6 April Fools’ Day marketing ideas that’ll have you laughing all the way to your revenue goals

Email marketing
February 22, 2024
Image shows 2 women laughing at their phone.

Joke’s on you: April Fools’ Day may be one of the toughest days of the year for ecommerce brands to take advantage of.

Every day lately might feel like a cosmic joke, but on April Fools’ Day, it actually is. “Don’t believe everything you see online” hits new heights on April 1, and after so many brand fails over so many years, your audience is primed to tune out the noise on social media.

On this less-than-auspicious day, however, you can be the brand whose email marketing campaigns the inbox sacred.

Whether your marketing team wants to play it safe with an earnest discount or take a big swing with a thoughtful joke, you’ll need some inspiration in the form of email examples from brands that have survived another April Fools’ Day to tell the tale.

1. ScanCafe promises their steep discount is no hoax

ScanCafe, a photo scanning and restoration company, uses their headline space—prominently featured in the email design, with no distracting copy around it—to emphasize that the 60% discount they’re offering is not an April Fools’ Day joke.

Image shows an email from ScanCafe, a photo scanning and restoration company. On a backdrop featuring a graphic design with a navy and gold color palette, the headline of the email reads, “THIS IS NOT A JOKE” in white. Underneath the headline is a yellow box that reads, “DON’T BE FOOLED THIS APRIL FOOLS.” At the bottom of the design, navy font over the gold part of the background reads, “USE NOFOOL60 FOR 60% OFF VIDEO, AUDIO, AND FILM.” The fine print explains offer restrictions.
Source: Milled

Pro tip: If it makes sense for your economics, a discount that’s so steep it looks like a joke could make you stand out this April.

Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) is far behind and far ahead on April 1, so you can bet your audience is ready for a mid-year discount that could match the likes of it. Just make sure you’re truly offering a discount—it may be April Fools’ Day, but people are serious about their cost savings.

2. Capsul invokes Black Friday with a “customize later” option

Similar to ScanCafe, Capsul Jewelry invokes BFCM early, just after April Fools’ Day. Here’s what makes their offer so great:

It’s simple.
1

Capsul is offering 50% off—a significant discount. Invoking Black Friday, a holiday where big discounts are the name of the game, is bound to grab the audience’s attention.

It creates urgency.
2

The advertised April Fools’ Day sale not only has an imminent expiration date—this email went out the day the sale ended—but also reminds the reader that they’ll have to wait 6 months for another discount this big if they sleep on this deal.

It helps subscribers manage the urgency.
3

Capsul gives their audience the option to customize their jewelry later on, while still reserving the 50% off discount. So, if you know you love the brand, you can save now—and worry about how to customize your purchase later.

Image shows an email from jewelry brand Capsul, headlined, “50% OFF SALE ENDS TONIGHT!” The body of the email contains a photo of a model showing off a Capsul necklace, with two smaller product shots of the necklace and a complementary bracelet arranged around the main photo’s edges. Underneath the photo is a dotted-line box that contains the 50% off code, followed by email copy that begins “Hi beautiful!” and reads like a personalized letter. Toward the bottom of the email is a call to action (CTA) button that reads, “REDEEM 50% OFF,” as well as a 5-star review from a happy customer and a photo of the product in question.
Source: Milled

Pro tip: As a marketer, you can make all sorts of promises or claims about what you’re trying to sell. But even if they’re valid, it’s hard to corroborate them or play the “take it from me” card when you stand to benefit financially if someone does actually take it from you.

Take a leaf out of Capsul’s book: Round out your April Fools’ Day email with social proof like starred product reviews or other user-generated content (UGC).

3. Pearson asks for forgiveness and offers useful content

Lots of brands send out practical joke emails on April 1. And some of those pay off, going viral and building brand awareness and credibility. Others, however, simply irritate subscribers—and can even erode trust among loyal customers.

So, how do you come back from a misfire?

Pearson, a brand that sells bikes, clothing, and equipment for cyclists, launched a product on April 1 that was, in their words, “too good to be true.” Not everyone caught the joke.

In this follow-up email, the brand apologizes and tries to make it up to their subscribers, keeping it lighthearted. The follow-up email begins, “to redeem ourselves for this foolery…” and references the fake product that sparked customer inquiries about the launch date, to make things crystal clear for anyone who may have missed the initial April Fools’ Day prank.

