They say babies born on March 31st are the easiest to prank on April Fools’ Day (because they were born yesterday).
April Fools' Day is a day where people trust no one and don’t believe a word they read. From false proposals to fake lottery wins, it’s the now-global holiday for pranks... so, what does this mean for brands?
An April Fools email is a great opportunity to introduce humor into your marketing campaigns, generate engagement and make your subscribers’ day a little better.
Research has shown that people remember funny content better than other forms of content. This is demonstrated in some of the most successful Super Bowl ads. People not only remember the brand and product, but they can recall the advertisement in full detail years later.
Humor isn’t guaranteed to land the way you planned it and walking the fine line between funny and irritating is where an April Fools’ Day email campaign can become challenging.
In this article, we’ll share seven great April Fools’ Day email examples to send and then discuss the strategies you can use to ensure your campaign is a hit.
Table of contents
Holland & Barrett: The “no joke” email format
Waves: Play a harmless prank on your customers
Brilliant Earth: Help your customers prank their friends
ThirdLove: Cute and creative new pretend product line
Noops: Use wordplay to participate in April Fools emails
Boden: Use a product to play a prank
TourRadar: Add a touch of silliness
The benefits and drawbacks of using humor in an April Fools email campaign
There are many email marketing benefits to gain from sending a humorous April Fools email. Generally, an email marketing campaign is a great way to increase engagement and drive conversions, and it has the highest return on investment (ROI) of any digital marketing channel at over $35 for every $1 spent.
Adding a comical aspect to your email marketing can:
Make it more shareable. The more something makes people laugh, the more likely they are going to want to share it with their friends.
Make your brand more relatable and trustworthy. Showing a funny side and not taking yourself too seriously can be humanizing and helps customers identify with your brand.
Grab (and keep) your customers’ attention. Humor is often creative and original, so it’s more likely to stand out and drive engagement with your customers. Further, as we’ve mentioned, humor is linked to better recall, which means you can increase awareness of your brand and stay in people’s minds longer.
Humor is an effective tool that can add to your engagement, yet it can be a double-edged sword if you aren’t careful. Getting the balance of entertainment right is an art form, and poor use of humor in your email copywriting can hurt how customers perceive your brand.
The wrong joke at the wrong time will, at best, make you look unprofessional and, at worst, offend your audience.
For example, in 2016, Google introduced a Mic Drop button to Gmail as an April Fools email prank. The send button (when enabled) would send the email to the recipient with an appended gif of the minion from Despicable Me. Due to how the prank was implemented, many people accidentally sent the gif, with some losing business and even their jobs over it.
To be effective with humor, you need to consider your brand positioning and perception, your target markets, your product and how you would like to be thought of as a company.
For example, a healthcare company dealing with life and death situations may choose to avoid humor and maintain a more compassionate and clinical approach. A brand in entertainment is uniquely positioned to leverage humor because of the nature of the products and services they offer.
In the following examples, we’ll show you how each brand has used humor effectively to create a great April Fools email to send.
1. Holland & Barrett: The “no joke” email format
In this example, Holland & Barrett have tapped into a classic April Fools email format: the “no joke” email. This format is commonly used by brands and while it may be less creative than others, it allows you to play into the April Fools’ Day tradition playfully and safely.
Depending on your brand, a simple and low-risk strategy might be best. For example, you may be seeking to build the recipient’s trust in your brand, or your brand might be positioned in a more serious market where joking doesn’t match your messaging and content style.
By using the “no joke” format, you’re showing that you have a lighthearted side and are willing to provide value to your customers, but that you take your products and customers seriously. As a health and wellbeing store, this strategy makes sense for Holland & Barrett.
Regarding Holland & Barrett’s April Fools email design, they’ve chosen a simple yet pleasing color palette that matches their branding. It draws the reader’s attention to the main point with a bright red circle around the discount placed above the coupon code. It’s a minimalist and easy-to-read design that gets right to the point with no unnecessary information.
The call-to-action (CTA) button toward the bottom of the email simply states “shop now” and leads straight to the storefront. All of this ties into the theme of the email, which is straightforward and joke-free.
This style of April Fools email is a great choice for brands that don’t want to miss the opportunity to drive engagement yet need to maintain a more serious image in their messaging.
Here are some examples of great April Fools email subject lines you can use for this email template:
This email is a joke-free zone.
We’re not fooling around. Our sale is still on.
This is not a joke – 25% off storewide.
It may be April Fools’ Day but our prices are no joke.
2. Waves: Play a harmless prank on your customers
Another common April Fools’ Day strategy is much more in line with the tradition and involves playing a prank on your subscribers. While this can be a risky approach for many brands, it can also be a great way to drum up engagement and attention.
