Published on March 21st, 2014 | by Lisa Furgison3
50 Unique Ideas for Your Next Email [Guide]
As a business owner, you’re juggling a lot of day-to-day to tasks and may not have time come up with ideas for your next email or promotion.
We’ve put our creative noggins together to create a full year’s worth of quirky and engaging email ideas. Each month centers on a specific theme. Within that month, you’ll find four out-of-the-box email ideas for your small business. Each month also contains a marketing tip to get your creative mojo flowing.
This month celebrates all things quirky by sending out emails around nontraditional holidays.
Peculiar People Day
Use this unique day to be creative. For example, McDonald’s created this gem for its email and social media campaigns. You can also highlight an unusual or eccentric product that your company makes. It falls on January 10 each year.
Dress Up Your Pet Day
People love their pets. They love dressing them up even more. Encourage your customers to dress up their pet and enter your photo contest. It works especially well for places like the Pet Supermarket. The holiday is January 14.
On January 24, compliment your customers on Compliment Day like Kara’s Cupcakes does.
Or, take a minute to compliment your staff by sending an email invitation to a team-building event like this marketing agency did.
Celebrate Opposite Day
Convince your customers to try something new on Opposite Day. In an email, Sephora used the holiday, which lands on January 25, to encourage customers to try a beauty product that they wouldn’t normally use.
A small business can stand out by sending emails for nontraditional holidays. You don’t have to be literal with all holidays—no need to install a bar to celebrate Margarita Day but you can get creative: for instance, a plumbing business could send an email about Peanut Butter Day and drains moving as slow as peanut butter. It will stand out in your reader’s mind. Check out this site for a full list of bizarre holidays.
With Valentine’s Day smack-dab in the middle of the month, focus your efforts on lovey-dovey notions in February. Any business can send emails for Valentine’s Day, not just restaurants and florists. Think outside the box for Valentine’s Day content; here we’ve assembled some great examples and ideas.
Generate more email interest
Borrow an idea from Zulilly, the mom-centered discount shop. The company sent an email asking customers to “Tell us which brands make your heart flutter, and we’ll tell you when they’re on Zulilly.” It capitalizes on the holiday and asks customers to sign up for more emails.
‘Fall in Love’ partnership
Team up with other vendors in your area and create a shopping event around Valentine’s Day. Ten shops in Brooklyn joined forces and launched the “Fall in Love with Brooklyn” event. Customers were invited via email and given a map to hit all of the participating shops.
Create a shopping guide
Send your customers a list of romantic gifts they can pick up at your business. Haberdash, an online retailer specializing in men’s style, sent this email to offer unique gifts for guys.
Introduce a QR code
Valentine’s Day marketing doesn’t have to focus on flowers and champagne, the holiday comes with anxiety too. Capitalizing on the uneasy feelings of the holiday, Isobar, a UK cell phone company, sent an email to customers asking, “Does he love you?” The campaign contained a QR code that took customers to a promotional website. Try something similar that combines Valentine’s Day with a QR code. They work for some businesses and not for others so only use if appropriate.
Emails around sporting events always draw a crowd. This month’s ideas prove that you don’t need a sports-themed product to capitalize on the craziness that is March Madness. Before using March Madness in any marketing or advertising, make sure you check the legal guidelines to avoid any trouble. Many sporting and other events have very specific usage guidelines.
Run a March Madness promotion
Offer a special March Madness deal. When you think basketball you probably don’t think office supply store, but online office supply store Shoplet sent customers a list of ten customizable office supplies that connect with the tourney.
“This month, leverage the excitement behind March Madness,” Nicholas Womack, a business developer at Shoplet, says. He encourages other businesses to make a creative connection between their business and the big event.
Start a bracket
Bracketology is all the rage during March, so create a bracket for your brand. For example, Gardens and Guns, a southern lifestyle magazine, ran a bracket to name the best southern food. Like this company, you can send out emails and host online voting as a way to engage customers and readers.
Run a photo contest
Send an email to your customers asking them to participate in a March Madness photo contest. Or, try a “Young Basketball Star” competition and ask parents to send in pictures of their kids playing ball.
Video contest inspired by a world record
Did you know there’s a Guinness World Record for the longest time to spin a basketball with one hand? There is. The record is 10 minutes and 33 seconds. Use this awesome record to inspire a video contest. Email your customers and ask them to shoot a video of this rare talent.
This month get in touch with your inner videographer and add videos to your email marketing. Need a reason to make a video? Here are a few to get you inspired.
In April of 2005, the owner of YouTube recorded himself at the zoo and uploaded the site’s first video. Tell your customers that you’re honoring this digital anniversary by creating your first video. Pick a topic like thanking your customers, sharing your first product, first employee or first office location.
A company newsreel
Create a company newsreel. Do an on camera interview with your new CEO or shoot a “What’s New” video. Visit California did this. The tourism hub created a fall-themed video to let visitors know about new seasonal events.
A video about your services
Bring your list of products or services to life with a video and email the link to your customers. The motion department at OverIt, an Albany-based creative agency, made this humorous video to showcase the company’s animation services and its ability to work within any genre.
