8 Emails that Wowed Us This Year

December 19, 2018
Libby Croak
Libby Croak

December 19, 2018

Each November, the team at Shaw + Scott eagerly awaits the Black Friday and Cyber Monday inbox flood: not to get our hands on deals and discounts, but to lay our eyes on show-stopping holiday campaigns!

Year after year, we’re inspired by marketers’ innovation, smart use of marketing technology, and outstanding creative – and 2018 was no exception.

Here are eight emails that delighted us this year! Click on the images below to open a larger version.


Best Design

In a steady stream of product-focused emails, Blurb’s creative offered a refreshing change of pace. The bold color blocking and design-forward animation drew the eye through the email and built intrigue around the discount.





Best Cause Marketing

More and more brands are leaning away from consumerism around the Thanksgiving holiday. This Black Friday series communicated Everlane’s Black Friday ocean cleanup contribution in tangible terms: 1 order = 1 pound of plastic removed from the ocean. For Everlane, a focus on giving back is nothing new – and they know how to get the messaging right. Their use of video and animation also flaunts their design chops, giving them the edge in the increasingly competitive philanthropic space.




Best Use of Intelligent Content

REI kept its #OptOutside campaign going strong for a fourth year, urging people to get active the day after Thanksgiving. Their intelligent content provided a planning tool for outings, and two days before Black Friday, they sent an email highlighting weather forecasts and hiking trails near subscribers real-time location! Thanksgiving is one of the year’s busiest travel weekends, so content that is geo-responsive upon open is pure brilliance.



Best Use of Interactivity

Nest’s Black Friday email showcased true innovation. Add-to-cart functionality was live in the inbox, bringing customers further along in the purchase funnel before exiting the email channel for web check-out. Employing this technique on the busiest shopping day of the year shows confidence in this technology, further establishing Nest as a leader in the email marketing space.




Best Use of Triggers

While promotional ad-hoc sends get a lot of fanfare, any marketer worth their salt knows automated behavioral triggers play an integral role in driving conversions and revenue. This abandon browse message from Williams Sonoma has all the right details and arrived at just the right moment. A large image of the abandoned product sits beside some important new information – the item is now on sale…but only for a limited time. Add that to the 25% discount code provided in the hero image, and they’ve constructed a tempting, time-bound offer that’s tough to resist.




Best Cross-Channel Promotion

This Etsy campaign illustrates the trend of using email to promote other channels, granting early holiday sale access to customers with the Etsy app. This smart strategy no doubt drove downloads and deepened relationships with customers who were not previously connected with Etsy via mobile.



Best Subject Line(s)


So we have to acknowledge some behind-the-scenes contention on our selection committee regarding this winner. More generally, we can say there is some grumbling about the tsunami of emojis appearing in our Black Friday and Cyber Monday inboxes. Some team members found subject line emojis overplayed and aggravating. Others found these Wayfair subject lines so eye-catching they couldn’t resist an open. Either way, emojis induced strong opinions and got people talking – and the emoji-lovers won out in our selection. Whether you’re team #neverenoughemojis or team #emojisinmoderation, we get it. Weigh in in the comments, and tell us what you think!




Most Outrageous
Cards Against Humanity

Cards Against Humanity is known for off-the-wall marketing stunts, and their Black Friday efforts did not disappoint. From the “We’re going to sell a car for $97” pre-header to the promised “99% off discounts,” this email doubled down on curiosity as a tool to drive clicks. The landing page with a bit of NSWF language was a surreal experience, promising a new deal every ten minutes(!): a $20 bill for 20 cents, a life-size Orlando Bloom cut-out (why?!), and a 2015 Ford Fiesta for $97.50! Of course, they covered their bases in their legal terms – cheeky enough to get a laugh themselves.

More Festive Inboxes Ahead

We’re looking out for more fun and innovative holiday creatives – sure to hit our inboxes throughout the holiday season. If you’d like to brainstorm ways to make your next campaigns award-worthy, let’s talk! We’d love to put our heads together. Reach out to our team of email experts today!

8 Emails that Wowed Us This Year.

Tags: Digital Marketing, Digital Strategy, Best Practices, Content, Email Triggers, BFCM, Email Design

Digital Strategist, Shaw/Scott (Seattle) Libby is a data-driven digital marketer with deep expertise in the email channel. She brings more than 6 years of experience crafting triggered emails, lifecycle programs, mobile-first strategies, behavior-focused dynamic campaigns, and much more to the Shaw/Scott digital strategy team. From publishing to travel, Libby has applied her skills for iconic brands such as The Boston Globe, Alaska Airlines, TaylorMade, and Forever 21.

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