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  • August 26, 2008

Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season: Executive Summary

Sponsored by: Premiere Global Services

Long before retailers hang any wreaths or tinsel in their stores, they send out emails promoting their Christmas deals to their subscribers—lots of emails! Last year the Email Experience Council tracked more than 3,300 emails from more than 100 top online retailers during the fourth quarter and released daily reports on strategies, tactics and trends via the Retail Email Blog. Based on that monitoring, the eec has produced this helpful roadmap to the email holiday season so retailers and other B2C companies can better formulate their campaigns this year.

This guide includes benchmarks and advice on when to begin your campaign, how much to increase your email volume, which days to send on, and how to stand out in the inbox during the holidays. For instance, last year 88% of major online retailers increased their email volume during the holiday season, with retailers boosting their send volumes by 45% on average.

It also discusses and provides examples of the “16 Phases of Christmas,” the 16 strategies that retailers use at different points in the holiday season. Those strategies include promoting e-gift cards and “buy online, pick up in store” services.

“As marketers, it is important that we learn from past behavior—both our own and that of our peers,” says Andrew Osterday, Director of eMarketing at Premiere Global Services, the Guide’s sponsor. “Looking at your successes and failures over the course of previous holiday seasons will help you to avoid the pitfalls and repeat the windfalls. Further, examining the trends among peers’ campaigns can help you benchmark yours and inspire you to try new strategies and tactics.”

Other key findings from the guide include:

● Seventeen of the top 20 biggest retail email days of 2007 came in the weeks before Christmas. Those days included Cyber Monday (Nov. 26) and three of the four “Echo Mondays” (Dec. 3, 10 and 17)—the Mondays that follow Cyber Monday. Unlike in 2006 when the day after Christmas was the most popular day of the year to send retail email, last year Cyber Monday was the most popular, with 68% of retailers sending at least one email on that day.

● During the five days before Christmas (Dec. 20-24), 32% of top online retailers mentioned e-gift cards in their emails at least once last year.

● From Nov. 1 until Christmas Day, 19% of major online retailers used animated gifs in at least one email last year.

● Just as some online and multichannel retailers promote Thanksgiving Day sales to get a leg up on offline competitors whose stores are closed on that day, some will also begin their post-holiday sales on Christmas Day and promote them in their email campaigns.

Get the Full Report
Visit the Whitepaper Room to download the full 43-page guide, which is free for eec platinum members, available at a discount to eec gold and silver members, and available for $249 for non-members. Not a member? Learn more about becoming a member of the Email Experience Council.

Other Research Reports Available:
Retail Email Rendering Benchmark Study
Retail Email Unsubscribe Benchmark Study
Retail Welcome Email Benchmark Study
The Guide to Gearing Up for the Holiday Email Season
Retail Email Subscription Benchmark Study
Animation in Retail Emails Study
Refer a Friend Benchmark Study
Send to a Friend Benchmark Study
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