For most ecommerce marketers, November means one and one thing only: Black Friday.
And for good reason.
But if you’re thinking that Thanksgiving is nothing more than Black Friday, you might be missing out on engaging your audience—before the commercial face of the holiday season shows itself.
Now is the perfect time to appreciate, inspire, and educate your email list and these seven Thanksgiving email examples can help you do that.
1. Estee Lauder
Since Black Friday traditionally starts right after Thanksgiving, the latter doesn’t typically get to have its own sale.
However, over the last few years, Black Friday moved away from being a single day and transformed into an entire week, or even a month, of offers.
For the sake of being early in the game, it’s no surprise that many brands started using Thanksgiving as a gateway to their Black Friday sales. Estee Lauder is one such brand:
With the above subject line, the beauty brand wishes you a happy Thanksgiving and invites you to celebrate the day with a nice offer.
The email itself resembles a Thanksgiving card at first sight. In it, Estee Lauder tells you what they are grateful for, and the list includes you too.
Following the headline “turkey can wait,” Estee Lauder announces its Black Friday sale that simply can’t wait.
If you’re using Thanksgiving as a passage to Black Friday early access, ensure that your subscribers feel the appreciation and exclusivity in your email.
2. Function of Beauty
Thanksgiving is a time when brands bombard consumers with sale announcements and early Black Friday offers.
To stand out in busy holiday inboxes, your subject line needs to break the pattern. Moving away from the classic “25% off” subject line is one way to do that, and that’s what Function of Beauty prefers.
The question in Function of Beauty’s subject line opens a curiosity gap and makes you wonder why you need to choose one of these two options.
This is what you see when you open the email:
Inside is a little choose your own adventure game with highly possible Thanksgiving scenarios, such as “voluntary food coma” and “spill gravy on your sweater.”
Packaged with an eye-catching email design, the company’s message is clear: no matter what kind of a Thanksgiving you’re having, you get 25 off the brand’s website.
In case the detailed chart wasn’t clear enough, Function of Beauty also repeats its offer at the bottom of the email.
The anticipated Black Friday sale is on; it gives you 25 off everything with the discount code; it ends on November 30th. That’s all you need to know.
Function of Beauty’s email doesn’t have the standard Thanksgiving vibes but it’s still highly relevant and relatable. It’s also a creative way to promote a site-wide offer when exclusivity or personalization isn’t an option.
3. Bed Bath & Beyond
If you’re selling homeware, clothing, or food and drinks, the days leading up to Thanksgiving is the perfect time to invite prospects to get ready for the big day with your products.
Bed Bath & Beyond, the home decor retailer, uses this approach in multiple Thanksgiving emails. Take a look at this example:
In it, Bed Bath & Beyond presents you its top picks to have a clean and organized home before the holiday season. What’s more, its product recommendations feature items that are currently on sale. All the more reasons to prepare your home for Thanksgiving with the company’s products.
If “getting your home in tip-top shape” isn’t a powerful enough motivator for you, the remainder of the email invites you to “make over your guest room” instead.
The call to action (CTA) is different, but the idea is the same.
In another Thanksgiving email, Bed Bath & Beyond gives you more recommendations, but this time highlighting products to help you set the best autumn table.
Designed in the season’s colors, this warm fall email inspires you to create a memorable Thanksgiving table. The quote from an in-house designer adds more credibility to the company’s suggestions, while at the same time, acting as a stamp of social proof.
There’s no big sale announcement or pushy product promotion here. Bed Bath & Beyond shows us a great example of product marketing and how you can inspire prospects to prepare for Thanksgiving with your products.
4. Violet Grey
Bed Bath & Beyond covers the host role in its Thanksgiving emails since the brand is all about home decor.
Violet Grey, the high-end beauty retailer, by contrast, focuses on the other side of Thanksgiving: being a good guest.
The company’s subject line makes that clear from the beginning. If you’re wondering how you can be a good guest around the holiday season, you open the email, like I did, and see this:
Although gift-giving isn’t the most common Thanksgiving tradition, Violet Grey finds at least one person you should buy gifts for this year, and that’s your host.
