If you’re looking for some holiday inspiration, here are three real-life holiday email examples of brands driving significant results through their holiday email campaigns.

Example 1: MS Society increases year-end donations by 75%

MS Society needed its email to do a better job driving donations during the year-end holiday-donations timeframe. In the past, email had been viewed and used as a workman-like tool. MS Society wanted to test more engaging content to see if that approach would help them meet business goals. 

MS Society had already produced an interactive video for its annual “Christmas Appeal” holiday campaign. They repurposed this video to use directly in the email, with no additional production needed. The video highlighted the most compelling reasons why recipients should contribute, and even included a “donate now” link at the end to make it easy for recipients to give.

Not only was the Christmas Appeal email campaign much more engaging and inspirational, but it led to a 75% uplift in total donations over the previous year.

ms society email

Bonus tip: Embedding video in email was once considered to be a difficult technical feat. But with some creativity and innovative technology, it’s easier than you think


For the latest real-world ideas you can put into practice now, download our new guide, “9 Solutions (With Real-Life Examples!) to Retailers’ Biggest Headaches,” today!


Example 2: Ulta Beauty increases customers’ engagement with “Year in Review” emails

Ulta Beauty executives challenged their email team to promote customer loyalty and generate higher sales through the channel. The team needed to simplify their processes in order to meet this challenge. With Liveclicker’s help, they were able to accomplish both goals. 

They started with the Ulta Beauty “Year in Review” emails. These used to be a complex, labor-intensive effort. Now with Liveclicker, these emails are automatically populated with customers’ specific data. Streamlining the process helped both the team and the results. Ulta Beauty’s guests continued to open and engage with this email days after it was deployed and spent more time looking at it than other emails.

Ulta Beauty credits the sales success to elements in the email that show customers how much they shopped last year and the points they earned toward free products and services. Animation in the email, along with email personalization, creates a fun and engaging experience which customers love enough to open multiple times.

Bonus tip: You can use data, rendering and animated technology to show customers’ account balances and distance to the next reward or loyalty point level. Customers often respond to “you’re almost there” messages with additional purchases to reach the new threshold.


For the latest real-world ideas you can put into practice now, download our new guide, “9 Solutions (With Real-Life Examples!) to Retailers’ Biggest Headaches,” today!


Example 3: Sun Tan City pushes engagement to 31.5%

Sun Tan City knows that engagement helps drive sales, so it is a strong measure of success for the brand’s email efforts. They frequently use polls, surveys, and other interactive elements to drive engagement that translates into sales. 

For their Thanksgiving email, the team featured four different offers by creating a “scratch to reveal” promotion. Customers could have fun with the digital scratch-off, then link to the site to make purchases. Engagement rates were as high as 31.5% for this and similar interactive emails. Download the Sun Tan City case study to learn about their interactive poll success. 

Sun Tan City

Bonus tip: Scratch-offs, polls, and other interactive elements help drive engagement and purchases. By mixing and matching elements, you can meet holiday revenue goals for your email program. 

This week, the industry is buzzing with news about Amazon Prime Day 2019. While it’s too early to calculate the actual results, some early estimates show that Amazon will generate sales of $6.1 billion, which would be a $2 billion improvement over last year.

Not only are these numbers impressive, but they are more signs that the upcoming holiday season will probably be the biggest one yet. As you plan your 2019 holiday campaigns, check our blog for a series of posts with real life examples to inspire your own success.  

To your holiday success

Download our brand new holiday ebook for more real-life examples and ideas to help you maximize your revenues this holiday season.

With the right strategy and technology, email can drive unprecedented revenue in a very short amount of time.

That’s the happy holiday news that fashion retailer Torrid received following one very successful holiday email campaign. A data-driven strategy and the addition of real-time technology came together at just the right time to deliver the highest revenue hour in the company’s history.

If that sounds like a gift your brand could use this holiday season, see how Torrid outperformed its holiday email goals and adapt these lessons for your own campaigns.

Finding Success During the Most Competitive Time of Year

Torrid delivers sophisticated email campaigns throughout the holiday season. But like many retailers it puts a special focus on the Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping period.

The company had ambitious goals and set specific targets related to increasing traffic (both to the site as well as its online store), driving incremental revenue, and achieving other aggressive goals for the holiday season.

We all know how big these shopping days are, but their growth rates—and the opportunity they represent—can still come as a surprise. In 2018, an estimated 164 million people were planning holiday shopping sometime during the five-day period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. Black Friday was the single busiest day, with 116 million people reporting that they planned to shop that day. 

