happy holidays hero

A Very Merry [something] to You!

We live in a politically correct world where people can be easily offended, so simply wishing subscribers a Happy Holiday can be a tricky thing. Because Christmas and Hanukkah are religious holidays, you don’t want to exclude anyone or step on any toes. Here are a few ways retailers messaged their subscribers this year, ranging from the daring to the all inclusive and a little vague.

1. Retailers That Went For It

I was surprised to see a few retailers going with the Merry Christmas message this year. I personally only recommend going this route if your company is clearly marketed toward a specific religious group (ie: The Christian Book Store). I wouldn’t want to offend and potentially lose a customer.

From: Michaels
Date: 12/24/16
Subject Line: We Wish You a Merry Christmas!
See it animated

Michaels

There’s no doubt which holiday Michaels was backing this year. Their headline spells out in all caps and dancing letters, “MERRY CHRISTMAS.” It is colorful, festive and attention grabbing. One nice thing about singling out a holiday is you don’t have to worry about choosing imagery that caters to everyone (for example snowflakes over Santa). They went a bit generic though with gold glitter stars throughout the email –glitter seems to be a common trend among holiday emails of all types this year.

From: Christopher & Banks | CJ Banks
Date: 12/25/16
Subject Line: Wishing You A Merry Christmas From All Of Us!

Christopher and Banks

Christopher & Banks also wishes a Merry Christmas in both the subject line and headline. They chose a nice photograph of a wreath hanging on a front door to fill the design. The copy is heart-felt and personal, coming from the President & CEO. I always enjoy receiving these types of communications (personal letters). It’s a nice reminder that there are real people behind the company that appreciate my business.

2. Did We Cover Everyone?

These emails did their best to incorporate multiple December religious holidays. This method can be fun and a little comical with original holiday phrases. It also shows your desire to bring everyone together.

From: Cupcake Polish
Date: 12/25/16
Subject Line: Merry Christmahanakwanzika! Celebrate with a FLASH SALE! ❤💚💙

Cupcake Polish

Cupcake Polish invented the word “Christmahanakwanzika” in their subject line. Their email went on to read: “Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! Happy New Year! We hope you are having a great day no matter what you celebrate!” I like how all encompasing it is with a bit of humor. The email design is a little lack-luster, but they did included a graphic “word cube” that includes all the holidays with some graphics.

From: Madam Glam
Date: 12/24/16
Subject Line: Merry Chrismukkah ! 🎉

Madam Glam

Madam Glam started with a similar approach, using the subject line and headline Merry Chrismukkah, but the copy leans a bit more Christmas (mentioning Santa). The graphic they chose could be viewed as generally winter themed — a tree made of glittery gold hearts, surrounded by falling snow. Overall, not a bad email, but make sure to stick with the plan from beginning to end.

From: Gap
Date: 12/25/16
Subject Line: May your day be merry and bright

Gap

Gap started out with a vague subject line (May your day be merry and bright), but got more specific within the email. They laid it out plain and simple: Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah from our family to yours. The imagery is winter-clad models sporting cozy hats, coats and scarves. Glittery titles and background add to the generic but wintery design.

3. Happy … December?

And finally these retailers took the safe approach by sending well-wishes in a general way. It’s honestly the safest approach. It’s a way to say, hey, we care about you and want you to be happy, whatever you’re celebrating. There were plenty that used the well-known “Happy Holidays,” so here are a few that used an alternative method.

From: Tiny Prints
Date: 12/25/16
Subject Line: ❄ A Special Season’s Greeting for You
See it animated

Tiny Prints

Tiny prints decided to go with the headline “Merry Everything.” Since this choice of words doesn’t call out any holidays specifically, I’m going to place this under the slightly vague category. It is all encompassing, but a little noncommittal. It’s not a bad option, but I did find it a little funny to read, thinking, “Wow, they really weren’t sure what to say here.” It is, however, one of my favorite designs with texture, depth, color and even a subtle animation.

