8 best seasonal email campaigns and the tips you can steal from them
The rates of holiday sales have continuously gone up with every passing year, making 2020 the most profitable year in terms of revenue in the US in the past 20 years. As the statistic below shows, online sales are expected to grow even more:
Evidently, COVID changed how consumers interact with brands. Due to the pandemic, online shopping was on the rise. More than most offline businesses turned online and tried to grow their revenue using beautiful design, social media campaigns, and, of course, email marketing.
Why should you choose email marketing for your seasonal campaigns?
Email marketing was a smart move in terms of revenue. The thing here is that email marketing is one of those channels that open a dialogue with the recipient and can boost engagement in a natural, organic manner.
The statistic above proves it: The revenue of email marketing was 7.5 billion worldwide in 2020, making the channel pretty fruitful as a holiday marketing tactic. The fact that email marketing is scalable, measurable, and opens a dialogue between the prospect and the brand makes this channel even more popular for marketers worldwide.
However, holiday email marketing – and email marketing in general – comes with a set of rules. A well-executed email marketing campaign needs to follow some specifics:
It needs to be segmented and personalized
Email marketing is one of the few marketing channels that can be personalized to the point that users feel like they’re talking to a friend or that the email is a natural continuation of their actions. Hyper-personalization is one of the most sought-after capabilities of many email marketing platforms. It can work wonders for your email marketing campaigns, especially since it gives you the opportunity to suggest the right thing at the right time. Which is what seasonal email marketing is all about.
It needs to carry responsive email templates
Non-responsive emails are more than just a trend in 2022. Mobile use has surpassed desktop use. More specifically, “75% [of users] say they use their smartphones most often to check email“. Imagine the revenue you’re going to miss out on if you create a Black Friday email marketing campaign with non-responsive email templates.
Nobody likes broken elements and links that lead nowhere. This is exactly why you should invest in an email marketing platform that can provide you with a variety of seasonal, responsive email templates that can take the user from interest to desire to action with a simple CTA button.
It needs to be promotional but not salesy
All emails aim to portray the brand’s tone and specific marketing action. However, this does not mean they can look and feel like you’re trying to score a sale – consumers will consider this spam. And if not, it will not sit well with them either way. You can, of course, talk about the sales you’re conducting. Still, you’ll need to understand user behavior and your ideal customers’ personas to promote the right thing at the right time.
Are those elements all you need to pay attention to, though?
The answer is no.
But we’re ready to tell you how to turn a no into a yes with perfect holiday email marketing campaigns. Just keep reading to find out.
Seasonal email campaigns: The design tips to look out for
Marketers always have something up their sleeve to get their readers to open their emails and click through the links. Not to mention how beneficial standing out in a full inbox really is.
So, from animated elements to emojis, let’s see what design trends will dominate this holiday season – and, perhaps, the years to come.
As we all know, your subject line is the first impression. You’veYou’ve only got one chance to capture the user’s attention enough to open your email and interact with your brand.
Emojis are a fantastic way to do that, simply by enhancing the visual aspect of your email subject line – and, of course, provided they work for your brand and audience.
According to Forbes…
(We’ve seen) new meanings being attached by Gen Z to certain emojis, leaving Millennials and older generations wondering which emoji to use or whether to use any at all.
Therefore, you’ll need to really look into your customer personas and understand how and why they use emojis – yes, even seasonal ones.
Look at this example:
This is from my inbox, and I received it on New Year’sYear’s Eve. The copy is spot-on, considering holiday shopping has more or less ended at this point, and shoppers usually forget to treat themselves during holidays.
The subject line is what made me click, but the emoji is what attracted my attention. Marketers are aware of that; this is why some switch to email marketing platforms that support this functionality.
Consider the sheer volume of holiday emails users receive every season. Even if they click on your email, capturing their attention doesn’t stop there. This is where bold typography comes into play.
