Thought Leadership

Three Biggest Email Marketing Surprises from the 2015 Holiday Season

Holiday 2016 Best Practices

While most of us may be glued to multiple screens watching the summer Olympic coverage, for many marketers, the tail-end of summer signifies it’s time to start planning for the holiday shopping season. To help marketers tackle the biggest quarter of the year, Yes Marketing recently released its annual Holiday Engagement Report analyzing email campaigns sent over the 3rd and 4th quarter from the previous two years. Our analysis uncovered some surprising lessons that marketers should consider for their 2016 holiday strategy. Here are the top 3 highlights from the report:

1. More brand participation, lower overall engagement:  More brands than ever deployed holiday-themed emails in 2015, up 13.4% from the previous year. In fact, 90% of all the brands tracked sent at least general holiday-themed emails (emails that reference the holiday or winter season without specifying a particular holiday) over last year’s fourth quarter period. However with the increased deployments came declining engagements across the board.  Out of the 9 different types of holiday-themed campaigns tracked, 8 of them showed open rates that were lower than the year before.

Tip for 2016: Marketers need to think more strategically when executing email campaigns in Q4. Simply mentioning a holiday-related sale or inserting a straightforward holiday greeting in an email subject line may not be enough to engage customers. Instead, they should take past campaign performance into account and optimize future holiday communications based on their audiences’ preferences like preferred device, best period to deploy, and most effective message tone (do they respond better to humor, or editorial content, or flash sales…)

2. Black Friday-themed campaigns proved effective, both pre and post-holiday: Black Friday-themed emails received the highest engagement levels (amongst all holidays tracked) with 14.6% average open rates overall. But was most interesting was that Black Friday emails deployed AFTER the holiday, in the weekend immediately following the actual day, also performed significantly well. 

Tip for 2016: Many of last year’s top performing Black Friday emails, especially the ones deployed post-holiday, featured subject lines that centered on urgency and fast-approaching dead deadlines. Marketers should take note of these effective techniques and apply them towards their upcoming Black Friday email campaigns.

3. Green Monday is the last minute shopper’s Cyber Monday: Green Monday falls on the 2nd Monday in December and is also known as the third largest online shopping day (behind Black Friday and Cyber Monday). Green Monday garnered the 2nd highest open rates compared to other holiday-themed emails in 2015, yet only 10% of the marketers tracked deployed them in 2015.

Tip for 2016: Marketers should consider including Green Monday-themed emails to their Q4 mailing schedule and emphasize big savings and urgency to connect with last minute holiday shoppers. As it typically occurs at least days before Christmas, this shopping day would be very appealing to the growing number of procrastinating shoppers that have come to expect quick online order fulfillment and delivery turnarounds, at no additional costs. 

So before marketers wrap their holiday planning for 2016, they should consider the lessons from 2015 to maximize the revenue potential of their upcoming campaigns. By developing creative holiday-themed messaging that not only builds excitement for the holidays but also adheres to their subscribers’ specific needs and preferences, marketers can stand out from the crowd and drive conversions during the highly competitive final quarter. 

To view the complete analysis and tips for Holiday marketing in 2016, check out the full report here

Author Bio

Gurjit Sandhu

Gurjit Sandhu has been in digital and direct marketing for over 6 years, delivering marketing and event management solutions in both fast-paced corporate and entrepreneurial environments. Energized by strategic thinking and the power of marketing technology, she collaborates closely with cross functional teams at Yes Marketing to spearhead multi-channel communications that highlight product innovations.