Can you remember the last time you actually read all of your holiday-related emails? You can’t? That’s because they are all the same and it is really hard to stand out in this festive chaos. However we still have a few email marketing templates that you might want to use.
The Essence of Holiday Email Marketing
Before we dive into email design best practices we have to remind you of the steps that should be taken in the first place. All holiday emails must be included in your email marketing plan way before the season starts, preferably a year ahead. That way you won’t be taken aback when your competitors start a seemingly irrelevant campaign that will eventually draw your clients’ attention away from you.
Try including some holidays that are associated with your business field. You don’t have to limit yourself to just public holidays. Pet food delivery can easily make a newsletter on a National Cat Day or the celebration of America's oldest dog's birthday — whatever comes to mind within your sphere. But it’s important not to overuse these agendas, once every other month will do.
People are already used to getting these kinds of emails — it has become almost mundane so that readers sometimes overlook them... unless they are really eye-catching. And our aim is to catch the eye with our emails, so let’s get started.
1. To-Do List
The holidays are a hectic time for both marketers and consumers. Many of us reach out for our long-forgotten pen and paper to write a list of all the things that need to be done prior to a holiday.
But how can marketers use this information to boost sales? Well, you can make a checklist that your audience will be interested in doing, Just as Joss & Main clothes store did.
In the subject line, they offered customers the chance to cross everything off their countdown to Christmas and get free shipping on everything they need for the big day.
An example of a to-do list email for Christmas
Firstly, it is different from other emails. When I was looking through my Inbox I mechanically closed this email. But then I opened it again to reread it.
Secondly, there’s plenty of options to make a really personal email within this format. You can make it look like your regular to-do list. Like, figure out your present budget, buy tickets home, pack holiday stuff. You can also add a pinch of humor to it by writing "grab that ugly reindeer sweater, check the cousins’ kids’ names spelling". Here’s an adorable example of a Mother’s Day email newsletter.
Allset Mom’s Day product promotion email template with a checklist
These types of emails create a positive atmosphere, remind people of an approaching wonderful time of the year and make some suggestions on holiday presents.
Stand out, be creative, engage your audience, and show that you know them well. Try to collect some phrases, abbreviations, or slang they use in messaging — this way your marketing emails will look more authentic.
2. Advent Calendar
We all love a good advent calendar — from IKEA to Sephora, thousands of brands bombard us with their cute boxes with 25 compartments. But who said we can’t make an email version of them?
An example of an advent calendar email
TOMS clothing brand is one of the few companies that introduced advent calendars to promotional email design. This format helps people stay in touch with the brand regardless of the situation the customer is in. It’s also useful for b2b email templates with the dates of interesting events or holiday highlights.
Any experienced salesperson will confirm that urgency stimulates sales. Looking at the clock, a customer feels that they are running out of time. So as not to miss the opportunity, users click the "buy" button. Creating urgency is a psychological trick.
Real-time email marketing is good to guide people into Black Friday, Valentine's Day, Christmas or Father’s Day. But be careful with the countdown itself because email services block timers that are written in programming languages. They perceive the unknown code as a malicious virus. And even if they do accept it, many of them still will not be able to display it properly.
There are at least three alternative ways to create email marketing campaign templates with timers. First, you can use a gif image of a timer, it will be displayed the same way other gifs are because of its small weight and therefore is good for any email agent.
A countdown gif in email with the triggering button text
Second, use special-purpose services such as Motion Mail or Sendtrick. Here’s an example of what it might look like in Nifty Images. With these services, you can easily choose your time zone, promotion end date, background image, and number formatting. The timer is also generated as a gif.
The clock created in these applications is updated dynamically — the user will see the real time whenever the email is opened. At the moment the promotion ends, the timer will show zeros like here.
Final hours countdown in a holiday email
Here’s how Joybird emailed a countdown timer with days, hours, minutes, and seconds to stimulate buyers before the end of both online and in-store sale.
The third way to make a timer is to code it by yourself. It will look the same way as the one created in special apps. You don't have to be an expert in programming to create a timer according to these
Email agents that support countdown in email
According to the table above, timers will display properly in all email agents except for Outlook 2007, 2010, and 2013. There, users will see only the first frame of the animation.
A discount is fairly easy bait. Before the holidays, our Inboxes are packed with email marketing proposals with subject lines like "50% off of your favorite perfume", "Don’t miss this festive dress with a discount", "Catch up, we have cut our prices". While it's nice to buy a discounted product, it's even nicer to win it.
