June 14, 2018

*Updated!* Free your July 4th marketing emails from bad design!

**July 9, UPDATE** We were hoping for some big 2018 July 4 email fireworks, but they fizzled. We saw more of the same behavior this year as last year! In fact, some retailers rolled back their generosity for Americans this year, with less offering free shipping and dollars off campaigns. The flip is there was a solid increase in percent-off promos, increasing from 65% to 68%.

Interestingly, retailers also scaled back on their pre-July 4 email promotions, with a 2% dip in sending volume. This translated to a 2% increase in emails sent on the holiday itself, though, so maybe those retailers who offered less in promos opted to send “Happy 4th of July!” emails to their lists. While the changes in behavior between 2017 and 2018 are relatively minimal, we wonder if discounts are offered via different technology (SMS, social media?) and email’s purpose is shifting within their strategy. We’ll keep a keen eye on how Black Friday shapes up.

Get more updated insights from MailCharts.


We want YOU to send better marketing emails for your Fourth of July sales. Why? Because what’s more American than driving holiday revenue? Thus, we are back again with more help from MailCharts to bring you a 2017 look-back to inform your 2018 campaigns. Together we looked at 1007 emails mentioning variants of “July 4th” in the subject line sent by major retail brands.

Unlike Father’s Day, where we saw emails slowly ramp up toward the holiday (likely in an attempt to help people not be “the worst kid” in the family by forgetting the date entirely), July 4th emails didn’t truly ramp up until June 29, when we saw 132 emails whizz out.

“Retailers are looking to close the deal the day-of, with 22% of marketing emails going out on the actual holiday,” explained Carl Sednaoui, director of marketing at MailCharts. “However, there’s quite a bit of last-chance emails, with 7% of related marketing emails going out in the days after.”

These retailers are so proud to be American that they were ready to blow the doors off (virtual or otherwise) with these promotions, too:

The best part of these facts and figures is that some companies offered a combination of promotions, meaning you could perhaps get dollars AND a percentage off! Or dollars off AND free shipping. The possibilities…

Retailers were not shy in discounting on July 4, 2017. This could be because sales typically slow in the dead of summer, when people prefer to enjoy themselves outside rather than skulking through the mall (the ones that still exist) or shopping on their phones.

Retailers need to give shoppers a reason to pull the trigger on the buying frenzy, and they did not disappoint. The second-most popular offer was a full 50-60% off (214 emails). Thank you, Uncle Sam.

“The Fourth of July is seen as the high-water mark of summer, with the rest of the season sliding slowly down toward fall and back-to-school. Retailers may be offering steeper-than-usual discounts to move inventory,” confirmed Sednaoui.

Now for the real fun. What did these emails look like? We asked MailCharts just that, and they provided us with a number of awesome examples.

Did anyone go subtle on the stars and stripes or was it full-on fireworks? Read on, patriots:


Stars and stripes! Red, white, and blue! A patriotic theme for patriotic merchandise. A bold, graphic header leads the way to “must-haves” for the summer and a simple call-to-action (CTA.) To give a little encouragement, Fossil offered 20% on particular items. This clean and fun campaign has us smiling from sea to shining sea.


for today only: extra 20% off everything

Coming in strong with the GIF. This email had one purpose: To offer an extra 20% off everything. Yes, everything. The powerful GIF draws you in with flashing colors and moving text, creating an alert in motion. If the subscriber has one day to use this offer, this GIF warns them time is running out. By avoiding the traditional static image, YOOX generated attention with a statement graphic to persuade the subscriber to click-through. We see you!

Motherhood Maternity

It’s all about the savings for these mothers. Free shipping, 30% off, 50% off, even 60% off! Using another “today only” sales tactic, Motherhood created a sense of urgency for subscribers to not sleep on this deal. However, they missed a few email marketing best practices. Placing the CTA all the way at the bottom weakens click-through rates; not everyone will scroll, so it’s best to keep a button near the top. It looks like emojis failed to render in the header copy and the layout appears unbalanced in the preview window, which isn’t a strong look for a brand. These small but impactful mistakes can be fixed to create the ultimate email experience by testing your email before sending. Opens and conversions are hard to come by, so don’t let them slip away because you didn’t test your design before the messages went out to consumers.



Red rover, red rover, send this email on over! Humoring your subscriber with a pun is a great way to create hype. What’s even more unique, this campaign doesn’t go for the stereotypical red, white, and blue. Two things that go quickly on July 4? Hot dogs off the grill and dog sitters. Brilliant. Provoke a laugh and leave a lasting impression on the subscriber. Who’s a good [email] boy? Rover.

Need more? Here’s a link to extra email examples from MailCharts.

Come back to this very spot after July 4th to see what marketers sent out this year!

Next up…Labor Day. A similarly American retail holiday, Labor Day is when we all bemoan the end of summer and spend lots of money to try to make ourselves feel better. We’ll give you a look at what went down in 2017 soon. Now get out there!

Author: Alex Eilmann

Alex Eilmann is the senior designer at 250ok. She joined the company in its infancy, acquiring creative and email design best practices by being the driving force behind 250ok’s evolving visual brand.

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