Email marketing

Your Memorial Day email marketing and SMS campaign guide: best practices, themes + 16 templates

Bani Kaur, April 20th 2022
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Memorial Day Weekend has a lot going on––including a long weekend off for Americans and a celebratory start to summer.

Falling on May 30 this year, it is both a day of remembrance and to relax with family and friends––creating quite the challenge for marketers.

In the midst of these contending themes, the question becomes: How can I create a relevant email marketing campaign that engages my audience and drives early summer sales?

How can I create a relevant email marketing campaign that engages my audience and drives early summer sales?

To answer that, we analyzed last years’ trends, referenced these against consumer forecasts for 2022, and then built out 5 Memorial Day email marketing themes you can use right now.

You’ll also find a bonus section on what to do if you think it’s too late to launch a Memorial Day campaign (or you have leftover stock).

This guide will cover:

  1. Important Memorial Day weekend stats for ecommerce marketers
  2. 5 best practices for Memorial Day email campaigns
  3. 5 Memorial Day marketing themes to center your campaign around
  4. It’s not too late! 3 examples for the late planner
  5. 16 email and SMS templates to use for your Memorial Day campaign right now
  6. Your next steps

Important Memorial Day weekend stats for ecommerce marketers

In the post-pandemic digital landscape, ecommerce is evolving at a rapid pace––with benchmarks and KPIs constantly shifting. To create a relevant and contextual Memorial Day campaign, it is important to keep your finger on the pulse of last year’s insights and this year’s trends.

Memorial Day 2021 recap:

Holiday shopping 2022 forecasts:

  • Shoppers plan to spend between $50 and 100 on Memorial Day celebration purchases, a significant portion of which will be alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages.
  • Only 4% of US holiday shoppers did not use digital channels for their shopping.
  • Memorial Day will be the 2nd most popular holiday for buying food.

 

5 best practices for Memorial Day email campaigns

In general, email marketing best practices are the same for every campaign you send––including for Memorial Day weekend. But there are several unique factors about Memorial Day weekend that will have your audience likely on their phones more, less on email, and more.

Here are the 5 most important things to keep in mind for your Memorial Day weekend campaign.

Customize your emails for mobile screens

A lot of people will be traveling over the long weekend, so it’s important you optimize your messages for mobile readability and engagement.

  • Use low-resolution images so that your images load even with limited internet connectivity.
  • Use live text rather than text embedded in graphics. Live text is readable by voice assistant making your emails accessible to both disabled folks and drivers.
  • Use alt text in case images don’t load.
  • Embed a link to your mobile shopping app in your text messages so your readers are not redirected to slower-loading websites.

Write contextual, personalized, and thematic subject lines

It’s a Memorial Day weekend campaign! Talk about that in your subject line.

Reference barbecues, if your audience is into that. Talk about spending time with family. Tap into what your audience will likely be doing, or want to be doing, this Memorial Day weekend and wrap that into your campaign. This is an opportunity to build a stronger relationship with your customer base.

Need help writing strong subject lines or choosing ones to A/B test? Klaviyo’s subject line assistant is available to all Klaviyo users.

Segment your audience. This should be a US-only campaign.

Tailor your sender list to only US customers since Memorial Day is not a universal holiday.

Still want to send something similar to your non-US customers? For those in the North Hemisphere, editing Memorial Day copy to copy about the start of summer is a great alternative, and you can likely use the same images and CTAs.

Don’t forget about SMS

Create an SMS campaign to tap into the market that is logging out this weekend. Your audience might not check email this holiday weekend, but they will be on their phones.

The median time between an email being received and getting clicked is two and a half hours. For texts––it’s just one hour.

Besides, according to Klaviyo’s internal data, the median time between an email being received and getting clicked is two and a half hours. For texts––it’s just one hour.

Plan and schedule your campaign weeks before Memorial Day

If you are selling products specifically for use over Memorial Day weekend––instead of offering a Memorial Day discount, for example––then you’ll need to send your campaign 7-10 days in advance so that folks can order and have the product arrive in time.

