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This week, as the working world starts to quiet down a little, we’re inspired by the companies and organizations who took the time to send season’s greetings emails saying “thank you” and cheers for the year ahead. We know inboxes are more crowded than ever in December, but in a sea of deals-and-discounts messages, these emails are refreshing—even uplifting. There are no prompts or pleas to buy or save or donate or register. And while season’s greetings messages are still “email marketing” (no doubt a strategic way to strengthen relationships with customers and keep your brand top of mind), if done well, these emails can benefit business as much as they delight readers, leaving them with a positive association of your brand as we roll into 2016.
Here are some inspiring season’s greetings emails we’ve received so far. Incorporate these design tips as you prepare your company’s message for the end of 2015 or beginning of 2016.
Tip #1: Have fun
This email from Vimeo made us smile. From the subject line (We love you wondrous humans) to the punny copy to the sparkling content, it’s clear Vimeo is having fun, and it’s contagious.
“Come the end of the year, some companies release ‘annual reports’ full of charts and numbers detailing the total cups of coffee they ingested,” they write. “Other companies build interactive websites to share awesome videos from 2015 with their equally awesome communities.”
And build an interactive website they did. Click the Mood Screen GIF in the center of the email…
…and you’re taken to the “Mood Screen” website, where clicking anywhere delivers an assigned mood and accompanying Vimeo video.
The concept is relatively simple but incredibly clever. It’s a perfect example of the Vimeo brand in action. And its shareability is sure to generate buzz online.
Tip #2: Gift holiday-themed branded content
This simple season’s greetings email from Jean-Georges restaurants gives readers a festive recipe while also sending wishes for a happy holiday.
The image is actually an animated GIF, making us really feel the warmth.
Spend a little time developing an angle that ties together existing branded content with a holiday theme. Giving away content helps brands positively position themselves and can even provide an opportunity to learn about and grow your target audience. Come up with something your subscribers would enjoy—like a free-to-download ebook or a printable holiday card—and turn it into a gift.
Design tip for animated GIFs: be sure to follow our best practices for using animated GIFs in email and crop your GIF.
Tip #3: Keep it sweet, simply
This two-line email from Deva Curl, a line of hair care products for curly-headed women, is straightforward—and merry!
The email is festive, on-brand (all about those curls!), and will take readers two seconds to digest. Remember, your subscribers have probably been inundated with emails all month, so a really short message that cuts to the chase is effective. The emphasis here is on the fun illustration, which—you guessed it—is actually another animated GIF (that links back to the Deva Curl website, of course):
Deva Curl should be wary of the hazards of sending an image-only email, but otherwise, we think this email is great. It’s smart to give subscribers a break from content-loaded emails. Allow your sweet and festive message to shine through.
Tip #4: Be yourself
Maybe your brand has a really stellar web presence with a great website, blog, all the social media accounts possible, a long subscriber list and a regularly-sent newsletter, and more. You put a lot of content out there, positioning yourself as a subject-matter expert and developing respect in your industry and among your clients and readers. But, who’s behind all that content? Chances are, your readers are kind of curious about that. Don’t be a robot; be yourself. That’s exactly what the Email Experience Council did with their season’s greeting email:
Looks like they’re having almost as much fun as Vimeo! It’s fun and refreshing to see real people. Head over to EEC’s website and you’ll find a very professional aesthetic and tone, without any personal information of the employees behind the operation. But people want brands to be friendly and personable. Showing the people behind your brand bolsters a feeling of connection with your readers.
Tip #5: Wrap up your year
It’s the time of year when many of us—businesses included—are reflecting on the previous 12 months. If your company hit some milestones this year, remind readers of your accomplishments in a succinct, easy-to-read way. Braven Brewing Company does a great job of that with their bulleted list:
In just a few lines, they wrap-up their 2015 on a positive note. And they’re sure to show their gratitude and thank their supporters—an essential part of their message.
Tip # 6: Break the mold
Food 52 sends really beautiful emails that typically follow the same format: high quality photography and a sleek grid-layout. They look like this:
That’s why this recent email from them really caught out eye:
The illustration is a complete design 180 for Food 52. It’s a festive, fun change-up for the holidays, one that’s sure to garner attention among readers who aren’t expecting it. Refreshing your email template is a smart way to kick off the season, making readers feel the festive spirit and hopefully encouraging clicks.
Season’s greetings emails wrap-up
Our favorite season’s greetings emails have a lot in common: they’re playful, highly visual, and short and sweet. At a time of year that can often be a bit chaotic, we appreciate the brands that took a moment to send something bright and merry to our inboxes, without asking anything of us or taking much of our time. It’s not too late to put together your own season’s greeting email. Keep our design tips in mind:
- Have fun! Brainstorm a playful and unique concept that can stand on its own, like Vimeo’s Mood Screen, and maximize shareability beyond your existing audience.
- Give away content. Make it valuable, special, and on-brand, then present it to your readers in a simple, visually-appealing email.
- Be sweet & simple. A few lines is all it takes. Be thankful, and offer good cheer! And a pun or two won’t hurt 😉
- Show readers who you are. It’s a great time for brands to peel back the curtain on their operations and take a more personable approach. It could be as simple as a photograph in the signature line or a company picture.
- Mention the year’s achievements. But keep it short. Let readers know your grateful for their support, and because of it you’ve come a long way this year.
- Change up your usual style. This is the season for refreshing your template and doing something special.
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