The holidays are one of the most important times for many retail businesses, and email marketing is a large (if not the largest) driver of sales during this time–especially for e-commerce brands. But it’s important for email marketers to be aware of the time following the holidays when people may not be as excited to be on your email list.

The story goes something like this: paid advertising, social media, or organic content bring potential customers to your site, where maybe a signup widget offers a special promo code to join your mailing list. The prospect signs up in order to receive said promo code.

Not only do you gain a customer, but you’ve also added additional recipients to your email list. Beautiful!

Not so happily ever after

But, what happens after the holidays when these subscribers have already cashed in on your special offer and maybe aren’t as fond of hearing from you? Oftentimes, these subscribers disappear quickly after the New Year begins–-meet post-holiday email churn.

First off, it’s important to know how to identify if you’re experiencing post-holiday list churn (or list churn in general). If you’re lucky, all of your subscribers love your email communications and you don’t have to worry, but for the majority of us, it’s something to be conscious of.

So how do we know? By keeping close tabs on a few different metrics, hard bounce rate, unsubscribe rate and complaint rate, we can get a good idea if it’s happening. You can learn more about monitoring for list churn here.

How to combat post-holiday email churn

Once you identified email list churn, there are a couple things you can focus on to make sure you’re providing your user the best experience possible and hopefully begin managing this churn.

Preference Center

Do you have one set up? What are your options for customers who feel they are receiving too much email? Is it all or nothing? Setting up a preference center can be huge in combating post-holiday list churn.

Giving your users the option to decide how much mail they receive can often keep someone “emailable” who otherwise would have unsubscribed. Learn more about email preference centers here.


Examine what content you are sending your users and ask yourself if it’s particularly relevant to them? Do your emails contain details specific to each recipient?

If your subscriber is an infrequent shopper of your brand it is especially important when you are emailing them that the content relates to them, or their actions somehow. Learn how to use personalization to create meaningful customer relationships here.


Email segmentation allows marketers to be smarter about sending email content. Pick segmenting rules based on previous email engagement. This means using someone’s activity within an email (opening or clicking) as a sign they want our mail. This tactic will also aid in your overall deliverability.

Another effective way to segment your email list includes using website/app activity data to guide who you’re sending to. For example, having a sale on a certain item? Use data to segment your list to only send to those who’ve visited that item’s, or similar item’s webpage in the last x amount of days. Visit our segmentation guide  for a deeper dive into email marketing segmentation.

Whether or not you have list churn, you can count on better results from your email program as a whole when these are being used proactively!


Post-holiday churn is something most email programs will experience to some degree after every holiday season, but by focusing on how you can use segmentation and personalization to speak to your customer at more appropriate times, with more valuable messages, along with setting up an email preference center, you can really help minimize this churn.

In addition, these tactics are strong email best practices as a whole that will only benefit your business throughout the whole year. For more tips on optimizing and grow your email list, check out How to Grow Your Email Marketing List.

Austin is an activation marketing manager here at SendGrid. When he's not planning and scheduling campaigns, he's out filming skateboarding, or hanging with his girlfriend eating Ben & Jerry's (he highly recommends Americone Dream flavor).