Holiday 2015 emails that brightened the inbox

During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, marketers are busy sending out their holiday emails for pre-Black Friday sale notifications, Cyber and Green Monday, and more.  It’s a holiday frenzy and each year, we see an increased number of holiday emails being sent. In fact, for the same set of retail clients 2014-2015, we saw in increase in volume of just over 12% from November 8 – December 24 in 2015. We also saw a +0.6% increase in open and click rates across the same retail clients, with open rates increasing from an average of 42.1% in 2014 to 42.3% in 2015. Click rates increased 3.3% from 3.9% in 2014 to 4.0% in 2015. Click to open rates increased from an average of 9.5% in 2014 to 9.8% in 2015, a change of +2.6%.  These results show that retailers were successful with their holiday email strategy by sending more emails while also slightly increasing engagement and response rates.It’s a competitive marketplace and brands strive to stand out with the most memorable and engaging email that hits the inbox.

For holiday 2015, marketers applied out of the box strategies to achieve their desired open, click through and read rates. It was a win-win for all! – While the performance of emails exceeded the marketers’ goals, consumers were pleasantly surprised with brands’ strategies helping to guide their 2015 holiday shopping initiatives.  For example, the increased application of live content provided real-time offers to help encourage purchases. Additionally, informative subject lines , many of which featured special characters to capture attention, communicated  promotional offerings and helped to guide the decision to purchase while the engaging creative and calendar lay-out features viewed in many emails helped the consumer manage his/her shopping ‘deadlines.’

Regardless of the type of email that you’re planning (holiday, new product or service launch, etc.) remember, email is an extension of your brand experience. Focus on the experience you’re trying to convey.  And as you’re reviewing the final stats of your holiday 2015 campaigns and prepping for 2016, start thinking about ‘holiday’ as a holistic event. Don’t get caught up in the individual holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Instead, think of holiday holistically and augment traditional sales days with unique offerings to further engage your customers. For example, maybe it’s a ‘madness Monday’ sale in which each Monday during the holiday season you offer a 10% discount at checkout. With all of the to-do’s of the holiday season, the consumers’ brain becomes overloaded. Simplify your holiday offerings and be mindful of consumers’ ‘overloaded brains’ during this time of year. – In their minds, it’s a sale, regardless of what marketers have named it.

In the digital landscape, brands rely on holiday to generate up to 20% of their annual sales. As marketers, we understand why months are needed for the holiday planning process.  It’s strategic with proven results. After all, during holiday 2015, 72% of consumers chose email as their preferred channel of communication (Marketing Sherpa).

As you’re starting to think about your holiday 2016 campaigns, keep top of mind what consumers are looking for in an email.

  • Real-time features: Leverage live content to keep offers timely and up-to-date.  Opening an email with an expired offer is frustrating for consumers.  Time of open content enables marketers to engage in real-time strategies.
  • Relevant offers: Ensure your promotions are relevant to the consumer’s interests. Budgets are tight this time of year. Consider a 20% discount promotion on the entire order versus a single item for a 24-hour period. Once the holiday are over consider sending them an offer to buy the gift they really wanted but maybe didn’t receive – or a timely offer like free shipping on all gift card purchases.
  • Organized calendar layout/approach: Don’t make the reader search for the details. When designing the layout of your email, think of the key things in which the consumer needs and wants to know and make it obvious.