Holiday Emails Were Deployed Early in 2014

If you think holiday music begins playing too early each year, you’re in for a rude awakening.

According to a recent Yesmail study, retailers began sending holiday-themed campaigns earlier than in previous years with 32% more brands deploying such emails in 2014 than 2013. In addition, Q3 2014 overall email volume grew by 26% YoY, and open rates increased by 11% over the same period. Also, Q4 2014 volume grew by 8% YoY while open rates increased by 2%.

“Engagement and Deliverability for Holiday-themed Emails: 2014 Recap, 2015 Takeaways” analyzes the YoY email marketing campaigns of brands such as Apple, The Home Depot, and Walmart using its Market Intelligence tool. It finds that average open rates remain largely unchanged from the third to the fourth quarters of 2014, despite an average quarterly volume increase of 46% over that span. The consistent average open rate of about 14% in the second half of the year bucks the historical trend of open rates dipping as email volume increases.

“Consistent open rates while volume is spiking can be in part due to more strategic email marketing programs,” says Michael Fisher, president of Yes Lifecycle Marketing. “Brands are creating better mobile experiences, developing comprehensive segmentation strategies, and implementing advanced personalization. These practices translate into more informed campaigns that achieve better inboxing rates.”

The lion’s share (83%) of retailers sent general holiday or winter-themed campaigns, making it 2014’s most popular theme. When general holiday or winter-themed campaigns were deployed at the most opportune time, they generated an open rate of 15.5%—up from 14.2% for all other emails.

Additional findings include:

  • Back-to-school, Black Friday, Thanksgiving, and general holiday emails benefitted from later deployment. Open rates for Black Friday-themed emails, for instance, increased from 14.1 to 14.8% when deployed closer to the holiday.
  • On the other hand, Halloween, Cyber Monday, and Christmas-themed emails benefitted from earlier deployment. Halloween emails were 15.2% in the first half of October, yet decreased to 13.3% in the latter half.
  • Christmas-themed emails sent in the days after Christmas saw a 15.7% open rate, as opposed to 14.9% for all other communications deployed over the same time period.
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