If anything is clear about Amazon’s Prime Day shopping extravaganza, it’s that it has become a major shopping event, and not just for Amazon and its platform users.

Retailers stepped up to the challenge of the fourth Prime Day July 16-17 with competing offers and emails that co-opted the “Prime” or “Prime Day” themes. Brands that maintain shops on Amazon’s Marketplace also promoted hard to Amazon crossover shoppers.

The FreshAddress Email Creative Archive was flooded with Prime Day emails from Amazon, its affiliates and competitors. Some of the most creative emails came from brands that marketed against the event with subject lines like “Deals you won’t find on Amazon!”

Prime Day and Summer Marketing Plans

Whether Prime Day is good or bad economically for competing retailers, it adds a promotional event to the summer marketing calendar, roughly from Memorial Day to Labor Day, with brief spikes for Father’s Day and Independence Day (in the U.S.) and a big build-up for back-to-school.

It also throws a kink into that calendar because it ratchets up the stakes for the big-money back-to-school/back-to-college shopping season. On one hand, the 36-hour event grabs the spotlight for shoppers. But, it also sends bargain-hunters to other websites or to physical stores as well.

The National Retail Federation uncovered these plans in a pre-Prime Day study:

  • 79% of B2S/B2C shoppers said they planned to shop Amazon for school supplies, electronics and related items.
  • 60% of shoppers who planned to shop on the big day said they would head to Amazon
  • 31% said they would look for in-store deals at other retailers that day
  • 26% would use it to look for online deals from other retailers.

Prime paid off for Amazon and others

The company reported that this year’s event, which originated in 2015 on the 20th anniversary of Amazon’s Prime program, was its biggest so far and outperformed comparable 36-hour periods around Cyber Monday, Black Friday and Prime Day 2017.

According to Business Insider, Amazon said shoppers bought 100 million products during the 2018 event. Although it didn’t disclose total sales, the company said shoppers bought $1 billion in goods from small and medium businesses that sell on Amazon’s platform.

Subject lines we liked

When competing this year, being subtle might get you overlooked in the inbox. Here are some subject lines that stood out in our search. Remember: We don’t have performance data for these, so always test before changing your style or strategy.

  • Boot Barn: These Deals Beat Prime Day Any Day
  • Natchez Shooters Supply: Prime Pricing For Range Day Ammo Deals
  • Professional Supplement Center: Better Than PRIME DAY SALE – 20% OFF!
  • The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: Make Your Prime Shopping Day Count
  • MAC Cosmetics: It’s Time for Prime!
  • Christopher & Banks: PRIME Time Sale Starts Now – No Membership Required (Yay!)
  • Beyond the Rack: You Won’t Find this Deal on Amazon Prime!
  • BookIt.com: NOW: Prime Day to Book It! 2x Codes | $1 Down | $89 All-Inclusive Beach Vacations
  • Northern Brewer Supply: 6x Better Than Prime. 6 Days to Save 20%!
  • Refinery29: Whoaaa, Amazon Prime went overboard this year

Email examples to copy for Prime Day 2019

Although we don’t know whether Prime Day drives incremental sales increases for Amazon, its merchants and competitors, consider checking your sales or web-visitor numbers to see if the event either bumps up sales or depresses them and whether you should test a campaign next year.

Below are some of our favorite emails from brands looking to ride Amazon’s coattails. Click on each image to view the email at 100% in the Email Creative Archive and check out the source code if you’re curious about the backend. (No membership required, but why not sign up for free anyway? It takes just a few minutes.)

Sender: Forzieri — Subject line: Prime Days at Forzieri on 8500+ Styles

Forzieri Prime Day Email

We liked how this brand got out ahead of Prime Day with its own week-long campaign that featured different email content every day. The “PRIMEFX” call to action is easy to remember and a reminder that the brand is marketing against Prime Day.

Sender: National Allergy — Subject line: Summer Prime Sales Event – 20% Off Sitewide! Plus Free Shipping on Orders Over $59!

National Allergy - Prime Day Blog
The “Health, Household and Baby Care” category is a big one on Amazon. So, if you’re in the same market, having a Prime Day campaign makes sense, as it does for this sender. It doesn’t speak directly to Prime Day; but, given that this email was sent out three days ahead of Prime, the connection is clear.

Sender: Junonia/Juno Active — Subject line: You’re Always A Prime Customer!

Juno - Prime Day Email
Not ready to create an entire campaign around or against Prime Day? Test something simple. That’s what this email does. It refers to Prime Day only in the subject line and the call to action. If you’re a high-volume sender, converting one or two emails in your calendar might show you whether you should expand your efforts next year.

Sender: Wilson’s Leather — Subject line: Shh…It’s Prime Time to Shop! Open for Deals!

Wilsons Leather - Email
Because Prime Day is a limited-time event (although it started earlier and lasted longer this year), adding urgency to your emails can persuade more customers to check out your deals and purchase. This brand achieved that with its subject line and by using a countdown timer in the message body. Also note the “PRIME” CTA.

Sender: Jimmy Jazz — Subject line: Time To Unbox Prime Savings… — Preheader: Enjoy prime savings now!

Jimmy Jazz -  blog post

We like this email because it shows you don’t have to expend a lot of creative effort to pull off a Prime Day-style message. This email had no hero image or fancy detailing. But it did something that more emails need to do every day of the year: It put its value proposition up front, from the inbox view (subject line and preheader working together) to the message body that tells the customer exactly what to do.

Sender: Bulk Candy Store — Subject line: ITS PRIME TIME!

Bulk Candy - Email

Some brands used subtle marketing. Others were right up front with their messages. This email is one of those. Once again, there’s no fancy hero image or copy, just a headline and discount code that speak to Prime Day, the offer and an irresistible CTA. We won’t even quibble about the grammar.

Sender: Envelopes.com — Subject line: It’s a PRIME Time Deal: Open to Reveal! Preheader: Reveal the Prime Deal!

Envelopes - Email

This brand, unlike most of the others in this comparison, sells on Amazon as well as its own website. So, the goal with this email is to promote its own Prime Day deals. Gamification was the order of the day – the “Reveal the Deal” CTA aims to drive shoppers to its own website to discover the promotion. We liked the urgency reminder, too – just below the CTA is the proviso that the deal is good only on Prime Day itself.

Sender: Tarte — Subject line: WE’RE NOT KIDDING: $10 DEALS & FREE SHIPPING 

Tarte Email

We loved the animation in this email, but we picked it primarily because it shows the value of strong preheader text. (Note: If you aren’t a Millennial or the parent/spouse/sibling/friend of one, you might not know “tfw” stands for “that feel when,” followed by expressing a relatable sentiment. Again, no quibbling over grammar. We just click “Add to Dictionary” and move on.).

Sender: Guitar Center — Subject line: Deals so hot they’ll melt your popsicle — Preheader: Hi John, save up to 25% on gear in every department.

Guitar Center Email

Another handy tactic: If you can’t beat’ em, match ’em! That’s the angle Guitar Center takes with this email, which notes at the top that the brand is ready to match deals and tells the shopper how to get the discount

Sender: Case-Mate — Subject line: Get Your Prime On! 30% Off Sitewide! — Preheader: Use code PRIME30 for 30% Off Sitewide. Today Only!


Case Mate - Prime Day Email

Here’s that email we were telling you about. Click on the image to view this clever animation, which we could not completely capture in the screenshot below. Some brands don’t have to work hard to step up their Prime Day game, but Case-Mate also sells on Amazon in a ferociously competitive niche (phone cases, accessories, ringtones, etc.), so the stakes are higher.

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