From: Neiman Marcus
Date: 12/25/16
Subject Line: Merry Christmas + a treat for you!
See it animated

Neiman Marcus    Neiman Marcus wink gif

Although the subject line is clearly Christmas, the email itself is more general holiday. The headline reads “May Your Day Be Merry & Bright!” The design, while colorful and creative, got the creepiest award in my book. The good: a model with a winter hat surrounded by doodles of snowflakes, doves and swirly patterns. I could even be okay with the strange choice to doodle a mustache on her, but … The creepy: they add an animation of her winking in a really weird and unnatural way. The right eye doesn’t squint as it should in a normal situation. It’s just a little unsettling.

From: Serena & Lily
Date: 12/24/16
Subject Line: Brightest holiday wishes.
See it animated

Serena and Lily

Serena & Lily went with a broad headline, “Wishing you a bright holiday.” They created their own unique graphic of a snowflake containing drawings of home furnishings. They also animate a little sparkle. I have to say, it is quite unique, but the design lacks a bit of flow and color.

One Final Observation:

As far as these day-of holiday emails go, I prefer it when the message is solely focused on well-wishes. It shouldn’t look like a last-minute inclusion tacked onto the top of a product/sale message. It makes the message a little less personal, not to mention that not many people will be shopping on the day of the holiday they’re celebrating. However, I don’t mind the addition of a link to send a virtual gift card. That’s an easy last-minute gift that doesn’t involve shipping or leaving the home.

Read More

Social hero

Get Social this Holiday

Maurices and Disney found clever ways to get their customers to interact with their social network pages this season! Let’s take a look…

From: Maurices
Date: 11/18/16
Subject Line: ‘Tis the season for shopping, saving & free shipping

Maurices   Maurices animated

Maurices is running a promo that qualifies you to win your holiday wishlist. They call it the “Wish Pin Win Sweepstakes.” To enter, you fill out a small form, then pin any number of their products (to Pinterest) along with the required description line: On my wish list #wishpinwinsweepstakes #discovermaurices. I’m not quite sure how the user is linked to their Pinterest account, but I’ll leave that to the experts.

The idea behind this promotion has many advantages.
1. Engagement. It encourages shoppers to browse through the website, in turn finding products they’re interested in.
2. Customer Acquisition. By entering the contest, Maurices can gain access to a potential new customer’s contact information and ask if they’d like to receive future emails.
3. Future Targeting. By creating a wishlist, Maurices can better target each subscriber based on products they’re interested in. In this case, it can be obtained through their browsing history (since the wishlist is created in Pinterest rather than through Maurice’s website).
4. Even More Customer Acquisition. By posting products on Pinterest, word will spread about the best items you have to offer. Not to mention, products look so much better when suggested by a friend.
5. Conversion. By encouraging people to pin these items, the tedious work of browsing and compiling is now done — it’s easy for them to share it with friends and family. BAM, holiday wishlist complete.
6. Customer Retention. Offering contests keeps customers happy and waiting for the next opportunity to win.

Overall, this is a great way to market yourself using social media.

From: Disney Movie Rewards
Date: 12/01/16
Subject Line: Happy Holidays, Amy

Disney Movie Rewards   Disney Movie Rewards

For the month of December, Disney Movie Rewards is giving free reward points for clicks! On December 1st they sent an email announcing the promotion: “Earn 5 Points Every Day!” I clicked the CTA in the email, logged in, and earned my free points. BOOM. Done. Easy. The second day, I went to get my points but saw new instructions. To receive points I must now visit their Facebook, Twitter OR Pinterest page. There, I would find a link to a magic code. I can then use that code on the Disney Movie Reward’s website to redeem my points.

A great advantage of this promotion is that it:
1. Makes customers aware of their social media presence, and
2. Encourages them to “like” the page so they’ll be reminded to redeem points (therefore opting in to future posts).
3. Also, by liking the page, and/or posts, their friends will become aware of the promotion as well.

There are a few things I might change about their strategy, however.
1. For the kick-off email, I would make it clear how the process works (that social media will be involved). Rather than linking to the Disney Movie Rewards website, I would provide call-to-actions to their social media pages.
2. It seems like a lot of steps to earn your reward. Rather than listing a link within the social media post, I would like to see the code displayed there instead. I can only think of one reason why you might want to use a link: to direct them to a page with more opportunities for click through / conversion. In this case, the landing page only has the magic code.

Overall, still a creative way to incorporate social media.

