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Article first published December 2013, updated June 2019

Looking for inspiration for your last-minute holiday campaigns? In this round-up, we’ve picked 10 recent emails and outlined the techniques that have made them our team’s favorites this year.

Find a design that will spark ideas for your next campaign, or scan through our take-home tips for some new ideas to apply right away!


If you’re planning to make “more exercise” one of your New Year’s resolutions, then you should probably get yourself subscribed to newsletters from Fitbit. The promotional campaigns for their fitness tracking devices are just as stylized as the devices themselves, with bold use of color, clear call-to-actions and of course, a well-timed reminder to get your shopping done early!

Take home tips

  • Make your call-to-action first and foremost – it has to be unmissable when the email is opened.
  • Try using web fonts instead of images to keep your email design on-brand
  • Add urgency – copy like, “while supplies last!” can be just the motivation subscribers need to take action.

Suissa Messer

Have a holiday message to send? Justin Suissa and Andrea Messer are keen to hear from you. Although this is the sort of message that is best sent to clients well before the year’s end (this was actually sent in early October), it’s the kind of campaign that should be an essential part of any designer or agency’s marketing plan. The responsive, one-column layout, web fonts, and glowing call-to-action buttons made this campaign particularly attractive – and reflect well on SuissaMesser’s understanding of what works in email.

Take home tips

  • Plan your holiday campaigns as early as October! Not everyone outlines their marketing strategy (or does their Christmas shopping) at the last minute.
  • Your email is your brand. If offering design services, you ideally want to send something that reflects what you offer. In this example, SuissaMesser sent an email that looks like a holiday card and makes the most of responsive techniques to demonstrate how they can “broadcast your message to all major smartphones and email clients.”



This freewheeling email invitation from Canadian design agency FREE shows that they don’t do anything by halves – especially when it comes to their parties. The use of imagery and type is spot on and well, with a testimonial like the one they’ve featured, a good night is most certainly guaranteed. A special mention goes to their use of Google Web Fonts, instead of images for headings and other elements, making them readable when images are blocked in the inbox.

Take home tips

  • Use web-text wherever possible, even on headings! It looks cleaner than using images, dates and times can be used to create calendar events on the subscriber’s device and your emails will be quick to load and read.
  • Have fun with copy and color. You can generally get away with more entertaining campaign ideas during the “silly season.”

Simon Johnson

We couldn’t pass up on featuring an email campaign that was fit for foodies and this list of gift ideas from Simon Johnson sure made the cut. In addition to striking a good balance between text and images, the campaign is also responsive – on small displays, the 2-column layout gracefully adapts to a single column, for easy reading and navigation. The lovely use of type is the garnish on a campaign that should help a lot of their customers fill their stockings this Christmas.

Take home tips

  • Use images to reinforce your messaging, but web text to tell the story. If you anticipate images being blocked in the inbox, your email campaign will still be effective in worst-case scenarios.
  • Using responsive techniques to adapt two-column layouts to one on mobile devices makes for a comfortable reading experience on any device.


The holiday season doesn’t just have to be about exchanging trinkets – it’s also a great time to make a real difference to lives worldwide. This campaign for Lifewater, as designed by email engine, has a lot of appeal to readers. Not only does it make good use of imagery, but in using a preview image linking through to the video, they’ve also avoided many of the pitfalls that come with embedding video in email. Overall, a great email newsletter for a great cause.

Take home tips

  • Videos are very effective way to convey a story, but they generally shouldn’t be embedded in email. Instead, feature a preview image and link back to your site – or use a service like Wistia to look after generating images, hosting and reporting.
  • One trend we’ve seen is the sending of email cards – instead of paper ones – to clients, then having the money saved on postage donated to a charity. Your generosity won’t go unappreciated by both your clients and the cause you support!

The Learning People

Picking up a new skill or making a career change is likely on many a wish list for 2014 – and that’s what The Learning People are here to help with. While there’s quite a bit going on in this campaign, the responsive email layout, animated buttons and smooth snow effect certainly make this a campaign to linger over. Go ahead, find out more.

Take home tips

A spinkling of CSS3 animation can add visual interest to a campaign, but don’t let it distract subscribers from what you have to say in the email.


