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Responsys Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season 2012

Responsys Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season 2012



Based on the holiday email activity of more than 100 top U.S. online retailers, provides tips and information to help email marketers meet the challenges, capture the opportunities, and make the most ...

Based on the holiday email activity of more than 100 top U.S. online retailers, provides tips and information to help email marketers meet the challenges, capture the opportunities, and make the most of the 2012 holiday season.



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    Responsys Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season 2012 Responsys Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season 2012 Document Transcript

    • Trends, tactics and a content roadmap to maximize your email marketing revenue. by Chad White
    • Laying the groundwork for successful holiday email marketing campaigns begins during the summer— starting with a thorough review of your 2011 holiday campaigns. Before helping you with that review, this guide will discuss the newest holiday trends and walk you through the 5 stages of the holiday season, covering early holiday messaging all the way through Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the after-Christmas period. Based on the holiday email activity of more than 100 top U.S. online retailers tracked by the Retail Email Blog and on the insights of Responsys’ Strategic Services group, this guide also addresses the new challenges and opportunities that will require marketers to adjust their holiday email strategies this year. We hope the benchmarks, advice and examples in this guide help you to maximize the holiday performance of your email marketing program. Happy Holiday Sales, Chad White Research Director Responsys Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season 2012
    • Contents The Newest Holiday Trends The Five Stages of the Holiday Season 1. Pre-Holiday Period “Christmas in July” campaigns Other early holiday messaging Holiday-supportive messaging 2. Black November Core holiday messaging Black November Holiday headers & gift services footers 3. Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend Thanksgiving Black Friday Cyber Monday 4. Countdown to Christmas “12 Days of Christmas” campaigns Parade of order deadlines Free Shipping Day Last Sleigh Day eGift Card Day Last-minute options 5. After-Christmas Period Season’s greetings After-Christmas sales Gift card redemptions Upsell & trade-in messaging Review Your Past Holiday Campaigns
    • 01 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season The Newest Holiday Trends Every year retailers approach the holiday season differently, looking to be more responsive to their customers and to adjust to changing shopping habits. Last holiday season there were a few big changes that you should be aware of when planning your campaigns this year: 1. Thanksgiving has replaced Black Friday as the unofficial kick-off of the holiday shopping season. Thanks to more retailers opening their stores on Thanksgiving Day and the growing impact of mobile commerce, as well as “showrooming,” sales and marketing efforts have increased rapidly over the past couple of years. Last year, 75% of major retailers sent at least one promotional email campaign to their subscribers on Thanksgiving Day, up from 60% in 2010 and only 45% in 2009. That increase supported a huge leap in online sales, which rose 39.3% compared to Thanksgiving Day 2010, according to IBM Coremetrics. While some may bemoan the creep of commercialism into the Thanksgiving holiday, there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle at this point. We expect Thanksgiving to remain among the top 5 email marketing days of the year again this year. 2. Express shipping went mainstream on “Last Sleigh Day,” which is the new end of the holiday season. Retailers dramatically increased their messaging around express delivery last year, with many retailers offering free or discounted express delivery options. Their efforts were concentrated on Dec. 21—a “Last Sleigh Day” for Christmas delivery—when 74% of retailers sent at least one promotional email to their subscribers. That made it the fourth busiest email marketing day of the year, ahead of Green Monday (No. 5), the day after Christmas (No. 9), and Free Shipping Day (No. 13). In the past, the end of guaranteed Christmas delivery with standard shipping signaled the wind-down of the online holiday shopping season. Retailers sent a very clear message last year that this is no longer the case. That said, retailers’ willingness to push express shipping may have been influenced by higher-than-usual inventory levels, in which case “Last Sleigh Day” may not be as prominent this year if inventory positions are kept more in check. And perhaps even more important, this year Christmas is on a Tuesday, which stretches out the delivery time for express delivery, making it less effective and less appealing. 3. Mobile will be more important this year, but especially on days when consumers are on the move. By the end of 2012, more people will be reading emails on mobile devices than on desktops or webmail, according to Return Path. The readership habits of your brand’s subscribers will determine your email design and messaging strategy, but you may want to pay special attention to being mobile-friendly on days that consumers are more likely to be away from home, such as:
    • responsys.com / 02 — The day before Thanksgiving, which is the busiest travel day of the year; — Thanksgiving Day, when most consumers are with family with a smartphone in their purse or on the couch watching TV with a tablet on their laps, or out shopping with their smartphone in hand; — Black Friday, when many consumers are out shopping at brick-and-mortar stores; and — Christmas Day, when consumers are flush with gift card cash and shop online because stores are closed. And those days are in addition to the weekends as well, which also see higher than average mobile email reading. Weekends are particular important during the height of the holiday season in December, when weekend email volume is about 50% higher than at other times of the year. 4. Free shipping is now the norm for the holiday season. Fifty-five percent of major online retailers offered free shipping all holiday season long. Half of those retailers have adopted an “Every Day Free Shipping” policy, while the other half offered free shipping just for the holiday season. The remaining 45% of retailers offered free shipping for limited periods of time, offered it on just a narrow selection, or didn’t offer it. More than half of major retailers offered free shipping for the duration of the holiday season.