You’ll need to send your campaign 7-10 days in advance so that folks can order and have the product arrive in time.

Your products need to reach people before they leave for weekend trips. This also leaves enough room for a post purchase or a follow up email campaign.

5 Memorial Day marketing themes to center your campaign around

Based on data from Memorial Day 2021, as well as what analysts predict for consumers in 2022, we’ve created five email marketing themes to help you create an effective campaign this Memorial Day.

Reach out to your travel-lovers

From a data perspective, Memorial Day weekend 2021 had more flights booked compared to all other weekends since the beginning of the pandemic at 8.9 million, according to the TSA. That number is only set to grow with 77% of the country now vaccinated. 

From a human psychology perspective, travel is the second-most-desired activity among respondents looking to get back into the world, following closely behind ‘dining out’, according to a 2021 McKinsey survey.

Search data from Google backs this up. Google searches for “weekend getaway” in 2021 were among the highest before the Memorial Day weekend, second only to the 4th of July weekend.

Google searches for “weekend getaway” in 2021 were among the highest before the Memorial Day weekend.

So, if your target audience is interested in travel, Memorial Day weekend is a good holiday for your brand to act on. To start, craft the marketing message emphasizing the importance of being well prepared for a trip.

You can do this by:

  • Sending out a travel-related email in early May to see how many of your customers engage with it. This will tell you whether travel is the right theme for your Memorial Day campaign.
  • Sending out a quiz to ask shoppers where they’re going this Memorial Day weekend and collect zero-party data you can use to personalize your emails over Memorial Day weekend itself.

Then, position your product as a travel essential.

For example, if your brand sells summer apparel, talk about beach trips or summer weekend getaways, and build your product in as a must-have.

For inspiration, let’s look at a few brands that target travel well, and why their campaigns work.

Bobbi Brown’s Memorial Day email campaign

This Memorial day campaign customizes each product description with a travel theme––beach vacation, weekend picnic, or staycation. Then, the marketers at Bobbi Brown position several products as must-haves for those different vacation types.

This helps the customers narrow down their choices––eliminating choice overload, or indecision because of too many options. Data suggests that 54% of consumers abandon ecommerce sites because of choice overload.

The Bobbi Brown team then ends the email with a free eye cream, free shipping, and a discount that applies automatically at checkout to make sure they cover all their bases.

White Elm’s Memorial Day email campaign

White Elm takes a different approach compared to Bobbi Brown. Instead of positioning different products as great options for different types of vacation, the White Elm team suggests their all weekend getaway bag as the must-have vacation bag, no matter where you go.

This, again, eliminates choice overload, directing audience attention to a specific product and call to action (CTA).

The body copy also empathizes with the customer by describing a universally dreaded travel scenario––aside from a positive covid test, of course––packing. This bag is positioned as the solution to that scenario.

Perlier’s Memorial Day email campaign

This email campaign from Perlier presents its bath and body products as travel essentials, specifically targeting people shopping for a trip.

The “1 Day Only” tag instills a sense of urgency, suggesting that the product is limited and customers should act fast. According to behavioral psychologists, an urgent situation causes people to forgo logical thinking and act impulsively.

Although this email isn’t specifically from a Memorial Day campaign, it hits all the right notes: context, exclusivity, and urgency.

Hype up the arrival of Summer

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer for most Americans. That means there will be pool parties, barbecues, crawfish boils (depending on where you live!), beach trips and lake vacations galore to welcome the summer in style. Schools in the US also start to close in mid to late May for summer break.

According to Google Trends, searches for summer shopping start to peak the week before Memorial Day with the average consumer spending nearly $500 at retailers over the Memorial Day weekend, according to Adweek.

Summer shopping start to peak the week before Memorial Day with the average consumer spending nearly $500 at retailers over the Memorial Day weekend.

Cue: The ‘Welcome Summer’ Memorial Day email campaign.

To craft the marketing message, emphasize everything summer is popular for––warm weather, ice cream, chilled beer, sundresses, baseball games, and more. Show your customers how they can have a better summer season with your products.

Let’s look at some brands that did this especially well.