Sometimes all it takes is a cool illustration and copy to win us over… and a little bit of responsive email design know-how. This campaign from Interuptive has all of these qualities and is sure to give clients a good giggle. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the team is letting everyone know that they’ll be away from their desks for a short break, too.

Take home tips

Keep your message short and lively – you don’t have to send essays in every email. For informal campaigns like this one, think about what you can add to make your clients smile!


While we all love artfully-made stationery, gifts that keep on giving, like the Writable by, are in a class of their own. This email campaign has a clear, succinct message – you purchase a Writable and contributes workbooks to 10 students in South Africa. The call-to-action is just as straightforward, as is reading and navigation of the one-column layout. Extra props go to the inclusion of a permission reminder, which is just the finishing touch to a feel-good campaign.

Take home tips

  • A one-column layout makes for easy reading in any email client, regardless of whether you use responsive techniques.
  • Don’t forget to add links to both your images and text! If your call-to-action is in an image, it pays to have a link in text for instances where images are turned off.


Quite simply, this campaign from Enigma is unmissable in the inbox. The bright green background, bespoke image, and positive message all contribute to a campaign that reflects well on the work of this UK-based creative agency. The use of responsive techniques to ensure this campaign looks great on mobile devices is certainly worth popping the champagne over – more of this, please!

Take home tips

  • Buck the trend towards black or white backgrounds – use bright colors to stand out!
  • Your unsubscribe message can be informal, too – it doesn’t hurt to take Enigma’s lead and use something like their “never hear from us again (which would make us sad)” line!

BML Creative

It wouldn’t be the holiday season without a good animated campaign. This festive number from BML Creative is simple enough – really, end-of-year campaigns don’t have to be showy or complex. However, the flashing details and surprisingly low email payload (only 38kb for the 45 frame GIF) make it not only an attention-getting campaign but one that’s quick to download, too.

Take home tips

  • Animated GIFs are an email marketer’s friend. Try using them to demonstrate tasks (like how to place an order), attract attention, add humor or video-like effects to your campaigns. Just be careful that you keep your file sizes below 50 – 100kb for zippy load times!
  • You don’t have to create email campaigns from scratch every time. A versatile template like this one can just be easily adapted for corporate announcements as holiday campaigns.

Design tips for holiday email marketing

It’s no secret that most businesses experience a surge in revenue during holiday seasons. As you’ve seen from the above examples, email marketing plays a big role in boosting those sales. This is why you need to optimize your emails for these special seasons. One of the biggest ways to do that is to design your emails to reflect the holidays.

Keep these email design tips in mind to help you boost conversions with your next seasonal email campaign.

1. Stay consistent with your brand.

The holiday season doesn’t mean you have to completely revamp your email designs. If you have a design that’s been performing exceptionally well, all you have to do is tweak the appearance a bit. Besides, a total revamp might just confuse your customers and result in lower conversion rates.

Take advantage of your most popular campaign and turn it into your next holiday email campaign. The results are bound to be phenomenal.

2. Use the season’s colors to showcase and highlight main points.

Most holidays have a specific color or color scheme associated with them. For example, Valentine’s Day is pink, red, and white.

Use these colors to help you highlight and emphasize the main points in your message. One of the best holiday email marketing examples that did this well is from Joe Fresh.

Source: Really Good Emails

Joe Fresh used colors that are unmistakable for the 4th of July holiday in this email campaign. However, more than that, they used the colors to point to the main parts of their message.

3. Use images to tell a story.

Images are a great way to grab attention. They’re great for helping you tell a story without having to use too many words. Postmates did an excellent job of this with their Thanksgiving campaign below.

Source: Really Good Emails

The hero image says it all. Thanksgiving is a time to seat around a sumptuous buffet and remember the good times with family and friends. If you want a Thanksgiving feast your family will talk about for years to come, Postmates will help you create those memories.

Another great way to use images is to feature the product you’re promoting in that season. You can add flair to the images by decorating them with a symbol associated with that particular holiday.

Wrap up

Everyone loves celebrating a holiday. What better way to do it than spoil themselves with your fabulous products? By designing a great holiday-themed email campaign, you’ll help to enhance the festivities of the season while boosting your bottom line.

We hope you’ve gained inspiration from our holiday email marketing examples above. If you need more insight into how you can boost engagement over a holiday season, check out our ultimate guide to holiday email marketing.

Happy holidays!

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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