2016 Holiday Email Marketing Post Mortem
Mar 20

2016 Holiday Email Marketing Post Mortem

The holiday shopping period generates 50 to 100 percent more revenue than shopping days at any other time of the year. It’s now typical for brands to at least double the amount of emails sent to customers during this time—but are they really succeeding at cutting through the clutter?

According to a 2016 email metrics study from IBM, they’re not. Retail and ecommerce companies saw 18.8 percent lower average open rate during the roughly six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve compared to non-holiday periods.

The mean click-through rate (incidence of readers who clicked on a link contained in the email)  was 28.6 percent lower on holiday messages, too. However, the click-to-open rate (CTOR – percentage of viewers who actually clicked to read the email) differed during the two time periods by less than one percentage point.

Volume Volume Volume

The sheer volume of emails retail/ecommerce companies send during the holiday period do affect these figures. Many companies tend to increase their email cadences by 50% compared to the rest of the year. That means that while open rates may be lower during the holiday season, total opens will largely increase due to the increase in emails sent.

The increased cadence of emails also affects the click-through rate. Even though one might expect users to click through more frequently due to the increased number of promotions and offers during the holiday season, the increased volume spreads click-throughs across many more email sends.

The net result is lower email performance metrics (CTOR and click-throughs), but overall higher net numbers due to the increased volume. As always, analysis is needed to complement the metrics to truly understand the value of holiday-season email marketing.

Despite the small difference in CTOR between holiday and non-holiday time periods, the holiday rate should be higher due to increase in number of emails with strong offers and calls to action during a time where revenue drastically increases.

This could point to the fact that retailers may not be personalizing the content of these emails enough or they’re sending the same offers over and over again. Differentiation matters, and these statistics indicate it matters even more when a huge portion of a retailer’s yearly revenue is at stake.

Retailers should take advantage of higher purchase rates during the holidays by focusing on ways to make each email unique. If not, they will lose customers they could easily capture by burying them in boring offers lost in an overstuffed inbox.