    • 03 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season Free shipping is the most popular and effective online promotional offer, with consumers consistently valuing it more than it costs retailers to provide it. That’s why we’re seeing more and more retailers move to an “Every Day Free Shipping” policy, which is in turn forcing other retailers to keep up by offering free shipping more often, including for the duration of the critical holiday season. The proliferation of free shipping is also driving more retailers to offer free shipping with no minimum purchase, which a significant number of retailers did on Free Shipping Day, and to offer free return shipping, which is a small but growing trend. No longer requiring a promo code to receive free shipping has also become more common this year. Keep these trends in mind as you plan your holiday strategy and develop your campaigns for each of the 5 stages of the holiday season.
    • Five Stages of the Holiday Season Pre-Holiday Period Summer through the end of October Black November The first three weeks of November Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend The days around Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday Countdown to Christmas The remaining weeks leading up to Christmas After-Christmas Period Christmas through the end of January
    • 1. Pre-Holiday Period While some roll their eyes at “Christmas in July” campaigns and bemoan holiday messaging that arrives before Halloween, many consumers begin their gift shopping before Oct. 31. According to the National Retail Federation, nearly 40% of consumers start their holiday shopping before Halloween, another 40% begin in November, and the remaining 20% start in December. Because of consumers’ willingness to shop early, the majority of retailers start their holiday email marketing campaigns before Nov. 1—and that’s a trend that has held firm for years now. Last year, 60% of major retailers mentioned the holiday season at least once in their promotional emails before the end of October. And retailers began their 2011 holiday campaigns 70 days before Christmas—on Oct. 18. That’s one day later than in 2010. And this year we’re off to the fastest start in years—at least as of late August. So while the holiday season doesn’t kick into high gear until late November, most retailers find it advantageous to start their holiday email messaging more than a month before Thanksgiving Day sales and Black Friday doorbusters arrive. “Christmas in July” Campaigns A tradition with fuzzy origins, “Christmas in July” campaigns are often just an excuse to hold generic sale during the holiday-starved summer months, particularly during the last two weeks of July. Santas in sunglasses on the beach are typical imagery for these campaigns. 05 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season
    • responsys.com / 06 But over the past few years, more and more of these campaigns are jetisoning the gimmicky imagery and promoting bonifide holiday items and events such as: — seasonal merchandise, especially holiday décor and dinnerware — contests or sweepstakes with holiday tie-ins, like a sweepstakes to win a holiday shopping spree in New York City — holiday charity efforts, like raising money for Toys for Tots To put a fresh, less seasonal spin on “Christmas in July” campaigns, a few retailers have been running “Black Friday in July” and “Cyber Monday in July” campaigns. While “Christmas in July” campaigns are becoming more oriented around seasonal products like wreaths and other holiday décor, these new “Black Friday in July” and “Cyber Monday in July” campaigns tend to promote non-seasonal goods like tablets and kitchen appliances. To help you craft your own subject lines, here are some about “Christmas in July” promotions: Toys “R” Us, 7/15 20% Coupon on your Entire Purchase Inside! Plus, Christmas in July Sale! Oriental Trading, 7/15 Save up to 70% during our Christmas in July Sale + FREE Shipping Chadwicks, 7/23 Preseason Sale...it’s like Christmas in July! Ross-Simons, 7/23 Christmas in July! CLEARANCE SALE Starts Now This July 14, 2012 Sephora email promoted Philosophy’s Christmas-themed products. They ran a virtually identical promotion in a July 13, 2011 email, an indication that it performed well.
    • 07 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season Avon, 7/25 The FREE Shipping Event - CHRISTMAS In July! TigerDirect, 7/25 24 Hour Christmas in July Sale: PC Parts, Laptops, TVs and more...ends 7/25 Blair, 7/26 Don’t forget it’s Christmas in July and shipping’s free. Other Early Holiday Messaging Besides “Christmas in July” emails, retailers send a variety of other early holiday messaging, which generally take the form of boxes and banners that accompany non-holiday messages. Popular early references to the holidays include: In this Oct. 6, 2011 email, Fingerhut promotes indoor holiday décor products, knowing that many people put up their holiday decorations right after Thanksgiving.
