5 Halloween Email Promo Ideas For Retail and Small Business

It’s the time of year when lovers of all things spooky and frightful rejoice. Halloween is one of the year’s biggest holidays, with its unmistakable décor, abundance of costumes, scary movie marathons, and sugary treats for those who indulge.

Halloween is also a marketer’s dream. This holiday is one where people spend big—to be specific, the last two years both saw retail spending at around $9 billion during the Halloween season.

Maybe it’s because it’s positioned perfectly at the beginning of the biggest shopping season of the year, but there’s something about Halloween that makes people go after products and services like a trick or treater goes after candy.

Retailers and small businesses, in particular, can take advantage of this holiday’s distinct style and its ability to generate sales by incorporating it into their email marketing.

Halloween email ideas for retailers and small businesses

The retail industry requires you to be crafty to get customers to choose you over competitors. This is especially important if you’re a small business that’s outmatched in terms of resources by larger rivals.

Here are some creative email ideas that capture the autumn ambiance and set the scary scene properly, while offering your readers something they’ll be glad landed in their inbox.

1. Trick or treat (setup and reward)

Common phrases like “trick or treat” can be turned into the basis for a great promotional email. It plays off the fear many email readers have that the senders populating their inbox are out to get their clicks or money by any means necessary.
To start your email off, open with the trick portion. This could be any number of things, including:

  • A familiar tactic competitors use to take advantage of customers
  • A frequent misconception about your brand or your products
  • A surprising statistic about your general industry

Once you list this fact, you’ll need to follow it up with the treat portion of the email. This will usually come in the form of a discount, limited-time offer, or freebie. Don’t forget to set it up with some seasonally appropriate artwork.

 Email promo with pumpkin, mummy, and ghost cartoon images.

Source: Really Good Emails

So how do you link the two together? Maybe you’re a retailer with a pharmacy component. List facts about flu shots, maybe about how people think they’re scarier than they actually are. Then follow that up with a special deal on flu shots or even a front-store discount of some kind.

Let’s say you’re a small business focused on electronics. Talk about the misconception that only big businesses can offer the best prices on electronics, then offer your own special deal after.

This trick-or-treat formula first connects with the reader on a genuine level, helping them feel like they’ve avoided being taken advantage of, then offers them a reward after. It’s classic marketing, and it fits perfectly with the theme of the holiday.

2. Play off fear.

Haunted houses, scary stories, horror movies—while Halloween can have a friendly and playful aspect to it, it’s also intertwined with fear.

Why focus an entire holiday on such a negative emotion? Because this emotion has some positive implications as well. The fear they may get sick is what causes many people to exercise, eat healthy, or go to the doctor. The fear of being broke causes them to work hard, set budgets, and save money.

Marketers know how to use fear, too. While the approach has been criticized by some who call it too aggressive or jarring to use with a customer base you want to re-engage with regularly (as most email marketers would), Halloween is one of the few times it’s appropriate.

For one, talk about the fear of missing out. Even if you don’t have a huge deal to promote at the moment, turn it into an opportunity to let stagnant or inactive subscribers know what they’re missing out on.

Halloween cupcakes with tombstones on top

Source: Really Good Emails

As with nearly all email promos, you’re better off if you can offer some kind of special promotion to your readers. If you’re trying to invoke fear about missing out, make sure it’s something worth considering.

It doesn’t hurt to add in a spooky image either. Any Halloween monster or creature works—just make sure not to make it so over-the-top that it repels the reader before they can consider the deal or offer you’re making them.

3. Dress up your traditional layout for Halloween.

This one is particularly effective if you use a similar layout or design style for all your emails. Even if each one comes with an exciting deal that’s different from the last, you risk having them passed over if your design is static.

Halloween is a time known for costumes and decorations. It seems everything gets splashed with a bit of the day’s décor, and your email marketing shouldn’t be any different.

Consider outfitting your email color scheme with a Halloween makeover. If orange and black aren’t your favorite choices, consider throwing in some dark purples, or even greens. The former is great for creating the image of a dreary night, while the latter brings to mind images of zombies, witches, and other creatures.

Even your logo can get a makeover. Throw some pumpkin, ghost, or bat sprites around it to make it look a little more appropriate for the season. Other ideas include:

  • Framing your discount or offer like its placed in a trick or treat bag surrounded by candy
  • Positioning important text inside the doorway of a haunted house
  • Placing candy sprites around the email’s various sections and groups of text

Even if it’s just small, subtle touches, going with Halloween graphics can make your email stick out and maybe even convince readers to take a closer look at what you’re offering.

4. Play off the seasonal language.

There’s no question that the language you use impacts results.

Halloween brings to mind tons of words that don’t really fit in at other times of the year. Words dealing with fear and even wickedness are commonly thrown around. Words that would sound out of place at any other time of year can fit in just fine near the end of October.

Halloween promo email promoting multiple foods and drinks

Source: Really Good Emails

The use of the word wicked here is a perfect example of how you can empower your language to make your email copy a little punchier around this holiday. Possibilities could include describing your deals as frighteningly good or your prices as scary low.

If you’re offering perks like great support with your products, tell your readers not to get spooked by product questions. If you’re trying to get across that your company is trustworthy, describe it as transparent as a friendly ghost.

There are plenty of possibilities out there, and the more creative you get, the better chance you have of making your Halloween email promo a success.

5. Use Halloween as a primer for upcoming holidays.

As mentioned, Halloween is symbolic of the start of the year’s biggest shopping season. Some may even say the season starts before that, with the lead-up to Halloween being a part of the season.

Once you know the tips for holiday email marketing, you can set up for them in your Halloween email ideas. Consider the following three examples of headlines/pitches:

  • “Think Black Friday or Christmas deals are low? Check out this offer!”
  • “It’s never too early to start buying great gifts—get scary low prices here.”
  • “Looking for a great deal? You don’t have to wait until December.”

Tie in this idea with your Halloween graphics and copy to create the total package. It’s an email promo that’s relevant to the current holiday while also focused on something your readers may have already been thinking about.

Just because most people don’t like holiday music in October doesn’t mean they aren’t already considering a few shopping choices. Slip these ideas into an email that comes by in late October, and you have a formula for success.

Wrap up

Halloween is a great time of the year if you’re a horror fan, a kid with a sweet tooth, or a marketer who’s looking to be creative.

Retailers and small businesses especially have a need to get creative when they write emails. An occasion like this presents the perfect opportunity to deviate from the norm in order to entice your readers, allowing your team to get creative with your:

  • Copy
  • Graphics
  • Tone
  • Overall strategy

When you consider that this time of year is a proven gateway to increased spending, you’re looking at a great chance to boost your click-through and conversion rates.

Remember, the holidays are a time when readers are a little more open. Even if they’re busy, they’re aware of the festive ambience around them. If they see their inbox full of similar sentiments, they’re likely to be more receptive than they may have otherwise been.

Take advantage of this holiday with a scary good email strategy. Learn how to boost your holiday email marketing success, starting with your subject lines.

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