Holiday shipping deadlines are an unfortunate necessity when it comes to selling online.
As opposed to delivery timeframes, cutoff dates provide customers with a greater degree of certainty that their purchases will arrive in time for whatever holiday they’re shopping for. Whether that’s Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or Lunar New Year.
They also help your store by letting customers know exactly what date they need to order by and reduces the number of customers upset that their purchase wasn’t delivered in time.
In addition to displaying these delivery deadlines prominently on your homepage, product pages, and during the checkout process, the best way to inform customers of them is with an email campaign.
And to help you with creating your own email, we’ve put together this collection of 8 campaigns from some of the top brands to inspire and inform your own.
Shipping deadline emails
1) Ben Sherman
Ben Sherman’s campaign is your typical example of a shipping deadline email. Which goes to show just how easy it is to create and send this type of email.
All you essentially need are two elements: the cutoff date and time (in this case midnight on Monday, December 17th) and a call-to-action directing your customers to shop now.
Most of the following examples are ‘final chance’, ‘last day to get your purchases in time’ style campaigns. And while these are effective emails to send, it’s also often worth sending a less anxiety-provoking email a week in advance like this one.
Subject line: Final Day for Overnight Shipping!
This email from Vans isn’t strictly a delivery deadline reminder but rather a reminder that it’s the last chance for overnight shipping with free shipping on orders above $65.
While overnight shipping implies next-day delivery, this isn’t clear.
It also isn’t clear exactly what happens the day afterward. Whether customers will still be able to get their purchases in time for the holiday (just not overnight) or even whether overnight shipping will still be available, just not free for orders over $65.
While the campaign does a great job of creating a sense of urgency and funnels people straight to their online store with the single call-to-action, ideally you want your shipping deadline emails to provide all the information customers are looking for.
3) Hickory Farms
Subject line: ⚠️ FINAL HOURS: Savings on gifts and save $10 on Next Day Shipping!
Hickory Farms’ campaign is a typical example of a shipping deadline reminder with all the relevant elements present: a clear cutoff with timezone (3 pm EST), a call-to-action in the header (“Get Gifts in Time for Christmas”), and a clear call-to-action button.
The element few other shipping deadline campaigns include but is definitely worth considering for your own email is the countdown timer at the top.
This is a simple HTML countdown timer that displays how many hours, minutes, and seconds are left until 3 pm EST. Not only does this reinforce the cutoff time but it also creates a sense of urgency as customers see the seconds tick down.
4) Function of Beauty
Subject line: Say goodbye to isn’t she (bubb)ly
This email differs significantly from the others in this list in two ways. Firstly, it wasn’t sent during the holiday season, and secondly, it’s not about guaranteeing delivery by a certain date.
Instead, this is an example of an email informing customers that they only have one day left to order the product by itself. After which the product will only be available for purchase as part of a subscription.
This is a good example of how not all deadline reminders and emails need to be for a particular holiday.
5) Alo Yoga
Subject line: Free 2-Day Shipping Ends Tonight, Get Your Gifts In Time
Alo Yoga’s campaign demonstrates that you don’t have to dedicate an entire email to inform people about your upcoming delivery date cutoff.
Instead, you can simply combine the reminder with something else your customers will be interested in. Which in this case is a last-minute gift guide.
Last-minute holiday gift guides are the most logical addition to your shipping deadline email as they’re designed to help customers choose a gift to purchase before the cutoff. However, there are plenty of other things you can mention in your email as well such as your gift wrapping option or directing people to your customer service in case they have any questions.
A similar idea for after your shipping deadline has passed is to send a final email for the holiday period where you spruik your gift cards that people can download and send as a digital gift.
Subject line: It’s not too late
The busiest time of the year in terms of sales for most merchants are the months of November and December.
While sales typically peak on the Black Friday / Cyber Monday weekend, sales remain elevated for the following couple of weeks as people do their Christmas shopping. However, there’s a tendency for online sales to start to drop around mid-December as people fear their purchases won’t arrive in time.
That’s what makes this email from Asos interesting.
Instead of just letting people know of their cutoff dates like most standard shipping deadline emails, this campaign reminds people there’s still time to do their holiday shopping online.
Framing your campaign this way might get a few customers who had just assumed it was too late to convert.
Unlike most shipping reminder emails, this campaign from Clark’s Shoes provides different cutoff dates for the various different shipping options they offer.
From the email, you can tell there’s only one day left for ground delivery but about a week remaining for 2-day and overnight delivery.
By providing their customers with this information, Clark’s Shoes is letting them make their own decision which gives them a sense of control that ‘last chance’ style campaigns don’t.
8) Little Passports
Subject line: ⌛ It’s Not Too Late! Shipping Deadline Extended + 20% Off ⌛
Typically shipping deadlines are things that can’t be easily extended.
Regardless of whether Little Passports was able to miraculously extend their deadline or whether it was all a marketing ploy (more likely), it makes for an effective email campaign.
It gives customers who thought they missed out on the opportunity just a day earlier a second chance to get their holiday shopping done in time.
There’ll also likely be customers who open this email who didn’t see the earlier one, increasing the total number of customers who open and read at least one ‘last chance’ campaign.
The essential takeaways
Shipping deadline emails are simple yet effective campaigns to send during the holiday shopping season.
Not only do they generate additional purchases from last-minute shoppers but they also provide your customers with valuable information and spare them the disappointment of their holiday shopping not arriving on time.
However you decide to design your campaign, ensure you have the key elements present: a clear cut-off date and time and a call-to-action to funnel shoppers through to your store.
For additional inspiration for your subject line, check out our list of free shipping subject lines that you can easily adapt for your campaign.