, make sure those emails get to subscribers’ inboxes at the right time, that is when they’re most likely to open your emails. Einstein Send Time Optimization (STO) in SFMC is a great way to do this. Einstein STO uses 90 days of email engagement data (history) within the Enterprise to determine the best time within the next 24 hours to email each subscriber.

How can you make the most of Einstein Send Time Optimization for your next holiday email marketing campaign?

To access Einstein STO, click on the Einstein Tab in the Navigation bar within SFMC. For multiple emails in a customer journey builder flow, drag and drop the ‘Einstein STO’ activity before each email activity. Use the Einstein Engagement Scoring tool to identify customer segments based on likely engagement.

With the Einstein STO dashboard, you can easily visualize optimal predicted send times by the day or hour for all contacts in their business unit. Knowing this can help you choose the best time for batch sends.

4. Pay more attention to abandoned carts

Did you know that abandoned cart emails generate the highest average revenue per click at $36.02? (Source: Salesforce Predictive Intelligence Benchmark Report)

During the holiday season especially, one of the most important customer journeys to focus on is the cart abandon journey.

How can you make the most of abandoned cart emails for your next holiday email marketing campaign?

The Salesforce Commerce Cloud and SFMC connector enables retail email marketing managers to enable connected customer journeys with dynamic triggers from commerce to marketing. So if a holiday shopper adds items to their shopping cart but abandons their cart before completing the purchase, you can send them a follow-up email that reminds them or even incentivizes them to click on ‘Pay Now’.

You can send abandoned cart emails with different kinds of messaging, such as:

  • Still thinking about it?
  • Need more time to decide?
  • Tell us how we can help
  • Here’s what you’re missing
  • We miss you. Come back!


You can also send different kinds of abandoned cart emails like:

  • Email with products they added to their cart but didn’t purchase
  • Email with recommended products similar to ones they purchased in the past
  • Abandonment surveys
  • Special or limited time offers

5. Re-engage inactive subscribers with Email Studio

Working on your disengaged subscriber list can reduce subscriber churn and even convert these subscribers into leads. And the holiday season is a great time to start your re-engagement efforts.

How can you make the most of Email Studio for your next holiday email marketing campaign?

1. Identify inactive subscribers and send them re-engagement emails

Email Studio Reports in Analytics Builder provides a number of reports to help you identify the dis-engaged subscribers in your email list. Also use Einstein Engagement Scoring to target customers to maximize engagement and conversions.

2. Address their spam complaints

  • Cut down on the number of emails you send
  • Include an enticing call to action that convinces the subscriber to stay on
  • Make your unsubscribe process simple and easy

3. Create an automated process with Process Builder

Use SFMC Process Builder to build an automated process to email inactive/dis-engaged subscribers using a specific template.

4. Use Salesforce templates in SFMC and Email Studio

To strengthen your re-engagement strategy, particularly during the holiday season, use SFMC Content Builder to create re-usable email templates with pre-defined content blocks and dynamic content.

Here’s a holiday email marketing example from Etsy

5 Optimize your emails to decrease unsubscribes

As you plan email marketing campaigns for November and December, make sure that you optimize your emails for mobile:

  • Limit the subject line to 25-30 characters
  • Use pre-header text to entice readers to open the email
  • Create concise copy that’s easily consumable yet enticing
  • Insert clear CTAs
  • Make emails click-friendly

These 5 steps work best when implemented together as part of an overarching holiday email campaign strategy.

In addition, you should send out your holiday emails as quickly as possible. Fine tune your HTML and AMPscript email code, as well as Query Activity SQL logic. Have your Salesforce certified email specialist use API retry logic. All these strategies will help decrease send times, boost delivery and completion times, and improve the health of your subscriber database.

Wrap Up

The holiday season presents lots of opportunities for brands to connect with their audience through memorable email marketing campaigns. By using the 5 strategies we delved into, you can create holiday campaigns that stand out from the crowd and deliver the real-life magical experiences your audience is looking for. 

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Kevin George

Kevin is the Head of Marketing at Email Uplers, one of the fastest-growing full-service email marketing companies. He is an email enthusiast at heart and loves to pen down email marketing content. You can reach him at or connect with him on LinkedIn.



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