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.

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CTA hero

C-T-yaaaaaaay!!

More times than not, an email’s success is measured by the number of clicks it receives. An important factor in getting that reaction is having an effective call to action. Get yours noticed with my tips below.

USE CONTRASTING COLOR
Make sure your call to action stands out by giving it high contrast. Whether it’s a link, a colored box or a graphic, do whatever you can to keep it from blending into the background.

From: Charming Charlie
Date: 11/08/15
Subject Line: It’s the last weekend of BOGO, sooo…
See the full email

Charming Charlie

Here’s an example where Charming Charlie used a dark plaid button to contrast the white background.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
You should always aim to keep your call to action above the fold (aka where subscribers will see it without needing to scroll). Also, place it where the eye flows naturally.

From: maurices
Date: 11/14/15
Subject Line: Fa la la la fab!
See the full email

Maurices

Maurices does a good job getting their call to action above the fold in this example.

BE SPECIFIC
Subscribers should know where the link will take them without reading the email. For example, “Shop the Sale” would be a better approach than “Shop now.”

From: American Eagle Outfitters
Date: 11/14/15
Subject Line: Get your shirt together.
See the full email

American Outfitters

Although AEO’s call to actions are below the fold, they do a great job naming the buttons. Without reading anything else, I know exactly where the link “Shop Women’s Flannels” will take me.

KEEP IT SHORT
If your call to action is too wordy, it will become unscannable and could lose clicks. Making it too wide may also make it less apparent as a button.

From: Gap
Date: 11/13/15
Subject Line: a merry mystery awaits…
See the full email

Gap

Gap’s wording is borderline long in this example. It could be shortened to “Reveal Your Deal.” However, they do a good job calling attention to the call to action by giving it contrasting color, and by using the tree background which works as a giant arrow.

From: aerie
Date: 11/07/15
Subject Line: Welcome To Dreamland. FREE Boxer!
See the full email

aerie

Aerie kept their copy short, but they decided to go super wide. Because of this, it’s slightly less apparent as a button/link. If different wording was used, it could be mistaken for a headline.

USE INVENTIVE WORDING
Put your copywriter thinking cap on to make the link fun and unique. Take into consideration who your audience is, the theme of the email and the tone you’re trying to set.

From: Moosejaw.com
Date: 11/12/15
Subject Line: Hours Left to Get 30% Back
See the full email

Moosejaw

Moosejaw used some clever wording in this email. Their sub-message title says: “It’s getting Cold,” the call to action is “Bundle Up.”

CALL ATTENTION TO IT
Try animating your call to action, adding graphics to it, or making objects point to it. The sky is the limit.

From: aerie
Date: 10/14/15
Subject Line: Last Day For BOGO 50% Off Collection!
See the full email

aerie

Here’s an example from Aerie where a heart was included in the button. I ❤ this.

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DOs and DON’Ts for Animated GIFs

Animated GIFs can be a great way to make your email stand out, but there are a few things to keep in mind when using them. Check out my DOs and DON’Ts for using animations in emails.

DO: EMPHASIZE YOUR CALL TO ACTION

From: Moosejaw.com
Date: 10/16/15
Subject Line: Win a Full Ski Outfit From Black Diamond
View the Animation

Moosejaw 1103_gif_mj_gif

I LOVED this animated hand from Moosejaw. It not only moved in an up and down motion (pointing at the call to action), but it also changed into a variety of funny hands. There’s no way anyone would miss the button in this email.

From: LOFT
Date: 10/24/15
Subject Line: Everything’s on sale (so don’t hold back)
View the Animation

LOFT 1103_gif_loft_gif

LOFT’s flashing call to action is also sure to grab your attention. I’m a little on the fence about this one though. Although it stands out, the flashing can get a tad annoying.

DO: USE GIFS TO DRAW EYES DOWN THE PAGE

From: aerie
Date: 10/30/15
Subject Line: 31% Off! All Treats For Our Girls. No Tricks!
View the Animation

Aerie 1103_gif_spider_gif

I really liked Aerie’s dropping spider animation. The spider itself looked nicer than your standard clip art and the drop shadow was a nice touch. By having the spider drop down the page, your eye is drawn down so you don’t miss anything in the email.

