Retail Brands Sent Few Behavior-Based Emails In November: Study

Saks led the way with email personalization in November, sending 53 tailored messages out of 85 messages it sent altogether, according to the 2020 Holiday Marketing Analysis by SmarterHQ.

In contrast, Macy’s and Sephora each sent 12 behavior-based emails. Amazon sent six.  

In general, email volume went up significantly for Walmart, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s, versus November 2019. But Home Depot cut its emails by half, sending 15, eight of which were personalized. 

Fewer emails were also sent by Target, Apple, Best Buy, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Amazon and Everlane. 

In August, SmarterHQ signed up for each listed brand’s email newsletter, carting two new items and heavily browsing specific categories on the site. It also has interacted with various emails. 

SmarterHQ divides the brands it is tracking into these categories: 

Top Retailers 

Walmart sent the mots personalized emails of all retailers in this category, at 13. Target reached out with 58 emails, but only six were behaviorally targeted. 



These emails promoted curbside pickup and discussed COVID-19 precautions. 

Home Depot featured free shipping in every email, and Apple did in almost every message. Best Buy and Apple also focused on COVID-19 messaging in most of their emails.  

Department Stores

Saks was the leading sender, followed by Bloomingdale’s (83) and Neiman Marcus (75). 

Half of the messages sent by Bloomingdale’s, Saks and Nordstrom highlighted a specific product or category. 

Nordstrom sent no behaviorally targeted emails. 

Free shipping was highlighted in every email sent by Bloomingdale’s, Saks, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. And all department-store brands promoted free shipping in at least some of their emails. 

Digital Native Brands

Amazon was the most active, sending 33 emails, half of which were personalized as to product/category engagement and recommendations-based. 

Bonobos was second in volume, with 27 emails. Most of its emails were focused on product/category or mass promotions, as were Everlane’s. Bonobos also promoted Black Friday and Cyber Monday the most — in 26 email. That brand also included the most holiday messaging. 

Travel & Hospitality Brands

Beleaguered travel/hospital brands end less emails than firms in the other categories. Southwest was the leader, with 16.

And most emails lacked personalization, although Delta sent two that “seemed to be geared” to flight browsing, and it also included free shipping of gift cards in one. And Southwest sent two cart abandonment messages. 

Travel brands often mentioned COVID-19, attempting to show how they are accommodating to the new reality while helping to soothe fear of flying during the pandemic. 

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