Kudos to Maurices and Disney on finding unique ways to grow your customer base and engage existing customers through social media.

Read More

Holiday Gifts Link Hero 2

Tis the Season to Give

Well, it’s officially time to break out those holiday designs! This year, make sure to extend your theme beyond the main message and include it in the framework of your email as well. You can add fun graphics or just switch up the colors for a festive touch. Today, however, I want to talk about one specific addition — a “gifts” button. It provides a quick and easy way for subscribers to shop for their loved ones and see what your business has to offer. Much like a recovery module, it offers an opportunity for click-through even if the subscriber wasn’t interested in the main message. Here are a few examples of gift call-to-actions that popped!

From: Anthropologie
Date: 11/16/16
Subject Line: New tops in need-now shapes: 25% off + free ship.

Anthropologie introduces a new “gifts” link in their footer. It can’t be missed with contrasting red text that animates! See the email animate.

Anthropologie    1118_gifts_anthro_200

From: American Eagle
Date: 11/16/16
Subject Line: A fresh take on destroyed denim

American Eagle follows suit with a red animated link, but they take it a step further by placing it above the fold. Love this idea! See the email animate.

American Eagle    1118_gifts_aeo_200

From: UncommonGoods
Date: 11/14/16
Subject Line: Win the Holidays

If you want to go all out, instead of a singular “gifts” button, break down the gifts by category. Shop by: gender, personality, price point, age, hobbies, etc. — the sky is the limit. (Side note, I just have to say I love this main message design. The use of graphics is so clever, bold and simple. It’s just perfection. But anyway, back on topic…) Uncommon Goods includes a footer at the bottom with “shop by” categories to help simplify gifting. Normally I would say it could use a headline to call out gift giving, or something to make the section stand out a bit more. But since the entire email is essentially a shop-by-category theme, it might have been overkill. Well done.

Uncommon Goods    Uncommon Goods Footer

Read More

Sur La Table Recipe Email Hero

Now THIS is How You Sell a Product

From: Sur La Table
Date: 7/17/16
Subject Line: This Week’s Recipe—Shrimp and Pineapple Curry

From: Sur La Table
Date: 7/24/16
Subject Line: This Week’s Recipe: Barbecued Corn & Tomato Salad

Sur La Table Pineapple Email    Sur La Table Corn Email

I ADORE these recipe emails from Sur La Table! These are great examples of how to feature a product in a way that can appeal to anyone. They’re packed with information including a recipe, product, tip and trivia — but despite all the content, they are fun and don’t feel overwhelming. The gorgeous recipe hero image is eye catching and includes a large call to action above the fold. Right from the start this email has added value by giving you something for free without trying to sales pitch you out the door. The well implemented left-to-right flow and wonderful use of negative space draws your eyes to the next section where you see the product that was used to make the recipe. A video is included in both emails to illustrate how easy the product is to use. There are so many graphic design choices that really add interest, including: textured headline backgrounds that POP, drop shadows on products, boxes with dotted borders, overlapping imagery, various arrows to lead the eye, colored drop shadows and the headline flourish in the trivia section. I ❤❤❤ these emails! Nice job, Sur La Table!

Read More

Sephora Weather Email Hero

This Email is HOT

From: Sephora Beauty Insider
Date: 7/01/16
Subject Line: Happy Fourth! The forecast is in…

Sephora

I liked this email’s clever use of location targeting. Sephora pulled the upcoming weather for my area and then suggested products based on that information: “This scorcher calls for frizz-fighting hair serums, refreshing face mists, and lots of SPF.” Scorcher might be a strong word for a high of 75, but in WA state that’s shorts weather… and they’re right about the humidity. The way they display the information is eye-catching and quickly digestible with weather graphics and bold, simple headlines. They continue with the theme and offer more opportunities for click-through by listing products that meet the criteria (Living Proof No Frizz Humidity Shield and NARS Broad Spectrum SPF 30, for example). Although, many of the products seem to miss the target for relevancy; it might have been better to list the more applicable products first. All in all, very clever and well done!