In the email, the company recommends gift ideas for your dinner host to ensure that you are “invited back.” What’s more, the email isn’t only specific to Thanksgiving, but a little guide you can follow for Christmas too.
Following holiday gift guide best practices, Violet Grey categorizes its suggestions by different types of hosts, including The Thanksgiving Host and The Game Night Host.
If you’re not running a Thanksgiving sale or selling products that can help people get ready for the day, you can model from Violet Grey’s email and position your products as gift ideas before Thanksgiving or any other holiday.
A common theme many ecommerce emails share around Thanksgiving is gratitude.
Many brands, especially those that don’t run Thanksgiving sales, use this time to reflect on the past year and appreciate their customers. BarkBox, the popular dog treats subscription service, is one of those companies.
In one of its recent Thanksgiving emails, BarkBox uses the gratitude theme and makes it clear that they’re grateful for you, starting from the subject line.
The email itself reads like a letter from the founders (or more correctly, the founders’ dogs). In it, BarkBox wishes you a happy Thanksgiving and shows its appreciation for its customers: you and your pups.
BarkBox’s email is written in a personal, friendly, and sincere tone. It’s not trying to get you to buy something with some fake gratitude. The email CTA is sort of selfless too:
There is a promo code in the email but it’s not an aggressive, profit-driven one. Using the code saves you some money, plus, BarkBox will donate to pups in need.
From the code “Barkgives” to the CTA “Give good, get good,” BarkBox’s email copy is fully in line with the spirit of Thanksgiving. Rather than throw a random sale, say thanks, and promote its products, BarkBox ends the email with a social responsibility activity.
It’s a great email to replicate if you’re planning to do something different for Thanksgiving this year.
Speaking of social responsibility…
4ocean, an apparel company with environmental and social responsibility as its core focus, has quite an unusual type of Thanksgiving email example for us.
This is what you see when you click 4ocean’s unexpected Thanksgiving subject line:
At the very top of the email sits a little note: “A cleaner ocean is the greatest gift of all.”
Next, the headline puts a conscious, albeit slightly gloomy, spin on a famous holiday phrase. After that, 4ocean goes on to explain how we’re producing even more waste around the holiday season and what you can do to reduce that.
In the main portion of the email, 4ocean gives you actionable tips for minimizing waste right before Thanksgiving. Its suggestions include sustainable gift ideas, as well as its own products.
At the bottom of the email, the company also links to some of its giftable products, so you can already put your dedication to a waste-free holiday season into action:
4ocean’s Thanksgiving content is genuinely helpful in starting the holiday season on the right foot. And it’s successful at hinting at its products without sounding too salesy.
7. The Frye Company
BarkBox and 4ocean do their fair share of corporate social responsibility for Thanksgiving. Yet, one way or another, both emails contain a button to buy companies’ products.
Picture this: It’s Thanksgiving and you’re around a well-set table, enjoying a nice, big meal with your loved ones. And you see this email in your inbox.
It’s a perfect match if you’re feeling thankful and looking to spread this feeling to those less fortunate. This is what you see when you open the email:
Just as it said in the subject line, The Frye Company invites you to donate a meal for people “struggling to put food on the table.” The email is especially relevant since it was sent in 2020, when it had already been a long, difficult year all around the world.
In the final part of the email, Frye explains how it teamed up with Feeding America, the US-based hunger relief organization, and how every dollar you give can help provide meals in the holiday season.
No products or brand details are mentioned in the email. More importantly, there’s no requirement to purchase from The Frye Company. You can simply click the button and place a donation.
It’s a truly selfless Thanksgiving email you can take as an example, whether your goal is to build a better company image or stronger ties with your audience.
It also goes on to show that not every Thanksgiving email has to be about Black Friday or short-term profits.
Not all Thanksgiving emails are created equal.
Some don’t go beyond cheesy puns and forced messages of gratitude.
However, these seven Thanksgiving email examples are some of the best I’ve seen in my inbox in a long time.
Whether your goal is to announce the start of your Black Friday offers, promote your Thanksgiving-y products, or simply invite subscribers to commit an act of kindness, these seven examples should inspire you.