    • responsys.com / 08 — Shop holiday décor. — Sign up for our Christmas catalog. — Pre-order these hot holiday products. — Preview our holiday collection. — Order Christmas cards. — Create a wish list. — Shop our pre-holiday clearance sale. — Learn about layaway and other financial services. These kinds of messages may help these retailers win the battle for holiday mindshare long before the weather turns chilly. To help you craft your own subject lines, here are some for early holiday messaging: Fingerhut, 10/6 Fingerhut: Get a FREE Fleece Throw with Select Holiday Indoor Decor Purchase! ShopNBC, 10/11 How long until Christmas? Here’s a hint... The Company Store, 10/21 The Perfect Hostess Gift + Free Shipping! Staples promotes holiday cards in this Oct. 10, 2011 email. Coach urges subscribers to start their wish list in this Oct. 28, 2011 email. Walmart promotes Christmas layaway in this Oct. 10, 2011 email.
    • 09 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season Macy’s, 10/23 Prep your home for the holidays + Free Shipping! Cooking.com, 10/26 Holidays on the Go: Great Potlucking and Entertaining Ideas Costco, 10/26 In Time For Holiday Crafting - Get A Brother Sewing Machine For $144.99 Delivered! Holiday-Supportive Messaging In addition to seasonal messaging, retailers also send campaigns during this early period that set them up for a profitable holiday season. The messaging for these campaigns include: — “Update your preferences” requests, which significantly increases the chances that your emails will be relevant during the months that follow an update — Progressive profiling and subscriber surveys, which provides timely data to power segmented emails and dynamic content — Website relaunch and new functionality announcements — Product review requests, as products with a healthy number of reviews sell better than those with a few or no reviews — Shipping options and programs—including free shipping, “buy now, ship later” programs, in-store pickup—which lower or remove shipping costs from the buying decision-making process — Credit cards and loyalty programs, which increase the chances that customer will buy during the holiday season Ahead of the curve, CB2 promotes their holiday free shipping offer in this Oct. 13, 2011 email. The campaign in this Oct. 27, 2011 Fingerhut email encourages subscribers to become Facebook fans to vote for their favorite offer and encourages fans to become subscribers in order to receive the winning offer. It’s a smart campaign that secures more channel opt-ins by playing to social’s strength —community engagement—and email’s strength—delivering discounts.
    • responsys.com / 10 — Opt-ins for other channels like social and mobile, because being able to message customers over several channels increases sales In this Oct. 12, 2011 email, JCPenney uses a discount and sweepstakes-powered incentive to collect SMS opt-ins ahead of the holiday season.
    • 11 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season 2. Black November Everything prior to November is just a warm-up. In November the holiday season starts in earnest. Holiday messaging becomes common and the emergence of “Black November” messaging over the past couple of years has put a new focus on generating holiday purchases early in the season. November is also the month when holiday motifs and helpful gift-buying links are added to email designs, mirroring the transformation of stores into winter wonderlands. Core Holiday Messaging While there are small amounts of Christmas messaging prior to November, when the calendar flips to Nov. 1, holiday messaging starts to rev up significantly and doesn’t stop until Christmas Day. It’s at this point that emails typically include one or more of the following messages: — Shop our holiday collection or catalog. — Shop these gift ideas and gift guides. — Shop our top-rated gifts. — Shop our top 10, top 20, top 100, etc. gifts. — Shop holiday deals under $20, $50, $100, etc. — Shop gifts by recipient: him, her, kids, babies, grandparents, teachers, etc. — Shop by age of recipient. Holiday messaging actually jumps on Oct. 31, with much of it arriving in the afternoon and evening.
    • responsys.com / 12 — Shop gifts by interest. — Shop gifts for these personality types. — Shop for stocking stuffers. — Shop for holiday entertaining goods or try these holiday decorating tips. — Shop for holiday outfits, holiday parties, and hostess gifts. — Shop new arrivals. — Free shipping offer. — Free gift wrap offer. — Free gift card with purchase. — Personalize or monogram these gifts. — Sign up for special holiday email deals. — Download holiday mobile app. — Visit holiday Facebook page or microsite. — Cause-marketing tie-in to support a charity. Black November November has always acted like a runway for retailers to build up seasonal speed going into Black Friday, long considered the unofficial start of the holiday season. However, during the past couple of years, retailers have pushed consumers to start their holiday shopping earlier by offering “Black Friday” pricing and deals as early as the first of November. This trend has become known as Black November. Black Friday messaging held steady during the first three weeks of November, but increased significantly during the week of Black Friday.
    • 13 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season Black November messaging prior to Black Friday week was largely unchanged in 2011 compared to 2010 as a percentage of overall volume, but these campaigns were much better branded last year. For instance, OfficeMax ran an “It’s Black Friday Every Friday” campaign, Office Depot ran an “Every Friday is Black Friday” campaign and J&R ran a “Fade2Black” campaign. However, the week of Black Friday saw much more pre-Black Friday messaging. During the week of Black Friday, more than 40% of retail emails referred to Black Friday versus only 31% the previous year. Office Depot ran a series of well-branded Black November emails as a warm-up for their big Black Friday sale. The Sports Authority took the novel approach of allowing subscribers to make their Black Friday purchases online ahead of time and then pick them up in store on Black Friday.