Chubbies’ Memorial Day email campaign

  • Subject line: I sincerely regret not opening this email.
  • Preview text: – Signed, Future You.

Chubbies taps into FOMO with its curiosity and regret-inducing subject line, “I seriously regret not opening this email.” It then brilliantly uses personalization in the preview text by signing the email “- Future you.”

The body copy ties in perfectly with the summer theme––and their audience’s interest––with “less reading, more swimsuits,” making this email on brand and on point.

Native’s Memorial Day email campaign

  • Subject line: Dive into Memorial Day Savings ☀️
  • Preview text: NATIVE MEMORIAL DAY SALE STARTS NOW | 20% OFF $30 OR MORE! USE CODE MEMORIAL

Native’s nod to swimming in the subject line and vibrant summer colors cue the onset of summer. Extra points for sneaking in “savings” in the subject line and mentioning “20% OFF” in the preview text.

With a lively reference to barbecues and lemonade in the body text, this email is the embodiment of a summer weekend. Native finishes off well on-brand by tying in its signature deodorant with a shopper goal, i.e. the temptation of ‘smelling great all summer long’.

EightSleep’s Memorial Day email campaign

  • Subject Line: Our Memorial Day Sale ends soon

This email by the mattress brand EightSleep digs deep into why you need a premium mattress for the summer.

Cue: temperature control features.

And then, the team pushes readers straight to their Memorial Day discount of $350.

Contextual. Informational. And to the point.

Call back to the reason for holiday––i.e. a patriotism play

An important part of many people’s Memorial Day celebrations is paying tribute to fallen US military personnel, which is the reason behind the holiday to begin with.

Designing your Memorial Day email campaign to emphasize patriotism––in images or in copy––can resonate deeply with your audience, if patriotism is an important part of your brand.

To craft a compelling message, focus on the importance of giving back and make it genuine, not salesy.

Some ways to do this:

  • Add a heartfelt founder’s note in your email.
  • Share an interesting US history fact.
  • Acknowledge an important national milestone to show solidarity.

Also, an important tip for patriotic memorial day campaigns: remember to either go for a celebratory patriotic tone or a somber one. Mixing the two might make you appear insensitive to your audience.

Let’s look at some companies that wear patriotism well in their Memorial Day emails.

Jumpsport’s Memorial Day email campaign

  • Subject line: Ready, Set, JUMP! Save BIG for Memorial Day Weekend.
  • Preview Text: Logo Red White & Blue Sale to Kick Off MDW! See the Sale

This email from Jumpsport rings in the Memorial Day weekend with a dash of patriotism and a boatload of enthusiasm––perfectly on-brand for a sports company.

With an offer of ’BIG’ savings in the subject line, the brand tempts the readers to open the email. The body of the email seals the deal with cute kids and red, white, and blue imagery. The CTA “see the sale” is simple and unambiguous––giving customers one easy button to click.

Alx Rods’ Memorial Day email campaign

  • Subject line: Memorial Day Sale!
  • Preview text: Use code MD2021 for select items!

This email from Alx Rods starts off with a note of sobriety to ‘remember and honor’ fallen soldiers––creating an emotional connection with the company’s American shoppers.

It then announces a sale on military-related products, remaining on-theme for Memorial Day.

Barbecues and parties

Barbecues and parties don’t need to be introduced with trends and data. They are the very essence of a good time over Memorial Day weekend.

To craft a marketing message around barbecues and parties, show your customers how your product can elevate their partying experience. Whether it is through dressing for the occasion, having the best lawn party furniture, or even the fanciest hot dog –– be laser-focused on the exact value your product brings.

Important tip: Don’t mix elements of a sincere heartfelt email with a barbecue/party one. It will confuse your audience.

Let’s look at some brands that mastered party-themed memorial day marketing last year.

Blendjet’s Memorial Day email campaign

  • Subject Line: BBQ Madness
  • Preview text: Up the Memorial Day Heat

This creatively designed email by Blendjet is patriotic, party-like, and poised for summer––targeting three of our five campaign ideas.

