The Email Marketer's Letter To Santa

As you may recall from previous posts, my family and I are currently in the process of building a house and are living in a rental during the interim. We anticipate moving around mid- to late December, and the kids are concerned that "Aurora" (our Elf on the Shelf) and Santa may not find us at this transitional location. So in order to minimize their angst, I had them write letters to Santa in advance so he has ample notice before the wish list rush begins. This pacified them. Thankfully.

Continuing on this theme, I have had some great "email marketing wish list" conversations with many of you during my recent travels, and I've taken the liberty to use all that insightful data to assemble this letter to Santa -- and his response.


Dear Santa,

I know it isn't even Halloween yet, but internally we’ve been focused on our plans for messaging with our customers during the holiday season. I know we’re not the only brand having these conversations. Our competitors and non-competitors alike are all in this planning mode -- which means that our customers are going to be getting a lot of stinking email in their inboxes really soon.




I want to use the right tactics to be as visible and relevant to subscribers as possible, and achieve optimal conversion. So while I would love to ask for a new car, an exotic vacation, or even a boatload of money, my wish list this year is a little more practical and grounded. Here it goes:

Please Make My Subject Line Sing and Dance
In an ideal world, I could make my subject line talk. It could sit in the inbox and prod my recipient with a gentle reminder to "open me first...please, I'm bored," but I don't think that’s likely to happen any time soon --at least not in time for this holiday season.


But I do know that in order to really stand out in the inbox, I need a compelling subject line to differentiate me from all the other holiday email campaigns. I know some folks are using those fun little icons in the subject line –but what else can I do? Discounts? Sales offers? Free shipping? Santa, I really need a hook here.

Haunt My Customers for Deleting My Email
If the ghost of Jacob Marley can haunt Scrooge, than why can’t I haunt my customers for deleting emails past? We put a lot of work and effort into those, email Santa, and for them to just disregard it feels, well, hurtful. Maybe I just send more email. What do you think?

Santa, is there any way you can make this happen? I wouldn't mind the boatload of money, either.

I hope you are keeping warm there in the North Pole!

Mary Marketer


Dear Mary,

Am I keeping warm? In the North Pole!? Clearly you have not spent any time here, but I appreciate the sentiment.


Basically you’re asking that I make your life easier and that of your customer more... annoying? I don't think I can help there, exactly, but based on my years of experience trying to find just the right gift for everyone, I might be able to offer up some usable advice. If this does help, Mary, consider it your gift this year. If not, I have you on my list, I've checked it twice, not quite sure if you are naughty or nice -- yet.

Subject Lines
I cannot think of anything more annoying than talking subject lines, but I do see value in them singing. Not literally, but figuratively. Since there is going to be a lot of clutter in the inbox this year (as is true of most years), it is important that you give your subject lines more thought and care than usual. Often, Mary, it appears that your subject line is an afterthought. And in order to make it sing, you really need to copy write it and make it stand out from the crowd. Don't just use $ off or % off or icons, really make it something that is going to resonate with your customer and align with the content of the email.

Haunt Your Customers?
Not a chance. But what you can do is set some expectations early on with them for your mailing plans for the holiday season. Are you going to have a special holiday program that they can opt into? Let them know you are going to be increasing volume, and provide an opportunity for them to dictate how often they are willing to hear from you. Most customers will be less likely to delete email if they feel they have had an active role in choosing to receive more.

While you're at it, make your content really compelling and engaging. It can't hurt to add a little pop here –perhaps some strategically placed animated gifs or video to provide some movement. Dabble in some unconventional layouts that sensibly scroll wide or long. Whatever it is, make it relevant and FUN. You will stand out in the inbox if you continually surprise and delight the reader. Why do you think I’ve been in business for so long? I may have a dud every once in a while, but you have to keep it fun and fresh so they'll keep coming back.

Mary, I hope this helps. As far as your boatload of cash, I wouldn't hold your breath.

Happy Holidays,


Man, who knew Santa had so much email prowess? I wonder what he's doing in the off season. So, what's on your holiday wish list this year?

3 comments about "The Email Marketer's Letter To Santa".
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  1. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, October 25, 2012 at 11:38 a.m.

    ʇxǝʇ uʍop ǝpısdn ǝsn

  2. Lisa Crosby from IT, October 25, 2012 at 3:22 p.m.

    @Pete Austin Very cute. It definitely got my attention =)

  3. Kara Trivunovic from Epsilon, October 25, 2012 at 10:36 p.m.

    Love it Pete! I have seen some backwards subject lines too. It certainly does make you stop and look at it!

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