➡️ Learn more about the best free modern fonts for your designs in our article.
➡️ Check out our article to find the perfect font combination for your next design.
Lush’s email above clearly shows the topic of this email – in our case, Halloween – and the CTA button and the main content are clearly visible with some simple scanning.
You need your email design to be easily readable and your color palette to be color-blind-friendly. Bold typography can help when scanning the email on the go and allows users to see what you need them to see in terms of offers and actionable information.
Original seasonal colors
Branded colors and color psychology are important, especially in seasonal email marketing. Branded colors make your emails as recognizable and memorable as the holiday itself, so mixing them in creative ways is always a good idea.
Here are a few seasonal color palettes by VistaCreate:
As you can see here, Starbucks is an expert in blending out its signature green color with Christmas’ signature red, making this the perfect opportunity to connect its brand’s colors with the season’s trademark red and white.
This design trend can give your emails a unique look that your audience will love. Also, from a marketing psychology perspective, it allows your brand to be connected to the season’s feelings and values.
The only thing to keep in mind here is that the colors cannot be completely different from each other. You’ll need to use colors that blend in harmony.
Seasonal GIFs and animation
Animation in emails is nothing new. In fact, GIFs and cinemagraphs are still among the most popular workarounds regarding video in email marketing. GIFs and animation allow users to digest information easily with flashing elements and fun images.
Kidly’s animation is on-brand and specific – a seasonal email that is made for kids but meant to be read by adults. Its movement is brilliant, the animation points straight to the CTA button, and the user can’t help but click through and end up on the brand’s website with zero effort.
Word of notice, though: Some GIFs and Cinemagraphs don’t show properly on all email clients. To avoid broken elements or not getting your point across, put the most valuable information on the first image of your GIF’s loop.
These four seasonal email trends are the most prominent for the 2022-2023 season. However, you need some extra knowledge to make them work properly for your campaign.
Read on to see why.
Create a “Pre-game” seasonal email marketing campaign
Since email marketing is one of the tactics that more than most marketers use, you’ll need to do something to stand out. And this includes creating an email marketing campaign with follow-ups. Here’s why:
You could start by creating an email series that will be starting early, with a teaser offer that could be adjustable according to the time frame of your email sequence.
Sending a teaser offer and starting early can lead to a subject line as enticing as the following one:
“ONE MORE DAY” in all caps could be a tell-tale sign of a spammy email that users would need to avoid. However, the differentiating factor is that this email is part of a more extensive campaign that leads up to that final statement.
Generally speaking, an announcement of your sale will create some much-needed buzz around your brand’s name. And remember: Marketers focus too much on the marketing activities that take place on the day of the sale. You can ambush them by engaging users earlier than expected.
🔥 VistaCreate Pro Tip: Use a countdown timer to create more curiosity and show prospects the exact amount of time remaining until sales start. That way, you’ll keep them on their toes and have them expect your deals.
Write a catchy subject line
Your subject line is the very first element a user will notice when it comes to your seasonal email marketing campaign. And, to manage to turn your openers into revenue, you’ll need to hook them effectively and score a better CTR.
This subject line appeals to those who haven’t purchased anything and are looking for some last-minute deal for their holiday shopping. This perfect subject line continues effectively in the body copy, as you can see:
This email design brings the product front and center, and the copy shows how timely and time-sensitive the endeavor really is. That way, it’s a great addition to your email marketing campaign.
Make sure to target last-minute shoppers with something as time-sensitive as that email subject line. After all, so many people postpone their Christmas shopping it would be a shame not to target them as well.
Create a checklist to engage recipients
Most holiday email marketing campaigns focus on creating holiday gift guides to ease users further down the funnel while helping them find the perfect gift.
And while this is a very thoughtful tactic – both in human and marketing terms – it’s a little too common. I would suggest a checklist that could be fun and exciting and have users move across the various stages of the funnel seamlessly.
