Tailor holiday messaging according to calendar: Epsilon

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Consumer purchase behavior around the holidays peaks at different times for online versus in-store shopping, and marketers need to adjust their messaging appropriately, according to Epsilon's Holiday Trend Report, released July 22.

Online and call center sales peaked in the week following Cyber Monday, while in-store sales peaked a week later, the report said.

Sales of larger-ticket items were highest early in the holiday shopping season, as were e-mail open rates. Increased open rates before Thanksgiving are due largely to retailers offering sales for Black Friday, according to the report. On average, e-mail open rates increased to 14.4% during the 2009 holiday season, compared to 12% in the prior year.

Sales conversions from e-mails and revenue per e-mail were both highest during the week of Cyber Monday, with an average of $.16 per e-mail sent. The use of the "$" symbol in subject lines drove higher open rates, the study found. Yet for the past two years, marketers most often used the words “shipping,” “free” and “gift” in an e-mail's subject line despite these words having no discernable impact on sales, according to the report.

Epsilon's findings are based a comparison of 1.4 billion e-mails sent by a dozen companies in October-December 2009 as well as data aggregated from Abacus Cooperative database from January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2009.

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