Gift guides email examples

In the blizzard of emails that engulfs inboxes from November 1 through New Year’s Day, the gift guide emails shines like a beacon.

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Ah, the holidays—the time when many brands and retailers earn that cold, hard cash to hit revenue targets. And, of course, email is vital for succeeding during this critical period.

Want to maximize your customer’s shopping experience? Think about offering gift guides. Brands can really make shopping easy with complementary products and ideas that are irresistible … omg, I spent *how* much on Black Friday?! 😛

What’s more, gift guides can be useful during other events during the year, like Mother’s Day. Think of incorporating key holidays in your email strategy year-round where your product makes sense.

A great gift guide gives readers click-worthy ideas they’ll want to purchase. Keep this in mind when choosing the products to feature, creating the email design, and drafting the email subject.

Gift guides strategic recommendations

Gift guide emails can get out of hand fast for retailers with hundreds of SKUs. Don’t overcomplicate it! Focus on key categories and areas of interest that would appeal to holiday shoppers. We took a look at over 100 retailer gift guide emails so you don’t have to. Here’s what we learned:

Build categories for different gifts

Having various categories for shoppers can appeal to the masses and their holiday shopping lists. Consider curating different lists by category. For example, clothing company, Naadam, categorizes gifts by the recipient (for him and for her) and by price with a call to action to purchase a gift card if nothing in the guide piques shoppers’ interest.

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Highlight holiday shopping information and deadlines

Have 24/7 customer support during the busy season? Free shipping on orders over $50? A shipping deadline? It’s important to communicate these details so the shopper understands when they need to have their order placed by. Take a look at outerwear company, Outerknown. They highlight their shipping deadline within their guide email based on the shipping options available.

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Showcase a variety of products while also mentioning specifics

Women’s retailer, Unique Vintage, highlights a variety of products within their gift guide and also has a call to action for browsers to shop other products and collections. Highlighting a variety of products will target the many and not the few.

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Build confidence

This email wins because it combines the product assortment of a gift guide with the recommendations of a personal salesperson and enough how-to advice to help shoppers feel confident about the bikes they’ve selected.

The email design and flow make it easy for browsers to scan the email to look for the right age groups. We also like the use of “We recommend …” to make the product recommendation more authoritative.

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Offer guides by price

Gift guides by price can be either compelling or ho-hum depending on how well they’re put together. This guide gets its message across quickly and easily with a minimum of copy but maximum information.

It’s easily scanned; the images show products as someone might use them, not just glamor shots. Each category is easy to click on because each image is linked to a unique landing page with an assortment of products in that category. We also like the stocking-stuffer list under the main images.

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Use clever categories that are specific

Etsy is a champ at gift guides, partly by using clever categories that give shoppers specific and helpful advice. You don’t get that level of detail and immediacy with a “Gifts for Him/Gifts for Her” organization.

This email combines several guides into one. We love this tagline: “The zombie who doesn’t become human until coffee number four” and the email structure that combines several shopping themes – persona, price or emotion – without creating a monster message.

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Create persona-based guides

Among U.S. consumers, spending on gifts for pets doesn’t rank high enough yet to get called out in the National Retail Federation’s annual holiday spending forecasts. But pet-product purveyors both large (Petco, PetSmart, Pet Supplies Plus) and small (Lily’s Kitchen, PetsPyjamas) are doing their best to correct that with clever emails like these.

We love the gentle spoof of persona-based guides – is your critter a Jolly Holidayer or a Secret Stocking Filler? (What, no “Relentless Tree Destroyer?”) The artwork-based images and subdued colors encourages readers to keep scrolling through the email; it’s a restful break from hard-sell, flashier emails.

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Gift guides implementation details

With images, product information, and text, gift guide emails aren’t the easiest to compose. Eye-catching designs and lightweight HTML are critical for the success of these campaigns. Here are a few recommendations when setting up gift guide emails:

Beware of clipping.

Have a super long gift guide or too many images? Lengthy HTML emails can clip in the inbox, causing a poor user experience. Test emails thoroughly with multiple email clients through tools such as Litmus to ensure they’re not clipping due to heavy emails.

Did you know? MailCharts email scoring factor’s in the weight of the email. This is an important component you’ll want to take a look at when analyzing other gift guide emails within MailCharts.

Personalize gift guides.

If running into the problem above, consider splitting out gift guides and personalizing based on previous purchases or cart abandoned items. This lets you feature all the products but in a personalized way. These fields can be dynamic based on different categories of interest and segmenting based on persona. For example, if Stacy buys 4 sweaters for women during the 2018 holiday season, she can be categorized as a women’s clothing shopper, or more specifically, interested in the women’s tops.

Optimize for mobile viewing.

It’s no secret that consumers are always on their phones. In fact, during the 2018 holiday shopping season, it was estimated that mobile purchases accounted for a total of 49% of all purchases. Include responsive HTML based on screen size and utilize bulletproof buttons. Having the appropriate call to action and text size will be critical for marketing to those opening emails on mobile.

Showcase individual products.

Many gift guide emails do little more than provide an image and a link to the actual gift guide, which is hosted on the company’s website.

That’s an easy email to put together, but you’re forcing your customers to click without knowing what they’re in for.

If yours was the only gift guide in the inbox, you could probably get away with this. But when every other brand is sending gift guides, your email needs to work harder to drive clicks. You don’t have to showcase every item from your guide in the email but you should highlight specific items or categories your subscribers are likely to click.

Pro tip: Segmenting your list based on gender, interest, or recent on-site activity can really help you tailor the products you feature in your gift guide emails.

Watch out for message and image weight.

If every brand manager is breathing down your neck to get more products into your gift guide email, you could end up with a gargantuan message that gets clipped, blocked, or routed to the bulk folder.

The solution: Either cut down on how many products you showcase or create several guides, each with a central theme. If you opt for the latter, set these up well in advance and schedule them to send at key moments (e.g. order by tomorrow to get your gifts in time for Christmas).

Note: Message weight is one of the key factors MailCharts uses to score each email. To see how it works — and how different gift guides measure up on message and image weights, mobile optimization, inbox-friendly subject lines and other factors, get started with a free trial.

Drive interest by honing in on different categories.

“Gifts for Him” and “Gifts for Her” aren’t too compelling, and they still force your shoppers to do a lot of searching and scrolling for holiday gifts for customers.

The below categories give customers more direction and help you create a compelling product assortment:

  • Hobbies
  • Personas
  • Occasion (the perfect secret santa gifts, 20 stocking stuffer ideas)
  • Holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Solstice)
  • Rooms in a house
  • Fictional characters who remind you of friends or family
  • Friends who just got their first houses
  • Colors
  • Indoor v.s. outdoor
  • Designer or endorser
  • Crisis (last-minute shopping, gifts to impress potential in-laws, cheapie gifts for broke college students)
  • Technical expertise (newbie, expert, early adopter, late bloomer)
  • Price

No matter which categories you use, highlight this in the email’s subject. Every other brand says “Our holiday gift guide is here!” Make your gift guide email stand out.

Include essential holiday shopping information.

Round out your guide with helpful information, such as shipping deadlines, customer service contact information and hours, return policy, gift cards, and anything else your shoppers need to know when buying from you.

But don’t go overboard with lengthy copy. Punchy, clickable, text links will do the trick.

By following these strategic tips in your gift guide emails, you can create a campaign that will stand out during a time where shoppers have a lot of emails hitting their inbox.