It’s the third-biggest retail event of the year, behind Christmas and back-to-school, and it can be fraught with as much guilt and anxiety as love and affection, for both marketers and shoppers.

We’re talking about Mother’s Day, of course, and it’s bigger than ever this year with the National Retail Federation predicting consumers will spend a record $23.6 billion.

U.S. marketers have been working since early April to snag a piece of the NRF’s predicted $186.39 average spend per consumer. While browsing content in the FreshAddress Email Creative Archive, we came across a few trends this year:

1. Macho brands make time for Mom.

The brands that cater to women – department stores, fashion, jewelry, flowers, paper goods, children – have been sending Mother’s Day content regularly over the last month or so. But we wanted to see how male-oriented brands handled Mother’s Day.

We assumed even muy-macho brands would have at least a couple of items in their inventories that a clever merchandiser could repurpose into a Mother’s Day must-have. Well, not so much.
However, we were impressed with the lone mom-focused email sent by outfitter Cabela’s in the week before Mother’s Day.

Cabela’s email focused on Mom from the preheader (“Show Mom what she means to you with gifts from her favorite store”) all the way to the “Ladies Day Out” in-store promo on top of the administrative footer at the bottom. Images showed women in both traditional (mom taking selfie with kids) and nontraditional roles – a woman wearing hunting camouflage.

Sender: Cabela’s – Subject line: What are your plans for Mother’s Day?

Cabela's - Mother's Day Email

2. Emotional content runs the gamut.

A 2016 study by Yes Lifecycle Marketing and Persado found emails with “emotive” subject lines had 21.5 percent higher open rates than emails with neutral subject lines.

Emotional language that expressed encouragement, curiosity and – not surprisingly – anxiety drove the greatest open rates, the study found.

We went looking for those emotions, as expressed in both subject lines and message content, and weren’t too surprised to find guilt and anxiety rated right up there although they were camouflaged well with hearts and flowers. Nobody wants to disappoint Mom, right?

Sender: Time-Life – Subject line: Mother’s Day is coming and she deserves the best!

Email Creative Archive - Time Life email campaign

 

Sender: Claire’s – Subject line: Mother’s Day gifts she will adore!

Claires Mother's Day Email

3. Good ol’ Mom can take a ribbing, too.

Enough with the lovey-dovey emotional stuff. How about a squirting-toilet coffee cup or an armload of fresh salmon?

According to the NRF, more than half of Mother’s Day shoppers will buy greeting cards (78 percent), flowers (69 percent) and/or outings such as restaurants (56%), followed by gift cards (45 percent), clothing (37 percent) and jewelry (36 percent).

Commode-shaped coffee cups didn’t make the list unless you classify them as “other” (24 percent, and all we can say about that is it beats a vacuum cleaner!). But several brands had fun with the whole Mother’s Day theme, most notably the lovable goofballs at American Science and Surplus and the fish-flinging folks at Pike Place Market in Seattle.

Sender: American Science and Surplus – Subject line: Mom Knows Best–Show Her Mother’s Day Love with Surplus

American Science & Surplus Mother's Day email campaign

This isn’t the prettiest Mother’s Day email you’ll see, but the copy makes it fun to read all the way through.

(Note: If you need some inspiration for clever, snarky and stand-out subject lines, try this search and review a few emails. You’ll have to create an account or log in to view the results, but if you don’t have an account, it takes just a minute to create one.)

Sender: Pike Place Fish Market – Subject line: Mother’s Day, Halibut & Copper River Salmon

Pikes Mother's Day Email

Once again, not so pretty to look at but fun to read, choosing sass over sentiment with lines like “It’s time to fire up the barbecue and say THANKS MOM! … Just be sure to do the dishes, and you’ll be mom’s favorite once again!”

4. Ideas for one more Mother’s Day email campaign

It’s not too late to get out one more Mother’s Day email, especially If your boss just insisted that you send one more campaign before you head out for the weekend. See what we rounded up from last year’s batch of emails sent on Mother’s Day:

Sender: Anthropologie – Subject line: Better than brunch: 20% OFF, today only

Anthropologie - Mother's Day Email Campaign

Sender: Johnston & Murphy – Subject line: Thank You, Mom

Johnston & Murphy - Mother's Day Email

Sender: Kate Spade – Subject line: happy mother’s day

Kate Spade - Mother's Day Email

 

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