A great email prank may even become viral on social media and drastically increase your brand’s visibility. Though, of course, you want to go viral because of your joke, not become the joke yourself.
In Waves’ April Fools email, they take the bold approach of pretending that their store is closing and offer a final massive sale because of it. This approach works because the hook is so compelling – imagine if you were a longtime Waves customer and your favorite store was about to close. Even if you aren’t a long-term fan, the massive sale is compelling enough.
Another key feature of Waves’ email is how after reading the first few lines, readers immediately recognize that it’s an April Fools email joke. You want to draw customers in, but you don’t want to lead them along for too long and risk any misunderstandings.
Waves claims to be heading to Antarctica to study the Emperor Penguins, a tale so absurd that any reader will instantly be checking the date and realizing that it’s April 1st. For those who miss the point, the CTA leads to a storefront landing page that explains the email was a prank but that there is still a great sale on. This email was also followed by a second email that let subscribers know the email was a joke and provided a second CTA to the store-wide sale.
With the right audience and brand alignment, a prank can be a great way to engage your customers and show them your fun side. The key is to make sure your recipients know that it’s a prank as soon as possible. Like the Waves example, you want to draw them in with something compelling and quickly hit them with the “Gotcha!”. Then, the sale or giveaway you are offering feels like a consolation prize for being tricked.
Here are some April Fools email subject lines you could use for this template:
3. Brilliant Earth: Help your customers prank their friends
Instead of playing a prank on your subscribers, why not help them play a prank on people they know? In Brilliant Earth’s April Fools email, they suggest that recipients head to their website and use their “Virtual Try-On” feature to pretend as if they’ve become engaged.
The feature allows users to screenshot their hand with one of Brilliant Earth’s engagement rings. You can then download the image and send it to friends and families to get their reactions.
This is a great way to advertise a service, product or feature by coming up with a creative way that your customers can use it. In Brilliant Earth’s example, subscribers can follow the CTA directly to their storefront to browse for a suitable ring for the prank.
While customers are browsing for the ideal ring for the prank, they may become truly interested in the products and start hinting to their partner that it’s time to propose. In fact, Brilliant Earth even provides a “drop a hint” link where customers can send their ideal engagement ring to their significant others.
Even better, as the users email their family and friends with the prank, they’re essentially doing your marketing for you.
Example April Fools email subject lines for this template:
This April, the joke’s on [insert audience’s target]!
You get the last laugh this April Fools’ Day
Do you need a good laugh? Prank your friends on us…
4. ThirdLove: Cute and creative new pretend product line
Another great April Fools email strategy is to come up with a funny, absurd advert for a new product like ThirdLove’s “Bras for Dogs”. In this example, ThirdLove claims to have a brand new line of bras for dogs.
This is a common strategy used by ecommerce brands and it’s effective for several reasons. Firstly, using cute animals is well-recognized as a powerful strategy for generating feelings of positivity, trust and credibility toward brands and products.
Secondly, you’re advertising a product that you really sell, which is likely more effective than inventing and showcasing a made-up product. Depending on the product (or range of products), you could develop a specific landing page for the April Fools’ Day joke that explains the joke, provides some information about your product and then leads the customer to the storefront.
Finally, the humor is easy to grasp and fun. Everyone who opens ThirdLove’s email will know straight away that it’s a joke, have a chuckle, then hopefully decide to click the CTA and browse for some new bras.
The best thing about ThirdLove’s email is that it’s completely on-brand – one of their slogans is “Bras and underwear for everybody”.
Here are some examples of great April Fools email subject lines you can use for this template:
Introducing our new [insert silly idea related to your product] range for dogs!
We are thrilled to announce our brand new [insert silly product]
Our best new product. Ever.
5. Noops: Use wordplay to participate in April Fools emails
This April Fools email from Noops is a case study on how to tie your event messaging to your target audience. Noops makes healthier alternative snack food and their target audience are parents who will put the puddings in their children’s school lunches.
When it comes to design, the email has a simple format that manages to get the point across in very few words.
It starts with an image of the pudding inside a school lunchbox, targeting parents immediately. Next, Noops describes the key attributes of their pudding (vegan, organic, high in protein and has no added sugar or artificial ingredients). Finally, there’s a CTA saying “fool my kids”, which leads straight to their product page.
With the pain point-driven main message, Noops’ email content plays into the April Fools’ Day theme well while remaining professional and on-brand. It’s consistent, simple and effective.
The best part about Noops’ April Fools email is that each section uses creative terms to connect their product to the theme, like “trick your kids into eating healthier” and “pudding that tastes so good, they’ll never know it’s good for them too.” By using this approach, Noops plays into April Fools’ Day while targeting their primary audience directly.
