free shipping day email marketing

Your Guide to Free Shipping Day Email Marketing

What more could you want than a free shipping day when it comes to online orders?

Shipping costs and minimum order requirements have long been the bane of online shoppers around the world. And it’s not just online shoppers that shipping costs annoy either. 

Seeing as shipping fees are a barrier to purchase and one of the leading reasons for shopping cart abandonment, they frustrate merchants just as much and harm their online store conversion rates as well. 

It’s no wonder then that many online merchants offer free shipping year-round and write off the cost as a marketing expense

However, for many merchants offering free shipping all the time simply isn’t an option. So that’s where Free Shipping Day comes in. 

What is Free Shipping Day

National Free Shipping Day (as it’s officially known) is an online shopping event that was started in 2008 by Luke and Maisie Knowles. 

The inspiration for the event came from them realizing that after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, online sales would dip significantly while physical brick and mortar retailers would continue to enjoy their traditional pre-Christmas holiday shopping rush. 

Luke and Maisie Knowles realized that online shoppers were concerned about ordering so close to Christmas and not receiving their purchases in time. 

To boost online sales during the month of December, they came up with Day which online merchants could participate in by offering free shipping and guaranteeing delivery by Christmas eve. 

The impact on online sales

Not only did this alleviate customers’ concerns, but Free Shipping Day has been a boon for online stores large and small. 

By 2011 sales exceeded $1 billion and then grew by another 76 percent the following year and has continued to grow year-on-year ever since. 

And that’s only counting stores participating in the official event run by

Plenty of other online merchants run their own independent sales with free shipping offers on the same day piggybacking on the success. 

When is Free Shipping Day in 2020?

It is always held mid-December, however, the exact date changes from year to year. In 2020 Free Shipping Day will be held on Monday, December 14, 2020. 

This gives retailers participating in the Day about a week and a half to ensure all the orders are delivered in time for Christmas. 

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How can I participate in Free Shipping Day?

Unlike other shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Free Shipping Day is officially an organized event run by Similar to how Small Business Saturday is officially run by American Express.

If you ship to the United States, you can sign up to participate in the official event here. Doing so will give your store that little bit extra exposure as your offers will be visible on the official event websites.

national free shipping day website

If you don’t ship to the United States, or simply don’t want to sign up, don’t feel like you can’t still get in on the action though. 

Many online merchants large and small have successfully boosted sales by piggybacking on the event with their own independent sales. And the perfect way to do this is with email marketing. 

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Running a Free Shipping Day email campaign

Whether you decide to participate in the official event or go it alone with your own sale, you’ll want to inform your customers about it with an email campaign. 

While you should obviously also utilize other channels like social media to get the word out about your sale, email is the most effective way to reach your audience. 

Especially when you keep the following tips and suggestions in mind.

1) Don’t wait until Free Shipping Day has arrived

As with any shopping holiday, you’ll want to get your first email where you announce your sale out well before the day arrives. A week before is a good rule of thumb. 

This gives your customers time to consider your offers and think about what they want to purchase. 

This is particularly important during the holiday season as if you wait until Free Shipping Day your customers may have already done their holiday shopping. Or have decided to spend their money at another store that advertised their offers earlier. 

2) Highlight free shipping offers in your email design

Seeing as Free Shipping Day is all about, well, free shipping, you’ll want to make sure that this message is front-and-center in your emails.

The example email below from West Elm is a good example of this in action. 

free shipping email design

The email clearly communicates that orders customers place will ship free with the code FSWEEK. The email below from also does an excellent job of this by making the coupon code the most prominent aspect of the email design. 

highlight email offer in cta

3) Showcase products on offer

The two emails above do a good job of communicating the key message of the sale event. But you’ll also ideally want to be promoting your products as well as your free shipping offer. 

The email below from Vans achieves this while still including all the essential information and call to action (CTA) buttons at the top. 

vans email for free shipping day

At the bottom of their email, they’ve also reminded customers of the various deadlines to receive purchases in time for Christmas depending on the shipping method. 

The fact that the first three options are struck out already creates a sense of urgency in the minds of their customers and will help get them clicking through and purchasing before its too late.

4) Share shipping schedules

As Christmas looms the number one concern that will more the forefront of shoppers’ minds is whether they’ll receive their purchases in time or not. 

Obviously, part of the original inspiration for Free Shipping Day was to alleviate these concerns, so in addition to highlighting your free shipping offer, you’ll also want to make a point of addressing these concerns. 

Like in the email from Vans above, this email from Clarks Shoes does a good job of spelling out exactly when customers need to order by to receive their purchases in time depending on the shipping method.

shipping deadline example

This is information your customers will be looking for so by providing it right there in your Free Shipping Day email campaign, they won’t have to go looking for it.

5) Highlight that it’s the last opportunity to order in time for Christmas

Instead of just adding your shipping schedule to your email like Vans and Clarks Shoes have done, you might want to consider turning it into the main message of your email campaign like Kate Spade did in the email below.

shipping deadline email example

For some shoppers, the motivation to have their holiday shopping deliver in time will drive their decision making more than an offer of free shipping. 

Taking this angle is also a way you can participate in Free Shipping Day even if you already offer free shipping year-round. 

6) Don’t neglect your subject lines

Subject lines are an incredibly important yet regularly neglected part of any email campaign. 

It doesn’t matter how great your holiday email design is, all your customers will see when they open their inbox is its subject line. This means that coming up with a creative one is your best bet of standing out in your customers’ inboxes and getting your email opened. 

When you also consider that a third of subscribers based their decision whether to open an email or not solely on its subject line and two-thirds mark emails as spam based on subject lines alone, you should hopefully recognize the importance of putting thought into them. 

To help with coming up with your own, we’ve got a list of subject lines you can use for Free Shipping Day

7) Offer a freebie or something else extra

Just because it’s Free Shipping Day it doesn’t mean you can’t throw in an extra offer as Tarte has done in their email campaign.

free shipping email example

By including a freebie for every purchase, Tarte has made their offer that little bit more compelling than if they had just stopped with free shipping.  

It doesn’t have to be a freebie either. A simple X% or $X off coupon will do the trick just as well and improve your conversion rate.

With everybody else offering free shipping, you’ve got to find some way of standing out from the competition. And this is one way of doing so.

8) Send a final reminder email 

If you want to squeeze as many sales out of your customers as you can, you might want to consider sending a ‘final reminder’ or ‘last chance’ style email as Free Shipping Day draws to a close. 

Like with the email below from Ross Simons, the aim is to create a sense of urgency in the minds of your customers.

free shipping day campaign

Another option for achieving this would be to include a simple countdown timer that counts down the hours, minutes, seconds remaining of your sale. 

The only thing to be mindful of is that after sending an email announcing your sale has begun in the morning, sending another email later on in the day may annoy some of your customers.

One way to get around this is to create a segment of customers excluding those who have made a purchase within the last few days and only send the email to these customers. 


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If you don’t usually offer free shipping, or usually have minimum order requirements, it’s a great opportunity to push potential customers over the line and get them to convert. And if you already offer free shipping, it’s a chance to remind customers to get their orders in so they receive their purchases in time for Christmas. 

And by following the tips above, your Free Shipping Day emails will be especially powerful and successful at driving additional sales. 

Good luck! 

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