‘Tis the season for Christmas cards and holiday gifts! From hanging string lights to baking sugar cookies and everything in-between, this season is filled with enough to-dos, and companies like Artifact Uprising and Minted have arrived to help check them off your list.
Offering to send family pictures in personalized cards or help you create thoughtful and timeless gifts, it’s no surprise that these custom photo companies thrive most during the winter months.
While we’d love nothing more than to fill photo books with office selfies or send all of our blog readers a custom holiday card from the Emma marketing team, what we’re really here for is to answer one question: Which company delivered the most seasonal cheer to our inboxes?
It’s worth noting right away that Artifact Uprising has some of the cleanest and aesthetically pleasing design around. Their website is crisp and minimalistic, allowing their products to truly shine. While it did take me a moment to locate the email sign-up form (It’s all the way in the bottom-left corner), I liked that the experience didn’t ask for too much information and wasn’t a flashy pop-up form. Although I think Artifact Uprising would get more subscribers if they placed this form more prominently on the homepage, it does include a helpful description of what a new subscriber can expect once they sign up.
Subject line: Hello from Colorado…
Preheader text: Welcome to Artifact Uprising
Welcome emails are basically the “firm handshake” of digital marketing, and Artifact Uprising leaves a great first impression.
Leading with their mission, “We exist to create joy by printing the stories that matter most,” the company introduces themselves right away, establishing their purpose and the ways they execute it through products.
Every statement is an intentional reminder of who their company is and what they offer, so much so that they are promoting meaningful experiences rather than tangible products.
Subject line: Wondering where to start?
Preheader text: gifts at Artifact Uprising.
When you’re mapping out your email marketing strategy, it’s best to first understand your customers’ thought processes and how you can help along the way. Artifact Uprising has clearly done a great job of this, providing subscribers with answers to “Where do I start?” before they even think to ask.
This email is a great example of brand and user-generated content working hand-in-hand—the company links you to their tutorial, but also displays social media photos from users who have successfully completed it.
Sometimes, when you use too much user-generated content, it’s hard to stay within brand standards, but Artifact Uprising does this really cohesively by choosing light and airy photos that go along with their existing color palettes.
Subject line: Gift thoughtfully—start with this SALE.
Preheader text: gifts at Artifact Uprising.
Thanksgiving opens the floodgates of holiday promotional emails with no promises of stopping until the new year. This year, consumers spent over $6.2 billion on Black Friday alone, which is 23% more than last year.
As for email marketing, it also means that retailers are stuffing inboxes more than ever in hopes of converting more customers than before. While there are usually strict tactics and rules for the best time to send emails, companies usually trade those in for sending messages constantly during the holiday season.
Keeping that in mind, Artifact Uprising uses a tasteful approach that emphasizes important information for readers just skimming. Their call-to-action at the top of the email is a smart tactic during a season when readers are overwhelmed and looking for the perfect gift. When this arrived in my inbox alongside other emails using capitalization and exclamation points to imply urgency, Artifact Uprising’s simplistic design and helpful copy was a welcome breath of fresh air.
Subject line: You ask, we answer.
Preheader text: gifts at Artifact Uprising.
Emails that use gifs are always going to receive applause from me, but this one is especially great because it goes back to messaging that seeks to build a relationship.
Artifact Uprising’s team has mapped out the journey their customers will be taking, and they’ve anticipated the questions they may have along the way. As a user, this not only helps you get the answers you’ve been looking for, but it also makes you feel like the brand understands your needs. This company is taking every opportunity to continue to build brand loyalty, and they’re doing a stand-out job.
Now that you’ve heard from Artifact Uprising, allow us to introduce its contender…
Pop-up ads sometimes get a bad rap, but when it includes exactly what I’m looking for in addition to a discount code (with free shipping), I have zero complaints. This friendly form appears as soon as you arrive on Minted’s homepage, and it’s definitely an encouragement to peruse their products and use the discount code.
Notice the information they gather here, too—this isn’t your average “name and email address” subscription form. They want to know how you heard about them and what you’re shopping for, which will help them customize emails for your needs later.
You’d usually want to be careful about asking for too much information, but here, since I can clearly see how they’ll use the information and it’s to my benefit, I’m happy to let Minted help me shop!
Subject line: Welcome to Minted! Here's 20% off + free shipping.
Preheader text: Enjoy 20% off + free shipping on your first order.
Minted immediately makes good on their discount offer, which is, as strange as it sounds, something that can be easily forgotten by other retailers.
Their first email is simple, and they wait to roll out the red carpet introduction for another time—Wise move on their part, because subscribers will be too distracted by the discount code anyway. However, positive association all around because who doesn’t love saving money on gifts?!
Subject line: Welcome to Minted.
Preheader text: Holiday cards, limited edition art, gifts, and more.
This email includes many of the elements you may see in a welcome email, although it’s the second email you receive from the brand. While this is a great move and includes a wide variety of available products, this kind of email is one that I’d argue should only be allowed during the holidays.
It’s a really long email with a lot of information to digest at once, which means a majority of readers probably aren’t even making it halfway through the email. However, for someone looking for a gift idea, it has plenty of suggestions that could be helpful.
Subject line: Introducing the NEW 2018 holiday card collection.
Preheader text: Introducing the top-voted holiday cards of 2018.
This is probably the email I’d be most excited about receiving for two reasons—it’s efficient, showing their best all in one place, and it’s interesting, showing more of a human element and connection with the local artists. It’s a fun application of cause marketing, showing that Minted supports local entrepreneurs, which makes me appreciate what their company stands for and increases my interest in their products.
Minted is consistent with their email design that looks like a mini version of their website—categories at the top, ways to follow along at the bottom. I love the way they’re maintaining a particular look, but as you’ve seen, it makes for a really long email.
Subject line: Top 4 reasons to send a Minted holiday card.
Preheader text: Send unique holiday cards designed by independent artists.
I’m cheering for the organization of this email—the subject line tells you exactly how many reasons the email will cover, and they’re clearly labeled within the copy of the message. This email is also a hat tip to the customer journey because Minted understands the question most of their customers are asking isn’t “Should I send holiday cards?,” but “Should I order holiday cards from Minted?”.
They respond to a felt need with a great solution, and they make it easy to make a decision. And how about that “text us your photo” feature? It doesn’t get easier than that!
As these two companies go head-to-head in email marketing, it’s important to consider that holiday season is prime time for this industry. I signed up for these emails in November, and while I was initially receiving messages every few days or so, they definitely ramped up to every day (or more!) after Thanksgiving. Consider your send cadence and the relevance of your product during various seasons—When is your company most in-demand?
I think it goes without saying that this was a tough decision. Both companies brought holiday cheer to my inbox by the bucketful, and I loved watching their creativity unfold in new ways, even as their sends increased.
While I was really excited about the way Minted asked me specifically what I was shopping for and how I heard about them, I have a feeling that my preferences may have taken a backseat during their holiday send cadence. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of emails they send after the new year, and I hope they use the information they gathered to segment their audience and send customized emails. I also think they should experiment with shorter, bite-size emails I have time to read on-the-go.
However, Artifact Uprising really left me with a warm holiday feeling after each email experience. This has to do with their intentional copy, the way they reiterate their mission and place at the table for gift-giving.
At every turn, they reminded me that their customer support staff would be there for me and take care of me, and the simplistic design of their emails allowed me space to imagine great personalized gifts for my loved ones. Each message built upon the last step of the customer journey, and they also used fun design elements, like gifs and user-generated content. I have a feeling Santa won’t be giving them coal this year.