It showcases its blenders in the colors of the American flag (low key targeting the American spirit), while actively addressing barbecues, picnics, and pool parties.

The short one-liner tells you 3 party uses for a Blendjet making the email, not just creative, but also informative.

Teakoe’s Memorial Day email campaign

  • Subject line: Memorial Day Refreshment
  • Preview text: UP TO 25% OFF Fizzy Tea

This email has a lot of great elements to round out a Memorial Day theme.

  1. The brand’s iteration of the popular ‘Netflix and chill’ to ‘Teakoe and Grill’ makes it catchy and memorable.
  2. Teakoe urges you to visualize the summer barbecue scene with yard games, tunes, and ice coolers.
  3. The email tells you the order deadline to receive your drinks by the holiday, making party planning easier.
  4. It positions 4 cases as a better deal by offering a 15% discount along with free shipping––as opposed to 2 cases with just free shipping.

Well done, Teakoe.

Tommy Bahamas’ Memorial Day SMS campaign

This SMS for Tommy Bahamas announces a VIP offer, making its customers feel exclusive.

It also offers a deal on the unofficial barbecue uniform––polos and tee––right on cue for a barbecue-themed holiday. It tempts people who might not be interested in polos with a 15% site-wide discount and a definite dollar amount off.

Covered quite a lot of ground for a short text! We’re impressed.

Focus on family and that extra day off

Meeting up with family is a big part of Memorial Day for almost everyone. The sobering reality of the sacrifice of soldiers on Memorial Day, and the extra time off work, makes people want to spend time with loved ones.

Google searches for “Family Time” on Memorial Day weekend in 2021 were the second-highest of the year after Halloween, beating even the traditional family holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Mentioning family in your Memorial Day emails allows you to extend a personal, heartfelt connection to your customers. We all have family, after all!

When crafting a family-themed Memorial Day campaign, emphasize emotion, love, and good times.

A few ways to do this:

  • Encourage gifting by sending customers emails like, “How about surprising your [Mom/Dad/Sister] this Memorial Day?’ with a link to your sale.
  • Add a personal, funny family story to build a genuine connection to your customer base. Ask them to share theirs, too!
  • Include a picture of your pet wishing their pet a fun family holiday. People consider pets family and 80% of pet owners care for their pets like their children, according to UCF. Also, pet images convert well.

Important tip: Be mindful of the fact that a lot of people have lost family members to the pandemic. Try not to harp on this as a “time to celebrate as we near the end of the pandemic,” as it might come across as insensitive.

Let’s look at a brand that focuses on family–and pets–for their Memorial Day Campaign

Freedom Grooming’s Memorial Day email campaign

This email from Freedom Grooming honors those that selflessly served the country––appealing to the customer’s patriotism.

It then extends the emotional connection to immediate family––Dad––and also its target audience––veterans.

Freedom Grooming positions its products as tributes, making them appear unlike material comforts and more like tokens of gratitude.

Finally, the email ends with 3 tailored suggestions to get the reader to act immediately.

BONUS: An all-purpose Memorial Day SMS campaign from Brooklinen

This SMS campaign by Brooklinen plays on our tendency to click through content that appears to be bad news versus good more quickly.

Then, once you open the email, this message creates a sense of urgency by mentioning that the sales are ending soon and offering a clear solution via the CTA––”Shop now. “

This message takes the reader on an intriguing journey from shock to solution––quite remarkable for a short text.

It’s not too late! 3 examples for the late planner

Have your own plans for the long weekend and don’t have enough time to create a marketing campaign? Or didn’t have as many sales over the weekend as you expected?

Either way, we’ve got you covered.

Here’s how to repackage your leftover deals in shiny wrapping paper with great subject lines to match.

  1. Be genuine and tell people you have been busy celebrating with your family and friends or taking time off work. People can relate to this and people buy from people they relate to.
  2. Tie the post-Memorial Day email to your next campaign, like Father’s Day, Labour’s Day or a Summer Sale to make your email come across like a planned event.
  3. Say you decided to extend the sale because customers loved it. Add customer reviews to match. This builds social proof.

