This updated post was originally written for Iterable by Carl Sednaoui, the Director of Marketing for MailCharts, and published May 15, 2018.
Memorial Day comes at a tricky time in the email marketing calendar. It’s squeezed amongst other holidays—Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Independence Day, etc.—and it’s also not a major spending holiday, according to the National Retail Federation’s Holiday Spending Guide.
In the U.S., Memorial Day is a federal holiday, always celebrated on the last Monday in May. It originated to honor veterans who died while on active military duty, and it evolved from a Southern and Midwestern event called Decoration Day.
Over time, as the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day has also become a holiday synonymous with barbecues, beach days, and good deals. So, to kick off the summer season, here are some key stats and examples to heat up your Memorial Day campaigns.
Challenges of Memorial Day Campaigns
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.
3 Memorial Day Email Themes
Back in 2018 the four themes that we covered in this article were “appealing to patriotism,” “focusing on summer,” “emphasizing friends, family, and partying,” and “offering a discount.”
Since 2018, however, email marketing has changed—and so have customers. For example, we’ve experienced a whole pandemic since 2018, so customer priorities look a little different than they did five years ago. Here are some new themes to look out for.
1. Planning Ahead
We’re still very much in the aftershock of a global pandemic. And in the U.S., this is only our second (maybe first…maybe third) Memorial Day since COVID where people may feel totally comfortable gathering to celebrate. So, customers may be a little rusty when it comes to party planning.
To help customers plan for their long weekends, brands may focus on shipping to ensure their orders arrive on time. Eataly, the Italian dining emporium, highlighted their shipping with the copy “get it in time for the weekend.”
They also highlighted in-season produce in the “Sale into Summer” section, which is timely, relevant, and adds some urgency, since the produce won’t be in-season forever.
2. Using Peer-to-Peer Marketing
Peer-to-peer (P2P) marketing is super important—and effective—for today’s customers. According to Harvard Business Review, “Ninety-eight-percent of customers read reviews before they shop, making it one of the most important sources of information about products and services; for 2021, online reviews were predicted to affect $3.8 trillion revenues worldwide.”
To take advantage of the power of P2P marketing, Cotopaxi, the outdoor apparel brand included their customer favorites in their Memorial Day email. Not only that, but Cotopaxi offered a 60% discount on these customer favorites.
Cotopaxi also uses multiple CTAs (six) in the same email to give customers options when scrolling through the email. If the “Best of” doesn’t get their attention, maybe the other product call-outs will.
3. Being Audience-First
In today’s marketing landscape, brands are putting their customers first. It’s not enough to send an email with a broad sale, hoping someone takes the bait. Now brands are thinking about their audiences and how their products can make a difference in their customers’ lives.
Bump Boxes, the monthly subscription box for expecting moms, chose to highlight sun safety products in their Memorial Day email. The email’s subject line was, “Ready to bare your bump this Memorial Day?” and the email featured lotions and creams to help expecting moms protect their baby bumps in the hot summer sun.
Bump Boxes’ marketing team put themselves in their customers’ shoes. They asked themselves “what would our customers be looking for now?” and they chose to highlight those products (without a discount) in their email.
Holiday Emails are a-Changin’
While there are still a ton of promotional emails being sent around tentpole sales holidays, like Memorial Day, there is a shift in the way brands communicate with their audiences. Now, a focal point for brands is meeting customers’ needs. Memorial Day emails are no longer about sharing a company’s point-of-view or generic discounts, now it’s about thinking from the customers’ perspective.
Is there room for improvement? Yes, definitely. Something we still didn’t see in our Memorial Day email research was personalization. The content of these promotional emails is definitely trending in the right direction, but there is room for more dynamic, individualized content, even on Memorial Day.