This Thanksgiving checklist is one of the emails you cannot ignore easily. It’s humorous, it stands out even in a full inbox, and it provides all of the “solutions” a guide would without being overbearing. “Get something nice to wear” is clickable, as you can see, and it will take the user right where the brand wants them to be.
Not to mention that, in a very amusing way, it does provide an actual Thanksgiving “to-do” list. For example, “Bring something that is not canned cranberry sauce” is a responsibility one often forgets to take up.
Remember that you can boost engagement and have users expect an email like that by running a poll or survey and asking for their opinion on what should be included in your checklist.
Match the Holidays to the Audience
This may sound a little strange, but it’s a trap a lot of marketers fall into. Not knowing the holidays each segment of your audience will be interested in, could lower the core rates your seasonal email marketing is about, and harm your marketing strategy in the long run.
For example, if your audience is global, not everyone will be interested in a Fourth of July campaign. The same goes for the Chinese New Year, Orthodox Easter, etc.
Also, if you create offers for all occasions when your brand’s tone or even your niche doesn’t allow it, you’re in for an unpleasant surprise. A strict audience of an accounting firm won’t be interested in a back-to-school holiday email marketing campaign.
Of course, you could make it work with some segmentation and some prospecting, but it will take a lot of time and effort that your marketing team could’ve spent on a different project.
Make sure to find the special holidays that benefit your niche and create seasonal email marketing campaigns that help your marketing message and your marketing actions as a whole.
Here’s an example:
The celebration of the Fourth of July is known far and wide for two things: the impressive fireworks and the backyard cookouts. Cracker Barrel’s email has nailed both just by including them in the email’s copy.
Of course, an email like that won’t fly for a brand with a global presence, like McDonald’s or Burger King. This is why these emails need to be localized.
Here’s another example:
Since there are various ethnicities across the globe, it would make sense to segment using demographics in that case. Demographics could include age, gender, and a prospect’s background.
The example above is a fantastic one. Tod’s created a limited edition series of products dedicated to the Year of the Tiger. This move makes sense for two reasons:
- It attracts new audiences
- It’s a wonderful way to engage existing audiences that celebrate this holiday.
Of course, this is merely an example since not all brands could ever create something new just for one holiday. But it would make sense to come up with a new, exclusive offer for this endeavor and have relevant audiences anticipate your seasonal email campaign.
In that case, make sure to extract data from your CRM tool and find the percentage of your audience that would appreciate an email that would be dedicated to a celebration as specific as this one.
Use urgency and scarcity
Some urgency tactics are all too common, but others are scarily effective. As we mentioned before, a campaign should be running for a couple of days. However, as the days get closer to the “main event” of your holiday email marketing campaign, you need to up your marketing efforts.
The message is clear and simple: “Order before X” and the outcome is “Get Y”. It’s attractive. It can entice last-minute buyers and those who organize their Christmas shopping months before they need to proceed with a purchase.
This email was designed to use even the most underused customer segments and get the most out of the last-minute Christmas shoppers.
Another tactic you could use could be live inventory updates to keep the element of urgency alive and well. Combine this with follow-ups to see your campaign’s performance increase just by marking “Only X items left” on the items users checked out on your website.
One last thought could be that you could send post-holiday emails as a fantastic opportunity for feedback.
Engage users who purchased with a “Thank You” email and those who didn’t proceed with a purchase with a “Happy to see you” and, perhaps, ask for some feedback.
After all, seasonal email campaigns are exactly what the title suggests: Seasonal. Which means that their revenue – like the offers – is time-limited.
Make sure to engage users beyond that, and turn them into repeaters who will look forward to your email newsletters as well as your offers and overall marketing content.
About the author
Téa Liarokapi is a Senior Content Writer for Moosend, an email marketing and marketing automation platform, and an obsessive writer in general. In her free time, she tries to find new ways to stuff more books in her bookcase and content ideas – and cats – to play with.