Even the most capable, expert-at-their-business small business owner can feel like a rube when it comes to getting creative with email marketing ideas. Yet great email ideas get clicks, engage customers and can boost sales — so you know you need to send out as many winners as possible in 2016.

So the next question you probably have is: How do I maximize the success of my marketing emails in the New Year? We’re glad you asked.

We have 12 months of inspiring and creative ideas to help you craft emails that will engage, entertain and motivate your subscribers:


  • January 14 is National Dress Up Your Pet Day. Put a fun spin on your emails in honor of your furry best friends. Dress up pets of staff members, take their picture and add it to your announcements of sales, deals and special events. Or, better yet, stage a contest for customers asking them to submit photos of their own pets dressed up.
  • Who doesn’t love getting some cash back? Sweeten email deals by offering rebates. The returns could be immediate to encourage recipients to take a specific desired action, such as making an online purchase, liking you on Facebook, or coming into your store.


  • Valentine’s Day is the first big holiday of the year for many people. Leverage your subscriber’s attention to the day by making them feel especially loved in your email communications. Email personalization lets customers know just how much they mean to you.
  • If music is the language of love, video is the verse that creates excitement among email subscribers. Try creating a product video that helps viewers better understand how to optimize their use of your product. Email the video link to subscribers and offer an incentive for them to click-through and view the video.


  • This month, many of your customers are going to be thinking about basketball, so they’ll likely be more inclined to open an email tied into a theme that’s already at the forefront of their attention. Concoct a March Madness promotion and offer a discount every time your team advances in the tournament.
  • Make Up Your Own Holiday Day arrives on March 26. Try offering a prize to the email subscriber who responds with the most outrageous, fun and applicable-to-your-business made-up holiday.
  • Put customers in the driver’s seat by using email to solicit creative ideas and feedback for new products or services you plan to launch, how you’ll decorate the store’s window display this spring, your logo or website redesign, or your next product catalog. Asking customers for their opinions, rather than their money, can help them feel more appreciated and engaged — and give you insight into what they really think about your business.


  • April 10 is National Siblings Day. Why not try leveraging the opportunities presented by transactional emails to play off the day? For example, instead of just emailing a purchase receipt, you could also include a discount for the buyer to forward to his or her sibling to apply to their first (or next) purchase.
  • Launch a totally non-salesy, brand-building “just for fun” occasional email newsletter on April 14, International Moment of Laughter Day. Fill it with links to the funniest headlines or company news of the past month or quarter. Reap bonus points if you can also keep stories specific to your products/service/industry!


  • May is a big month for weddings, which could explain why National Chicken Dance Day is May 14. Announce via email a contest for consumers. Ask them to send a video of themselves or a loved one doing the iconic dance  anywhere is fine, but a wedding reception is best. Reward winners with free products or services from your business, or even free dance lessons!
  • Give the concept of “discount” a new, more engaging face. Instead of sending an email that offers a straight 5 percent off purchases, why not get creative with your credit? Offer a specific and unusual dollar amount, like $8.67, off purchases and announce the subscriber’s credit in the email subject line.
  • Mother’s Day arrives in May, and it’s hard to go wrong with a promotion that honors practically everyone’s favorite parent. A simple, heartfelt email announcing your desire to thank all the mothers who give you their business, along with a specific offer for Mom or anyone shopping for her, is the perfect way to celebrate the day.


  • Is it a coincidence that National Splurge Day (June 18) arrives in the middle of graduation season? Probably not. Why not combine the two and create an email campaign around how easy your business makes it to splurge on grads? Promote your graduation sales and incentives through personalized emails.
  • Grads aren’t the only ones getting kudos this month. Father’s Day is also a great time to leverage creative ideas for email marketing. Why not promote your products or services with real social media reviews from happy dads who’ve done business with you? Or, ask customers to share their favorite childhood memories of their dads on your social media pages.


  • Independence Day sales are a dime a dozen. Of course you need to promote yours, but you can also put a heart-warming spin on holiday promotions. If you have a veteran working in your company, why not include a brief profile of him or her in your email newsletter this month or on your social media pages?
  • Tie into National Ice Cream Day (July 17) by offering discounts with an expiration date. Play on the idea that like ice cream, the deal will soon “melt away,” so subscribers should act quickly.


  • August 26 is National Dog Day, and many of your customers probably own pets. Announce a special give-away in honor of the day. It can be as simple as free dog biscuits for every pet owner who visits your store that day, or as ambitious as a “most-beautiful dog” contest complete with first, second and third prizes.


  • On September 5, it’s Be Late for Something Day. Send out an email announcing extended hours that day along with “late riser” discounts for anyone who comes into your store or makes a purchase during those extra hours.
  • Stage a back-to-school photo contest with creative and humorous categories, such as the “Most Elated Mom,” “Worst First-Day Face,” or “Funniest First-Day-of-School Wardrobe.” Encourage email subscribers to send in their photographs for the competition, and post the winners on your social media pages.


  • Did you notice all the holiday items that went on sale in stores before Halloween was over last year? Why not make light of holiday creep with a “rushing the holidays” email that provides tips, advice, and incentives for early shoppers?


  • On Nov. 13, World Kindness Day, send an email asking customers to donate to the charity your company supports. Encourage their generosity with some of your own, by offering discounts that match their donation amounts. For example, someone who donates $25 to your charity could receive 25 percent off purchases of a certain level or higher.
  • Many holiday shoppers get rolling this month and those who don’t will start to feel the pressure. Help ease a bit of that stress with a holiday-gift-guide email that highlights important information about some of the products consumers purchased from you the most during the holidays last year.


  • Dec. 16 is National Chocolate Covered Anything Day. Celebrate the day by offering email subscribers holiday cooking tips and discounts on any products you sell related to holiday entertaining.
  • Of course, you should always wrap up the year with a simple email thanking your customers for their business throughout the year, rewarding them with a promotional item or discount.

Conclusion: Get a jump on 2016 with these great ideas for creative email campaigns. Let us know which ones rocked!