After pouring through hundreds of emails sent by online retailers between November 1 and December 31, we’ve compiled a list of the top 25 holiday email campaigns from 2014.
In no particular order, here are 25 real email campaigns with expert insights that are guaranteed take your holiday emails to the next level.
Guide Subscribers & Deliver Value without Discounting
Gygi, a kitchen supply retailer, knows that Thanksgiving turkeys are notoriously difficult and stressful to prepare. To combat this turkey phobia, the kitchen gurus sent subscribers a guide that covered everything needed to get their turkey to the table. The email was sent several weeks before the holiday with a subject line that read “Thanksgiving Tips & Tricks.” Instead of flooding inboxes with another discount or deal, Gygi curated content with the goal of easing a specific source of stress they were sure their customers could relate to.
Always remember that the holidays are just as stressful for consumers as they are for retailers. Consider sending entertaining content, such as how-to or shopping guides that draw subscribers in and leave them feeling empowered. Gygi does not sell turkeys on their website. However, when the subscriber saw Gygi’s turkey baster at the bottom of that email, the product recommendation felt more organic and genuine.
This is an excellent takeaway for retailers to note. Value to the customer does not always come in the form of discounts. Think about what your customers are feeling, doing and thinking during the holiday season and structure your email content accordingly.
More examples of email campaigns that deliver value without discounting:
Show AND Tell
Don’t be afraid to connect a physical experience to your digital message. Nine West took an unconventional approach to this strategy with their holiday campaign above. Everyone expects to see imagery that portrays the joy and happiness of family gatherings during the holiday season. Sure, a picture perfect family looks nice, but let’s be honest - the Griswold’s are more relatable.
The key to using imagery that portrays specific use cases is understanding your customers. This type of imagery and messaging forces customers to visualize using your product. Sending cheeky holiday messages that tie your product to a specific experience, can create a more realistic connection.
Three Words: Treat. Yo'. Self
Despite the inherent theme of giving to others, the holiday season is full of shoppers who are looking for that special something for themselves. The holidays are the ideal time to encourage your customers to bite the bullet and treat themselves. We’ve all experienced the disappointment of not receiving that one gift at the very tip-top of our lists.
Just imagine - one of your customers has been eyeing a timeless, splurge-worthy ring on your site for weeks. She’s placed the ring in her cart several times, yet repeatedly abandoned it. She knows the holiday’s are quickly approaching and she’s confident her boyfriend has noticed the countless hints she's dropped about the ring. Spoiler alert: the boyfriend is actually clueless. He gives her a pair of earrings instead and fails to notice that her ears aren’t even pierced.
You’ll get that rock on her finger and look like prince charming when you magically appear in her inbox with a discount for that ring she never received. Remind your customers what they are missing this holiday season and urge them to take control of Santa’s reins.
Show Them That The Best is Yet to Come
Give your customers a sneak peek of your holiday deals. Dungarees.net utilized a calendar-like format for this campaign to build anticipation and highlight a solid week of encentives.
Notice that the deal of the day, Carhartt socks, is front and center with a strong product spotlight. Details about the deal are neatly displayed in line with the socks. Finally, a seasonal color scheme for the deal calendar easily categorizes and identifies the current, expired, and future deals.
This type of automated email campaign is especially effective during the holiday season when subscribers inboxes are overflowing. A week long email series provides retailers with multiple chances to drill their deals and products into the minds of subscribers. Plus, offering a deal every day of the week will make your subscribers feel like Santa came early!
In the (Saint) Nick of Time
Take time to make sure important shipping deadlines are clearly communicated to your customers. Paring a clean design and color scheme with minimal messaging is an effective way to deliver critical information.
This graphic of reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh reinforces the notion that time is quickly running out. Procrastinators see that they need to place their orders soon. The train (or Santa’s sleigh) is leaving the station.
The usage of red graphics is not only festive, but also evokes a sense of urgency and speaks to the procrastinators. Customers’ eyes are naturally pulled towards the bottom of the email, directly to the large, red ‘SHOP NOW’ link.
If All Else Fails, Never Underestimate the Power of a Clever Subject Line
This email immediately jumped out at me as I was quickly scanning through hundreds of subject lines. With a 5.5 inch inseam, Chubbies trademark men’s shorts are known for turning heads and exposing thighs so pale they could blind! The subject line, “THIGHBER MONDAY IS HERE,” leveraged the uniqueness of their brand and provided the perfect dose of clever word play that retailers need to stand out on Cyber Monday.
Capturing your customer’s attention is the first obstacle that every online retailer faces with their email marketing. Without an engaging subject line that fuels the customer’s desire to learn more, the content inside your email is useless. Target specific customer segments with witty subject lines that are relevant to your customers purchase history.
Subject: Get your ship together Subject: Ho ho ho...and away they go
This holiday season, don’t be afraid to get creative and push the boundaries with your email campaigns. Subscribers are scanning their inboxes daily searching for valuable content and the best deals. These winning examples and best practices will get your emails noticed and guide you in developing memorable campaigns.
For even more inspiration, download our 2015 Holiday eBook.