    • responsys.com / 14 Along with more Black Friday and holiday messaging in November, there is more promotional email volume in general starting in late October. While retail email volume grew 16% year-over-year in 2011, volume grew 20% during November compared to the same time period in 2010. With consumers in a buying mood and actively looking for ideas, they are generally receptive to the email increases that accompany the holiday season. “When increasing your frequency during the holiday season, remember that relevancy always dictates frequency,” says Responsys Senior Strategic Consultant Mary Kathleen Sullivan. “For instance, don’t throw out your segmentation strategy just because it is the holiday season. However, modify it so that you are basing it on recent activity. Use as your targeting criteria all the recent data you have available. Remember that what someone bought three months ago may not matter during the gifting season, but their click and browse behavior yesterday sure does.” Sullivan added, “And when it comes to frequency, don’t treat everyone the same. Although promotions are generally considered to be relevant content, not everyone wants to see the same one five times this week. Segment your audience by active/inactive and see what the tolerance is for these segments by monitoring both their engagement metrics (clickthrough rate and conversion rate) and their disengagement metrics (opt-outs and spam complaints). Pull back on re-mail campaigns for the less active subscribers based on this data.” Holiday Headers & Gift Services Footers It’s also during the month of November that many retailers debut their holiday headers and gift services footers. Just like retail stores hang garland and put up Christmas trees to signal to shoppers that it’s time to start thinking about gift shopping, email marketers can do the same thing by adding seasonal elements to emails. Email volume per subscriber was at sustained high for most of last December.
    • 15 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season Holiday headers include one or more of the following elements: 1. A “Gifts” or “Holiday” link or button in the navigation bar. Set your holiday link apart from your standard navigation by using a different color, font, and button design. If a single navigation link just doesn’t seem like enough for the biggest shopping season of the year, consider a new trend that’s gaining momentum: Add a dedicated holiday nav bar. Rather than squeezing a single link into their standard nav bar, retailers like NikeStore added a second holiday-focused nav bar underneath their standard nav bar. 2. Add snow, snowflakes, wrapped presents, or another holiday motif to your header, as Hallmark did. Depending on your brand positioning, it may be best to avoid anything that may be interpreted as a religious symbol such as Christmas trees and stick to more wintery motifs. In this Nov. 2, 2011 email, Sephora changed their color palette, simplified their navigation bar and changed their “gifts” link to a gold script font to make it stand out. Nike added a dedicated holiday navigation bar to this Nov. 11, 2011 email. In this Nov. 2, 2011 email, Target added snowflakes to the background of the body copy and gave their logo a sparkly sequin treatment.
    • responsys.com / 16 3. Add a countdown to Christmas or—even better—to the end of guaranteed Christmas delivery with standard shipping. Last year countdowns were used by just a few retailers, including J&R. In conjunction with a holiday header, also consider re-skinning your entire email template with a holiday theme, a festive color scheme, or just a different background color. This intensifies the signal to subscribers that the holiday season is here. Last year, 34% of major retailers introduced a holiday header, down from 43% in 2010, 38% in 2009, and 35% in 2008. Although some retailers wait until Black Friday or even Dec. 1 to debut their holiday headers, early November is the most popular time to launch them. Gift services footers (GSFs) send a similar message to subscribers that the holiday season has arrived. Generally launched in early November, GSFs help you to avoid giant stacks of secondary message banners by consolidating lots of service links into one tidy package. Here are some elements to consider including when designing your GSFs: — Umbrella your gift services footer with a benefits-focused headline. — Link to your website gift center. — Provide a more granular approach to choosing a gift by linking to gifts under certain price points, stocking stuffers, personalized/monogrammed gifts or intended recipient (i.e., gifts for dads). — Promote gift cards and e-gift cards. — Link to your gift registry or wish lists so subscribers can find the lists of friends and family members or start their own list. — Highlight gift services like gift-wrapping and boxing that help make holiday shopping easier. — Detail order-by dates, particularly as mid-December approaches, and link to your shipping calendar, shipping rates, and returns information. These provide assurances to shoppers. Harry & David dropped their social community links to make room for a Christmas countdown in this Dec. 1, 2011 email.
