A Look Back At Holiday 2019: What Worked And What Didn't In Email

Exclamation points, emojis and words communicating urgency had a dampening effect on response when used in email subject lines during the 2019 holiday season. So did mentions of discounts, according to new data from Twilio SendGrid. 

But email volume skyrocketed, at least among Twilio SendGrid clients. 

The company processed over 4.2 billion emails on Black Friday and over 4.3 billion emails on Cyber Monday, large increases over 2018, when neither day reached 3 billion, according to stats presented in a blog post by Len Shneyder, VP of industry relations at Twilio SendGrid.

Among other things, it found that 65% of clicks came from mobile devices around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

As for subject lines, the firm found that emails that did not mention holidays in pulled better open rates than those that did:

No holiday mentioned — 14.2%

New Years — 13.6%

Christmas — 12.6% 

Black Friday — 9.4% 

Cyber Monday — 8.4%

Similarly, urgency in subject lines had a negative effect on engagement. During the Thanksgiving-Cyber Monday weekend, the word “tomorrow” did better than words like “now,” “soon” or “today.”In general, subject lines with no urgency did better between holidays and during Christmas week. 

In addition, emails with no discount in the subject line did better that those that had one. On Cyber Monday, no discount lines pulled an average 12.8% open rate, versus 8.8% that mentioned a discount.

Between holidays, no-discount lines pulled d14.7%, versus discount subject lines. And during Christmas week, the differential was 13.8% for no discount lines and 8.4% for discounts.

When discounts were mentioned, the most popular rates were 50% and 20%.

But brands have apparently caught on to this fact. Of all the emails processed, only 12.47% featured discounts in their subject lines during the Thanksgiving-Cyber Monday period, versus 7.36% between holidays and 7.01% in Christmas week 

Also, exclamation points in subject lines had a dampening effect on opens during all time periods, pulling roughly 3% less. Emojis also drew fewer opens. 

“The fact of the matter is that both are similar to urgency or reminding people of the obvious: it’s a holiday,” Shneyder writes.

Shneyder adds: “There is no doubt that some segment may respond well to clever uses of exclamation points and emojis but this is one of those things that you should test specifically instead of throwing them to attempt to differentiate your emails in the inbox.”

Twilio SendGrid also noticed that 34 characters is the most popular length for subject lines.



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