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Yes, it’s taken us 1½ months to pick a winning design and two runner-ups for our latest holiday email design contest. Shameful, I know. To our defense, we’ve had a lot going on, including an exciting, yet not-so-secret big release in the works. But that’s beside the point.

This year’s contest was especially challenging from a judge’s perspective – not only did we have literally tens of thousands of visually impressive campaigns to choose from, but we made it our imperative to choose entries that were practical, unbreakable and reusable. It took more than impressive header graphics to get on to our shortlist – we were looking for designs that could be potentially tweaked and sent with confidence, time and time again. Without any further deliberation, here are 2011’s top holiday picks:

Winner: Krrb.com

Designer: Krrb.com, by AREA 17Krrb

The Krrb.com newsletter, produced by AREA 17, was sure to be a slightly controversial Christmas choice. It isn’t a one-off design – in fact, the Krrb team use a well-crafted template and the email editor to create each newsletter. It’s so uncomplicated, that it’s not the kind of message you would see in your inbox and go, ‘wow, they must have spent ages on this!’. But from our perspective, that’s a big part of what makes this holiday-themed newsletter so perfect.

That, plus a combination of visual, technical and conversational flair. The message simply projects Krrb-ness, with images and a tone that’s consistent with their site and branding. This isn’t just a sales pitch for an artsy site – it’s got helpful gift suggestions, editorial and just a little dash of hipster cred. It’s timely, features curious details (like the dog and owner glyph in the footer) and it’s shareable. What’s not to love?

Congratulations again to George, Audrey, Antoine and Andrew on the Area 17 team – they’ve been rewarded with a Kindle Fire, FitBit and 50,000 email credits. Be nice and share, yo. ;)

Runner-up: Happy Holidays from Matchbox Creative

Designer: Matchbox CreativeMatchbox Creative

This design has a special place in our heart for not only supporting a good cause, but because it’s one of the first template builder creations to be featured in this blog. This meant that our friends at Matchbox Creative came to the party with the fun, animated header image, copy and color scheme, then left the rest to us. The result: More time enjoying the festive season and less on testing their design in a squillion email clients. It also looks pretty snazzy, don’t you think?

Well done to the Matchbox Creative team and thank you for making the most out of our template builder – for their effort, they’ve won 10,000 email credits.

Runner-up: Christmas with Yuppiechef

Designer: YuppiechefYuppiechef

Our final runner-up prize went to our South African friends at Yuppiechef, who impressed us with their holiday-themed Christmas catalogue. Like Krrb.com’s design, it features personal touches like a staff wish list, a friendly tone, easy social sharing and great-quality images. That said, it’s a commercial email through and through, but unlike a lot of similar designs, comes with personal, detail-oriented touches. Well done to the toffs on the Yuppiechef team – they’ve also won a respectable 10,000 email credits.

Finally, a big thank you to everyone who sent email campaigns with Campaign Monitor during 2011. It was yet another record-breaking year for us, so we have a lot to be grateful for. Regardless of whether you send 6 or 60,000 emails a year, we’re committed to providing you with top-notch tools and service, so you too can create and send designs like the ones above with minimal effort.

Congratulations again to our winners and best of luck to everyone else – hopefully, you’ll be selected when we relaunch the competition in December!

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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