Holiday email marketing strategies that drove over 28% of total revenue for 5 brands

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Tired of working with email experts who use the same holiday email marketing strategy across all 20+ of their clients? Well, we're tired of seeing brands fall for that.

Our philosophy: To copy and paste the same email strategy across all clients would be no different than Facebook or Google copying and pasting the same ad spend and targeting strategy across every one of their clients.

The difference is Facebook and Google advertising leverage algorithms to customize strategy. 

In the world of email, custom strategies should come straight from the brains of email marketing experts (real people, not computers). So, unless you’re okay with Facebook and Google using a blanket strategy to manage your paid ads, you shouldn’t settle for email marketers that apply blanket strategies to your brand.

In fact, using (very different) customized email strategies for our clients drove one of the most successful Q4 Black Friday and holiday seasons some of them have ever seen. 

The results? We’ll show you. The goal of this article is to show you why and how a customized email strategy is the only way to successfully tackle your email and SMS channels.

The importance of a custom email marketing strategy

The Q4 email strategies implemented to achieve the level of growth our clients saw are not templatized—nor will you find them online when you google “the best email marketing strategy.” Unless it’s our article that you clicked on. ;)

Why does a custom strategy matter? 

Every campaign and flow you create is entirely dependent on your target audience (and how well you understand them). What many marketers fail to understand at the beginning is how much work it is to continuously audit your email data and iterate on it, come up with creative ideas on a weekly basis, and create a full content calendar for an entire quarter. 

With every single one of our clients, our team

  • Analyzed their engagement data and previous results
  • Identified goals for each client to develop a unique strategy tailored to their account
  • Brainstormed creative ideas and sent high-value content consistently
  • Established a brand personality to build loyalty
  • … And so much more planning for Q4. 

Essentially, we invest the necessary time to understand the intricacies of every client’s digital marketing ecosystem and omnichannel strategies. These investigative practices enable us to optimally position email––pushing email where it matters most for their business. 

Trust us, the data speaks for itself. 

"Customized email strategies for Q4 are the difference between “Wow, I thought email would have performed better” and “Wow, email blew it out of the water.” Each ecommerce vertical is different. Plus, each business experiences different trends, engagement, traffic sources, and limitations––these unique identifiers must be considered when putting email to the test."
Morgan, Senior Email Marketer at Fuel Made

Deep dive into the 5 brands that crushed Q4 in 2022

1. Satchel & page

Satchel & Page sells high-quality leather bags, belts, jackets, and more. Built on three key values—history, craftsmanship, and value—the Satchel & Page team wanted their emails to share the same messaging. 

During the 2022 holiday season, Fuel Made drove 36% of the brand’s total revenue through Klaviyo email marketing. Satchel & Page’s custom email marketing strategy for Q4 2022 is best captured by these three pillars: 

1. Segmentation 

Most products in Satchel & Page’s catalog are over $500. At that price point, no purchase is quick and easy for customers. Since it takes customers a considerable amount of time to decide to purchase, the first step in our strategy was to broaden Satchel & Page’s customer segments significantly. 

Why? The brand’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale is the only sale it runs every year, so we wanted to make sure anyone who showed an interest in Satchel & Page’s products had a chance to learn about the sale.

For the segments, we captured anyone who showcased an interest in the brand over the past 400 days (regardless of if they opened or clicked an email in the last 90-180 days). While this meant the campaign segment size saw a significant increase, it meant the brand could reach a much larger audience. 

Don’t worry—we didn’t just send these sales promotions without a warmup period. We strategically reached out to this broadened customer segment, so the Black Friday emails didn’t feel random (and so deliverability wasn’t jeopardized).

“We crushed it yesterday! Thanks to you and your team for pulling off the email launch. I think we did a good job building anticipation.” - Satchel & Page

2. Campaign frequency

Since Satchel & Page’s sale is only two weeks long, we focused on building anticipation in the weeks leading up to it. We identified which customers we would send these emails to, and increased the frequency of emails during this time to get them excited about the upcoming sales. 

Once the sale started, we pushed the most emails out during the first week to balance with Satchel & Page’s paid advertising efforts on other channels. This meant email could drive sales with the highest ROI possible at the beginning of the sale—and the Satchel & Page team could map out how to spend their advertising budget on other marketing channels near the end of the sale.

Near the end of the campaign, the Satchel & Page team was able to effectively see where they could reduce ad spend where it wasn’t needed.