From: Charming Charlie
Date: 10/27/15
Subject Line: Five new faves! Starting at $19.
View the Animation

Charming Charlie 1103_gif_acorn_gif

Charming Charlie used a clever method to draw your eye downward. They used an acorn that rolled along the diagonal lines down the page, passing the products along the way.

DO: USE FLUID MOTION WHEN POSSIBLE

From: Aéropostale
Date: 10/12/15
Subject Line: ENDS TODAY! Extra 30% off during our bdayyy
View the Animation

Aero 1103_gif_aero_gif

Taking the time to add the extra frames can really make a difference. I like how smooth the GIF is of the candle blowing out — almost like a video.

DO: USE THEM TO ADD A LITTLE INTEREST

From: MoYou-London
Date: 11/04/15
Subject Line: ❅ New Festive Plates! ❅ This Friday!

MoYou MoYou

Like in this example from MoYou London. The subtle snow falling and blowing hat adds value without being too flashy.

From: Moosejaw.com
Date: 11/04/15
Subject Line: Get 30% Back on Almost Everything
View the Animation

Moosejaw Moosejaw

Or in this email from MooseJaw. Check out the banner near the bottom. A window washing dinosaur? Why not! It doesn’t take much to go from meh to magnificent.

DON’T: CUT A SINGLE GIF INTO TWO PIECES

From: Gap
Date: 10/30/15
Subject Line: news you’ll love: gap factory is now online
View the Animation

Gap Gap

Here’s an oopsie from Gap. The animated GIF was cut into two pieces, resulting in out of sync images. In this situation, it was the top of the peoples’ heads that were cut separately so it resulted in humorous hairstyles atop the wrong heads.

DON’T: GET SLOPPY WITH YOUR ANIMATION

From: Charming Charlie
Date: 10/18/15
Subject Line: How you love to shop–by color!
View the Animation

Charming Charlie

This email from Charming Charlie animates between color swatches and products. Instead of using one large GIF, each color is cut and animated separately. This results in an unpredictable and somewhat chaotic flashing of images. Sometimes multiple products will show up at once and other times there will be seconds with no animation. When creating an animation, be very purposeful about where and when you want someone to look at something – draw their eye around the page and keep them engaged.

DON’T: ANIMATE TEXT TOO QUICKLY

From: Moosejaw.com
Date: 10/02/15
Subject Line: This. Is. BIG. 20% off Full-price and Sale Stuff.
View the Animation

Moosejaw 1103_gif_moose2_gif

I really liked the idea behind this email. The concept is clever and the animation is cute. However, the animation moves a little too fast to read. They do finish the animation with the text showing for a handful of seconds so they redeem themselves in the end. This is a good example for being aware of the speed of your animation, particularly when text is involved.

DON’T: MAKE YOUR FILE SIZE TOO LARGE

From: American Eagle Outfitters
Date: 10/14/15
Subject Line: Last day for up to $50 off your purchase!
View the Animation

American Eagle

American Eagle backed their headline with a time lapse sunset. Great in concept, but HUGE in file size. Due to the size of the hero and length of the animation, this image is a whopping 14 megabytes! This will dramatically slow loading times, particularly for those viewing on mobile devises.

DON’T: ANIMATE MORE THAN YOU NEED TO

From: Charming Charlie
Date: 10/14/15
Subject Line: Ends tonight! Last chance BOGO jewelry.

Charming Charlie Charming Charlie

This example from Charming Charlie is a good reminder to cut your GIFs in the most efficient way possible. Only the call to action blinks in this email, but the entire email was cut as a GIF. This resulted in a very low quality, grainy image. Keep in mind that GIFs don’t have the same color range as JPGs. Think ahead and cut your design appropriately. (NOTE: The web version of the GIF was actually higher quality than the one in the email. To see how it looked in the email, see the larger image above or click here.)

Lastly…
DON’T: FORGET OUTLOOK!

Remember to include all of your pertinent information (or the best looking portion of your animation) in the first frame. Why? Because Outlook doesn’t support animated gifs — they will only show the first frame.

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