    • 17 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season — Dynamically generate local retail store info to drive brick-and-mortar traffic—or simply include a store locator link. Because subscribers’ needs change over the course of the holiday season, create more than one GSF so that you can include the links that are most helpful to subscribers at the moment. For instance, shipping deadlines and e-gift cards are much more relevant late in the season than early on. Kohl’s gift services footer promotes gifts by price and gift cards and informs subscribers about shipping deadlines and returns. Urban Outfitters’ GSF featured a colorful row of tablet-friendly buttons. Kohl’s gift services footer promotes gifts by price and gift cards and informs subscribers about shipping deadlines and returns.
    • responsys.com / 18 3. Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend The Thanksgiving holiday weekend includes the three biggest email marketing days of the year—Cyber Monday, Black Friday, and Thanksgiving Day—and is the gateway into the core of the holiday season. Over the five-day holiday weekend last year, promotional email volume sent by major retailers was up 27% year-over-year. Most Popular Retail Email Days of 2012 Rank % of Retailers Sending Email Date Proximity to Major Holiday 1 88% 11/28 Cyber Monday 2 82% 11/25 Black Friday 3 76% 11/24 Thanksgiving Day 4 76% 12/21 Last Sleigh Day 5 74% 12/12 Green Monday 6 73% 12/18 7 73% 12/9 8 73% 12/5 9 73% 12/26 Day after Christmas 10 71% 12/2 While the days listed above are likely popular because they achieve better results, there’s the counterpoint that these are also the days when your emails have the most competition in the inbox. Some retailers have embraced that logic and tried to outmaneuver competitors by sending Cyber Monday campaigns on the afternoon of the day before or extending their campaign for the duration of “Cyber Week,” for instance. That trend has extended the Thanksgiving holiday weekend into the days before and after it. When determining whether to participate in these highly popular and highly promotional shopping days, Responsys Senior Strategy Consultant Katrina Conn says you should ask yourself the following questions: — If you sent campaigns on these days, how did they perform? — Have you set expectations with your existing customers so that you need to continue to send certain campaigns to remain consistent? — If you decided not to send on these days last year, do the same reasons apply this year? — Which of these days did your competitors target and what kinds of offers did they pitch? Cyber Monday 2012 set a new all-time record for the busiest email marketing day ever.
    • 19 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season “We all feel the pressures of holiday shopping,” says Conn. “Marketers can assist their customers by starting their holiday messaging early and by sending previews and reminders that build up and support key messaging dates like Cyber Monday.” During this holiday weekend is also when many retailers debut their holiday free shipping offers. Last year free shipping became the norm for the holiday season, with 55% of major online retailers offering free shipping all holiday season long. More than a quarter of those retailers had already adopted an “Every Day Free Shipping” policy, while another quarter offered free shipping just for the holiday season. The remaining retailers offered free shipping for limited periods of time, offered it on just a narrow selection, or didn’t offer it. During 2012, more retailers have lowered shipping barriers by adopting an “Every day free shipping” policy, eliminating the need for promo codes for free shipping, and offering free shipping without a minimum purchase. A few retailers are even offering free return shipping. The force driving this trend is the simple fact that free shipping is the most popular and effective online promotional offer, with consumers consistently valuing it more than it costs retailers to provide it. Thanksgiving Day In 2010, a number of big box retailers decided to open their stores on Thanksgiving Day. That fateful decision has very quickly turned Thanksgiving Day into a highly promotional and hotly contested shopping day, with sales and marketing efforts growing swiftly in each of the past two years. Last year, 76% of major retailers sent at least one promotional email campaign to their subscribers on Thanksgiving Day, up from 60% in 2010 and only 45% in 2009. That increase supported a huge leap in online sales, which rose 39.3% compared to Thanksgiving Day 2010, according to IBM Coremetrics. The majority of major online retailers offered free shipping during the 2011 holiday season. We expect even more to do so this year.
    • responsys.com / 20 This shift from family day to shopping day has been further catalyzed by the rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets, which has made it much easier for consumers to shop online while visiting friends and family, as well as enabling “showrooming,” where consumers check out products in a store but purchase them online. Because of those changes, Thanksgiving Day has replaced Black Friday as the new kick-off of holiday shopping season, the point at which retail messaging becomes all Christmas all the time. While some may bemoan the creep of commercialism into the Thanksgiving holiday, there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle at this point. We expect Thanksgiving to remain among the top 5 email marketing days of the year again this year. To help you craft your own, here are some Thanksgiving Day subject lines: JCPenney, 11/24 Happy Thanksgiving! Stay Home & Shop Black Friday Now! Brookstone, 11/24 Relax. Shop. Recover on the couch. Lands’ End, 11/24 Stuffing. Sleeping. Saving. What a Thanksgiving! Walgreens, 11/24 EXTRA $10 OFF $50 Thanksgiving & Black Friday Sale | 25% OFF All Contact Lenses A few retailers, including Cabela’s, made a point of mentioning that their stores are closed on Thanksgiving because they respect the holiday as time for family. But while their stores were closed, their website was open for business.