3. Momentum

After Black Friday ended, we wanted to make sure Satchel & Page avoided the “December dip.” Our campaign strategy for December had two goals: 

  • Share the Satchel & Page lifestyle and inspirational content to reinforce the “why” for recent purchasers 
  • Use holiday shipping deadlines to establish urgency for customers who didn’t take advantage of the Black Friday sale period. 

Through these two pillars, we wrapped December up with strong revenue outcomes—even after an incredibly high-grossing November. 

Total email revenue in 2022: 36%
Total revenue from email flows: 16.87%
Total revenue from email campaigns: 19.03%
Year-over-year difference: 57.81%

Black Friday emails from Satchel & Page

2. Rosita and Smidge

Rosita and Smidge are separate (and very different) supplement brands that are owned by the same company. Our team has worked with Smidge and Rosita for over six years, so we were eager to level up their Q4 strategy in 2022. Let’s just say we’re pretty happy with the results.

We focused on three main areas for Rosita and Smidge: pre-Black Friday, the right messaging for the right audience, and post-Black Friday campaigns.

1. Pre-campaign hype

In October, we focused on increasing Rosita and Smidge’s SMS sign-ups. To do this, we ran an exclusive “VIP sale” period, where shoppers got access to the sale if they subscribed. (These campaigns were separate from each other. Rosita and Smidge have separate websites.) 

There were two benefits to increasing SMS subscribers for both brands before Black Friday: 

  • We were able to push early conversions with the exclusive pre-Black Friday sale.
  • We were able to reach more potential customers when the official sale started (driving repeat purchases).

Additionally, for the new subscribers, we sent detailed and digestible product education to warm them up to the brand and explain the value behind the products. 

2. Black Friday messaging

Once the Smidge and Rosita’s Black Friday campaigns started, we focused on pushing a first or repeat purchase by sending campaigns that emphasized the following points: 

  • Urgency: only sale of the year 
  • Category/collection features: promoted product categories/collections as opposed to individual product features to ensure the content is as relevant to the broad audience as possible
  • Personal messaging: plain text campaigns coming from the brand owners and emphasizing support of small business 
  • Efficacy: including medical professional testimonials and customer reviews where possible to induce further confidence in the products.
3. New year resolutions

We didn’t stop the momentum after Smidge’s and Rosita’s sales ended. In case shoppers didn’t purchase during the pre-sale or official sale, we sent campaigns in December as well to capture customers before the new year. 

At this point, both brands had ended their sales, so we leveraged messaging about new year's resolutions and health goals to establish urgency in the final month of the year. This gave some customers a final push to get them over the finish line, helping drive continued revenue for both brands into the new year.

Total email revenue in 2022: 46.5%
Total revenue from email flows: 15.15%
Total revenue from email campaigns: 31.35%
Year-over-year difference: 172.2%

“You have been with us since the start, and the care and joy you infuse into our work together is just so wonderful. Our company continues to grow and help people on their healing journeys, and we couldn’t do it without you steering the ship!”
- Smidge

Q4 holiday emails from Smidge

3. SASnola

SASnola, a New Orleans-based shoe brand, didn’t run any Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales in 2022. And yet, they still saw a 31% increase in sales from the year prior and 40% of their revenue in Q4 came from email campaigns and flows. 

The brand's 2022 Q4 strategy is a great example of how you can still drive conversions during the holiday season without running deep discounts.

Since we didn’t have sales to announce, we instead sent campaigns with the following content:

  • Heavy product focus campaigns: on a typical month, campaigns offer a blend of product features, educational content, and tips/tricks related to the industry. For November, we focused on products specifically, with the goal of maximizing conversion during the peak shopping season 
  • Used specific campaign messaging to "prime" the audience: since we could promote real savings, we leveraged the word "save" and similar terms to prime. Things like "save your feet from poor support/uncomfortable shoes" and "save money in the long run by investing in high-quality shoes that last"

Next, we mimicked other brands' campaign frequency and delivery times during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weeks. This helped SASnola capture the same interest from shoppers who are already expecting to receive emails during this time. 

By sending these campaigns with highly valuable content during peak shopping windows, we were able to drive conversions for SASnola, driving 31% more revenue than the year before—despite having no sales.

