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Kelly Shetron
25 October 2018
Reading time: 8 min

9 Can’t-Miss Tips For Your Halloween Email

Halloween-themed emails have been trickling into our inbox all month as brands seize the opportunity to deliver sweet treats and ghostly content to subscribers. But don’t be spooked if you haven’t gotten into the trick-or-treat spirit with your emails yet.

Are you in the spooky spirit of Halloween this week? Not only is Halloween an especially fun and festive holiday, but businesses increasingly mark it as the start of the busiest shopping season of the year. We’ve rounded up 9 can’t-miss email tips with examples from brands doing it best—and it’s not too late to use these goodies in your Halloween email newsletters!

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1. Give out treats

Martha Stewarts treats subscribers to printable pumpkin stencils—easy-to-share content that goes beyond the usual “how-to” post. Providing a free, usable treat that’s that’s well-timed, on-brand, and in the holiday spirit engages readers and encourages email-opens. Giving away content also helps brands positively position themselves as well as learn about and grow their audience. Get creative with what would your subscribers would really value—like a free-to-download ebook, a coupon, or a printable infographic—and give it away!

01 newsletter halloween martha stewart

2. Get dressed up

We all appreciate it when a brand doesn’t take itself too seriously and invests time in design touches that entertain. The holidays are a great opportunity for brands to “get dressed up” to show readers how their attention is valued—and with the flood of advertising that comes with each holiday season, it’s critical for brands not to scrimp on great design in email messaging. Here’s a Halloween email example from Barnes & Noble:

02 newsletter halloween barnes

Barnes & Noble uses Halloween as a great excuse to add a dash of fun with animated GIFs that “dress up” their email from top to bottom. The animated GIFs are playful and eye-catching and encourage readers to keep scrolling: little bats fly around between content blocks throughout the email. Plus, it’s easy to be drawn-in from the get-go with the crawly spider in the email header design:


3. Trim the text

Here’s a challenge: see how much great content you can provide to your email subscribers without making them read it. Etsy is king at this approach in their daily Finds emails—here’s a recent Fall Fun one that entices readers to click and shop. Photo-based campaigns are great for communicating quickly, piquing readers’ interest, and getting them clicking on over to your site. Just be sure to avoid the pitfalls of image-only emails, and have fun!

03 newsletter halloween etsy

4. Try something new

Elle has a well-established email newsletter structure: it’s a single-column with the same format each time—headlines on the left, photos on the right, and social share icons beneath each content block. The consistent approach builds trust with subscribers, letting then know what to expect. It looks like this:

04 newsletter halloween elle

But in a recent email, Elle made a design change to their Halloween-themed content to kick off the email:

05 newsletter halloween elle

The desaturated, circular approach is a striking, fresh break from their typical format. Refreshing your email template for the holidays is a smart way to kick off the season, make readers feel the festive spirit, and, of course, get clicks. Try something simple like a photo treatment to keep readers on their toes while staying on-brand.

5. Don’t scare readers away—be yourself

Consider ways to participate in Halloween (or any holiday) while remaining authentic and true to your brand. Food52 does this well by putting a Halloween spin on their content with a candy-themed email. It feels festive and special while remaining in-line with their usual kitchen-themed, recipe-based content. There’s no use of run-of-the-mill Halloween themes like an orange-and-black color scheme, spooky images, or witches and ghouls. Food52 knows their audience and knows themselves, allowing them to get into the Halloween spirit with content that’s still recognizable and appealing to their readers.

05 newsletter halloween food52

6. BOOoost in-email content

This Halloween email from Bliss is too pretty not to share. It’s obvious they invested time to plan an email that provides high-value content and can stand on its own. Yes, it’s highly linked so that readers can click almost anywhere to view product information, but readers also get a lot in the email itself: inspiring illustrations coupled with bulleted how-to instructions for great Halloween looks. Bliss knows that, chances are, high-value content is what made subscribers sign up in the first place, so it’s wise to keep them coming back with in-email content that’s well thought-out and useful.

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7. Readers aren’t ghosts—engage them

Last year, Time Out New York invited readers to vote on Halloween costumes, giving out movie vouchers as rewards. What a great call-to-action! It’s a nice reprieve from the usual sales-y or promotional CTA, giving readers something fun to do. Plus, the content is user-generated, so not only is it engaging, but it gives Time Out an opportunity to facilitate an authentic connection with readers through their own lives. Choose a strategic hashtag, enticing rewards, and a catchy holiday-themed idea to start planning your own user-generated-content campaign!

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8. Make sharing spook-tacularly easy

McCormick’s pumpkin-party themed email is chock-full of highly shareable microcontent: high-quality photos that link to tasty Halloween recipes. The pretty pictures and festive recipes are alluring, but what makes them super easy to share are the “Pin it” buttons on each one. It definitely seems that McCormick has done its research and knows how its audience prefers to share content; instead of listing every social media icon out there (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.), the single “Pin it” CTA is focused and intentional. It’s worth it to do your research to find out readers’ most preferred social network, then tailor your content for that platform and make it easy for readers to share with in-email social buttons.

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9. Write wickedly clever copy

Check out how CB2 gets creative with Halloween-themed copy to playfully promote their products. If you’re short on time or resources, don’t fret over creating custom Halloween graphics or images; infuse the Halloween spirit into your email with text!

10 newsletter halloween

Let’s recap: 9 tips to try for a totally bewitching Halloween email:

  1. Build customer loyalty by offering high-value content for free.
  2. Use playful design elements (like animated GIFs) to draw in readers.
  3. Try a photographic approach that’s spare on text.
  4. Experiment. The holidays are a great time to refresh your usual email template.
  5. Be yourself. Incorporate a festive theme while remaining true to your brand.
  6. Provide compelling in-email content that makes opening your email worthwhile.
  7. Engage readers through a user-generated-content campaign.
  8. Make your content easy to share with buttons (and tailor it to the platform preferred by your audience).
  9. Don’t forget great copy! It’s the easiest way to get in the holiday spirit.

Ready to create your own Halloween email? Try your hand by activating a free trial of the MailUp platform!

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Kelly Shetron

I grew up in Philadelphia, PA and have a dual degree in English and Economics. I love thinking about how people live and work, how creative processes unfold, what inspires us, and how we use art to connect with each other. Collaborative projects fuel me.

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