How important is the holiday season to your business? Depending on your industry and the type of business you run, the holidays can account for a significant portion of your sales. On average, holiday sales account for 20-30% of annual revenue.

But did you know email marketing influences a whopping 25% of those sales? That’s why having a holiday email marketing plan—and a good one—is critical to your small business’ success this season.

Start sending early.

Now is the time for email marketing to shine. The second the holiday season hits, consumers begin to anticipate hot deals and discounts from their favorite brands and businesses. So, it makes sense that holiday email marketing open rates increase dramatically during this crazy time.

What many marketers don’t know is that while email open rates peak starting in November, they don’t stay high throughout the entire season. Much of this is due to fatigue (when consumers tire of your emails after receiving so many of them), and also the fact that more brands are sending emails all at once. Your emails have to compete for attention, so they’re not likely to maintain unusually high open rates as the holiday season goes on.

GoDaddy says you’ll get the highest open rates (as much at 16% higher than the average holiday email) right at the start of the season around November 15. So send your best deals early!

Spruce up your subject lines.

Hopefully your holiday messages have a little something special about them. If what’s inside your emails is new and exciting, you shouldn’t settle for the same ol’ stale subject lines.

Make your holiday subject lines seasonally sharp. Use emoji, puns, anything you can think of to make your emails stand out among the rest.

Pro tip: A number of your clients—a majority even—open your emails on their mobile devices and smartphones. So these subject lines, while clever and cute, should remain short and to the point.

According to Vertical Response, here are the top 10 most effective words to include in your holiday subject lines.

  • New
  • Free
  • Off
  • Sale
  • Now
  • Holiday
  • Save
  • Day
  • More
  • Up to

Words like, “Gift,” “Win,” and “Special” are great options too.

Choose a theme you can stick with.

If you’re not quite sure what to send, that’s OK. What’s not OK is sending only one message during the holidays and hoping it helps you bring in business, or worse, sending a bunch of disjointed messages that don’t work well together.

Lacking inspiration? Building a succinct calendar of emails you want to send with unique, but related, messages can be hard. That’s why choosing a theme can be helpful.

Some off-the-cuff ideas:
  • Don’t let the big brands rule Black Friday. Promote your own clearance sales!
  • Help your clients warm up this winter with daily “heartwarming discounts.”
  • Heard of the 12 Days of Christmas? Make that “12 Days of Deals!”

Make sure you have a deal or topic for each day, and voila! There’s your holiday email marketing plan.

Help clients give the gift of…well, you.

Friends and family discounts and referral programs are great ways to help employees and clients bring new customers to your business.

During the holidays, promote programs like these as though they’re gifts, ready to be shared. Incentivize clients who share your promotional offers with their network by giving them a free gift or service when a referral shops with you.

Sing the same tunes on social media.

If you go through the trouble of creating email promotions then fail to share them across your social channels, you’re missing a huge opportunity! Stop reinventing the wheel.

When you have an email marketing plan for the holidays, ensure you’re also sharing your messages via your social channels. Worried you’ll bore people with the same messaging? Don’t be.

For the most part, people check emails out of necessity. Maybe they’re checking to see if they have the latest file from their boss, or maybe they’re double-checking to confirm their latest online car payment went through.

People check social media, on the other hand, much more passively. Whereas someone scrolling through emails might overlook your message in the hunt for something specific, that same individual might pause at your message on social media when they have more time to browse.

Pro tip: If sending emails and posting to social media sounds like a lot of administrative work during an already busy time, it might be because your email service provider and social media software don’t work well together. Consider software like Thryv that integrates text and email marketing with social media, all from one tool. That way, you don’t have to duplicate efforts to get your messages out there.