Example April Fools email subject lines for this template:
So good your [target audience’s audience/friends/relatives] will think it’s a prank
Trick your [target audience’s audience/friends/relatives] this April Fools’ Day
Prank [target audience’s audience/friends/relatives] into [benefit related to your product]
6. Boden: Use a product to play a prank
Like Waves’ email above, Boden makes up a false scenario as a hook then offers a discount as compensation for the prank. The difference is that Boden uses one of their products (a dress) to create the fake narrative, keeping the prank closer to home and creating visibility for the dress.
Boden features a short story about a customer finding an inappropriate feature on their dress (a very small and supposedly nude person) and offers a refund to customers. The absurd story is made even funnier by how tiny the person is in the image and how impossible it would be for anyone to notice in the first place.
The CTA is right below the image of the dress and says, “get the full story”. This takes the reader to a specific landing page that says “we’re pulling your leg” and tells the customer about a 25% off sale. The landing page also features an unedited version of the dress without the humorous blurring that covered the image in the email.
There are a few things that make Boden’s email blast great. Firstly, the hook is irresistible. There’s something about naughty scandals that just make people curious. For those who don’t realize what date it is, it will be hard not to click the CTA and find out how the “eagle-eyed” customer managed to find out this inappropriate detail.
Secondly, the campaign is simple and on-brand. They have a designated landing page that lets the customer know it’s a joke and gives them further links to the sale. Boden combines this with a CTA that lets the recipient prank their friends on Twitter using the dress – a good way to keep the prank going and build up momentum.
Example April Fools email subject lines for this template:
An apology from [fictional character in your product]
Our telepathic ordering app feature is here. Try it now.
Fun ways people are using [your product]
7. TourRadar: Add a touch of silliness
Our final example from TourRadar is an email promising a free llama with every holiday booking through their service. With the fine print stating that the offer is “only redeemable to residents of Mars and Saturn”, it’s obvious that they’re just having a bit of fun.
Instead of coming up with an intricate prank, it can sometimes be effective to just draw people in with some silly humor and then offer them a great discount.
The CTA leads to their bookings page, which lists their best deals. Below this, TourRadar lists their best deals with individual CTAs too, so recipients only need to scroll down to their favorite location and follow the link to see what’s available.
While more creative approaches can see better results depending on the target audience, brand and product or service, sometimes simplicity is key. An email like this one is easy to make and a cost-effective way to make the most of a key date.
Example April Fools email subject lines for this template:
Free puppy with every booking!
Mystery discount: Win a free puppy!
Unicorns exist! See inside.
Note: Don’t forget to add your disclaimer!
High-level strategies for your April Fools campaign to increase engagement
While a creative and humorous April Fools’ Day campaign can be effective at driving engagement and positive brand perception, it can be a risky choice for some brands. Here are some strategies you can use to reduce risks and increase the chance that your email will be received positively.
Avoid brand misalignment. Does pranking or joking align with your brand and audience? The way your audience views you and why your customers find you appealing is a key reason to include humor in your campaign (or not). That’s why it’s important to consider how you can develop April Fools messaging that will resonate with your audience so that you will both have the last laugh.
Create a landing page for your April Fools prank or joke. Make sure your campaign has its own landing page that relates to the joke with an explanation for those who may have misread or taken it seriously. This helps to avoid confusion and can enable you to add more elements to your campaign, such as specific CTAs or an option to share with friends.
Be creative. The best comedy is original, so there’s no better way to add humor to your campaigns than to make it as unique and brand-aligned as possible. One of the best April Fools email pranks was played by the BBC in 2008. They created a “Planet Earth”-style April Fools’ Day hoax that penguins were flying to the Amazon rainforest to escape the Antarctic winter. This was described as an “instant classic” that “guarantees the BBC its unique status”.
Consider the timing. There are several reasons you would want to put off joking in your campaigns. If your brand is in the midst of a PR crisis, or a disaster has struck your region, your audience isn’t going to respond well to a joke.
Have an eye-catching subject line. 33% of email recipients open their email based on the subject line alone, so getting it right is vital if you want to boost conversions. Take a look at our detailed guide on subject lines to how you can craft the perfect April Fools email for work.
Get the whole team involved. April Fools’ Day is a great time to get your whole marketing team (and even others from your organization) involved for a bit of fun. It can be a great team-building exercise to have everyone participate in brainstorming ideas for a new April Fools’ Day prank or marketing strategy, and you may come up with some great ideas. Plus, it might put an end to all the in-office practical jokes!
An April Fools email marketing campaign is a great way to increase engagement and drive conversions. With these April Fools email ideas, you can tap into this investment and show your audience you have a funny side this April 1st.
Even better, email marketing is easy to implement with the right software. Pipedrive allows you to send and track your sales emails and can integrate with many of the leading email marketing tools. Why not try out a 14-day trial today?