A prize motivates certain customers to interact with your brand better than a simple discount. Participating in a contest involves a chain of dopamine-inducing actions. The more actions there are, the greater the brand, product, and company policy interest will be.
Starbucks Christmas contest email
This coffee brand donation campaign was made to reward participants with coffee, merch, and gift cards after they made purchases with a registered Starbucks Card or in the app.
But there is a certain caveat in email contests — it is important not to leave a subscriber disappointed. Make it either a win-win lottery or a contest where the also-rans receive their bonus. The same discount will be perceived differently because the subscriber truly deserved it, even in a playful way.
Gamification is a huge trend in all marketing spheres right now. Some companies are using this technique by putting links to games or integrating these games directly into the email. It always looks fresh and eye-catching, but there are some specifics to this format.
Creating a game is a programmer’s job, or sometimes the entire team’s. Often coders can code the program perfectly, but they don’t know how it will be displayed in a newsletter. A common mistake is to embed a game written in Java right into the email. This code will not be processed in the email. You can only integrate the game into the email using HTML code.
Here is a good example from Suiteness that integrated two things we have already covered (urgency+countdown) and an added game. See, you can combine these formats in any way that works for your campaign.
Business promotion email template with a game
Another rule is that gamification shouldn’t just be there for the sake. Participation in the game should be associated with a benefit for the user. Come up with bonuses for participants — let them collect discount points in the process or get a free gift. The game should not only entertain, but also motivate. Suiteness here, for example, has prepared 10 000 instant prizes, from small to large.
6. Don’t Know What to Buy for a Gift?
There are more than 2 billion results for a gift query. During the holidays, customers face a big problem — they just don't know what to choose. You can help them make a decision by offering a selection of gifts from your store’s assortment.
In a nutshell, tell the clients why these presents are worth buying and why you picked them. Do not forget to attach lively high-res photos and add a link to the listing so that the client can study the products more closely. This way you can make it one of your best email design templates. Here’s how elegantly Lumi embodied the idea of the holiday gift guide.
Good email design from Lumi
It is good to use a list that consists of 3 to 5 items — the choice should be made quickly and easily. The more products there are, the more difficult it is to settle on just one thing. Or you can combine them creatively and neatly so that they present a small coherent set as in Lumi's case.
7. Free Shipping
How many times have you wandered through an online store, putting items into the cart and smashing the close button because of delivery cost?
It’s the same problem for all customers. Surely, many people want to buy your product, but they need an incentive to overcome doubts. Since paid delivery is the main reason for refusing a purchase, you can attract unsure buyers by offering them a free delivery option during the holidays. Here’s how you can implement it in email marketing layouts.
Email marketing format for free shipping offer
Caudalie has not only made a great offer but also put a little humor to its message on Valentine's Day. You also don’t have to grant free delivery to everyone — set a minimum item amount or limit the offer’s time.
Digital marketing email template for Valentine’s Day
New Balance also has a really good Love Holiday game. Here they offer free shipping on every order. The clever thing is that they do not gender-segment the audience, adding only this type of shoes. See, at the bottom, they give a hint they have many more than those in the picture.
So What Is the Baseline?
The holiday newsletter is your chance to stand out from the competition with an eye-catching marketing email design. So, the conclusions are:
- Make a personalized to-do list. Don’t be afraid to add some jokes, or ask those close to you about what their minds are occupied with on holidays, then just write it down. This way, a reader will immediately associate with this list and be more willing to make a purchase.
- Provide an extra way to enjoy an advent calendar. Email best practices suggest it’s a creative way to promote your seasonal products or some discounts. This format adds a pinch of mystery and anticipation.
- Stimulate your sales with urgent deals. Sometimes making an attractive offer is just not enough. A good sales email design with a timer helps to create a sense of rush and gently encourages your customers to hurry up.
- Make a contest where everybody wins. Organize a contest in the mailing list so that a person can get their favorite product. People will more likely to be interested in the brand they had some connection with. And contests help build this connection.
- Let your customers be kids for a while and play a digital game. In the pursuit of trendy techniques, do not forget that the game in the newsletter is a tool not for the subscribers’ entertainment, but for the presentation of your services. During or after the game, motivate users to buy — convert the points they won into a discount or another bonus.
- Relieve this holiday headache by giving a ready-to-use gift guide. People just don’t like making choices, especially when there are a lot of them, and the holiday is right around the corner. Make a small top picks collection, or divide gifts into 3-5 logical groups so that a user can choose between categories instead of individual items.
- Help people make that final step with free shipping. In some cases, the only thing that stops customers from buying is the expensive delivery. Holidays are the right time to cancel them temporarily for the sake of better sales.