    • 21 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season Office Depot, 11/24 Don’t Wait For Black Friday...Deals Are Online Today at 7:00AM EST & Most Stores Open 11/25 at 6:00AM J&R, 11/24 Why Wait? Our BLACK FRIDAY DEALS Start Now! Sears, 11/24 Black Friday prices now + Free shipping! HP, 11/24 Black Friday Sale Starts Now! OfficeMax, 11/24 Shop Black Friday Deals Online Today Sam’s Club, 11/24 Early savings start now! Shop The Day After Thanksgiving Event on SamsClub.com Walmart, 11/24 Walmart Shopper, Today Only! Shop Thanksgiving Day Online Specials & Plan Your Black Friday Store Trip. Toys “R” Us, 11/24 Thanksgiving Cyber Sale! Save Today Up to 60% OFF Hot Toys! Plus Save Up to 70% for Baby! Saks Fifth Avenue, 11/24 Thanksgiving Sale: Get up to 70% off The Company Store, 11/24 Thanksgiving Day Offer - 30% Off! Lowe’s, 11/24 FREE SHIPPING All Black Friday Weekend -- No Minimum. No Kidding. Black Friday Last year, 82% of major retailers sent at least one promotional email campaign to their subscribers on Black Friday, making it the second busiest promotional email day on record behind last year’s Cyber Monday. In 2011, 69% of retailers sent email on Black Friday. That increase in email volume helped drive significant gains in online sales, which jumped 24.3% compared to Black Friday 2010, according to IBM Coremetrics. While Black November messaging was on par with 2010 levels, during Thanksgiving week there was a greater emphasis on Black Friday messaging compared to the same week the year before. Last year, 40% of retail emails during Thanksgiving week referenced Black Friday versus only 31% in 2010. Another change was that last year’s Black Friday email marketing campaigns were much more focused on buying online than in past years, with even large store-based retailers like J.C. Penney promoting their online sales just as
    • responsys.com / 22 prominently as their in-store sales. “Avoiding crowds” and “skipping lines” were common messaging themes, much like they were during the dot-com boom. To help you craft your own, here are some Black Friday subject lines: ShopNBC, 11/25 A better Black Friday: Great offers, no stress. Musician’s Friend, 11/25 Black Friday Savings Up To $500 - Forget The Crowds & Shop From Home Sony, 11/25 All the Deals, None of the Crowds | Up to 50% OFF + Free Shipping Harry & David, 11/25 Don’t shop ‘til you drop. Click and save 20% or more! Black Friday Sale going on now. Avon, 11/25 Black Friday SALE! No Lines, No Crowds Orvis, 11/25 FREE shipping! Holiday shopping made easy. SmartBargains, 11/25 Black Friday Doorbusters & Free Shipping. Why even leave the house? JCPenney promoted their online Black Friday deals just as vigorously as their in-store deals in this Nov. 25, 2011 email.
    • 23 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season Frederick’s of Hollywood, 11/25 Shop Black Friday online. 25% off everything + free shipping & amazing doorbusters. JCPenney, 11/25 Black Friday’s Here! Shop Stores At 4am Or Online Now OfficeMax, 11/25 Black Friday is Here – Shop In-Store or Online Office Depot, 11/25 Shop Black Friday Online Specials Today Or Plan Your In-Store Visit -- Most Stores Open at 6:00AM Toys “R” Us, 11/25 ALL Black Friday Doorbusters and Bonus Deals Extended to 10PM! Save ALL DAY LONG! Kmart, 11/25 Save big on Blue Friday doorbusters + Receive a $5 or $10 eGift Card with layaway Cyber Monday Up from 77% last year, a massive 88% of major retailers sent at least one promotional email to their subscribers on Cyber Monday, making it the largest email marketing day ever and the largest email marketing day of the year for the fifth consecutive year. That email volume increase helped propel Cyber Monday online sales to a new all-time high, up 33% year-over-year and shattering last year’s record of $1.03 billion, according to IBM Coremetrics. Roughly a third of retailers sent more than one email on Cyber Monday, with many of those being “final hours” remind- ers. In this Nov. 28, 2011 email, OfficeMax reminds subscribers that Cyber Monday is coming to an end, but adds some extra interest by adding new items to the sale.
