Happy New Year, beloved email buddies! And congratulations on surviving the busiest season of the year. You did it! Now that the new year is upon us, we thought we'd take a moment to reflect on 2018's holiday email campaigns. In fact, we're going to take a deep dive into how one brand, Thinx, approached holiday emails, all the way from Thanksgiving to New Year's. We'll see how Thinx communicated with customers, offered promotions, and generated clicks throughout the chaotic shopping season. There are great design insights here, and even a little holiday email design inspiration to get you ready for any 2019 campaign on your list. Let's go!
First: What's to love about Thinx email design?
Of all the holiday email examples, we chose Thinx because the brand's approach to email is simple, beautiful, and effective.
Each holiday email we received from Thinx was:
- Focused: Each has a single objective and call to action.
- Clutter-free: There are no navigation menus or header clutter.
- To the point: The copy is succinct and easy to skim.
- Balanced: Live headers and body text accompany images (never any image-only emails).
- Bulletproof: Buttons are bulletproof, high-contrast, and have custom copy.
- Designed for mobile: Each email follows an inverted pyramid layout with large text, plenty of padding between elements, and all of the above mentioned mobile-friendly design approaches.
Let's go! Here's a look at Thinx's 2018 holiday emails...
#1. Thanksgiving Week
Each year, the holiday (shopping) season seems to creep up earlier and last longer. The action really heats up right around Thanksgiving, leading into Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday—and, for many brands, expanding right on through in a full Cyber Week(and beyond).For Thinx, Thanksgiving week didn't equate with huge sales or eye-catching promotions. Instead, the brand started out with an awareness and loyalty-building email encouraging readers to watch a video about its ethical and sustainable practices.Subject: We craft our undies carefully and consciously — see how.Sent November 18 (the Sunday before Thanksgiving)
An email like this is a signal to readers about who Thinx is as a brand and what their values are. This kind of messaging can build customer trust and loyalty. It's reminiscent of other brands like Patagonia or Everlane whochoose to opt out of the Thanksgiving-Black Friday madness and instead show readers their real values go deeper. And when it comes to design, this email is strong. The big, bold header—ethical, sustainable manufacturing—tells readers what the email is about immediately. Even if they skip the body content and go straight down to the CTA, they'll get it. Making an email skimmable is important when inboxes are congested. The idea is to convey the most important takeaway and intrigue readers enough to click for more. (Emails are not websites!)
#2. Cyber Week
For Cyber Week, Thinx kept it simple and celebrated the "holiday" that best connected to its brand identity and values: Giving Tuesday.Subject: It’s Giving Tuesday: $5 from every pair of undies goes to Girls Inc. Sent November 27 (Giving Tuesday)
We absolutely love the simple design of this email, from the asymmetrical image layout to the simple lines of text to the custom CTA button. Like the email before it, if you cut the body text and just read the header and CTA button, you still have an understanding of what the email is about and what the action to take is.
#3. Christmas Lead-Up
In the month of December, between the 4th and 22nd, Thinx sent a total of 7 emails. Some promoted a gift set for the holidays and a limited edition style, as well as free shipping, like the ones below—Subject: Hello better period, goodbye shipping fees. Sent December 11
Bold, oversized header statement, eye-catching art, simple live-text messaging, and another great CTA — what's not to love?Subject: Don’t forget about our free shipping! Sent December 17
This follow-up is great and to the point. The only addition we might recommend? A dynamic in-email countdown timer. Many are free to use and easy to implement—and they're effective at creating urgency when you really mean it!
Subject: A post-holiday treat from us to you ⛄️Sent December 26
Leading up to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Thinx was quiet, then popped back into inboxes after Christmas with a post-holiday sale. Straightforward like the rest of its holiday email marketing, this message is simply and powerfully designed.Subject: 2018 is almost over (and so is this sweet deal!)Sent December 30
Here's the follow-up email, a few days after the first. The hero image is different but still similar, signaling its connection to the first email in the two-message campaign.
#5. New Year's Eve
Year-in-review emails come in all shapes and sizes. Some brands send them in mid-December, and some wait until mid-January. Some enclose detailed information within the email itself, while others link out to a report, like Thinx does, below. For end-of-year email wrap-up inspiration, be sure to check out our post, The 7 Best Year in Review Emails of 2017.Subject: The year in review
As you can tell right away, this illustration is a big change of pace from the photos in the rest of Thinx's holiday emails. Switching up your hero image (or making it a GIF) is like telling readers, Hey, this is different—pay attention! In this case, it's a perfect choice for a year-in-review email.
#6. New Year's Day
Subject: *This* is the year to period better
In this one, there's no promotion and no sale—just a beautiful email celebrating the brand's flagship product. It's a bold way to start the new year, and a great strategy. With a strong, simple sans serif as its header font, an email like this could be optimized in BEE by using live text atop a background image.
Wrap-Up: Takeaways from Thinx's Holiday Email Marketing Strategy
Here are some takeaways we gleaned from Thinx's fantastic holiday email design:
- Instead of saturating readers with emails throughout the season, choose the holidays that best align with your brand and email then (i.e., Giving Tuesday)
- It's okay if your emails all have a similar layout! In fact, using templates is a great way to establish design consistency.
- Change up your hero image to signal a special message (e.g., switching from photography to illustration or a GIF)
- Always customize your CTA text so that readers know why they're clicking
- Follow design best-practices like using ample live text and bulletproof buttons and avoiding clutter and multiple CTAs that vie for attention