See You In September: Top Retailers Had An Active Email Month

Neiman Marcus was the leading retail email sender in September in quantity — it blasted out 80 messages. But none were personalized.

Instead, they focused on shipping costs and BOPUS (buy online, pick up in-store), according to the September Email Marketing Retail Showdown, a report by SmarterHQ.   

Saks was second in quantity, sending 76. But it was first in quality — 45 emails were personalized, 12 based on behavior and 33 containing a personalized block within a mass promotion. 

Hopefully, customers didn’t get 80 or even 76 emails from these retailers — the study notes that millennials want three emails per month at most from brands.

Among department stores, Ulta sent only five emails, compared with 15 in August. Bloomingdale’s sent four — even fewer. But all were behaviorally targeted. And Sephora, which recently topped the Sailthru Retail Personalization study for the third year in a row. It sent six emails, and most were personalized.



The team at SmarterHQ subscribed in July to email newsletters of each of the firms covered. This is its second monthly report. It doesn’t examine overall volume, only the number of messages.

Hopefully, the firm will order products in the near future so we can see who’s doing what on that side. 

Target was third in overall volume in September — it sent 62 emails. A third were personalized based on interactions, and some contained email content blocs.

Target thus exceeds the other brands in the top retailers group. Walmart sent 26 emails, and only two were personalized. The rest were mass blasts, and out of all of them, only one focused on shipping costs.

Another retailer in this group, HomeDepot, sent 19 emails, only one of which was personalized. Almost all focused on fast delivery and shipping/costs; two pertained to Labor Day.

Tied for fourth among all groups were Sam’s Club and Amazon, having sent 50 emails apiece.

Most of Sam’s Clubs’ emails were mass promotions or discounts offers, but 14 featured personalized content blocks and some made recommendations based on previous site activity. Two emails were for Labor Day.

Sam’s Club beat the only other firm listed in the membership — Costco. That firm sent 24.

None were personalized, and all highlighted mass promos/discounts. One promoted BOPUS, a few highlighted back-to-school, and some related to store closings. 

Costco sent one email urging customers to begin shopping now for the holidays, making it only one of two retailers to highlight that season. Best Buy also did so in an email titled “Prep for the holidays,” featuring stoves. 

Next in message volume was Amazon, which sent 40 emails. This is the highest total of any digitally native brands. Over half were personalized based on interactions, and most featured recommendations.

In addition, Amazon promoted fast, free delivery — especially in its abandoned cart emails — and sent one Labor Day email. The remainder of the digital only brands were in the low single digits.




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