Important tip: If you run a post-Memorial Day email campaign, make sure to sound neither apologetic––”We’re sorry we are late”––nor proud––”We showed up late…on purpose”––in your emails. Neither extreme works well. Sounding proud positions you as cocky and unapproachable, and apologizing too much makes you appear irresponsible.

Let’s look at some brands that execute this effortlessly,

Joah Beauty’s post-Memorial Day email campaign

  • Subject line: FOMO? Our 40% off is extended
  • Preview text: Memorial day is still on but ending soon

This email goes all-in on exclusivity. Joah’s Beauty positions the post-Memorial Day sale as a VIP event, making its readers feel special. Even the code says “VIP40.”

Their team then uses this as an opportunity to introduce a site-wide sale. The CTAs cleverly highlight the difference between a site-wide “30% off” and a VIP “40% off.”

Angler’s Headquarters’ post-Memorial Day email campaign

  • Subject line: We’re back and you can save on everything!
  • Preview text: Post-Memorial Day sale, 15% off everything

The email from Angler’s Headquarter’s starts off with a genuine message about how the people at the company were away for the weekend. It sneakily introduces its product––fishing gear––by telling people that it’s understandable if they were fishing over the weekend.

The email ends with a fun fishing story and a picture to match––establishing social proof and making us smile.

Citylocs’ post-Memorial Day email campaign

  • Subject Line: Happy Memorial Day

First, the otherwise-simplistic subject line of ‘Happy Memorial Day’ will stick out in the inbox when it shows up after Memorial Day. Smart trickery, City Locs.

Second, this email reminds the shopper that now is the perfect time to purchase Father’s Day gifts and have them customized and delivered in time––creating a sense of urgency.

Then, the red, white and blue are contextual to the patriotic Memorial Day theme.

16 email and SMS templates to use for your Memorial Day campaign right now

After you’ve narrowed down your Memorial day theme––or a combination of themes––it is time to write the emails. These takeaway templates with optimized subject line body copy, and fitting CTAs will help you get started right away.

Travel-themed email templates for Memorial Day:

Travel theme option #1

  • Subject line: Panicking about last-moment trip purchases?
  • Preview text: We’ve got you covered with X% off and speed shipping till Memorial Day!

Body:

Did you open your overnighter to find empty shampoo bottles and outdated resort wear? After already exhausting your budget to book the resort itself?

We’ve got you covered with huge discounts on our travel collection AND expedited shipping to make sure they reach you in time! (We don’t want you leaving without us)

CTA: See [products] with speedy shipping!

Travel theme option #2

  • Subject line: Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
  • Preview text: Early Access to Memorial Day Sale ends tonight.

Body:

Don’t you dread it when you have to leave for your trip tomorrow but your travel essentials show “5-7 days shipping”?

Not this Memorial Day!

Here’s your heads up to order now, and a discount for being so on top of it (YGG!).

CTA: Shop discounted items.

Travel theme option #3––An SMS marketing template

{FirstName}, Did you pack your [product]?

Check out our latest [similar products] now at [X]% off for Memorial Day only!

{SiteURL}

Summer-themed email templates for Memorial Day:

Summer theme option #1

  • Subject line: Don’t tell anyone but
  • Preview text: we’re giving you early access

Body:

Early access to our summer sales.

For 12 hours only before our Memorial Day Sale (up to X% off) becomes public.

CTA: Shop our new collection before it opens to everyone and their mothers at Midnight on May 28th.

Summer theme option #2

  • Subject line: Whether you’re windsurfing or couch surfing on Memorial Day weekend
  • Preview text: … we’ve got you covered with comfy [products] and fitting discounts!

Body

Whether you plan to lounge by the beach, by the pool, or by your TV, we’ve got you covered with an [X]% discount on our Summer Collections.

After all, your comfort is our priority.

CTA: Shop summer discounts.

Summer theme option #3

Subject Line: I know what you did last summer.

Preview Text: and what your friends did too.

Body:

Enjoy to the Fullest!

And to make sure history repeats itself, here is a Memorial Day Discount on all summer wear!

