As retailers plan their sales for the upcoming holiday, what can they do to ensure relevant email marketing that doesn't seem to cheaply hop on the holiday bandwagon?

Memorial Day is quickly approaching, and there are no shortage of email marketing messages out there (and coming) that will leverage the holiday weekend to promote sales, deals, and extended hours. But it is important to also take a step back and use your program and your reach, to remember why we celebrate.

My grandfather will be 90 years old this August. He is a decorated war hero. He served during World War II in the Atlantic Theatre, is the recipient of a Purple Heart, and is still sharp as a tack. He often reminds me that his "mind is like a steel trap, it's just the body that's failing." While I have always appreciated his sacrifices for this country, it wasn't until recently that I truly saw him as a war hero and not just my Grandpa.

My grandfather was recently invited on an Honor Flight. For those unfamiliar, an Honor Flight is provided by a non-profit organization that flies American veterans of WWII to Washington DC to visit the memorials for reflection. It is a way to say thank you. He will be going later this year and is truly looking forward to it.

I wasn't terribly familiar with the concept of an Honor Flight. When my father first told me it was happening, I admit... I had to Google it. But after I did, I started seeing and hearing about Honor Flights that others had experienced. Then I saw it - an email from Walter E Smithe (WES) furniture company. The subject line was simply: Honor Flight Chicago | Memorial Day Sale

I was intrigued.


The email (Read more...) is nicely done but blending the cause with the sale in email can be a balancing act. So how can you tactfully achieve this? Here are three quick tips:

1. Deliver on the Promise of the Subject Line

In the WES example, the subject line led with the Honor Flight - and as expected, the email did as well. Even though the subject line included the sale, the focus of the email communication truly was on the leading topic of the subject line - Honor Flight Chicago.

2. Strike a Balance in Content

Bringing a cause in to an email communication that has a promotional tilt can be tricky. You have to find the right balance between the cause content and the offer or sale. In the WES example, the offer - a Memorial Day coupon - was actually sandwiched between content that was relevant to the cause. They even worked in a "visit the store" call-to-action to register veterans for the next Honor Flight. It was all done very nicely.

3. Deliver a Genuine Feeling

The sentiment of the message must not be contrived. It has to be reasonable to the recipient that your brand would align with a specific cause for some other reason than PR and sales. In this case, the message wasn't over done; while it is a little copy heavy, the copy is very well written and is nicely aligned with the upcoming holiday weekend.

When looking for opportunities to endear your brand to your customers, it is important to go beyond what is on sale. Look to your organization and your culture to find the cause that means the most to you.

This Memorial Day I want to thank my grandfather, Peter E Vukovich, Sr (Atlantic Theatre) and my great uncle John Vukovich (Pacific Theatre) for their service in World War II and my father for his service in the Vietnam War. I love you guys!

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