Ah, holidays – the time of year all ecommerce businesses are
impatiently waiting for. Their long, meticulous preparations will
soon repay them with increased website traffic and sales
But the businesses who are going to be the biggest winners of
the holiday season race aren’t just the ones who can simply
manage the increase in customer enquiries and product orders. They
are the ones who successfully capture the
attention of their target audience and convince them to do
the holiday gift shopping at their store.
One of the most effective ways of doing this is through email
marketing campaigns. Not just any campaigns, though, they have to
be creative, eye-catching, designed with the audience in mind, and
sent at the right time. And that’s just the beginning.
Below I’ve gathered four holiday email marketing
campaign ideas along with examples from brands who’ve
managed to stand out in my inbox. Although this is an entirely
subjective opinion, read on to find out the reasons why I think
these campaigns are worth remembering.
Also, if you’re unsure about how you can make your emails feel
and look special this holiday season, check out our latest
holiday marketing campaigns guide. There, we’ve gathered some
of the most creative ways you can build your list, craft your
subject lines, and design your messages. No matter if it is for
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Christmas – your campaigns will
Whether you agree with them or not, just let me know by posting
a comment below this post. Perhaps you have your own favorite
example you want to share with the rest of us? I’d love to see
Holiday Email Marketing Ideas1. Order before [DATE] and have it
shipped on time for [holiday name]
Ideally, your promotional campaign should have been running for
at least a week before the holiday festivity begins. Naturally, the
closer to the big day, the more intensive your marketing efforts
With the holiday just round the corner, some of your prospects
might worry whether they’ll have their order shipped on time.
That’s why you could make one last attempt to convert them. How?
By offering free overnight shipping or running an “order before
[DATE] and have it shipped on time” type of campaign.
Order before 2pm EST for FREE overnight shipping.
Here’s an email I received from Puma, morning before Christmas
It’s a simple message that includes all the usual elements –
a couple of banners, a few links to different secondary offers, a
navigational bar, and social media icons.
Img. 1 – Puma free overnight shipping email offer for
So why is it so good?
If you’re anything like me, you’re usually running a little
behind the Christmas schedule and doing the gift shopping at the
very last minute.
And it’s not because you’re hunting for special deals, but
because you either haven’t found the perfect gift yet or you
haven’t realized that December’s passed right in front of your
This email was designed with this kind of audience in mind. The
It’s not overly complicated and it doesn’t have to be. It
quickly communicates the offer that’s going to get you saved if
you still haven’t purchased Christmas presents for your loved
ones – Free overnight shipping.
The offer’s first mentioned in the subject
line, then again in the preheader, and
finally in the banner that’s centrally placed in the
above-the-fold part of the email.
Besides the main offer, there are four other elements (secondary
offers) that have been purposely emphasized. The sale
event, gift cards, gift guide, and Holiday FAQ. All of
these are crucial for anyone who’s running late with their
holiday shopping, and needs to act quickly.
Although this isn’t the only email that I found in my inbox
that revolves around the last-minute shipping theme, in my opinion
it was the most effective one for the following three reasons:
- It was quick to communicate the main offer, which is the free
overnight shipping that’ll get you your order in time for
- All elements of the email were used in an effective way –
subject line, preheader, and the above-the-fold section all
reemphasized the offer.
- It delivered value by pointing the recipient to the offers
they’re most likely interested in, e.g. gift cards, gift guide,
or the sale event.
To top it off, the use of the watch emoji in the subject
line was a nice addition that made the email stand out
even more in my inbox.
Another one that did catch my attention was this email from
ASOS. However, their animated GIF and the *terrible* dad joke only
managed to get them second place in this category.
Img. 2 – Christmas holiday email campaign from Asos
Lesson for other ecommerce businesses: Remember
when and how your audience is going to read your email. Do they
have much time to read through it? Or maybe they’re tight on
their schedule and need to act fast? Use this information when
designing your message and when it’s needed, go straight to the
point with your offer.
2. Here’s your [holiday name] to do list
Holidays are a busy period, both for marketers and consumers
alike. Most of us are turn back to the good ol’ pen and paper to
put together all kinds of to-do lists.
