In just a couple of months, retailers will enter a consumer shopping corridor that will last from mid October until January of 2016. For many business owners, the sales they make from Halloween to New Years will eclipse those of the months that came before. Clearly, this is a time when business owners and marketers need to put their best foot forward and use their most effective tactics to reach consumers. Interestingly, one of the best tactics marketers can use for the holidays is one of the simplest. According to a new report, email marketing becomes more effective toward the end of the year and consumers are looking for good deals in their inbox.
Data from previous years suggests that business owners and marketers will benefit from using email marketing to reach consumers during the holidays. According to recent research from Yesmail, during the 2013 and 2014 holiday seasons, more consumers opened emails they were sent by businesses. The average open rates for marketing emails during the third and fourth quarters remained steady even though during the holidays of Q4, the volume of emails sent increased by 46 percent. If the volume of emails sent increased, but the average open rate remained the same, it means that more emails were opened during the fourth quarter.
There's good reason to believe that the reasons more emails is related to holiday marketing. The researchers at Yesmail found that about a third (32%) more brands sent holiday themed emails between 2014 and 2013.
Though many of the major holidays are during the fourth quarter, there are events like Back-to-School, Labor Day, and so on that get attention during the third quarter, and this may account for the smaller but significant increases in volume and open rates seen during that period. According the the Yesmail data, Q3 2014 email volume increased 26 percent from the same time in 2013 and open rates increased by 11 percent as well.
“Consistent open rates while volume is spiking can be in part due to more strategic email marketing programs,” said 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 obvious takeaway is that business owners and marketers should email marketing during the holidays. The data also shows that it's worth it to increase email marketing during the holidays. While it's important to not overload subscribers, the numbers clearly show that people are willing to open emails even as the the volume increases during the holidays. It's most likely a combination of the fact that people expect more advertisements during the holidays and the fact that people are looking for the deals the emails are often providing.
The report notes that 83 percent of retailers sent general holiday or winter-themed campaigns during the fourth quarter, making Winter/Holidays the most popular theme in 2014. Though popular, getting the timing right matter. The study found that when deployed at the right time, holiday-related emails generated an open rate of 15.5 percent, up from 14.2 percent for all other emails.
For example, Back to School, Black Friday and Thanksgiving themed emails benefitted from being sent closer to their calendar dates. On the other hand, Halloween, Cyber Monday and Christmas-themed emails benefitted from earlier deployment. This makes sense since people often need more time to plan things like costumes and Christmas gifts, and the first retailer to reach consumers with Cyber Monday sales may be the victor in a crowded online marketplace. To illustrate, Halloween emails sent in the first half of October saw 15.2% open rates while those sent in the last half of the month saw 13.3% open rates.
As retailers head toward end of 2015, it's important to use all available marketing tools as effectively as possible. Email marketing is always a good tool to use, but the data from Yesmail shows that it can be even more useful to the holiday shopping season. Business owners and marketers should start putting thought into the promotions and imagery they will use to attract customers in the coming months.
For more information on how to create better email campaigns, read this article with data from a Yahoo study on how men and women use email differently.