    • responsys.com / 24 Cyber Monday is increasingly overflowing into the preceding Sunday and following Tuesday—and even the remaining days of the week. In 2011, 34% of retail emails on Sunday mentioned Cyber Monday vs. just 18% in 2010. In 2011, 29% of the retail emails on Tuesday mentioned Cyber Monday; in 2010, only 7% did. And a significant number of retailers ran “Cyber Week” campaigns, including Walmart. During the week of Cyber Monday, 33% of emails referenced Cyber Monday vs. 20% in 2010. This is just more evidence of the growing influence and effectiveness of the “Cyber Monday” brand. To help you craft your own, here are some Cyber Monday subject lines: Macy’s, 11/27 Cyber Monday starts early! Get Free Shipping at $75! Harry & David, 11/27 Cyber Monday Sale - our best deals of the season. You’re invited to shop early! HP, 11/27 Cyber Monday Sale Starts Now! dELiA*s, 11/27 Cyber Monday Starts Now! FREE Shipping on EVERYTHING + Site Wide Sale! SmartBargains, 11/27 Cyber Monday Coupons START NOW + Free Shipping! Linens ’n Things, 11/27 Cyber Monday Deals Start Now + Free Shipping Sitewide Staples, 11/27 Cyber Monday deals are here early. Plus coupons and free shipping! Cyber Monday messaging was not only stronger last year, but it was spread over many more days.
    • 25 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season Office Depot, 11/27 We Decided Not To Wait For Cyber Monday...Neither Should You! View This Week’s Store Ad. PC Connection, 11/27 Get a Head Start on Cyber Monday Deals – Shop Us Now! Barnes & Noble, 11/28 Cyber Monday Savings Are Here, Plan Your Lunch Break Accordingly! Dell, 11/28 Cyber Monday. Dell.com. Enough said. The Company Store, 11/28 Cyber Monday Is Here | 20% Off + Free Shipping! Kohl’s, 11/28 It’s Cyber Monday! Take an Extra 20% Off Everything Online J&R, 11/28 Cyber Monday. . . The Season’s Best Online Deals! Omaha Steaks, 11/28 Cyber Monday Sale - see what’s FREE... Disney Store, 11/28 Cyber Monday Savings! Free Shipping PLUS Up to 25% Off JCPenney, 11/28 CYBER MONDAY: Up To 75% Off! NFLshop, 11/28 Cyber Monday Sale - Today Only, Take 20% Off Your New York Giants Gear! Lane Bryant, 11/28 Cyber Monday Only – 50% Off Online + Free Shipping HSN, 11/28 CYBER MONDAY DEALS + FREE SHIPPING OFFER (one day only!) The Children’s Place, 11/28 30% Off Everything + Free Shipping - Cyber Monday! Staples, 11/28 Cyber Monday ends today. Plus free shipping on all orders! Costco, 11/28 Cyber Monday Brings Amazing Items With Fantastic Savings - While Supplies Last! Cooking.com, 11/28 Cyber Monday Deal: Free Stow-A-Way Potlucker with Purchase Backcountry, 11/28 Cyber Monday Steals Up to 50% Off 17,000+ Items & Free 2-Day Shipping
    • responsys.com / 26 Newegg, 11/29 Encore Tuesday Deals: FINAL DAY to shop our ultimate holiday sale! Omaha Steaks, 11/29 Missed Free Shipping & 60% Savings yesterday? Get it today... Alibris, 11/29 Wake up to another Cyber Monday | 15% off through 11/30 Musician’s Friend, 11/29 Extended! Cyber Monday Savings Up To $100 + Free Shipping Toys “R” Us, 11/29 Bonus! Cyber Monday Extended through Tuesday! Up to 70% OFF Thousands of Items! Plus, FREE Shipping! Overstock.com, 11/29 CYBER MONDAY DEALS EXTENDED Sportsman’s Guide, 11/29 Cyber Monday Extended + Free Shipping!... from The Guide Ross-Simons, 11/29 Cyber Celebration Continues! 30% Off PLUS Totally Free Shipping Northern Tool, 11/29 Announcing New Cyber Week Specials - While Supplies Last Walmart, 11/29 Cyber Week Online Specials End Friday, 12/2 — Shop Today While Supplies Last! TigerDirect, 11/29 Cyber Week Continues with 11 Hot HDTVs, 5 Amazing Monitors, Gaming, MP3 & More Electronics
    • 27 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season 4. Countdown to Christmas After Cyber Monday wraps up, we enter the core of the holiday season, which is characterized by extreme urgency. Whether it’s a one-day deal as part of a “12 Days of Christmas” campaign, any of a series of shipping deadlines, or quickly escalates into series of deadlines. ‘12 Days of Christmas’ Campaigns Roughly 13% of major retailers ran a “12 Days of Christmas” campaign last year, down from nearly 17% in 2010. These campaigns, which feature a new deal every day for 12 days straight, have been around for years and became more popular with the rise of Groupon a couple of years ago. But last year their popularity dipped, in part because of the overall rise in email volume. In the past, “12 Days” campaigns were a gimmick or excuse to send daily emails. Now daily emails during the early weeks of December are fairly commonplace, so the gimmick isn’t necessary anymore. Also, some retailers are running their “12 Days” campaigns on their websites or on Facebook or Twitter instead and only periodically promoting those campaigns in their emails. So the tactic of daily deals is alive and well, but the ways that their presented to consumers has become more varied. The offers themselves have become more varied as well. A traditional “12 Days” campaign would offer a percentage-off or dollars-off on a different product or product category each day. But now some campaigns focus on a single product category, offer a different free gift with purchase, or even have a different sweepstakes with purchase each day. In this Dec. 7, 2011 email, Neiman Marcus launches their “12 Days of Designer Handbags” sweepstakes.