But what can you do with this information as a marketer? For
one, you can create a to-do list your audience will actually enjoy
checking and going through.
Subject line: Welcome to the Holidays, People.
For this year’s Thanksgiving, I received a neat email from an
online retail brand named Bonobos.
Unlike other messages I found in my inbox around this time, this
one used hardly any visuals. All it contained was a white to-do
list on a dark-gray background.
Img. 3 – Bonobos Thanksgiving email to-do list
So why is it so good?
First of all, this email clearly stands out. When scanning my
inbox, I actually closed the message first and then had to re-open
it, just to take a second look at what I just saw.
Upon a closer look, I’ve noticed that this isn’t just a
simple to-do list. At least not one that I’d expect to receive
from a brand. It’s more of a list I’d create for myself, with
added humor – for example, Memorize cousins’ kids’ names –
and hyperlinks that’ll help me complete some of the errands, like
Get something nice to wear for dinner.
The humor’s spot on. The copy looks like it
was written by someone who understands the target audience very
well. The email itself is really easy to scan and fun to
engage with. Rather unusual, but I actually enjoyed going
through all the points up to the very end of the message.
Lesson for other ecommerce businesses: Stand
out, be creative, engage your audience, and show them that you
understand them well. Consider using phrases, abbreviations, or
hashtags they use in their communication to make your marketing
messages more authentic.
3. We do holidays our own way
When you hear the name Black Friday, what’s the first thing
that comes to your mind? It’s probably one of the following:
discounts, sales, or free shipping.
Most brands hop on the Black Friday bandwagon with the same
approach. To sell more, by offering a better deal than what their
But what you don’t expect is that a brand you like will remind
you about the mission that drives them. The mission that, most
likely, made you choose them in the first place.
From: United By Blue
Subject line: Why We Picked Up Trash Today
Below is the email I got for Black Friday from a brand that I
follow – United By Blue. As you’ll find on their website, they
sell responsible durable goods. What does that mean? In a nutshell,
they sell products for people who care for the outdoors. And for
every product they sell, they pledge to remove 1 pound of trash
from the Earth’s oceans and waterways.
Img. 4 – United By Blue Black Friday Cleanup Campaign
Now that you know their story, you’ll also understand where
their email’s coming from.
So what’s the email about? It’s a message that explains why
for this year’s Black Friday, they decided to do a proper
cleanup. Oh, and they called it Blue Friday.
Unlike what you’d expect from a retailer during this time of
year, the email doesn’t talk much about their products. Instead,
it invites you to learn more about Blue Friday and how to host your
own cleanup, and shows you the people who joined them for this
Not so surprisingly, they do also offer a special deal for their
customers. But the information about their special sale is only
available once you scroll down to the very bottom of the email.
Img. 5 – United By Blue Black Friday Sale
So why is it so good?
This one, again, comes down to understanding your audience and
answering the question – why did they choose your brand in the
With United By Blue, the answer is pretty simple. It’s because
they make products for people who, like them, care about nature.
How can they prove that their mission statement isn’t just
marketing fluff? With their actions.
Having organized the cleanup and shown pictures of those who
participated in it – which include their CEO and Director of
Operations – they said more than any regular marketing newsletter
What’s more, their message is mostly about getting people to
participate or even host a cleanup in their own neighborhood. The
information about the sale they’re holding for Black Friday comes
much, much later.
To sum up, even though this email arrived quite late, i.e. on
Black Friday afternoon, it’s very effective. It managed to
capture my attention and got me to read it all to the very bottom,
where the information about the sale was placed.
Even though it arrived later than any other message I expected
to receive that day, it sure made an impact and made me reconsider
what I wanted to order for Black Friday.
Lesson for other ecommerce businesses: This may
not work for everyone. But if you know your audience well, then you
don’t need to use your main CTA button to lead to the sales page.
You can focus on content and carry on with your mission, and your
audience will follow you.
Are there any other brands that caught my eye because they were
doing holiday marketing slightly different? Not many, but the one
that has is certainly worth mentioning here.
