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’Tis the Season for Cross-Channel Campaigns

The holiday season is upon us, and many retailers have already started to ramp up their email deployment schedules - a key tactic to making those important Q4/end-of-year revenue goals. While volume and proper cadence is important, it’s also critical to remember that just sending more emails alone is not a strategy. Consumers are bombarded with email messages this time of year, so you really need to consider timing, what to send, and the channel in which those messages will be delivered.

At Listrak, we saw 2016 holiday email volume increase 38.5% over 2015, and are expecting another double digit increase this year. We reviewed the sending patterns and online traffic for more than 1,000 retailers during the 2016 holiday season, and have the following predictions for 2017:

High Revenue Impact: Overall, email has a high impact on holiday revenue. But first, it's important to understand how additional email sends impact that revenue. We found that adding just four emails per month will greatly impact sales. With a low CPM and high return, our clients are seeing $59.26 for every dollar spent on average, an 18.5% increase over the $50.00 return they average on their regularly scheduled campaigns.

Give Thanks for Dark Stores: Many retailers, including Costco, H&M, Ikea, Marshalls and HomeGoods have touted their remaining closed or operating on limited hours Thanksgiving Day, with some also remaining closed on Black Friday. Dark stores may mean increased site traffic, so capture it by sending multiple emails on those days. Consumers will still shop online and eCommerce revenue is expected to increase over 2016.

After Dinner Deployment: Adding an evening email to the deployment schedule will take advantage of site traffic spikes after dinner. On Thanksgiving 2016, email volume spiked at 10:00 am, then drastically dropped off until 4:00 p.m. There was a small bump in evening email volume. However, when compared to site traffic, which remained strong from noon through 10:00 p.m., it was evident that shoppers would have benefitted from receiving an additional email after dinner when they’re online. Send at least two email messages on Thanksgiving - one in the morning and one in the evening.

All Day Long: Sending multiple emails at various times on Black Friday will engage shoppers who shop all day long. The numbers for both email and site traffic looked similar to Thanksgiving on Black Friday, but with morning email volume spiking at 9:00 a.m. and steadily dropping throughout the day. Site traffic peaked again in the early afternoon, remaining high into the evening. Send at least three email messages: one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening to ensure you are at the top of the inbox.

Monday, Cyber Monday: Email volume drives site traffic on Cyber Monday. Listrak noted a 42.4% increase over 2015 volumes, and we recommend deploying two or even three emails on Cyber Monday as shoppers are looking for deals throughout the day. Cyber Monday 2016, as expected, had email volume spike at 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., and again at 8:00 pm while site traffic steadily increased from 7:00 am, spiking around 9:00 - 10:00 pm. Consider offering different deals throughout the day to keep messaging fresh.

We’re Here All Week: Keep campaigns rolling throughout Cyber Weekend, but don’t ignore the following week. Shoppers welcome emails this time of year, and as many as 27% start buying the first two weeks of December. Create a deployment schedule that will keep customers engaged throughout Cyber Week. Monitor your site traffic and send during the traffic spikes.

The Message and the Means: Email volume is expected to rise this holiday season, but that doesn’t mean that every shopper will receive the same message. Expect marketers to send more sophisticated campaigns, including segmented messages, product recommendations and AI-driven predictive content. Expect to see more integrated campaigns as marketers implement SMS, display and social marketing into their holiday strategies. Focus on tailoring the experience to each shopper. A great way to do that is by using customer data, and those personalized messages increase the likelihood of a sale. In 2016, 54% of shoppers utilized the personalized product recommendations they received from retailers, and we expect that number to increase this year.

Other things to know: The NRF projects holiday sales to increase 3.6% - 4.0% this year. There are 32 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, one more than 2016. Christmas falls on a Monday, meaning there are five full weekends in the holiday season.

Are you ready?
Happy holidays.

For more information, visit our Holiday Insights Center or download our holiday infographic.

About the Author
Cindy Irons is Director of Marketing Operations for Listrak.
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