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Design 1, 2, 3: The Holiday E-mail Craze - Spam vs. Savings

November 29, 2011
3 Min Read
Design 1, 2, 3: The Holiday E-mail Craze - Spam vs. Savings

Surely, last weekend, I wasn't the only one bombarded with e-mails promising low, limited-time prices; free shipping; and exclusive 2-for-1 deals. How bombarded was I? From Black Friday to Cyber Monday, my spam e-mail account (yes, I have one of those) had collected 125+ e-mail ads. And just for you, my dear readers, I looked through and turned on images for every single one of those e-mails to bring you this month's Design 1, 2, 3.

Let's get started then.

1. Get Into The Spirit of Things

While I'm one of those people that thinks it's ridiculous to see Christmas supplies in stores after holidays, I am by no means a Grinch. I love the holiday spirit and so do millions of other Americans who spent $816 million online on Black Friday1. Predictions for Cyber Monday? Consumers could spend up to $1.2 billion2.

To me, those numbers are reason enough to dress up your e-mails with some holiday cheer. Even if your company's branded colors don't jive with the holiday scheme, it's not that hard to work in some holiday copy, light-hearted typefaces or a few snowflakes.

The Nice List:

Target's Holiday Email Example

Holiday Email: Staples Example

Holiday Email: Restaurant.com Example

The Naughty List:

Holiday Email: Aerosoles Example

Holiday Email: Dyson Example

Holiday Email: Urban Decay Example
Urban Decay

Not matching your e-mails to the season, like the examples above, may actually have a detrimental effect on conversion and sales, because they lack a sense of urgency, the time-sensitiveness of purchasing 'in time' isn't there.

2. Keep the E-mail Concise

The other thing I noticed in a lot of these e-mails is how jam-packed with offers they are. This is good and bad. Good for the obvious reasons, but bad because when you throw so much at a person at once, it might go by them in a blur. Especially, when you consider the 34% of surveyed adults who send and receive e-mails on their mobile phones; a 2000 px long e-mail with offer after offer is a lot of scrolling on that small screen3.

It's better practice to send out multiple e-mails with one main message and have two to four secondary marketing messages. Make sure one item is given the most prominence visually, it signals to the viewer, hey, look here!

And if you must have a lot of information in your e-mail, be sure to categorize it. Headers and subheaders are your friends. Use color to make items (discounts and call to action buttons especially) stand out. Don't lose site of visual hierarchy when you're adding in baubles and sparkle.

The Nice List:

Holiday Email: Microsoft Office
Microsoft Office for Mac

Holiday Email: Loft Example

Holiday Email: Eddie Bauer Example
Eddie Bauer

The Naughty List:

Holiday Email: Fat Brain Toy Example
Fat Brain Toys

Holiday Email: Zazzle Example

Holiday Email: Living Social
Living Social

3. Images Off? Deals Off.

This is probably the most important and most widely available piece of advice, and yet some people still don't follow it. It's very simple and straightforward: Your e-mail offers have to be accessible with images turned off.

I repeat, your e-mail offers have to be accessible with images turned off.

Nearly every e-mail browser from Outlook to gMail to MobileMe and everything in between, will turn off the images in your e-mail by default. If a user opts not to turn them back on, your great deals, exclusive promotions, and super savings will be missed -- which means missing out on crucial revenue during this season.

The Nice List:


Holiday Email: Example


The Naughty List:

Holiday Email: The Naughty List
Microsoft Office for Mac

Holiday Email: Example

Holiday Email: Example

Not Naughty, Not Nice - Other E-mails

While going through the mass of e-mails that was my Inbox, I stumbled upon three e-mails that are worth mentioning.

Two e-mails I received had animated GIFs. While the professional me scoffed at them, think of the mobile users, the load times, the usability, the accessibility, etc, etc, etc, they still made me smile.

Holiday Email: ExampleUrban Outfi

Also breaking the rules this holiday season was Crate & Barrel with their ever long horizontal scrolling e-mail. Click image to view full size.

Holiday Email: Example

Tell Me What You Think

How have your holiday e-mail plans been working? Do you think it's the design or the copy, the offer or the usability? Have your own tips to add? Leave them in the comments!

Thanks for checking in on this month’s Design 1, 2, 3. If you learned something new or were just pleasantly amused, pass it along. See you next month.

Mentioned in this Post:

1 "Black Friday and other holiday weekend shoppers set spending record." Washington Post Online. 2011 Nov 28.

2 "Cyber Monday deals lure shoppers to spend more than last year." Washington Post Online. 2011 Nov 28.

3 "Mobile Access 2010." Pew Internet & American Life Project. 201 Jul 7.

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Founder & CEO of Groove Commerce https://ethangiffin.com

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