5 Novel Ideas to Help You Stand Out This Holiday Season

Written by
Yuval Ackerman

October 23, 2023

The holiday season is just around the corner, and many brands are now in the final stretch before sending their sale, pre-sale and pre-pre-sale emails. With the competition for subscribers’ attention becoming more and more difficult –and with marketers just feeling tapped out on ideas – it’s hard to stand out in the inbox.

On the flip side, subscribers’ inboxes will soon become flooded with holiday cliches, big flashy numbers and alarming countdown timers. While these approaches might work for some brands and types of subscribers, there’s a growing sense of desensitization toward sales emails, let’s face it. Here are five ideas that take a different approach to the holiday hectics.

Thanksgiving – Function of Beauty

The holidays can be a source of joy and pleasure to many, but can also cause a lot of undesired stress and raise other negative feelings for others. Function of Beauty, a custom haircare and skincare brand, recognized that struggle and created this tongue-in-cheek Thanksgiving email. “No matter what you’re going through”, the email shows, “we’ve got you. And here’s 25% off your order”.

This is a lighthearted and original way to show your subscribers that your brand cares, and drive sales thanks to it.

What went well: The brilliant use of UGC (User Generated Content) or Voice of Customer combined with empathy and humor, and the use of “choose your own adventure” at the top of the email, which is what great email marketing is really all about.

What could’ve been better: This is extremely picky – not all subscribers celebrate Thanksgiving, whether it’s not a part of their culture, location, or personal situation/preference. Hopefully, this email was only sent to a location-relevant segment.

Black Friday #1 – Eton 

“Less is more” is the perfect phrase to use in this example. 

Eton, a men’s shirts & accessories brand focused on quality, manages to stand out here with simplicity: the use of black and white (perhaps a play on “Black Friday”), the hero shows rather than tells, and the copy is minimal and to the point. 

What went well: Aside from its simplicity, the “made to be enjoyed for a long time, temporarily offered at this reduced price” is a great way to keep up with the positioning of the brand. The calls to action are also clean and the overall design of this email is sharp.

What could’ve been better: The discount rates must be significantly larger to capture more attention, and repeated at least once more throughout the email body itself. The second “Black Friday” writing in the email body is ironically larger than the discount rates, which is arguably also redundant.

Black Friday #2 – Card Against Humanity

You can trust brands like CAH to zig when everyone else zags.

In this Black Friday email, the party card game brand used its iconic tone of voice and values to stand out in the inbox with a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”, which was only valid for that weekend.

What began as a joke of the brand’s creator turned into, reportedly, more than $71k in revenue.

What went well: The sheer transparency of this email (“we give you nothing”), the huge CTA button, the self-humor on how “door-busting” the brand’s Black Friday offers are and sticking to the brand design guidelines – A lot of things went really well here.

What could’ve been better:  This email could’ve been even better with the recipient’s first name rather than sending it to all of the “dear horrible friends”.

Black Friday #3 – Bose

Bose, the audio equipment manufacturer, did something very clever with this email: they gamified something that their target market is used to and familiar with from the real world (scratchcards) and included that in their email.

Attention-grabbing? Unique? Familiar yet new and exciting? Absolutely.

It’s not clear if that “scratchcard” part included an animation that showed itself in-email as soon as the subscriber clicked or scratched it, but one thing is certain – the click-through rate of this email must’ve been through the roof!

What went well: The clean design and festive yet luxurious feel are fantastic in this email. 

What could’ve been better: There is no sense of real urgency here to buy now, which is rare and unusual for a Black Friday sales email. A word about how long those discounts would be valid could’ve done the trick.

Cyber Monday – Everlane

Cyber Monday is an interesting time to land in subscribers’ inboxes. By that point, subscribers have been bombarded by every possible brand they’ve ever subscribed to (or not, but that’s another discussion) and they’re getting tired of being pushed to buy even more.

That’s why this email by Everlane, a clothing retailer, stands out so beautifully.

What went well: The combination of irony, transparency, and empathy made the copy of this email punchy and unique, with one prominent Call to Action, all the while using their strong positioning and brand promise of “great gifts with incredible value”. 

What could’ve been better: This is a little tricky, because you don’t always shop for yourself (especially during or before the holidays), but the segmentation could’ve been better in this email. 

The brand could’ve sent two versions of this email, one to women subscribers and one to men subscribers, with the appropriate recommended products. What we see here are “for him”/”for her” buttons underneath every product recommendation, which makes the email less personalized. Instead, they could have included a call to action at the very bottom of this email that redirects to the other gender’s holiday-inspired shop or automatically sends the alternative version of this email to the recipient’s inbox. 

Here, at Inbox Monster, we wish you a happy (and profitable!) holiday season. We’re here to support you and your brand all year round to make sure that your emails get to your subscribers’ inboxes safely and as intended.

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