Not in a position to get email automation up and running in time for the holiday selling window? A healthy shot of ‘manual’ email marketing will still do the trick.

We’ve put together a list of must-send emails complete with inspiring examples. Follow this guide to save your marketing this season.

1. The Black Friday Email

One of the most significant online shopping days of the entire year both in the U.S. and UK, Black Friday falls this year on November 28th.

2013 saw record breaking Black Friday numbers, with online sales increasing by 19% year on year in the U.S.

Sales peaked at 9.05am, as determined bargain hunters became online door-busters, and sales activity remained steady and high throughout the day, through to evening. (Source: IBM 2013 Holiday Benchmark Report).

Your Black Friday marketing email can help maximize your share of the sales revenue on this day, by employing some of these smart approaches to content.

From the customers’ point of view Black Friday is all about discounts. This doesn’t mean you have to launch a fire sale though.

Carefully packaged bundles, free shipping incentives, and loss-leader door buster offers will all help to drive email engagement and traffic to your website.

Your customers’ inboxes are going to get very cluttered on Black Friday. Maintaining your brand positioning and strengths can help you get cut-through in a sea of generic ‘XX% off’ emails. This example from shows how a nice creative spin enables the brand to reclaim Black Friday for themselves.


2. The Cyber Monday Email

In the U.S., as in the UK, Cyber Monday ranked as the highest online spending day of 2013, with over $1.735 billion spent on desktops alone.

This year, Cyber Monday falls on December 1st and represents critical date number two in your email marketing calendar.

Aim to build urgency into your email message to drive both and engagement and conversions, as demonstrated in these examples:


Here, Urban Outfitters use a dynamic countdown to add urgent to their call to action.

Dynamic content in your emails can prove effective for introducing an element of urgency. Dynamic image functionality for example enables you to update an offer countdown clock each time the email is opened.

4 uses a single minded proposition and a dynamic countdown to deliver a compelling message.


In this example, Finish Line uses MoveableInk dynamic content to deliver a clear message of urgency: The Pressure is on!

3. The Delivery Cut-off Email

When it comes to building a sense of urgency around last minute holiday shopping a ‘holiday cut-off date’ email will always deliver.

Establish your last order date for guaranteed delivery by December 24th and plan an email for that date.

Royal Mail delivery cut off dates for the 2014 holiday season in the UK look like this:

  • UK inland 2nd class: Thursday 18th December
  • UK inland 1st class: Saturday 20th December
  • UK inland 2nd Royal Mail Special Delivery Tuesday 23rd December uses their final shipping date to tailor a last minute gift email that extends their selling window with express shipping and offers both gift cards and last minute gift suggestions.


Sports clothing retailer Lulumon use their delivery deadline email to instil urgency and offer an incentive to act, in the shape of free express delivery.

4. The Gift Card Email

For online retailers with ecommerce solutions that offer this functionality, gift cards can be the gift that keeps on giving.

Gift cards offer your customers a flexible way to solve their gifting problems, and a solution for those who have left their online shopping too late for physical delivery by December 24th.

For your business, gift cards provide a valuable opportunity for you to extend the reach of your brand to the friends and family of your existing customers and prospects, and extend your selling window beyond the final delivery date deadline.


Victoria’s Secret’s gift card email highlights the fact that recipients can even order and send e-gift cards on Christmas Day.


Online clothing store delivers a dedicated holiday gift card email that sells the simplicity benefits to consumers of gift-carding.

5. The Christmas Day Email

This one might come as a surprise. I mean, do we really want to be receiving emails from our favourite brands on Christmas Day? Isn’t this one day in the year when we take a break from our role as online consumer and focus on consuming turkey and all the trimmings?

Well… no, actually.

Christmas Day is an important day in the email marketing calendar, and the reason for this lies in consumer behaviour on December 26th.

Data from Experian Hitwise shows that December 26th 2013 was the busiest day ever for online retailers in the UK, with British Internet users making 129m visits to retail websites.

What’s more, there were 114m online retail visits on Christmas Day the same year.

So your customers are reading emails and browsing shopping sites on Christmas Day, ready for their post-holiday shopping spree on the 26th.

Which means you need to be planning now for your Christmas Day email campaign.


Remember how most years some of those gifts you wanted didn’t just turn up under the tree?

You’re not alone.

Don’t be afraid to focus your Christmas Day email message around ‘come back and purchase for yourself what you wish you had received for the holidays!’

Here, Schu tell it like it is with their Christmas Day email; the sales focus is no longer about gifting – it’s all about the customer buying for themselves.


Here, New Look’s Christmas morning email takes a novel, content-led approach that plays on people’s focus on holiday TV programming.

For a complete guide to seasonal marketing, download our complimentary Holidays Handbook 2014-15