Santa's Workshop: Design Tips For Holiday Emails

Halloween may be two days away, but the Christmas season is already here for email marketers. They better have their holiday strategy in place, or at least be thinking about it.

Fortunately, there are many more creative options than there were in the past — especially in design. 

For example, brands can use “holiday themed emojis or social proof — product reviews coming from social media on newer products or services being offered,” says Bruce Swann, group product marketing manager for Adobe Campaign.

Emojis are useful in subject lines or in the body of the email. Think of Santa images, holiday trees or other images that add warmth to the message.

Brands can also use animation — of twinkling Christmas tree lights and gifts, say. And they can send interactive emails in which the consumer clicks on the image and is presented with a star rating option.

Can this be one on a true one-to-one basis? It depends on the amount of content the brand has, but yes, Swann says. Adobe uses the term “hyper personalization” to denote tailored emails, and recommends providing cohesive experiences for consumers in all channels.    



Typically, this type of creative is based on past behavior, purchases and preferences — say, a holiday wish list, Swann says.

At the same time, marketers have to be ready to respond when people abandon the site to look for a better deal. That’s the time for retargeting and cart abandonment emails, Swann continues. 

Timing is important: In some cases, it might be right to send retargeting emails within minutes. In others, this might be considered creepy. Swann advises marketers to test everything.

Swann adds, of course, that Adobe Campaign offers email design capabilities and drop-and-drag graphics. 

Other thoughts on the subject come from Persado, a firm that provides AI-driven creative tools. It seems to agree with Adobe on some points. Persado analyzed more than 1,500 marketing messages and determined that marketers should:

Use Emotions to Drive Action  Emotional language adds 60% to message performance, vs. such tactics as descriptive language, calls to action, formatting and positioning. Persado warns, however, that Black Friday emotions are different from the ones that work on Cyber Monday.

Use Emojis — but sparingly. Limit them to one per subject line, and avoid those that imply time limitations --they don’t work on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Offer BIG discounts — Who wouldn’t open an email that promised savings of over 50%? But provide a promo code instead of a general sitewide discount — it could drive engagement rates even higher.

Watch out for supersized adjectives — Those include huge savings, save big, major deals, massive offers. They fail to capture attention during days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Persado recommends terms such as amazing, awesome, incredible.

Don’t make threats about time — Lines like “limited-time offers” or “while supplies last.” Consumers are less likely to open them — they feel they have already missed out on the deal.

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