News & Views

Corporate holiday ecards: 4 best practices

Hands holding an envelope with a holiday card and confetti, musical notes, and happy emojis coming out of it.

In the business world, holiday ecards run the gamut, from the over-the-top interactive websites to animated works of art to sad and generic static images (no link necessary; we’ve all seen plenty of those). This year, with the global pandemic forcing many to work from home, ecards will play a central role in how companies extend gratitude and holiday wishes to clients and customers.

So, with an influx of ecards on the horizon, how can you make yours rise above the fray? The best holiday ecards create a lasting impression by making the recipient feel something positive. Here are our best practices for achieving that.

1. Resist the urge to sell.

First and foremost, a corporate holiday ecard is not the place to:

    • Reinforce your value proposition.
    • Launch a new product or service.
    • Announce your annual accomplishments.
    • Boast about anything, period.

It may seem counterintuitive to spend a significant budget on an ecard that doesn’t do any of these things. But this is an investment to foster brand loyalty — and that can pay dividends.

2. Make it about the recipient.

A holiday ecard is a golden opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to service by making it about your client. What would delight them? Is it something touching or witty? What would make them feel good? Is it a message of gratitude, praise, peace, commiseration? Don’t be afraid to use this touchpoint to connect with your clients on an emotional level, even if it’s just making them pause for a moment during their hectic day and have a laugh or experience a moment of joy. Making a positive, lasting impression is ecard success.

Consider this ecard we did for KCG, a large electronic trading firm. Their visual identity included dot patterns, so we put those dots to work in a more whimsical way. When paired with clever puns, the result is an uplifting moment of delight.

3. Leverage your brand personality — and don’t be afraid to get personal.

Your holiday ecard is the perfect place to assert the more human side of your brand personality. In business-to-business interactions — especially in corporate professional services — there aren’t a lot of opportunities to show the softer, funnier, or more thoughtful side of your brand. But you can really turn this up in your holiday greeting. Give your clients a peek behind the corporate curtain and let them see your company as an organization that genuinely cares about people and relationships. This ecard, which we created for Cadwalader (a large corporate law firm that is also the nation’s oldest) was a way for them to send a truly heart-felt message that reflects the firm’s values.

Not ready yet to be quite that warm? You can do something on-brand that reflects quality and care in a less direct way, like this ecard we created for one of KCG’s subsidiaries. It’s classic and straightforward, but is unique to them and their target audiences — not something generic that will be forgotten the moment it’s opened.

4. Consider context.

In a typical year, considering context means being aware of the diversity of your clients — religious, regional, even seasonal. An overly simplified example: while snowflakes might resonate with clients north of the equator during the holidays, they won’t with your audiences in the southern hemisphere who celebrate the holidays during their summer. Likewise, each region around the globe has its own holiday customs. If you’re a global company, you want your ecard to connect with clients and customers, no matter where they are located.

Another important context is what’s happening in the world. You can tap into positive trends or the Zeitgeist to show your company is plugged in and on top of things. You should also consider widespread sensitivities. In 2020, a global pandemic was raging, businesses were struggling, and everyone was on edge after an election full of drama. A message of celebratory cheer that year would have seemed tone-deaf. It was better to acknowledge what everyone was going through, and then use the ecard to invoke inclusiveness and connection.

In addition to these four strategic tips, here are some practical and tactical recommendations for your organization’s holiday ecard:

  • Completion rates drop off significantly after 30 seconds, so limit your animated ecard to 45 seconds max.
  • Include music, but be careful not to make the ecard sound-dependent.
  • To help avoid spam filters, host your animated ecard video on the same url that your email is coming from.
  • If your budget is limited, skip the animation. Go for a well-designed static image that’s unique to your brand, with a sincere message customized to your clients.
  • Keep mobile in mind. Recipients may be viewing your card in light or dark mode. Consider if or how this may impact your design.
  • Give some thought to your subject line. Your open rate will be higher with something that is catchy, memorable, or clever.
  • Consider celebrating a non-traditional holiday as a way to distinguish your ecard and incorporate an unusual theme. For example National Bake Cookie Day is December 18.
  • Images, objects, or illustrations that have an element of craft or the maker’s hand will feel more personal.