The good, the bad & the ugly of Christmas Emails - 2018 - Blog - Agile Digital Marketing Agency London

The good, the bad & the ugly of Christmas Emails - 2018Every email that you send to current or potential customers is a great opportunity to build trust and loyalty.

Every year, ahead of the Christmas break, we gather with the team to collect ideas for the holiday greetings email that we send to our clients.

Our goal is to design a nice and simple HTML Email, alongside with a fun animation that reflects the Christmas spirit to cheer up our clients.

We put a lot of attention and test carefully our HTML Email across all email clients before we send it, because we know that once it is sent, we cannot change anything anymore.


Likewise, we tend to analyze the type of emails that we get from different businesses.

While some brands manage to produce high quality emails, others make some obvious mistakes that leave a bitter taste in your mouth.

Here’s a rundown of the good, the bad, and the ugly in the Christmas emails that we received in 2018.


When we think about how a GOOD HTML Newsletter should be, the following things come to our mind as the minimum things to consider:

1. It should have a proper and attractive design
2. It should have a good balance between live text and images
3. It should be personalized, i.e. addressed to you in the salutation
4. If there are buttons, they should be HTML buttons and not embedded images to avoid them being blocked by email programs

We have centered our analysis in the Email Newsletters that we received from the industry during Christmas, skipping the ones where we were directly involved.

Unfortunately, we were not able to find one newsletter that ticked all 4 boxes above. 

We have decided to give the GOOD EMAIL award to the Newsletter sent by the British Library.


We are not amazed by the design of this email newsletter. The British Library seems to be using one fixed template for all their communications and that might work for them.

However, this newsletter meets 3 out of the 4 points explained above. 


When looked from an email blocking the images:

The intended message is still there.
The layout doesn’t break.
The Call to Actions buttons are still visible.
The email is personalized.


Email on Acid Christmas HTML Email Images ONEmail on Acid Christmas HTML Email Images OFF

The most common mistake marketers or business owners do with their holiday emails is putting all their content including all the text in one or more images.

Think of a all-in-one giant image of a Christmas tree/Santa/snowy slope, etc you have received with a text greeting embedded in it.

We selected this as the bad because we were surprised to receive this email from the Email on Acid folks.They know pretty well this game and they are aware that most email programs block images embedded in emails by default, so these customers would have seen this instead.

But probably this is not as bad as creating your entire email, including your call to action button, as images. This honor corresponds to Ryanair and this Christmas email, built with 3 animated GIF images.

Ryanair html email topryanair_image_off

Their email starts with this image on the top (all text is embedded in the image), similar to the example above from Email on Acid.

And, as we explained previously, this is how that email looks like when images are blocked by default.

You will rarely notice the “Book Now” text among all that text. This is because the “Book Now” CTA was built as part of the image.


If the CTA was built with HTML code instead, and placed under the graphic, then all users would be able to see it, even if their email programs were blocking the images.

CTA with HTML code


We received this email from the lovely project Girlgaze.

Girl Gaze Email Images ON

We chose this as the ugly because instead of being built as a solid HTML Email following these steps, the entire email was just a simple image and it didn’t even contain any ALT text. 

Many of their customers might have seen this in their inbox:

Girl Gaze Email Images OFF

There is another ugly practice that we can’t help commenting here: those people sending corporate greeting emails directly from their inbox, often with your email in the BCC field (or even worse to an undisclosed list of non-connected recipients all visible in the TO field), embedding an image directly in their email… yes that’s still happening!


Many holiday emails are built and sent out quickly, very often in the last moment.

Plan ahead, don’t rush and don’t push, take care of proper messaging, design, build and test.


Now go and grab our HTML Emails Checklist to ensure that you don’t appear on this list next year 😉