Total email revenue in 2022: 40.12%
Total revenue from email flows: 21.08%
Total revenue from email campaigns: 19.04%
Year-over-year difference: 30.71%

Q4 holiday emails from SASnola

4. The Gong Shop

The Gong Shop is a niche business that sells—surprise—gongs and gong accessories. For the Q4 holiday season, our goal was to increase sales and AOV for the brand. 

There were two main pillars to the Gong Shop’s 2022 Black Friday email and SMS strategy: pre-sale sign-ups and specific campaign types to upsell and cross-sell products to different segments. 

In the months leading up to November, we ran an exclusive VIP sale for customers who signed up for The Gong Shop’s SMS program. This campaign drove early conversions and gave The Gong Shop a chance to warm new shoppers up to the brand.

We then segmented customers between “first-time buyers” and “recent gong and gong stand purchasers.” For first-time buyers, we promoted bundles featuring gongs and gong stands to upsell a larger purchase. For recent purchasers, we sent campaigns to show off other accessories and smaller items to complement their recent purchases. 

At the end of the campaign, The Gong Shop saw great results. 

Total email revenue in 2022: 28.60%
Total revenue from email flows: 19.30%
Total revenue from email campaigns: 9.30%
Year-over-year difference: 113.11%

Holiday emails from the Gong Shop

5. Milk_shake 

Milk_shake sells all-natural hair products made with milk protein and fruit extracts. It was our first year running Milk_shake’s email and SMS campaigns for Q4, and we’re happy to share that our strategy drove a 386% year-over-year increase in revenue.

The first part of our strategy was focused on increasing Milk_shake’s SMS subscribers. We ran an exclusive “VIP sale” period for customers who signed up, which also helped push some early conversions before the real sale started. 

After the pre-Black Friday sale, Milk_shake’s strategy had two pillars: 

1. Segmentation

We segmented shoppers between recent past purchasers and subscribers who haven’t purchased before. For shoppers who recently made a purchase, we sent email campaigns at a higher frequency than Milk_shake normally does to build excitement around the sale. 

For customers who hadn’t made a purchase before, we sent “high click” campaigns that directed shoppers to milk_shake’s website. Once they landed on the website, they would get a “spin to win” pop-up, which only appeared for this customer segment. 

For both segments, we simplified their conversion paths by sharing collection-specific CTAs in email campaigns versus product-specific. This helped users learn about product collections related to their hair type and routine. 

“The Spin to Win over BFCM was a success for us. We broke every ecommerce and revenue record we had.”
- Milk_shake

2. Post-Black Friday

Once Milk_shake’s Black Friday campaign ended, we wanted to close the gap in conversions. For engaged email subscribers who didn’t end up purchasing during Black Friday, we strategically sent email campaigns about Milk_shake’s exclusive “extended Black Friday sale.” 

These campaigns featured resends of some of Milk_shake’s original email campaigns, so we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel to capture these final shoppers. 

Total email revenue in 2022: 30.82%
Total revenue from email flows: 11.09%
Total revenue from email campaigns: 24.88%
Year-over-year difference: 386.43%

Milk_shake's Q4 emails

When should you start Q4 planning?

Believe it or not, but for each of our clients, we start planning for the Q4 holiday season as early as June. 


It’s easy for brands (and other agencies) to copy and paste strategies they read about online. But the truth is… what works for one brand won’t guarantee your success. To optimize your email strategy to its full potential, you have to build a completely customized strategy that takes your historical campaigns, branding, products, and audience into consideration.

Essentially, starting in June is the only way we can make sure each client is fully prepared to capture as much revenue between October-December through a completely customized holiday email marketing strategy.

Whether you work with us or not, we recommend you start this early as well.

Hire Fuel Made as your ecommerce email marketing agency 

If you’re tired of

  • Sending last-minute, bad-quality content to your audience
  • Wasting potential revenue (and time) by not automating campaigns
  • Spending hours trying to come up with creative, engaging content ideas
  • Trying to become a master with Klaviyo, pop-ups, and other email and SMS best practices
  • Trying to focus time on a channel that you know has potential but isn’t getting the love it needs

Then you might want to work with us. Our goal is to offer a turnkey solution to boost your email and sms revenue and increase customer lifetime value.

When you work with our email marketing team, you get a dedicated group of experts that will help you strategize, design, and write all of your email marketing campaigns and flows. 

If you’re ready to take your email marketing from in-house and into the hands of several experts, you can learn more about what we do by visiting our services page. Or, check out more of our projects by visiting our portfolio page.