Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays: How to Phrase Your Holiday Email Marketing
Every time we create a holiday email marketing campaign for a client, we always have the same issues: do we use Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays? Should we send out emails for Christmas AND Hanukkah? Is it Hanukkah or Chanukah? (My spelling of those two was so bad that I had to Google “Jewish Christmas” the first year I was here. Autofill was stumped). What about Kwanzaa? Boxing Day? Winter Solstice? National Fruitcake Day?
How we greet people during the holidays is such a topic of conversation these days, with strongly opinionated people on both sides. What’s a business owner to do?
I wish I could give you a good, straight answer, but in today’s climate, there isn’t one. What I can give you, though, is some general advice that we live by when it comes to creating holiday email marketing campaigns for our clients.
If you’re a faith-based business, good God – you don’t have to worry about this mess!
It kind of goes without saying that if you’re a Kosher Bakery, a Christian bookstore, or a Pagan gift shop, by all means, show it! Someone who does business with faith-based establishment isn’t likely to be offended when they receive a holiday email with that religion’s traditional greeting.
If you’re not a faith-based business, you’ve got confusing choices to make
Most businesses have customers from lots of different religions and cultures, including those with no religion at all. So no matter what you put in your holiday email marketing, you might end up ruffling someone’s feathers. Your job here is to choose the lesser of the many evils, so you don’t alienate your client base and actually spread the holiday cheer you’re hoping for!
Question 1: Whose holiday are you worried about anyway?
I’ve heard business owners say, “We celebrate Christmas, so we tell people Merry Christmas.” That makes sense, in a way. But then again, does everyone in your company celebrate Christmas? I know we have a Christmas tree up in our office, but we have Christians, Muslims, atheists and a former Buddhist monk that work here, and who knows who else? Can you really make that call for your entire company? Should you?
And I’ve heard business owners say, “Most of our customers celebrate Christmas, so we say Merry Christmas.” That also makes sense in its own way. But how do you know what your customers celebrate? Unless you’re a Christmas decoration shop, you probably don’t.
Question 2: What kind of image are you trying to project?
Remember when customers boycotted Chick-fil-A for saying the company did not support gay marriage (or supports traditional marriage. See how semantics works?)? Chick-fil-A profits jumped 12% after that controversy – proving that being vocal about your beliefs is not necessarily bad for business … especially when your nuggets are that freaking good.
Also, big companies like Gap and Old Navy have gone back to using “Merry Christmas,” and Lowe’s felt the pain of big-time backlash after changing their “Christmas Trees” to “Holiday Trees.” (They quickly changed it back – and I wonder if anyone got fired over that). But a lot of big names also do the “Happy Holidays” thing. So you’re in good company either way.
Using your customers’ greeting of choice, whether it’s “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hanukkah,” “Yule Blessings” or “Happy Kwanzaa,” might alienate some of your customers, but it will ignite loyalty from some, too. You can gamble and win big on this strategy.
Inclusive or exclusive – Both work. Your choice.
Until all this Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays mess gets worked out, what you choose to send your clients in your holiday email marketing is going to be noticed. People will have opinions. And you will piss off some of your clients either way (but as a business owner, you’re used to dealing with disgruntled clients on occasion, anyway).
An inclusive message like “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” doesn’t alienate any of your customers, and some people will appreciate your “political correctness.” But you will offend some people by “bending to the mainstream.”
An exclusive message like “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” will thrill people that celebrate those holidays and are sick of their festive spirit being diluted by political correctness. But you’ll lose people are tired of holidays they don’t celebrate being shoved down their throats.
So my final word is this: Good luck. This is a tough call. Oh yeah, and Happy National Fruitcake Day.
Need an award-winning team to create your holiday email marketing campaign?
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