To add to the lure of email marketing, online shopping is expected to bring in over $100 billion alone. Meaning that the closer companies can get consumers to buying, the better. And you better believe that they will be trying to accomplish this through a series of emails that will lead you back to their site to add to cart. 

The Holiday Emails are Upon Us

Well, here we are. Once again faced with another short holiday season, and retailers are challenged by the need to promote the holidays early, while at still recognizing fall themes. As my inbox begins to fill up, I’ve been taking a look at the emails from some top retailers and have observed a few different approaches. Keeping Them Separated

When so many holidays fall in such a short period of time, it can be hard to know when to start promoting what. But it seems that keeping the holidays separated is an important step for most retailers. Let’s look at an example of a set of emails that Lands’ End sent promoting both Halloween and Christmas at the same time. 

One email that I received from Lands’ End was promoting Halloween. This email was timely and  was sent on Halloween Day and promoted nothing else:


Notice that this email is clearly promoting Halloween. It’s very simple, yet eye-catching, and can’t be mistaken for anything other than a Halloween promotion. 

The interesting part about their email timing, this that the Halloween email followed an email sent less than a week before, on October 25, which debuted the retailer’s Christmas Shop sandwiched between an Outerwear Guide and Fall Sale promotion:


Sharing Christmas before Halloween!? It might seem big premature, but people are already starting to think about their holiday shopping by the time Halloween comes around. So it actually does make sense that companies are starting to promote products and sales focused on Christmas. 

Warming Subscribers Up to the Holiday Savings

We all know that Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Shoppers around the country line up year after year to try and snag a great deal after they’ve filled up on their turkey dinners. And as the shopping event starts sooner and sooner each year, so do the emails promoting Pre-Black Friday deals. 

Many retailers attempt to get shoppers in the spirit of the season very early with un-seasonal Black Friday events. And let’s be honest, some companies do it better than others. In this section, we’ll take a look at a few of the companies that tried to warm customers up well in advance, but maybe should have spent a little extra time in the brainstorming room.

Lowe’s, for example, seemed to have jumped the gun when they sent an email on March 13 with the subject line, “Heads Up, Everyone! Spring Black Friday Sale Starts Today!” that had no reference to the event in the email itself. 

The same subject line then appeared with the correct email on May 1, announcing the illogical “Spring Black Friday Sale” that was taking place for two weekends, and proceeded to promote the event in seven subsequent emails:  

Tapping into the power that Black Friday sales have Lowes created their own Spring Black Friday event. This email lets customers know there will be big deals coming during this two-day event — just like the deals they would expect to see on the real Black Friday.

Lowe’s puzzled me once again, when on October 16 they sent this email with the subject line, “Save on Floors and Holiday Décor” that begins by referencing flooring installed by Thanksgiving and ends by promoting “Haunted Living” but includes no other holiday mention:

Another email from Lowes trying to promote the holidays, but not quite making the connection between their services and the holiday season. Throwing Thanksgiving in with a small Halloween reference seems a little all over the place, but they are still getting their message into your inbox. 

Similarly, on August 2, Victoria’s Secret encouraged me to “Shop like it’s Black Friday. August 8th is PINK Friday!” and then promoted the event in two subsequent emails - the day before and day of:

Once again, we see another retailer trying to play off of the promise of Black Friday deals at a different time of the year. This email does not really make a connection to the Black Friday reference once you click into it though, which could be miss leading to subscribers. 

Fast forward to October 29, when the lingerie retailer quietly ushered in the holiday season with this email bearing the subject line, “Shhh. A Very Sexy holiday starts now”:


Victoria Secret promotes its products in a somewhat subtle fashion in this Halloween email. If you weren’t paying attention to what day it was, you may have even missed the Halloween reference in this email.

And then, in what appeared to be an attempt to acknowledge Halloween but continue the holiday theme, sent this October 31 email with the vaguely Halloween-ish but very clunky subject line, “Our treat: Free shipping with clothing & shoes ($25 min)”:

Keeping with our first section, this email could have used a little more separation between the holidays. It seems a little off to be promoting Halloween in the subject line, but Christmas in the email body. Thinking through your holiday campaigns is vital to a comprehensive result.  

Subtly Slipping the Holidays In

Other retailers have been slowly but surely sneaking holiday themes into their emails, but have not yet committed to a holiday subject line or exclusive holiday content.

Gap, for example, included this in the middle of emails sent October 6, 13, and 21 that featured an array of other, non-holiday promotions:

This email is surely not screaming Halloween, but the color and design make it subtly fit into the Halloween mix. Using orange adds a little pop of the spooky holiday to this basic email during the month of October. 

Then, besides a few emails referencing seasonal hiring, did not mention the holidays again until November 3, when they introduced the holiday gift-giving  theme with an email with the unlikely subject line “how we stripe”: 

Sending subscribers gift-giving guides is very much in the holiday spirit. This email does a great job at providing gifts that many people give and receive during the holidays, but not making it focused on one specific holiday. 

On November 2, H&M also slipped in its first holiday mention as the secondary part of the subject line, “Last day for free shipping + Classic home decorations for the upcoming holiday season,” for an email that actually focuses exclusively on holiday décor. I don’t know about you, but for me, this email actually also “slipped in” the fact that this fashion retailer even sells home goods:

Reading the email subject line, it seems like the holiday decor is just an afterthought — but in reality, it’s the main focus of this email. 

Jumping Right Into the Holiday Excitement 

And finally, other retailers have unabashedly kicked off the season. On October 31 – Halloween of all days - Forever 21 sent this email with the celebrity-charged subject line “Iggy Azalea & Nick Young Unwrap Holiday Style”:

Wasting no time, Forever 21 jumped right into the holiday season with a gift guide for everyone on your list. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that some holiday emails do, but it’s clear that they are talking about getting gifts for the special people in your life.  

Then on November 2, followed up with this email, which seemed to say that the season is in full swing:  

Keeping with a clear holiday feels Forever 21 continues to push gift guides to help subscribers complete their holiday shopping. They are appealing to the shopping demographic that will spend the majority of their holiday spending online.

And finally, Walmart introduced “Holiday essentials at unbeatable prices” on November 1:  

Another holiday gift-giving guide to getting shoppers in the holiday (and spending) mood. These emails will help lead customers directly to products and sales on your eCommerce site, leading to increased conversions and direct sales.

Get Into the Holiday Spirit

After looking at the different holiday campaigns already hitting our inboxes, it’s safe to say it’s never too early to start promoting the holidays. Whether it’s promoting a Black Friday sale in July or sharing holiday shopping guides, getting your subscribers thinking about their shopping list will help you increase your holiday sales. What interesting ways have the holiday season crept into your inbox?The holiday season is like a rush to the finish line for most companies. With shoppers expected to spend nearly $1 trillion this holiday season, it’s no wonder retailers take advantage of this time to send themed emails to try and capture your sale.

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