In 2018, Cyber Monday hit nearly $8B in total sales, making it the largest online shopping day in U.S. history, and topping even Black Friday ($6.2B) in terms of online sales. Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday demonstrated significant year-over-year growth (20% and 23.6%, respectively), leading many analysts and retailers to think that 2019 will be even bigger.

Email Innovations Pay Off with Increased Traffic, Sales, and Revenues

Torrid wanted to create an engaging new Black Friday/Cyber Monday email experience to achieve its goals of maximizing campaigns sales and overall revenues.

The retailer’s marketing team came up with an innovative approach: to build emails that displayed a countdown timer that counted down to the end of each one of the company’s special live (limited time) promotions. 

Using the RealTime Email platform, Torrid designed highly personalized, extremely relevant content using customized messages and open-time data. When a specific promotion expired, the hero image disappeared, but it was replaced by a brief message telling the customer to visit the Torrid site to view the latest promotions and deals.

holiday retail email examples

Click here to see the complete email

Torrid found that these new emails led to new levels of customer engagement and urgency, both of which increased sales—from the email promotion as well as the site—as well as total traffic. Most importantly, customers paid attention to the countdown timer and made their purchases before the promotion expired. 

Swapping in dynamic content as offers changed over time enabled the brand to update its emails with the latest, most relevant messaging even after they were already sent and opened. This helped Torrid gain incremental revenue from campaigns sent days, even weeks, earlier. 

holiday retail email strategy

Even expired promotions led to revenue spikes and new traffic to the retailer’s site, with 37% of opens and a 3.6% click-through rate occurring after the sale ended. An updated image and CTA after the sale had expired created a large and long tail of continued site visits and sales well into the holiday season.

holiday retail email examples

Counting Down to the Greatest Hour in Company History

Torrid’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday campaigns were a success by any conventional measure. Traffic numbers increased over company and industry benchmarks. Total clicks, total opens, click-through rates, and conversions surged. 

But most important, Torrid hit the single highest revenue hour in company history and significantly exceeded its revenue goals. With Liveclicker, Torrid was able to achieve goals where they matter most: top-line revenue growth and a stronger bottom line. 

For more details on Torrid’s holiday strategy and results, download the complete case study here.

Have a Happy, Historic Holiday

The Torrid case study is just one example of how email marketing innovation can make this holiday season your most productive yet. For even more ways to drive greater revenue and overcome traditional holiday headaches, be sure to check out our ebook: Real-Time Solutions to 9 of Retail Marketers’ Biggest Holiday Email Headaches.

More than our gift to you, it’s your way to find other tips, tricks, and effective examples from leading retailers to reach customers throughout the holiday cycle!

There’s a lot to be learned from the past and the experience of others—building off their successes and learning from their mistakes. In this 2 Wins and a Fail blog series, we’re inviting clients, partners, friends and thought leaders to share their email marketing stories; both good and bad.


This week we had the pleasure to speak with Matt Berry, Digital Marketing Manager for Herschend Family Entertainment.

Herschend is the largest family-owned themed attractions corporation in the US, managing 23 entertainment, tourism and hospitality properties and theme parks including Silver Dollar City Attractions and Dollywood Parks & Resorts. Matt has worked with Herschend brands for 4 years and oversees email campaigns for many of the organization’s properties and attractions. His experiences hold valuable advice for any email marketer; especially those working in the entertainment, travel, and hospitality industries.

Success Story #1: Getting Subscribers Ready To Explore A New Land

Drumming up excitement for upcoming locations and attractions is an ongoing challenge for destination brands like Herschend’s.

When Dollywood started promoting its latest theme park expansion, Wildwood Grove, it took a strategic, measured approach.

Wildwood Grove will be the newest—and largest—addition to the world-famous Dollywood theme park. “Because of how significant the new area is, we really went big and are still going big with this announcement across all channels,” Berry said.

Dollywood wanted to create excitement and awareness about the new attraction and use that buzz as momentum to fuel related campaigns and sales opportunities. Though the big expansion wouldn’t open for several months, the brand started promoting it as early as last fall; right when it was going on sale with its season passes for the upcoming year.

dynamic email design example

Click here to see the complete interactive email!

The Dollywood team also tried something new with this announcement; a pre-sale campaign.

“When we announced, we gave guests the opportunity to ‘raise their hand’ to learn more about Wildwood Grove early,” Berry explained. “We also offered guests to sign up to be part of our limited time pre-sale, which would give them special pricing opportunities in addition to access to Wildwood Grove before anyone else. So we were using the announcement to sell season passes as well as offering special access to early adopters.”

