Resources Hub » Blog » 5 Unconventional Email Campaigns To Run This Holiday Season

This is a guest post from Addison Burke.

The holidays are fast approaching, and so are the biggest sales events of the year.

If you’re looking to compete with Amazon’s 49.1% of all online shopping sales, you need to get your campaigns ready in advance.

But standard campaigns won’t cut it. You need unique, exciting, and fresh campaigns that customers haven’t already seen before.

Capturing sales with email campaigns requires more creativity than ever, as people now receive more emails than ever before.

Read on to discover some of the most unique email campaign ideas that you can draw inspiration from and implement this holiday season to improve sales.

1. Run your campaign early.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are holidays you can’t miss when it comes to online sales. Each year during this season, people spend over $700 billion.

Hundreds of millions of emails are sent during the holidays, so driving valuable clicks during this time leads to an even more competitive season. With all competitors going full force during the holidays, what’s your best option to stand out?

Running campaigns early.

You can see how Vida runs an early campaign in this great example:

This Early Black Friday deal is an example of an unconventional email campaigns


Sending out this sale two months before Black Friday does two things: it prompts more sales and generates awareness that Vida will provide Black Friday sales all season long.

Since few competitors are doing pre-Black Friday deals this early, customers will likely remember Vida for their holiday-friendly deals.

Running your campaigns early can also help you gauge a few key factors to improve your actual holiday campaign:

  • Inventory: do you have enough, did you beat projections, and should you plan for more?
  • Offer: was the offer valuable? Did it resonate with people? What was your conversion rate?
  • Send times: test multiple email campaign sending times to see which drives the highest engagement.
  • Site: did your site handle the jumps in traffic? Or did your uptime and speed fail you?

Sending campaigns early gives you far better insights with less risk.

If you’re waiting until the day of to test these factors with your standard campaigns, you’re facing more competition, more risk, and less profit.

2. Give to your customers (and you shall receive).

Most email marketing campaigns around the holiday season are the same:

“Come buy this,” “Come spend your money on X,” “Get 15% off if you spend a fortune.”

You’re effectively asking something of the user without giving them anything (of real value) in return. In short, you’re asking your user for a purely transactional relationship.

Unfortunately, transaction-based relationships don’t foster positive brand awareness, and they don’t create loyalty from customers.

And, when consumers are blasted with promotions, loyalty becomes more important than ever.

This holiday season, run campaigns where you personalize and give back to your users.

For example, showcase to your loyal customers that you notice them and how loyal they actually are, as Lyft does:

Lyft uses data to send unconventional email campaigns

At the end of your email, reward them for their loyalty without forcing them to spend money.

Don’t give them a coupon that they can use on orders over $XX. Instead, just give them a coupon or a discount that’s worth their time.

This fosters even deeper loyalty and recognition.

3. Create custom audience landing pages.

Whether you’re selling digital items or selling direct-to-consumer goods, custom landing pages convert (over 200%!).

What are custom landing pages?

Custom landing pages are sales pages that target either a specific product segment, target audience, or both.

For example, take a look at this landing page from Bay Alarm Medical:

This is an example from Bay Alarm Medical's safety email campaign

Now take a look at this landing page for a separate product:

This is an example of an email template from Bay Alarm Medical

Notice how each landing page follows a templated theme, but the content is customized for the specific product and segment.

Doing so allows you to better customize your CTAs and send the right landing page link to the right audience.

See Campaign Monitor’s free templates here.

Sending customers to a more general page might lead to fewer conversions.

Why? Less personalization. Generic landing pages or your homepage aren’t specific enough, and it can be more difficult to find specific items.

Customers need to feel you’re tailoring your content to their pain points and specific needs. And by using templates from page-building tools, it takes just minutes to scale for different audiences.

Typical development costs for websites start at $2,000 on the low end, according to Website Setup. Using an inexpensive website building tool, on the other hand, allows you to create dozens of landing pages for different target segments or product niches:

Examples of website builders


This way, you can design a single page, duplicate it, and customize the offering for each individual segment.

No need to spend thousands on custom development. Simply design one page and scale it for your needs.

4. Shift your focus from selling to brand building.

Holiday sales can be great for your business, but they can also damage your reputation.

Every business wants those holiday sales, and some may send batch-and-blasts to see what sales they can achieve.

These are often ignored, and many companies tend to inflate their listed prices, making discounts worthless. This isn’t just bad for your brand, but also for trust and loyalty.

When running your next holiday campaign this year, consider taking a different approach—one that focuses on your brand development in the long term, rather than short-term sales.

Case in point, Everlane:

This example from Everlane is an unconventional email campaign for the holiday season


Even more daring, the Everland subject line stated, “This is not a sale.” Consumers can’t help but click.

Instead of a standard attempt at driving sales via coupons, Everlane changes the game, promising to give every penny earned on Black Friday to their factory workers for better benefits.

Yeah, that’s a lot of money, but it’s money spent on the well-being of employees who make the product.

That translates into better company culture, brand awareness, and a better product in general.

While you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) copy this idea as is, you can modify it to fit your needs.

Can you partner with a local charity (if your business is local)? Are there certain causes that your company employees can vote on? Or causes your consumers might be interested in contributing toward?

Look for ways to build your brand and make the world a better place.

Consider investing in the long game: It just might be your next home run.

5. Develop an interactive and ongoing campaign.

Standard campaigns can work, but they aren’t very engaging or exciting for most recipients on your list. And while small discounts are nice, they’re not especially unique.

So, how do you stand out? Luckily, the delivery method can be just as impactful as the actual discount.

Boring emails net boring and dull engagement rates. Take a hard, honest look at your last holiday campaign.

How was the engagement rate? Was the open rate low? How did it compare to your industry benchmarks? If so, your offer was probably not compelling enough.

If you fall into the lower engagement category, don’t worry—you have plenty of time to spice things up this year.

For example, Forever 21 takes its Black Friday campaigns to a whole new level:

Try using interactive content for your unconventional holiday campaigns


Instead of just emailing customers a coupon code to redeem, they drive engagement that leads up to Black Friday, helping to build hype for the sales to come.

By using a scratcher-style game, users can win up to 25% off their shopping, in addition to already existing sales.

This gives people the psychological feeling of commitment and, once they’ve won the prize, it’s highly likely they’ll put it to use.

Can you develop interactive content to engage subscribers and unlock more leads?

If so, try this for your next holiday campaign. Ditch the cookie-cutter templates and produce an unforgettable experience for your existing and potentially new customers.

Wrap up

The holidays are fast approaching. Now’s the time to get ahead of the competition and run holiday email campaigns.

But you can’t just recycle and repeat old tactics.

If you want to stand out this year and drive more sales than ever, it’s time to get unconventional.

Start by running your campaigns early, building up hype and brand awareness before you fight for precious, thinning inbox space.

In your campaign, don’t ask them to do anything. Instead, provide them value with zero strings attached.

Create custom audience/product landing pages to better personalize your offers.

Shift your focus from selling to brand awareness. While sales are great, so is long-term awareness of your company and steady growth.

Lastly, develop something interactive that people look forward to each holiday.

Want better holiday sales? Run these unconventional email campaigns.

Addison Burke is a freelance writer that teaches businesses how to grow through better digital marketing.

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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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