E-mail Campaigns Talk Turkey

With turkey day approaching, I thought it would be interesting to examine the Thanksgiving related e-mail campaigns that ran last year at this time. The first thing that stands out is, for many of the retail and catalog sites, the days surrounding Thanksgiving are the highest-trafficked days of the entire year. And I mean by a big margin. People obviously bored by Thanksgiving at Aunt Ruth's are hitting the Internet big time in search of those holiday savings.

So what kind of companies target Thanksgiving? Besides the usual retail stores that you would assume, there were some surprising results. Basically I took a look at every e-mail that ran from Wednesday to Friday of Thanksgiving week last year and contained the word "Thanksgiving" in the subject line. Besides the Bloomingdale's and Saks Fifth Avenue e-mail campaigns that were launched, there were also a lot of casino and sports book campaigns that ran as well.

"Thanksgiving Day Football! Know who will win?" was the subject line for an e-mail promoting, a sports betting site.



"Win our biggest jackpot ever this Thanksgiving" ran an e-mail campaign for

In the travel industry, Northwest Airlines got into the holiday spirit by promoting a $400 "After Thanksgiving Sale." Southwest Airlines promoted its Thanksgiving sale a few days before the holiday, while United Airlines promoted its frequent flier program partners FTD Florists and with the subject line "Thanksgiving ideas...with miles as gravy" a week before the big day. Not to lose out, started pushing its Thanksgiving day promotions a good month before Thanksgiving.

In the retail sector, things start early. Of all those we monitored, Fortunoff has the distinction of being the earliest retailer to stick Thanksgiving in an e-mail. On Nov, 4 of last year it ran a campaign promoting its Holiday Entertaining Catalog. Crate and Barrel was not far behind, running a campaign on Nov. 7 to sell cutlery with the subject line "The Thanksgiving countdown is on."

Proving the early bird catches the worm, Lord and Taylor ran a "Pre-Thanksgiving Day Sale" on November 16. Sears also promoted a "Pre-Thanksgiving Day sale" for the Sunday through Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

Bigger is better--at least according to the creative sent out by most retailers. Bloomingdale's Thanksgiving promotion e-mail featured a large watercolor of a female fashion hound lounging next to a very large Thanksgiving SALE sign.

Macy's played up the football angle with a shot of a marching band and the tag "A Sale Gets Everyone Marching." Kaufmann's, Foley's and Hecht's, all now rebranded as Macy's, ran almost identical e-mail campaigns last year, with a big green and red banner promoting after-Thanksgiving-day specials.

Some retailers pushed in-store traffic while others (thinking of trying to avoid the holiday rush) pushed the convenience of online shopping against going into the store. Home Depot, for instance, promoted the fact that specials would be available earlier online than they would be in the store itself. On the other hand, Bergner's promoted the time when their brick and mortar store's doors would open (5:30 a.m.).

Taking a look this year, it's clear that Thanksgiving e-mails have increased over last, and they are starting much earlier. Already this year, we are tracking more Thanksgiving- based e-mail messages than last year's total. And this year, the grocery store chains are getting into the act, promoting Thanksgiving recipes and reminders to order that turkey early.

And while last year, an early November Thanksgiving day offer was the rarity, this year it is the norm. Even Uncle Ben's has gotten into the act, promoting wild rice stuffing. And that is good news. More people shopping online means less frustrated shoppers at the main stores. With the price of gas, why drive when you can cruise online? Traffic numbers show people are online more than any other time of year. And this year, online retailers seem to be getting the message.

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