A series of announcement emails directed interested subscribers to a specialized landing page where they could opt in to receive additional news and special offers related to Wildwood Grove. The email team segmented this list and sent it an extremely successful pre-sale campaign, taking advantage of Liveclicker features like fully-embedded video and slideshows in-email to build excitement and anticipation.

As icing on the cake, Dollywood made clever use of advanced tracking technology to monitor individuals who:

  1. Signed up for the special Season Pass Pre-Sale
  2. Went to the Dollywood site store where season passes were sold
  3. Did not make a purchase

The company remarketed this audience segment with highly-focused and effective ‘abandoned cart’ style emails.

The Wildwood Grove announcement and the campaigns launched alongside it have proven extremely potent for Dollywood, and Herschend is now adapting these tactics to its other brands to multiply its success.

Key takeaways:

P.S. Wildwood Grove is scheduled to open soon (May 11)…and it looks AWESOME! Check out this teaser featuring an introduction from Dolly Parton:

Success Story 2: A Concert Promotion Email Encore

The second big win Matt shared was an initiative to create interest and sell more tickets to concerts at another one of Herschend’s theme parks: Wild Adventures.

The park hosts a series of A-list bands, artists, performers and comedians with every new season. This year Wild Adventures adopted a new strategy that boosted both season pass and reserved concert seat sales.

Instead of announcing the complete concert lineup all at once, the team decided to ‘tease’ subscribers by just featuring a couple of the events on the schedule at the beginning of the campaign in the fall. These limited announcements were used as value-adds to drive early season pass purchases.

As the new season approached, Wild Adventures used the final main concert announcement as a miniature event in and of itself, using in-email countdown timers to build and maintain excitement leading up to the release date.

The email featuring main concert announcement was heavily personalized. ”We have rock artists, we have Christian artists, country, and so on,” Berry said. “If we saw that a user had attended a certain kind of event in the past, we made sure to showcase similar artists and performers and bring them to the top because that’s what they’re likely to be most interested in.”

But this year the company was careful not just to show a limited selection of events. They wanted to highlight the sheer breadth and variety of high-quality concerts and performances available. After all; people can have diverse tastes and interests in more than just one or two entertainment categories.

To showcase the broad suite of concert selections in the limited real estate of an email, Wild Adventures made great use of Liveclicker’s LiveSlides functionality. The interactive element could effortlessly showcase multiple artists in a particular genre, which was dynamic based on that subscribers preferences, while maintaining a sleek, user-friendly email design.

As an extra value-add, they explained that season passholders received exclusive first access to reserved concert seats a week before they went on sale to the general public.

entertainment brand email example

Click here to see the complete interactive email!

This multi-pronged approach has been hugely successful. Though only a few concerts have occurred so far this season, Wild Adventures is already up YoY on the limited reserved concert seats and has seen substantial growth in season pass sales since the main concert announcement.

Key Takeaways:

The Fail: “Oops.”

Herschend has seen a lot of email success across its properties. But even very well managed marketing programs aren’t always executed perfectly.

Matt was given an especially stark reminder of this after a Herschend property sent out a mass email with a crucial oversight.

This property is well known and respected for its fun, quirky email campaigns. So when it sent out an email announcing a pending price increase in membership costs, it got a lot of opens for a flash sale for memberships at the current lower price.

Unfortunately there was a critical mistake in the email. The link to the landing page where subscribers could buy at the discounted price was wrong. It went to an unrelated web page, and any openers clicking through expecting a good deal were immediately disappointed, confused, and frustrated.

This is a nightmare scenario for email marketers. Countless hours of creativity, strategy, and analytics—not to mention months or years of careful relationship nurturing and goodwill building—can all be sabotaged by a single mistake like this.

The property’s email team reacted in textbook fashion once it realized the error. They followed up with an apologetic, funny, and self-deprecating “oops” email. The email didn’t try to ignore the mistake; it owned up to the error and provided subscribers a comically large selection of correct links that would take openers where needed to go for the flash sale.

oops email example

“We have learned over the years that ‘oops’ emails actually perform pretty well..people like to watch you mess up and are more prone to open,” Berry said. “I loved the way this was written as it was calling attention to ourselves for making a mistake and putting less focus on the promotion itself. The message barely mentioned the sale, yet drove engagement and resulted in sales – possibly higher than the original email may have achieved on its own.”

This follow-up strategy proved to be extremely effective and earned exceptional open and engagement rates.

Key Takeaways:


Enormous thanks to Matt Berry and Herschend Family Entertainment Brands for these stories for us to share and learn from!

Matt recently shared even more of his experiences, expertise and advice at our Future of Email Atlanta event! If you’re interested in hearing more stories from email pros, register now to join the conversation at a session near you—it’s completely free for email marketers!