Are you prepping your ecommerce website’s marketing strategy for the 2013 holiday shopping season? Don’t get caught scrambling—this year’s online shopping environment is going to be more competitive than ever, but if it’s anything like last year’s, email marketing will be a crucial part of the mix. To help you get a head start on your marketing plans, here’s a look at what worked for marketers last year.
During the 2012 holiday shopping season, Experian Marketing Services tracked the email activity of 40 primarily retail brands between September 9, 2012 and January 5, 2013 to uncover themes, popular mailing times and dates, and frequency trends. Here’s what they found.
- Marketers started sending holiday-themed emails in mid-October; emails peaked the week before Christmas.
- The most common theme for holiday emails was gift guides (used by 22 percent of all holiday emails).
- The most common dates that were mentioned in holiday emails were Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday/Week, Christmas Eve/Christmas and New Year’s Eve/Day. (Note that Black Friday and Cyber Monday weren’t “lumped” together, but were marketed as completely separate events.)
- The most popular type of offers? Percentage-off sales. The most popular percentage was “50 percent off.”
- The most popular time of day for sending holiday marketing emails was between 4 a.m. and 4 p.m. Some 87 percent of emails went out during this time frame.
How often are brands sending emails? As you might expect, the volume and frequency of emails rose gradually throughout the holiday season. Beginning in mid-November, the average weekly frequency rose from four to six emails per week, where it stayed until the week beginning December 23.
Based on these figures, Experian suggests three strategies for 2013 holiday email marketing:
- Focus on mobile optimization: Experian says 43 percent of emails were opened on a mobile device last holiday season, an all-time high—but new records are likely to be set this year. Optimize your email templates for mobile devices, using large fonts, short subject lines and enticing incentives that will get customers to buy on mobile devices.
- Use gift guide emails: Experian says not only are users interested in and opening gift guide emails, they’re also buying from them. Consider developing different gift guides based on recipient types (gifts for Dad, gifts for kids, gifts for pets) or dates (last-minute gift guides, early bird gift guides) or products (coolest tech tools gift guide, snuggly sweater gift guide, gourmet gadget gift guide).
- Test email timing: Last year most companies sent marketing emails in the morning or early afternoon. Consider bucking the trend and sending your emails at the end of the work day or the early evening. Many users check emails on their mobile device on the commute home, or settle in with a tablet on the couch after dinner or once the kids are in bed. By sending emails this time of day, your messages may actually stand out.