Memorial Day comes at a tricky time in the email marketing calendar. It’s squeezed among email-heavy holidays, such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the ramp-up to Independence Day marketing. It’s also not a major spending holiday, according to the National Retail Federation’s Holiday Spending Guide.
The U.S. Memorial Day is a federal holiday, always celebrated on the last Monday in May. It honors veterans who died while on active military duty, and it evolved from a Southern and Midwestern event called Decoration Day.
This was a day in late May when small-town folks would spring-clean cemeteries and honor both family members and veterans who died in military service by decorating their graves with flowers and flags.
To kick off the summer season, here are some key stats and examples to heat up your Memorial Day campaigns.
Stats and Challenges for Memorial Day
As you can see from the chart below, Memorial Day has a narrow window of opportunity.
We see a rapid ramp-up of email volume for Memorial Day, particularly on the Thursday before the holiday.
Take note: only 21% of Memorial Day emails are sent on the day itself.
With the heaviest mailing coming five to seven days before the weekend, your biggest challenge will be finding ways to stand out in a crowded inbox.
For creative inspiration, check the email examples below. They give you some alternatives to the “same old, same old” Memorial Day messaging, even when you’re under pressure to churn out yet another email.
Even with its challenge, Memorial Day—or, rather, a long weekend—is one that many Americans eagerly await. Your emails can capitalize on that enthusiasm and anticipation to drive incremental sales, offer a diversion from the usual flood of promotions and introduce your summer themes.
4 Memorial Day Email Themes
We used MailCharts to track down these examples. Go ahead and check us out—you can get started for free.
1. Appeal to patriotism
Memorial Day honors service people who have died, whether on active duty, in combat or after an honorable discharge.
It is not a general “support our troops/thank you for your service” day. (That’s Veterans Day, always Nov. 11). While many customers won’t care about this distinction, others will, and you should be careful not to inadvertently upset any of your customers.
The emails we chose for this section honor the original meaning of Memorial Day.
- Sender: SCHEELS
- Subject line: Thank You to Those Who Gave the Ultimate Sacrifice
- URL: https://www.mailcharts.com/emails/7bcdf9d1-2b93-1072-5698-2d6bfab0e3d4
As a high-frequency emailer (sending daily to twice daily), the sporting-goods retailer SCHEELS dedicates one email in its heavy rotation to Memorial Day, sent on the day itself.
It’s a simple and attractive message that has no promotional content and only bare-minimum navigation links. It might not drive additional sales, but customers who are sensitive to the Memorial Day message will likely appreciate it.
- Sender: Vineyard Vines
- Subject line: Happy Memorial Day …
- Preheader: From our family to yours!
- URL: https://www.mailcharts.com/emails/b33524b9-475f-2e3e-3ca3-0621c620b6ed
If you want a less intense but still impact-making take on your Memorial Day email, add this Vineyard Vines email to your swipe file. The brand, also a high-frequency sender, typically sends non-promotional holiday emails on the day of the holiday itself.
2. Focus on summer
The long Memorial Day weekend is the official kickoff to summer, even in places where it’s summer all year long. Fun in the sun, travel and family figure into this theme.
- Sender: City Furniture
- Subject line: Shop the Memorial Day sale and save
- Preheader: Plus, No Interest for 24 Months
- URL: https://www.mailcharts.com/emails/f0be31ee-e8ee-38e3-dbfc-dbe82e6b03f3
Here’s where you, the email guru at your company, must persuade your team to zig where everybody else would zag. Sun and fun are the prevailing themes in most Memorial Day email campaigns, but this email zooms in on another essential aspect of holidays and living outdoors: getting far away from the city hubbub.
The setting sun on the water, the city across the bay, the couple relaxing just before or after the dinner party—if this email makes you wish you were here right now, then our work is done.
3. Emphasize friends, family and partying on the long weekend
That’s what Memorial Day means for many Americans. Your emails can evoke togetherness, party prep and everything else that goes with getting together for the extended weekend.
- Sender: Sherry-Lehman Wine & Spirits Merchant
- Subject line: Our Picks for Memorial Day + Free Shipping!
- Preheader: Red, White & Rosé for Memorial Day!
- URL: https://www.mailcharts.com/emails/96aa3427-766a-6045-8457-40375d3ccfd1
This email looks as if it went together quickly, but the hero image shows that the marketer put some time into choosing the wines for this message. It’s subtle but clever and focuses clearly on what’s offered in the message.
Aside from the creative cleverness, we appreciated how clearly the email sets out the qualifying conditions and the deadline for redeeming the offer.
- Sender: Pottery Barn Kids
- Subject line: 😎 Get ready for Memorial Day! Grab your beach towels, luggage and more NOW (in stores and online)
- Preheader: Free shipping + HOURS LEFT for 20% back in rewards!
- URL: https://www.mailcharts.com/emails/84d52893-3e11-ed86-b09e-df7fee4d95be
First, the subject line: This one shows you how to front-load essential information with keywords. It’s hella long at 95 characters, but PBK is betting that enough email clients (especially on Android devices) will show most of the subject instead of clipping it at 40 or 60 characters.
The images, too, are totally on point for the brand and the aspirational summer theme: beaches, kids playing and swimming in the sun instead of being tethered to their phones and tablets. Plus, a sun-and-sand theme will appeal to someone stuck at a desk dreaming of a family trip.
4. Offer a discount
On Memorial Day, percentage off is the most popular discount, with monetary discounts a distant second. The 20% to 30% range is the most prevalent, with 10% to 20% discounts coming in second.
- Sender: Dick’s Sporting Goods
- Subject line: Up to 50% off Memorial Day Savings
- Preheader: Don’t Wait – Save Now On Canopies, Fishing, Apparel & Footwear!
- URL: https://www.mailcharts.com/emails/b950f69c-28c8-c57a-bf11-56985e1c2111
Did someone just ask you to send another discount-driven Memorial Day email? Before you tear your hair out in despair, look at this simple but effective promotional email.
The top image looks like a left turn from the usual male-dominated, action-oriented art you see in sporting-goods photos. Maybe that’s why this photo of a daughter and father (or maybe uncle or big brother) sitting together quietly stood out from the others.
The copy itself is straightforward and promotional, but the subtle red-white-and-blue color scheme and the sentimental photo set it apart.
Need More Memorial Day Email Inspiration?
See more data and tips on our Memorial Day email strategy page. If you want to try MailCharts for yourself, just sign up for a free, no-obligation, trial.
Here’s hoping your Memorial Day emails rock!