Christmas Beats The Holidays In Email Marketing

Saying “Merry Christmas” might give you higher email engagement rates than “Happy Holidays,” according to a study released Tuesday in a blog post by Sailthru.

The personalized marketing communications company analyzed 89,932 email subject lines sent by Sailthru customers during the 2015 holiday season to pinpoint the best-performing subject-line wording for retail marketers during the busiest season of the year.

It would appear that specificity matters to consumers, potentially as it distinguishes itself from the sheer onslaught of holiday marketing emails. Retail brands that send emails with the word “Christmas” in the subject line see their average open rates jump 26% when compared to emails that simply use the word “Holiday(s).”

Similarly, subject lines mentioning “Hanukkah,” or any variant spelling of the Jewish holiday, also saw email engagement increase when compared to emails that did not specify a holiday by name. Hanukkah email marketing messages saw average open rates increase 40% when compared to emails simply listing "Holidays" in the subject line.

Retail emails sent during the 2015 holiday season containing a price or percentage number in their subject lines were 9% less likely to be opened, according to Sailthru. Emails that mentioned an “extra” percentage off in the subject lines performed even worse, with emails open rates 24% lower that the retail average.

Likewise, holiday retail emails with subject lines in all capital letters or with any number of explanation points generally saw their email engagement rates lower compared to their category average. One or two words in all capital letters, however, averaged higher open rates according to Sailthru’s analysis. 

Subject lines containing special characters such as emojis, however, performed slightly better than average retail open rates during the study period.


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