10 brands that upped their email game this holiday season

January 7, 2016 McKenzie Gregory


To be fair, we went into this holiday season expecting brands to step up their email game.

After all, it’s the most competitive time of the year for marketers, with send volumes skyrocketing to unprecedented levels each December. But now that we’ve entered the new year, it’s safe to say that not only did our favorite brands truly step it up during the holidays – they completely exceeded our expectations!

Here are some of our favorite picks from the past couple of weeks. Read on to see 11 crazy-good holiday emails (we loved one brand’s so much we featured two of theirs) – maybe they’ll even help inspire your own marketing in 2016!



1. Classpass

We’ve never seen a more forward-worthy email – even if it’s because the email, well… outright tells you to forward it. It’s still an incredibly fun, creative, and stylish way to drop a hint during the holiday season!



2. Modcloth

This was just the first of a week-long series of deal-of-the-day emails from ModCloth. We loved the festive GIF action, plus the added element of surprise – aided by subject lines like “You’re in for a stylish deal!” – made each day’s email irresistible to open.



3. City Winery

We’re all about this easy-to-navigate tile format. It’s a great solution for an event venue to address all of the activities going on during the holidays without overwhelming the reader with text – plus, it looks great on a mobile device!




4. Trello

We loved seeing how marketers in the B2B space also raised the bar this year. Take this example from Trello. Their “Twelve Ways to Trello” holiday email came across as both festive and valuable without seeming too gimmicky. Nice work, guys!




5. Warby Parker

Glasses are a very personal thing – not exactly something you would typically buy as a holiday gift – so Warby Parker found a great way to package their most practical gift option: the gift card. A gift card on its own doesn’t necessarily make for the best email imagery, but by framing the card with fun, colorful buttons and using plenty of white space, Warby Parker really makes it pop.



6. Artifact Uprising

This New Years email from Artifact Uprising was both beautiful and inspirational. Packed with resolutions rather than sales promos, it told a compelling story about the brand, the things that are important to them, and served as a much needed breath of fresh air in an inbox stuffed with discounts.



7. Uber

We saw lots of great GIFs in holiday emails this year, but this one from Uber truly took it to the next level. It re-confirmed the idea that the marketing strategies of app-based brands like Uber and Spotify are becoming the new gold standard in the marketing world.




8. Lyft

Our other favorite ride-sharing company also did an excellent job crafting their New Years email! Their step-by-step approach was easily scannable and helpful for the masses of people planning on imbibing that evening. Plus, they added a little bonus content in the form of a hilarious video featuring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, helping cement the idea that video (especially video content featuring celebrities!) is email gold.



9. Loft

For a retail brand, Loft did an amazing job of delivering email content that had absolutely nothing to do with sales over the holidays. Their focus on content was incredibly refreshing in the sea of “last minute deals!” that flooded our inboxes in late December.

We especially loved this heartfelt thank-you letter from Loft CEO, Gary Muto….



…. and this fun New Years horoscope content!



10. Condé Nast

If you know anything about us, you probably know that we’re huge fans of the good, old-fashioned “oops” email. This one from Conde Nast – publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and more – was especially great. We loved the humor in their copy, which referred to how they had “dropped the ball” due to technical difficulties (oh, word play). Paired with a great deal and sparkling New Years imagery that was completely on-brand, it was a killer example of how publishers can effectively utilize retail strategies in their own emails.




About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a content writer on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

Follow on Twitter More Content by McKenzie Gregory
Previous Article
Anatomy of an Email: Tito's Vodka
Anatomy of an Email: Tito's Vodka

Next Article
12 of our best-looking (and smartest) designs yet
12 of our best-looking (and smartest) designs yet

Here’s a deep dive into our new templates and the marketing smarts baked into each one.

What's missing from your email marketing?