The 3 Biggest Email Trends We’ve Seen This Holiday Season

It’s that special time of year when our inboxes get flooded with emails from almost every retailer we know. And while people are busy scanning their inbox for the best deal or newest products to surprise their loved ones with, we’re busy noticing the email themes that are emerging from this holiday season. 

Of the countless promotional emails we’ve received in the past two months (November-December 2021), we’ve seen mention of gift guides, shipping deadlines, or gift cards in almost every email we’ve received.

1. Gift Guides 

With a sometimes overwhelming amount of choice being thrown at customers, ecommerce businesses are prioritizing making the shopping experience as easy and stress-free as possible this year by sharing popular categories to shop. 

This could be anything from products in certain price buckets, like homegoods company Parachute does in some of their emails, or grouping products by taste or style. 

Emails from Parachute and Crazy Strong candles highlighting different prices and categories subscribers can shop.

This is especially useful for brands that have a large amount of products, as it helps customers explore products in a new way. 

But not only is this helpful to customers as they’re browsing among the millions of products available online, it also helps the companies behind the emails understand more about their customers’ behavior. 

By watching where subscribers are clicking, a business can gain more knowledge about what prices people like to shop around the holidays or what categories they buy in this time of year (for example, have they been purchasing women’s clothes all year, and are now browsing men’s clothes for a friend, relative, or significant other as a gift). 

The insights a brand gains can fuel segmentation throughout the rest of the year. 

2. Shipping Deadlines 

Since the pandemic started in March 2020, the high demand for online goods has been a stressor on the supply chain and shipping deadlines. Heading into the holiday season is only exacerbating the issue. 

With the hopes of ensuring customers can get the products they ordered in time for the winter holidays, ecommerce brands are using email marketing to send timely updates about shipping deadlines. 

This helps mitigate customer expectations if they order after a certain date, but also helps online businesses drive urgency and sales leading up to the end of the year. 

Here’s just a small sample of the number of brands mentioning shipping deadlines in the past few weeks: 

 Email subject lines from various ecommerce brands calling out shipping deadlines.

With supply chain issues due to high demand, notifications like these are even more important this year than most. 

3. Gift Cards 

While brands and customers alike are worried about shipping deadlines, digital gift cards are swooping in to save the day. 

Most ecommerce stores can create online gift cards for customers to purchase and share with others. While it may not be as satisfying to receive as a gift, it helps retailers and customers avoid the stress of shipping a physical product to gift. 

Emails from Mate the Label, Blueland, and Sweetgreen highlighting their digital gift cards.

With digital gift cards, customers can guarantee it will get to their intended recipient in time for the holidays. For online businesses, it helps defer some of the demand on their supply chain, while also bringing in sales at an important time of year. 

Plus, it’s a little bit of free advertising. People who like a brand to begin with may give their friends a gift card, effectively introducing them to a new product or company and introducing the company to a new customer.

Brands Using All of These Tactics for the 1-2-3 Punch

As we get closer and closer to the end of the year, some brands are making use of all three of these tactics to really drive sales and stand out from the competition. 

Recent emails from Halfdays Apparel feature gift guides based on price, a module dedicated to gift cards for last minute purchases that may be beyond their shipping deadlines, and a sticker high in the email calling out when those shipping dates are.

Halfdays and Baboon to the Moon emails with a gift guide, shipping dates, and gift cards featured in the content.

Similarly, backpack brand Baboon to the Moon gives their shipping dates a bit more emphasis in their email content, with gift cards and their holiday gift guide taking a secondary role. 

All of these elements combined make it almost impossible for customers to not find what they’re looking for from that particular business. 

What Can We Learn from the 2021 Holiday Season 

While some of these email tactics are most relevant around major gifting holidays, there’s still a lot ecommerce companies can learn from the trends we are noticing this holiday season. 

  • Make it easy for customers to shop. Offer them multiple ways to find what they’re looking for. People shop differently. By highlighting popular collections, different entry points, or alternate product options (like gift cards), you can help make every subscriber feel like there’s something for them from your brand. 
  • Use your brand guarantees to help drive purchases. While shipping deadlines throughout the year may change, consumers like when brands are up-front and honest about what they can expect from making a purchase. It’s important to highlight the details that might convince people to purchase, like a shipping guarantee or warranty on the products they buy.
With the holidays right around the corner, ecommerce brands are turning to email to help communicate expectations for the holiday season and drive sales.

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