Halloween Emails Fail to Scare Up High Read Rates

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Only 6% of the more than 30,000 emails that made the rounds last month elicited open rates over 20%.

More than 30,000 email campaigns knocked on the inbox doors of America during the month of October, and the results were horrifying for most of the brands behind them. Only 6% of the appeals—most of which mentioned discounts and featured timeworn images like pumpkins, ghosts, and skeletons—scored read rates in excess of 20%, according to an analysis from eDataSource.

Frightening reach and scale, of course, can always overcome hackneyed offers and copy, as was proven by Amazon. It was by far the customer engagement winner, logging a 42% open rate with common, Amazonian product photos and a hardly inspired subject line: “Halloween Costumes, Candy +More.”

“With the Halloween emails, the usual relationship between lower mailing quantities and higher read rates made itself plain,” said John Landsman director of strategy and analytics at eDataSource, which tracks more than 25 million brand emails a day. “No matter what the holiday, the time always appears right for better email effectiveness through targeting.”

Landsman split Halloween email leaders into two categories: the predictable, who use common themes; and the piggy-backers that skillfully played a trick of tying non-traditional goods and services to All Hallow's Eve.

Several of the piggy-backers were travel companies suggesting homeowners get out of dodge once the pumpkins and eggs started flying on their blocks. Jetsetter.com, a flash travel site, earned a 12.51% read rate on 6.2 million emails sent with the subject line: “Costume Idea: Be on Vacation.” SeaWorld scored a rate of 28.57% on its “Halloween Spooktacular Pass Member Sneak Peak” campaign and JetBlue did 26.47% with its “Halloween fares from $31, one-way” email.

Just behind Amazon in the predictable category was Babies R Us. Its “Celebrate baby's first Halloween with us on October 17th” invitation to in-store events was opened by fully a third of those emailed. Kmart managed a 27.78% read rate, with a boldly graphic execution subjected, “This is not a drill. Get 30% off over 5,000 Halloween costumes.”

Weaker performers among included Toys R Us (Boo-Ray! Save BIG on ALL Halloween Costumes) with 15.15%, Target (“3 Halloween-deal treats”) at 10.98%, and Better Homes & Gardens (“Halloween Crafts We Love”) with 10.24%.

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