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  • February 23, 2012

Season Finale: Thanksgiving 2011

A look back on seasonal trends, email activity and standout B2C marketing:

Start to finish: The first reference to Thanksgiving was on Sept. 14. The final reference was on Nov. 29.

The biggest day for Thanksgiving emails was Thanksgiving Day itself, Nov. 24. Retailers sent the majority of their Thanksgiving-themed emails after Nov. 19.

Click to view the Thanksgiving 2011 retail email distribution curve larger

Most interesting emails: While Thanksgiving is all about great food and family, the day before Thanksgiving is all about travel. Thanksgiving Eve is the busiest travel day of the year and this Nov. 23 Brookstone targeted travelers by offering a discount for use at their airport stores. There are probably better ways to target travelers—for instance, including a poll in emails the week before Thanksgiving and using those results for segmentation (see Harry & David example below)—but it was still novel all the same and definitely got me thinking about the possibilities around this major travel day.

Nov. 23, 2011 Brookstone email
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In a Nov. 8 email, Harry & David included this simple banner asking subscribers whether they were staying home or going away for Thanksgiving:

Nov. 11, 2011 Harry & David email
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Polls can be a nice no-pressure way of getting some email engagement clicks—and in this case also driving additional traffic to your Facebook page. That’s all I thought it was at the time, but then in this Nov. 11 email, Harry & David leverages that engagement by sharing the poll results and suggesting a call-to-action for each scenario.

Nov. 11, 2011 Harry & David email
View this email full-sized.

Noteworthy trend: There was considerable discussion in the media about the commercialization of Thanksgiving Day, which has traditionally been a non-shopping day reserved for family time. Some of that sentiment actually made it to consumers’ inboxes as well, with Cabela’s and JCPenney taking an explicit stance against opening stores on Thanksgiving Day. In a Nov. 22 Cabela’s email, they include a banner telling subscribers at they’ve closed their stores on Thanksgiving because the holiday is “all about family.”

Nov. 22, 2011 Cabela’s email
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JCPenney’s message was a little more subtle in a Nov. 23 email, which told subscribers in the subject line and body copy to “see Black Friday Deals Now” and “Enjoy Thanksgiving tomorrow.”

Nov. 23, 2011 JCPenney email
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Considering the growth of online and store sales on Thanksgiving Day, I assume that fewer retailers will be able to resist taking part next year, which will likely make this a media issue once again.

Standout subject lines:
Brookstone, 11/24 — Relax. Shop. Recover on the couch.
Harry & David, 11/20 — Saying thanks. Top 5 gifts to show your gratitude. Free Delivery.
J&R, 11/15 — Thanksgiving's Just Around the Corner, Get Prepared for Holiday Cooking
Williams-Sonoma, 11/12 — Time to Order Turkey + Wine
Oriental Trading, 10/25 — Host Thanksgiving for less. Enjoy low prices, free shipping!

Read previous Thanksgiving Season Finales: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006

Explore Thanksgiving tag.
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BROWSE... Archive / Post Categories / Selling Seasons / Topics Covered / Retailers Tracked

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