Image shows an email from Pearson’s that kicks off with some explanation copy in the form of a letter: “Our April 1st product launch may have been a step too far, we apologise to those who hadn’t spotted that our velcro shoe and pedal concept was too good to be true.” To, in the brand’s words, “redeem ourselves for this foolery,” the email goes on to include 4 sections: one titled “WON’T GET FOOLED AGAIN,” featuring a photo of the aforementioned fake new product; the next titled “PEARSON WORKSHOP: ONLINE BOOKINGS NOW LIVE,” featuring a photo of a Pearson store and a link to book service now; the next titled “WHAT TO EAT ON YOUR RIDE: A CONTRARIAN VIEW,” with a photo of a cup of ice cream sitting on a bike seat and a link to read more; and finally, a section titled “PEARSON ROUTES: RIDE THE NEW FOREST PONY,” featuring a photo from the route in question, a map highlighting the trail route, metrics on distance, elevation gain, and ride type, and a CTA button that reads, “VIEW THE ROUTE.”
Source: Milled

Pro tip: Notice that Pearson doesn’t offer an apology discount. Instead, they provide a link to sign up for a workshop, tongue-in-cheek nutrition advice tailored to cyclists, and a new ride route perfect for spring.

Just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean you have to try to buy your customers’ love. Instead of incentivizing their business, see if you can build community through targeted email content.

4. CBDFx keeps things timely with a countdown clock

CBDFx, a CBD brand, celebrates April Fools’ Day by offering a 30% off coupon code with a hard deadline for when subscribers must complete their purchase.

But they also take the urgency one step further: They include a prominent countdown clock at the very top of the email.

Image shows an email from CBD brand CBDFx, featuring a countdown clock at the top under the headline, “ENDS TONIGHT!” The body of the email contains a product shot on a bright blue background, overlaid with the text, “April Fools’ Weekend Sale! 30% OFF: SPEND $100 & USE CODE SMILE,” followed by a burnt orange CTA button that reas, “SHOP NOW.”
Source: Milled

Pro tip: Including a countdown clock ensures that, no matter what time the subscriber opens the email, they get an accurate, real-time understanding of how much time is left for them to take advantage of the sale.

Talk about personalization! It may be brass tacks, but it’s tailored to the subscriber’s experience nonetheless. Learn how to add a countdown timer to your emails.

5. Flock Foods takes snack time seriously

Let’s face it: Plenty of brands clutter subscribers’ inboxes with bad jokes on April 1. The day is basically a guarantee for even an active fan of your brand to potentially ignore an email from you.

So, if you’re serious about what you’re offering, make sure you let your customers know. Most of the brands we’ve looked at so far made clear that their sale was no joke, but snack brand Flock Foods drives it home with clarifying copywriting in 3 key places:

  • Eyebrow copy
  • Subhead copy
  • Body copy
Image shows an email from snack brand Flock Foods which starts off with underlined red text in all caps: “FLASH SALE EXTENDED: THIS IS NOT A JOKE.” The body of the email contains a product shot of snack bags on a bright blue background, with text overlaid that reads, “APRIL FOOLS SALE: Get 15% off everything sitewide and no, it’s not a joke!” At the bottom of the image is the discount code, APRIL, and a black CTA button that reads, “shop now.” The email copy below the image reminds readers, again, that this isn’t a joke.
Source: Milled

Pro tip: Almost nobody will read every word of your email. Make sure you reinforce your message in multiple areas so that even the most distracted reader gets the point.

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6. PopFlex goes for the joke everyone knows

Here’s a less risky move—using your unique brand voice and identity to tell a joke your audience is already familiar with.

This April Fools’ email from athleisure brand PopFlex turns a common Instagram joke on its head with funny visuals of their “squatless yoga pants” that promise to “take you from pancake to peach emoji in 2 seconds.”

Image shows an email from PopFlex, headlined, “WE ARE THRILLED TO ANNOUNCE OUR BRAND NEW SQUATLESS YOGA PANTS.” The email features several before and after photos of women wearing different yoga pants and taking mirror selfies from behind, twisted around to smile at the camera. The email copy reads, “with our patented glute enhancing technology, we’ll take you from pancake to peach emoji in 2 seconds.” At the bottom of the email, under the pink “SHOP NOW” CTA button, the brand writes, “This is a joke. Happy April Fools Day!”
Source: Pinterest

Pro tip: Know your audience. This is a…cheeky move, but the risk is diluted because the brand’s audience is in on the joke. Rather than feel slighted, there’s more of a chance that recipients will get it—and feel like they’re part of a community.

Tips and tricks for your holiday marketing all year long.
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Marissa Petteruti
Marissa Petteruti
Marissa Petteruti is the manager of Klaviyo's Academy team. She leads the creation of content that helps customers learn how to get the most of out Klaviyo. Prior to joining Klaviyo's Academy team, Marissa was the first member of Klaviyo's marketing team. She joined the company shortly after graduating from Brown University. In her free time, you can find Marissa experimenting to find the world’s greatest penne alla vodka recipe.
Tiffany Regaudie
Tiffany Regaudie
Tiffany is a writer and content consultant who specializes in marketing, health, and the attention economy. Before devoting herself to freelance writing full-time, she led content teams at various startups and nonprofits in Toronto, Canada.