7 April Fools’ Emails For Ecommerce Fun And Profit


Written by Franco Varriano.

We all have memories of being pranked. Whether it was a whoopie cushion left in our seat in elementary school or a college roommate covering our stuff in bubble wrap, pranks are there throughout our lives. And no day is more popular for pranks than April Fools’ Day. With origins in medieval Europe, April Fools’ now a popular holiday across Western countries.

While most of the pranks that occur on April Fools’ Day are between friends and family, there’s no reason you can’t use it as an excuse to inject some fun and mischief into email marketing campaigns.

Of course, playing pranks can also backfire if you do them the wrong way (especially when you’re emailing customers). That’s why we’ve written this guide, which outlines the seven best practices for writing April Fool’s Day emails that will delight your customers and make more sales.

1. Be Unconventional

April Fools’ Day is a chance to mix things up. You don’t have to use a radically different design from your usual email templates, but take a chance to tweek things up a bit.

Don’t be afraid to use April Fools’ as a chance to experiment. If there’s a new technique you’ve been wanting to try, go for it. At best, you’ll stumble onto a new strategy; at worst, you can just say it was all a joke and return to your standard procedures in your next email.

For example, this email from glasses retailer Warby Parker combines dogs (a common trope in April Fools’ Day emails) with a fictional line of glasses and real links to the Warby Parker site:

If you can pull it off, this kind of weirdness can be a refreshing change from your usual emails and drive extra customers to your site.

2. Experiment with Subject Lines

A well-written subject line is the most important part of getting subscribers to open any email. On April Fools’ Day, it’s even more important, as you’ll be competing against a variety of other strange and eye-catching subject lines.

To write a subject line that’s perfect for April Fools’ Day, we recommend making a crazy or bold statement that intrigues the recipient enough to make them open the email. For example, here’s an email that restaurant chain PizzaExpress sent:

Via Pinterest

The subject line “Cutlery Now Banned at PizzaExpress” is so absurd that people are going to open the email to learn just to understand what’s going on. It’s like getting the punchline to a joke – who can resist!

3. Use Humor

Speaking of jokes, humor is another staple in April Fool’s emails. Make someone laugh, and you put them at ease. Put them at ease, and you can help overcome any reservations they have about making a purchase from you.

For instance, the following email from construction equipment company TOOLSTOP adds some humor through adding a few unexpected additions to one of their common products:

Via Pinterest

This joke is a pun on “personal protective equipment” (PPE), an industry term in construction and other fields. If you can work industry lingo into your jokes, they’re much more likely to succeed, since it makes your customers feel like they’re in on a joke that “outsiders” wouldn’t get. Note also how the joke includes a link to the company’s website, ensuring that the joke has a purpose and directing the customer to a real deal on hardhats.

4. Be Straightforward

Instead of being silly on April Fools’, you can follow the lead of other brands and do just the opposite. You can say something like: “This deal is no joke” or “You’re probably getting lots of jokes today, so here’s a serious discount”. This works to defy the expectations and garner you some attention.

For example, here’s an email that J. Crew sent for April Fools’ Day:

Via Pinterest

When everyone else is sending jokes, it can be refreshing for your customers to find a good old-fashioned deal amidst the other funny emails filling their inbox. J. Crew makes this explicit in the email above when they call out common pranks. Note also how they’ve designed the email to emphasize this contrast, with “NO” in big letters and a simple palette of just two colors.

5. Offer Discounts and Deals

The most effective April Fools’ Day emails are the ones that, despite all the silliness and fun, still provide value to the recipient in the end. No matter what sorts of jokes, fake products, or pranks your email contains, you eventually want to bring it back to something that will get the recipient to visit your site and make a purchase.

The easiest way to do this is to combine the funny, creative part of your email with a discount, promo code or other deal. To see this in action, check out this fake “receipt” from home goods store West Elm:


Transactional emails tend to have higher open rates than other marketing communications. Because of this, sending an email that looks like a receipt can be an effective tactic. However, it’s important to be careful. Once the recipient has opened the email, you should be clear that it’s not a real receipt but rather a discount coupon.

Even then, some customers may feel deceived and react negatively, so be cautious about using this tactic. West Elm, for example, offers a substantial discount and makes references to the discount in several places throughout the email, just to be sure people realize that it’s only a joke.

6. Create a Fake Product

Fake products have become an essential part of April Fools’ Day emails. Generally, customers will be able to tell they’re fake once they open the email, but that doesn’t make them any less fun. They’re a chance to use some self-deprecating humor while also bringing attention to the products you do sell (and what makes them worth buying).

For example, movie rental kiosk company Redbox sent out this email announcing Petbox, “the new way for pets to enjoy new release entertainment”:

Via Pinterest

While Petbox is (sadly) fake, the email reminds recipients of the value that Redbox provides as a way to enjoy new release movies and games. There’s also a strategic tie-in with the company’s social media accounts using a custom hashtag.

7. Don’t Cause Harm

Just like real-life pranks, it’s possible to take April Fools’ emails too far. You don’t want to send an email that causes harm or violates your customers’ trust. It’s fine to have fun, but make sure the focus is still on helping your customers and giving them compelling offers.

To see an example of a brand doing April Fools’ Day the wrong way, take a look at the Gmail ‘Mic Drop’ feature. On April 1, 2016, Google added a joke feature to Gmail that allowed users to respond with a gif of a Despicable Me minion dropping a microphone.

Via Google

It may have seemed like an innocent enough prank, but due to some bugs and a lack of warning in the way Google implemented it , the prank caused some damage and received significant bad press.

Google’s error carries a valuable lesson for brands of all sizes about how a prank email can go too far. When someone trusts you enough to give you their email address, you need to make sure you honor their trust. Don’t do anything to destroy that trust in the pursuit of a joke or offering a discount.

Start Making More Ecommerce Sales Today

We hope you now have an understanding of the opportunity that April Fools’ Day presents for fun, unconventional email marketing techniques, as well as how to start writing your own April Fools’ emails.

Before you can send any emails, however, you need the right program. If you’re running any kind of ecommerce store, then we recommend Rare.io for the job. With Rare.io, it’s easy to start using automated email campaigns for common challenges like Welcome Series, Abandoned Carts, Order Follow-up emails, Personalized Recommendations, and more. To learn more, start a free trial by clicking the button below:

And if you’re one of the thousands of merchants who are already using Rare’s Smart Email Marketing software and want to see how our Customer Success Team can work with your brand to grow your revenue – feel free to book a call at your convenience here.

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