Marketers Should Plan For Decline In Holiday Email Engagement

Back-to-school season is upon us, but marketers may want to jump ahead in the calendar and consider planning for the winter holiday season as holiday competition for the inbox heats up. 

Holiday-themed email messages increased by 13.4% from 2014 to 2015 -- and as email volume increased from the third quarter to the fourth quarter of 2015, open rates declined by a near-equal 13%, according to a recent study by Yes Lifecycle Marketing.

The marketing company tracked the email marketing campaigns of 30 major retailers from June 1 to December 31 in 2015 and 2014, analyzing the success rates of email marketing campaigns for Back-To-School, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas and the generic term ‘Holiday.’

“As more brands compete to attract consumers’ attention with the same tactics over the same period, standing out is more challenging than ever,” says Gurjit Sandhu, senior marketing specialist at Yesmail, Yes Lifecycle Marketing’s email solution. “With that in mind, planning holiday campaigns well in advance can help marketers craft more personalized subject lines and more engaging messages to push them ahead of the game. Simply sending a holiday-themed campaign is no longer enough to engage subscribers. Instead, marketers need to optimize communications based on past campaign performance and consumers’ preference to drive holiday conversions.” 

One opportunity to stand out from the crowded inbox may be deploy email campaigns around Green Monday on December 12, 2016. Like Cyber Monday, Green Monday is a retail industry-created holiday that falls on the second Monday of every December.

Only 10% of retailers deployed Green Monday campaigns in 2015, according to Yes Lifecycle Marketing, indicating that competition for the inbox may be lower than more popular retail holidays such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Green Monday saw an average email open rate of 14.5% in 2015, while open rates for Cyber Monday email campaigns has an average open rate of 12.9%. In addition, Cyber Monday open rates fell year-over-year while Green Monday open rates have increased. 

“No matter when holiday-themed campaigns are deployed, however, emails that consider consumer preferences and take into account how each holiday applies to them and relates to the brand’s products, will resonate best,” says Sandhu. 

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