Hard Ham Selling: A Holiday Email Marketing Lesson


For Thanksgiving this year, my mother-in-law sent us a honey baked ham, which was delivered the day before our feast. We might not have known our ham was waiting for us outside in the elements without the timely email from the company, notifying us that there was, indeed, a ham waiting to be collected on our front porch.

We were impressed by the use of technology, to say the least, by a company that provides such a simple service.

For the second time in our family’s history, I was on cook-the-whole-meal duty…willingly, of course. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

Everything was delicious (except the sweet potatoes…timing got away from me) and the ham was especially delicious, prompting me to locate the maker’s website online and sign up for their email list.

This was a big deal for me because I am typically disgusted by ham. If someone makes a version of something I usually don’t like and it’s a hit, they’ve got my ear. Or my email address.

What followed was the most committed email marketing I think I’ve ever experienced.

holiday email marketing


In 21 days, HoneyBaked Ham sent me 11 emails that prompted me to take some kind of ham related action.

Despite the barrage of emails, which I can’t blame them for because the holidays are really their time to shine, I haven’t unsubscribed because 1) I’m interested in sharing their automation and timing with you and 2) the ham was just that damn good.

Here’s HoneyBaked Ham’s email sign up and holiday email strategy, which you can use as a general guide for your own email marketing automation:

  1. Two-Part Welcome Email Series
    After signing up, I received an email immediately after and an additional welcome email a few days later. The welcome series might have been longer had it not been for holiday promotion season.

Day 1- November 28
First, HoneyBaked sent me a thank you and a 10% discount for signing up for their list.

Headline: Welcome To HoneyBaked Ham! Save 10% off Now!

eazl holiday email marketing


They also gave me a reason to stay subscribed by mentioning that future emails would include discounts. Not sure how I feel about the “new news” wording or how news about ham would possibly appeal to anyone, but the discounts are enough to keep me hooked.

Hey, you never know when you might need a ham on the cheap.

Day 3- December 1
Next, HoneyBaked gave me a little taste of the history of the company with some storytelling.

Wow, they’ve been around since the 50s!

*mission accomplished*

Headline: See What HoneyBaked Has To Offer

holiday email marketing


  1. Nine-Part Holiday Marketing Campaign
    My address was then moved into a multi-part Christmas campaign as their big push of the second part of the holiday season.

Day 4- December 2
HoneyBaked urged me to start thinking about Christmas dinner, whether I was hosting or attending someone else’s dinner. They added a 15% discount to encourage a purchase.

Headline: Make Any Holiday Party a Hit!

holiday email marketing

holiday email marketing


Day 7- December 5
HoneyBaked suggested giving a ham as a gift, whether by physical form or gift card. And they included that 15% discount again.

Smart because, statistically, there will always be more guests than hosts on Christmas.

Headline: Looking for the Perfect Gift?

holiday email marketing



Day 9- December 7
They reiterated their gift suggestion and included some specific proteins for purchase in case ham wasn’t interesting to the the subscriber. Perhaps turkey or brisket is more your style? Coupon included again.

Headline: It’s Here! 🎁

(Credit given for the use of emojis in a headline)

holiday email marketing


Day 11- December 9
HoneyBaked plugs their sides and desserts in case you’re set on protein but aren’t a baker or you’re looking to fill in the gaps on your menu. 15% coupon included again.

Headline: 2 Simple Steps for the Best-Tasting Holiday.

holiday email marketing


Day 15- December 13
Christmas countdown with 12 days of deals. There was never an email countdown. They just wanted to take advantage of the 12 Days of Christmas reference. An email a day would have been entirely too much and would probably result in a high unsubscribe rate.

Headline: The Countdown Begins with 12 Days of Deals!

holiday email marketing


Day 16- December 14
HoneyBaked urges me to share this sweet 15% discount with a call to action to forward the email to a friend. Even ham peddlers growth hack!

Headline: Share the Love this Holiday Season

holiday email marketing


Day 19- December 17
You are running out of time to buy a ham and have it delivered for Christmas dinner!

Headline: Hurry, 8 Days ‘til Christmas!

holiday email marketing


Day 21- December 19
On the last day, they emailed twice.

Email 1- Last chance to purchase for Christmas dinner delivery. This email included a countdown timer to add a sense of urgency.

Headline: Last Chance! Order Now for Guaranteed Standard Delivery for Christmas.

holiday email marketing


Email 2- 20% “today only” discount..their last ditch effort to get me to ham it up this holiday.

Headline: 20% Off Your Shipping Purchase! Today Only! 🎁

holiday email marketing


Now for the important question: Did I buy a ham?

No. But I’m impressed with their email game and I’m curious to observe the frequency and content of future emails outside the holiday season.

Use the progression that HoneyBaked followed to model your own email automation for website sign ups.

Ludell Jones

Ludell Jones

Marketing Director at Eazl
8 years of digital marketing experience. Located in Chicago & San Francisco. Digital marketing & growth hacking lover. Online courses & entrepreneurship.
Ludell Jones