CTA: Shop summer sale. 48 hours only.

Patriotic-themed email templates for Memorial Day:

Patriotic theme option #1

Subject line: Stars, Stripes, and everything nice! Memorial Day Weekend with X% off

Preview text: Only for you, only for 72 hours.

Body:

Whether you’re planning a parade or a quiet family picnic this Memorial Day, we have just the pieces for you!

CTA:

Take me to the sale!

Patriotic theme option #2

Subject Line: Red, blue, and TRULY NEW!

Preview Text: [X]% off new collections for Memorial Day only!

Body: Get [X]% off our NEW Collections for 24 hours only. When Memorial Day Ends, so do our sales.

CTA: Shop Sale Now!

<Link to limited time sale>

Patriotic theme option #3––An SMS marketing template

{Firstname}, this Memorial Day, give a token of gratitude to those who’ve made sacrifices to support you.

Shop perfect gifts at [X]% off. Offer valid for Memorial Day weekend only at {SiteURL}

Patriotic theme option #4

Subject Line: In loving memory of …

Preview Text:..our fallen soldiers.

Body:

On this Memorial Day we honor those that bravely served our nation by contributing a share of our Memorial Day Sale proceedings to [X] charities.

CTA: Shop where it actually makes a difference. {Link to Memorial Day Sales}

Party-themed email templates for Memorial Day:

Party theme option #1

Subject Line: Do you know what happened last Memorial Day Weekend?

Preview text: Well we…

Body:

Sold all our discounted [products] on the very first day!

But to make sure you don’t miss these sweet deals, we’ve delivered them straight to your inbox this time!

CTA: Take me to the sale before it’s all gone

Party theme option #2––An SMS marketing template

Where there is a grill, there is a party this weekend!

Check out our exclusive Memorial Day discounts (up to [X] %) on all [special products].

Valid for the weekend only!

Family-themed email templates for Memorial Day:

Family theme option #1

Subject Line: A gift for the whole family…

Preview text: X% off family packs this Memorial Day!

Body:

As you celebrate with your family this weekend, gift them a token of appreciation.

CTA: Browse family gifts {Links to products}

Use {Add code} at checkout for {X} % off!

Family theme option #2––An SMS marketing template

Hey {Firstname} it’s time to show your family that you notice the sacrifices they make. Gift them something this Memorial Day.

X% of our proceeds from the Memorial Day sale go to {veteran charity name}

Shop to make a difference. {SiteURL}

Belated Memorial Day email templates:

Belated Memorial Day option #1

Subject line: Too busy Barbequing to shop our sale?

Preview text: We extended it just for you!

Body

Going back to work on Tuesday with both a hangover and lost deals?

Yikes.

We can’t help the hangover but we sure can extend our sale. Just for you.

CTA: Shop sale.

Final countdown.

Belated Memorial Day option #2––An SMS marketing template

We extended our Memorial Day Sale because people said they couldn’t get enough.

Didn’t get a chance to shop over the weekend? It’s not too late!

Shop our sale now. {SiteURL}

Your next steps

When you craft your Memorial Day email campaign, make sure to,

  1. Tailor it to your buyer personas as closely as possible. Make sure your customers feel represented (user-generated pictures like Angler’s Headquarters) and special (VIP offers like Tommy Bahamas). 
  2. Add information, like 8 Sleep and BlendJet. “Instead of showing the subscriber a product and telling them its 15% off… ask yourself: What information does this person need to desire this product in their life? or How can we speak to a common push back,” says Monica Grohne, CEO of Marea Wellness.
  3. Automate your email campaign so you can focus on the performance of the campaign, strategic marketing goals, and learning from what worked, what didn’t, and getting ready for the next holiday campaign.

Looking to plan your next holiday marketing campaign? Discover how to build a Father’s Day email marketing campaign.

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Bani Kaur
Bani Kaur
Bani Kaur is a freelance writer and a part of the SaaS Nordic CEO and Executive Masterminds. She uses design thinking to write value-driven and deeply-researched long-form blogs, ebooks, and white papers for SaaS and technology brands.