Read More

hashtag hero

Don’t Waste That Hashtag

I keep seeing email after email underutilizing hashtags (ahem, examples above). Retailers seem to be using them as a way to look trendy, but with no real purpose. This is such a missed opportunity. Hashtags are essentially FREE MARKETING! By encouraging your customers to share their images and thoughts about your brand, they are marketing to their friends, family, and followers for you. So how can you use hashtags to your advantage? Here are a few suggestions:

1) HOST A CONTEST
Who doesn’t want free stuff? Contests are a great way to get people involved. In this example, Williams-Sonoma offers a chance to win a grill or grill set for Father’s Day. The hashtag makes a bold appearance in the headline. This campaign could have even more impact if the headline included the words win and/or contest.

From: Williams-Sonoma
Date: 6/18/16
Subject Line: 3 Days Left! 20% Off 1 Item + 5 Great Picks for DAD – In Stores & Online

williams-sonoma message

2) OFFER FAME / BRAGGING RIGHTS
Social media is addictive. People love to sit back and watch the “like” meter count up. Why not give them their 5 minutes of fame. In this email, Live Love Polish encourages subscribers to tag their nail art photos for a chance to be featured on their website. The headline is well-worded (very direct), and the use of imagery from other customers is an inspiring addition.

From: Live Love Polish
Date: 6/03/16
Subject Line: Ripper NEW BRAND From Down Under!

live love polish message

3) ENCOURAGE SOCIALIZING
Sure, incentives are a great way to populate your hashtag feed, but some people are more than willing to contribute for nothing. Simply make people aware of the hashtag and what it should be used for. Here, Pottery Barn Kids invites customers to simply share their 4th of July photos. I like the use of the Instagram logo used to emphasize the preferred social platform (just in case people are too lazy to read).

From: Pottery Barn Kids
Date: 7/04/2016
Subject Line: Happy 4th of July! Up to 25% off EVERYTHING + FREE SHIPPING (’til midnight!)

pottery barn kids message

4) DONATE TO CHARITY
What a fun, free (for the taggers anyway) and effortless way for customers to donate to a cause! Encourage them to share and in exchange, you make a donation! Aerie shares the love by donating $1 for each post using their hashtag. With this message they decided to go big or go home; it’s hardly a secondary message since it’s comparable in size and location to the primary message. It works though! I only wish the headline was a bit more direct in calling out the donation aspect.

From: aerie
Date: 6/30/16
Subject Line: 500+ Swim Faves Now $10! For REAL.

aerie message

Okay, so let’s say you’re successful in creating and populating a unique hashtag. Some of the marketing has already begun by people simply contributing to it. New posts will show up in “new” or “popular” areas of social media, and followers of people who have shared will see the posts in their feeds. Now’s the time to take it one step further. Include a link in your emails (and/or website) to encourage more people to check it out and contribute.

There are a few options for creating links to these posts. You can link to a page within Instagram or Twitter, but that will limit you to that one social media provider. If you want to grab hashtags from all social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, for example), companies like Tagboard offer just that. You can link to a page within the site for your hashtag, or (for a price) Tagboard also allows you to embed posts on your website (displayed in an iframe).

A SMALL TIP: For a hashtag that’s more general, feel free to give it hierarchy in your email when you wish, but there’s no reason you can’t permanently give it a home at the bottom of your email. Here are two examples, from Carters and Land of Nod, showing how they included their hashtag in their footer.

carters footer  land of nod footer

ONE FINAL NOTE. Make sure when using a hashtag that you’re clear about how it should be used. If customers don’t know what it’s there for, you’ll be missing out. Here’s an example illustrating this from Banana Republic. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that they’re attempting to create a public hashtag; they call it out in two separate emails (in a prime location) and even in the subject line. However, there is no explanation about how the hashtag should be used. (IE: who should be using it and what type of posts should go there.) As a result, there have only been a couple posts using this hashtag to date, all made by Banana Republic. I would like to give them props for making the hashtag bold; it definitely stands out. It just needs a bit more instruction with it.

From: Banana Republic
Date: 6/19/16
Subject Line: This week in Your Life. Styled.

banana republic message

From: Banana Republic
Date: 6/20/16
Subject Line: Now, later, always: #BRClassic

banana republic message

In summary, if you’re going to use a hashtag, think beyond looking #trendy and make them work for you!

Read More