“Keep your video short. Make it relevant and worthwhile,” Lawrence Basso, the motion design director at OverIt suggests. “Don’t be afraid to add a little humor, either. If the video is funny enough, it will travel regardless of what it’s about.”
Go out on a ‘Vine’
Worried that you don’t have the recording chops to make a video? Have your customers do it. Ask your customers to shoot a video on Twitter’s Vine while using your product. Send an invite for the competition and send another email when it’s time for consumers to pick a winner.
Celebrate your unique company this month by creating emails about all of the great things your business does.
Start a company newsletter
If your company doesn’t send out a newsletter, start one this month. It’s a fantastic way to keep your customers in-the-know. You can include a variety of topics in your newsletter. Brag a little when your company wins an award, offer a behind-the-scenes tour, or introduce new managers.
Sending a company newsletter is a fantastic way to keep readers up to date on everything happening in your company. Be sure to send it on a regular basis so your readers come to expect it. And we like to keep them fairly short so that our audience can get what they need without having to commit too much time.
If your company hits an anniversary or lands a big client, tell your customers about it. You could include the info in a company newsletter or send your customers a coupon in celebration. Either way, your customers will appreciate the update.
Offer a history lesson
Email your customers a piece of your company’s timeline. Include a call-to-action button that takes them to your site to learn more. Of course, you’ll have to have a complete timeline created on your site before sending the email. Here’s a good example.
A recap of the year
May might seem like an unexpected time to send a “Year in Review” email, but this kind of promotion can get lost in the holiday hubbub. Instead, send one out in May and invite customers to a friends-and-family sale in honor of all your company has accomplished this year. Retailers like Sears use this kind of promotion a lot, but it can be effective for a small business too.
Everyone has a mom and no matter what kind of business you have, you can pay tribute to, or celebrate moms everywhere. You can do a “Bring Your Mom In” special or a Moms get a special % off deal.
Ah, warm weather is arriving (unless you’re in the Southern Hemisphere of course). Use this seasonal change to propel your email marketing this month.
Celebrate National Trails Day
Include a list of local trails in the June edition of your company’s newsletter to celebrate National Trails Day, which is June 7. Remember, customers appreciate helpful, usable content and a newsletter is a good place for it.
Send a summer discount code
Summer is a terrific time to give your customers a little incentive to buy. An eyeglass shop used a summer-themed email to offer a discount. Don’t forget to create a clear call to action in your email.
Welcome summer and new guests
Send an email that not only welcomes the warm weather but also welcomes new customers, too. If a customer has bought a new product or signed up for a new service in the past six months, applaud their actions with a well-crafted welcome email.
Team up with your local food bank this summer and get your customers involved. Send an email asking them to bring in canned goods like KinderCare Learning Centers did.
Summertime can be a slow season for some companies. Your customers are often out of the office or on vacation and aren’t as responsive as the rest of the year, but that doesn’t mean your email marketing should go on hiatus. You can use this month to try different email tactics and ideas, like the ones we’ve assembled here.
Remember Dads and Grads
Dads and grads rule in June. Offer special deals for dads and grads and get more customers in your doors in this traditionally slower summer month. Give grads something to spend all their graduation money on or their new found job earnings toward!
If you’re in the U.S., get a little patriotic. Use the Fourth as a catalyst for a series of emails.
The perfect Fourth of July party
This holiday is all about getting the crew together for a backyard barbecue. To help your customers host a rockin’ independence party, offer some tips to create the best gathering possible. You can also offer a Fourth of July discount like Shoplet does.
“During the holidays, customers are expecting sales,” Womack says. “The Fourth of July is a holiday known for cookouts and backyard parties, which is why Shoplet displays products like paper plates, cups and utensils.” Try connecting your products to the holiday too.
Recognize a vet
You don’t have to wait for Veteran’s Day to honor a vet. Devote a section of your newsletter to your employees who are also vets. Offer a “Vets in the Spotlight” section that talks about their service and their role in your company.
Remember the first walk on the moon
Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in July of 1969. In honor of this patriotic event, host a “Biggest Accomplishment Competition.” Invite your customers to add their biggest accomplishment to a growing list on Facebook. Give the biggest accomplisher a company-specific prize.
Made in America email
Take pride in your American-made products by offering a discount. Menards, a home remodeling store, sends a sales flyer to its customers that highlights its American products.
It’s all about creating useful content this month. Here are a few ideas you can use to create “tips and tricks” emails.
A watermelon-centered email
August 2 is Watermelon Day. Yes, Watermelon Day. Think up a way to connect your product to this fruit-loving celebration. Lego did. The company emailed invitations to LEGOLAND’s Watermelon Day event complete with tips to grow watermelon and a Lego building contest. Yum!
Ring in ‘Work Like a Dog Day’
Celebrate this funny holiday, which falls on August 5, with an email about how productive your product or service can be. Try something like, “Today is Work Like a Dog Day, but you shouldn’t have to work that hard. Here are three tips to be more productive using our products.”
Tips to use your product better
Create a useful email that will help your customers get more out of your product or service. TurboTax does this well. Marketers for the tax-filing software sent an email out about money-saving tips.
