With Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, we are officially immersed in the holiday buying season. Your subscribers are currently, as you read this, inundated by a flurry of email promotions and holiday sales. Now more than ever, it is critical that you are being thoughtful about the email you send.

Make the most of this time by testing variables along the way. This will not only help you determine what works during the holidays, but it will uncover what drives engagement as you head into 2017 as well.

Email variables to test during the holiday buying season

For the purposes of holiday sending, there are three variables on the content side to test that can be the most impactful:

  1. Subject Line: The subject line is key to persuading your subscribers to open your email. Make sure that your subject line is compelling enough to drive that open! The subject line is a simple variable to test. Test the length of your subject line, using the specific offer in the subject line, or including a deadline before the offer expires. During the holidays it is great to use personalization to communicate the main point of your message.
  1. Headlines: After the subject line, the headline is the first thing people see when they open your email. Make sure it communicates the primary message and that it matches your subject line. If you are testing a special offer with one segment of your list, double check to ensure that the headline and subject line for that offer match. Consistency in your message is important all of the time, but during the holidays when your subscribers have less patience for error, it is key.
  1. Call to Action: The call to action (CTA) is what you are ultimately asking of your subscribers. The CTA should always be above the fold, and during the holidays when you need to break through the rest of the offers, your CTA needs to be extremely clear and it should create a sense of urgency. Test variations on the wording (Buy now! vs. Learn More), placement (above images, above the fold, etc.), and the number of CTAs you have in an email.

For even more ideas for A/B testing your emails as well as why it’s so important, download SendGrid’s Why A/B Testing is Critical to Email Campaign Success.

Standout Holiday Email Example

I am always a sucker for a good deal, and especially one that comes with a meticulous email. The example below was sent to me last week and includes fantastic examples of each of the testing variables I mentioned above. For the past few years, I have bought my grandparents gift boxes from Harry & David for Christmas. Now, perhaps I received another email earlier from Harry & David but this one caught my attention and includes a strong subject line that includes a deadline:

Subject line: REMINDER Your 20% gift history offer ends today

Headline: GIFTING IS AS EASY AS 1-2-3

Below the headline there are simple 1-2-3 directions as promised:

1. SIGN IN to your Gift History account.
2. REVIEW your recipients and confirm the gifts you want to send.
3. RELAX knowing that your gifts will be sent right on time.
Plus, if you place an order today you will save up to 20%*.

Call to Action: View Your Gift History

At the end of the email, there were my grandparents’ names, and what I had sent them the past few years. I did as instructed by the email: signed in, reviewed the recipients I wanted to send to, changed the gift selection (had to include pears this year!), and received my 20% discount. All of the gift boxes are promised to arrive by Christmas, and I can check three more gifts off of my list of “to do’s.”

Add value and save time for your recipients during the hectic holiday season

Even though it’s nearly December, it isn’t too late to determine and test variables in your holiday emails. In fact, this is a great time of year to see what elements and offers resonate most with your subscribers to add value.

Remember, if you provide value to your customers and help make their life easier this holiday season, they will likely remain faithful buyers throughout the year. Ready for more email insights? Read SendGrid’s Expert Guide to Email Marketing to take your email program to next level during this holiday season.

Carly Brantz
With more than 15 years of experience, Carly Brantz is an email deliverability and inbound marketing veteran. As the VP of Revenue Marketing at SendGrid, Carly empowers her team to transform marketing from a cost center to a revenue generator. With a key focus on funnel optimization, Carly leads the team responsible for content creation, lead nurturing, SEO/SEM, and website optimization. An accomplished speaker, Carly shares her email delivery and revenue marketing tactics as a headline speaker on SendGrid’s international roadshow as well as other Marketing conferences.