The team behind Cards Against Humanity once again proved that
they know their audience pretty well. Take a look at the following
two emails and see for yourself.
Do you think any other brand would get away with closing down
their store or simply collecting money to dig a hole nobody could
ever find? I don’t.
Img. 6 – Cards Against Humanity Black Friday Special
Img. 7 – Cards Against Humanity “We’re Digging a Hole”
As you can see, sometimes you don’t need to follow best
practices to stand out. Quite the contrary, sometimes it pays off
to be different, especially during the holiday season when the
competition levels are at their all-time high.
4. You snooze, you lose! The [holiday name] sale will end soon
Even though holiday sales last for quite long, some of us still
have trouble finding something special for themselves or their
loved ones. That’s why marketers keep sending them multiple
reminders and last-minute emails, hoping to convert them before
everyone goes offline to spend some quality time at the dinner
What if there was a way to make your email stand out from all
the other reminders out there? Apparently, there is.
Like the email from Bonobos, this message doesn’t look much
like anything else you’re used to in your inbox. It’s what you
usually see when you’re lying in bed, either going to sleep or
just waking up. It’s an image that resembles your clock app.
Img. 8 – Casper Black Friday Sale Newsletter
When you look closer at the image, you see that each alarm has a
special name. Along with witty names, you also find information
about the super sale and early bird discount the brand’s
Just as you’re starting to get slightly nervous that you might
miss out on yet another deadline, you find a comforting message,
just below the clock app. It says that you can rest comfortably and
even sleep through Black Friday, as you can shop with Casper
without even leaving your bed. All you have to do is go to the
brand’s website and type in the code: SLEEPIN.
Why is it so good?
Casper is a brand that sells mattresses for your bed. Although to
some this may not sound very exciting, they’ve managed to make an
impact with their marketing communication more than once.
This is one of those examples. What I like about this email is
that it fits in so well with what they actually sell. Bed
mattresses, clock app, multiple alarms set not to miss an important
date, and finally a discount code with the phrase – sleepin.
The email’s relatively short and manages to quickly
communicate that you can shop online, without ever leaving your
bed. And of course, you wouldn’t want to leave your bed, even if
it was for a great sales event like the ones you expect to see on
Black Friday now, would you?
One more thing that makes this email campaign even greater is
the second newsletter that comes after it. Even shorter, following
the same principle, but this time aimed at people who – despite
the reminders – managed to sleep through Black Friday.
Img. 9 – Casper Last Black Friday Followup Email
What’s most interesting about this email isn’t the humor or
its length. It’s the fact that they decided to extend the Black
Friday sale beyond the one day.
This is something we’ve been seeing more and more often over
the last few years. Brands seem to be wanting the Black Friday
craze to go up until Cyber Monday or even later in the week.
Personally, I’d watch out not to discourage customers from
shopping when prices are at their standard level, but this is
something each ecommerce business has to decide on their own.
Lesson for other ecommerce businesses: Make
sure each element of your email reemphasizes what you’re actually
trying to say. A good design can often help and deliver the message
much quicker than words ever could. But that doesn’t mean you
should forget about good copy.
5. It’s not all about Christmas, Cyber Monday, or Black Friday
When referring to the holidays, you might be thinking about
Thanksgiving, Christmas, or maybe Hanukkah.
But, there are so many other holidays along the way. They may
not be as popular as Christmas, but does that mean you can’t tie
them nicely with your brand?
Marketers behind the email marketing campaigns for Casper would
Let’s take a look at some of their more creative
Subject line: That extra hour, though.
This campaign is about celebrating the brand’s most favorite
day of the year.
Curious what day it is?
It’s the Daylight Saving Time. Because you can sleep in, one
And they’re selling mattresses, pillows, and everything else
you need to sleep well.
Now isn’t that brilliant?
Besides the idea for the campaign, what stands out about this
email is its design. As it’s always the case with this brand,
their message looks beautiful.
Source: FS – Email Marketing Blogs!
Inspiring Holiday Email Campaigns and What Makes Them So Good