You want your customers to succeed with your products or services; try sending a how-to email once a month with a useful tip that helps your customers and your business. Serving your customers instead of always selling to them creates loyalty that lasts.
Celebrate Relaxation Day with a reorder email
August 15 is Relaxation Day. It’s a great day to send a reorder email out. Encourage your customers to relax by stocking up on your products. Send something similar to this reorder email from 1-800-CONTACTS.
It’s back-to-school time. Use this month to market to both parents and students.
Offer a back-to-school discount
Recognize this is an expensive time for parent shoppers by offering a discount. Shoplet, an online office supply store, offered a 15 percent discount to customers on its email list. If you offer a service such as a salon, spa or car mechanic tailor your message for stressed parents or college bound students
“Back-to-school marketing is extremely valuable for Shoplet, as it is one of our most lucrative seasons throughout the year,” Womack says. His advice to other business owners is to “make sure your customers are aware of your competitive pricing and convenient selection and services during the back-to-school season.”
A favorite teacher contest
Everyone has a favorite teacher, so invite your customers to participate in a favorite teacher contest via email. Dollar Days, a discount online retailer, did this exact competition and asked customers to weigh in on Facebook. More than 107,000 people voted and 18 teachers were given prizes through this social media promotion.
Last chance sale
If a deal has a deadline, customers are more likely to act fast. While you can use the last chance sale throughout the year, it made sense for Shoplet to try and cash in on this busy time of year with a last chance sale.
Dorm decorating tips
Don’t forget, college students are returning to dorms, too. Offer helpful tips for the college-bound group. For example, offer tips to create dorm decor that suggests a few products from your shop. Or offer ideas on how to cook ramen in a dorm room, pizza or restaurant deals, or a back-to-school oil change before they set off.
From smartphones to social media updates, use this month to spin a few digital inventions into marketing emails.
An email celebrating email
In October of 1971 the first email was sent. Honor this big event by sending an email recognizing this milestone and ask customers to refer-a-friend via email. Groupon, the discount site, offers an incentive with its refer a friend program. And so does VerticalResponse!
Send out a survey
Retro social media posts
When did your company first start using social media? Create an email that showcases your first posts and ask customers to join a conversation about how social media has grown through the years.
It’s important to balance creativity with communicating your core message. Use creativity in certain places such as in subject lines, images or a fun theme, but keep the important information in the email easy to see and read.
Let your email marketing reflect the season by creating emails that focus on being thankful.
Create a testimonial email
Tell your customers how thankful you are to be able to offer high quality products. Use several testimonials to drive the point home. For example, clothing retailer, Kimberton, offers a testimonial to market its flannel shirt.
Generate an email stuffed with facts
Thanksgiving is all about the food, particularly turkey. Create an infographic that offers some interesting turkey facts. For example, Mint.com, a finance site, created this graphic for the holiday. Think of a way to create an infographic that connects to your business and the holiday.
Focus on cause marketing
Team up with a charity and create emails that center around your do-good spirit. Paper Culture, an eco-friendly stationary and invitations shop, has involved their customers in their efforts to support the environment. They plant trees, either for every ‘like’ the company receives on Facebook or every order. And they even let their customers dedicate the trees if they want.
Ask for feedback
After a customer makes a purchase, send a thank you email and ask for feedback. Online comments can bolster the reputation of products. Asking for a product review through email is a good way to nab positive reviews. Here’s an example from outdoor clothing company, Ibex.
Embrace the gift-giving season with holiday-themed marketing.
Take advantage of National Cookie Day
Celebrate this holiday by offering some holiday cookie recipes in your company newsletter like this bakery did, or give away a free cookie when customers come into your business.
An email full of gift ideas
Coming up with gift ideas is hard. Take some of the pressure off your customers by offering a series of holiday gift ideas. Rather than send one long email with a dozen options, break your emails into smaller, more specific topics like Piperlime did with its “Girls Guide to Guy Buys.”
Email a holiday greeting card
You can go as simple or as elaborate as you’d like with a holiday card. You can use free card-creating sites like Punchbowl or you can create something fancier like OverIt did with this animated card for SUNY Albany.
“I think a digital holiday card is a good year-end reminder for clients. It says, ‘Hey, we’re still here if you need anything,'” Basso says. “It can also give you a creative outlet to do some things you don’t get to do often.”
Be a holiday time-saver
During the holiday season everyone wants the gift-giving process to be easy. Remind your customers that your company has plenty of time-saving ways to purchase a gift. For example, Staples reminds customers that they can reserve an item online and pick it up in the store.
With this guide, you won’t be scratching your head for email topics this year. While we’ve listed over 50 email topics for you, there’s no limit on creativity. Have some fun and see what kind of quirky ideas you can come up with too. Always double check holiday dates to ensure you mail your email for the right holiday at the right time. Otherwise you might be creating your own funny holiday!
This guide was written for VerticalResponse by Lisa Furgison. Furgison is a media maven with ten years of journalism experience and a passion for creating top-notch content. This guide was edited and created by VerticalResponse. Try VerticalResponse for free today.
© 2014 – 2015, Lisa Furgison. All rights reserved.