    • responsys.com / 28 To help you craft your own, here are some “12 Days of Christmas” subject lines: Urban Outfitters, 11/30 12 Days of Dresses: Exclusive Designs, Limited Quantities Dell, 12/1 12 Days of Dell begins now Blair, 12/1 The 12 Deals of Christmas are here! Today - free shipping. Lane Bryant, 12/2 Today Only - Buy One Get One Free Sitewide + Free Shipping Neiman Marcus, 12/7 12 days of GIVEAWAYS! Avon, 12/7 12 Beauty Deals, 12 HUGE Savings Blair, 12/8 Your fourth item is free today. So is shipping! Eddie Bauer, 12/9 12 Days of Gifts Begins Today! Get 50% Off Our Cloud Layer Fleece. Musician’s Friend, 12/9 Our 12 Deals of Christmas Start Today! Costco, 12/9 12 Deals of Christmas Starts Today! Check Back Daily for a New Deal! L.L. Bean, 12/12 Introducing 12 Days of Christmas Savings Costco, 12/15 For the 7th Deal of Christmas Costco has for you - Up to $100 OFF Select Invicta Watches! Blair, 12/12 Your final Deal of Christmas is inside. Parade of Order Deadlines Retailers have been able to extend a number of order deadlines over the years, in part by breaking out different shipping methods and different destinations. So while on net it gives consumers more time to shop, it has made communicating order deadlines a bit more complex. For instance, there are now often separate order deadlines for: — Customized products — Oversized or heavy products
    • 29 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season — Drop shipped items — Personalized, monogrammed, or engraved products — Budget, economy, and “super saver” shipping — Ship-to-store — Shipping to different countries — Standard or ground shipping — Shipping to different regions of the country — Expedited, express, 3-day, 2-day and overnight shipping To alleviate any confusion that might arise from the various order deadlines, retailers have used an escalating order deadline messaging strategy. Ahead of a deadline, retailers use order deadline banners to communicate upcoming cutoff dates, sometimes with a link to a full shipping schedule or calendar. Abercrombie & Fitch’s order deadline banner focuses on international orders, listing the order-by dates for the U.S., U.K. and E.U., Canada, and elsewhere. Disney Store lays out the order-by deadlines for personalized and non- personalized products.
    • responsys.com / 30 And then a day before or the day of a deadline, retailers use clear subject line messaging and dedicated primary message blocks to announce the deadline. To help you craft your own, here are some subject lines about order deadlines: Cooking.com, 12/14 Final Day to Get Best Gifts in Time for Christmas via Super Saver Shipping Apple, 12/15 There’s still time to engrave an iPad or iPod for the holidays. Orvis, 12/17 Guaranteed Standard Delivery by Christmas Ends Monday! Gear up for winter weather with Orvis. Cabela’s, 12/18 Last Chance for Shipping Guaranteed Express Delivery! Overstock.com, 12/18 Hurry, Last Day for Ground Shipping by December 23 In this Dec. 21, 2011 email, Backcountry.com trumpets the end of 2-day shipping by mentioning it in the subject line and preheader text, making it the primary message of the email, and also including it in a secondary message block along with the order deadline for next-day shipping.
    • Orvis, 12/19 Guaranteed Standard Delivery by Christmas Ends Today! Save an extra 20% off Specialty Gifts. Harry & David, 12/19 Just hours left! Shop until midnight to save $9.95 Express fees. J. Jill, 12/19 Last chance to get gifts on sale delivered by Friday! Kohl’s, 12/20 LAST DAY for FREE Standard Shipping to Get it by Christmas + Save Up to 30%! Overstock, 12/20 Hurry, Last Chance for 2nd Day Shipping by December 23 Office Depot, 12/20 Last Chance: Get FREE Delivery, No Minimum Order - Ends 12/23 Norm Thompson, 12/20 We’ll SHIP FREE by Christmas - order by 2pm ET! Williams-Sonoma, 12/20 Order By Tomorrow 9am PT for Standard Holiday Shipping Dick’s Sporting Goods, 12/20 Today’s the Last Day for Ground Shipping + Take $20 Off Your Purchase $100 or More! Backcountry, 12/22 Next Day Air for $9.99 - Ends Today At 5PM MST (Don’t Wait) Gilt Groupe, 12/22 FINAL HOURS for Holiday Shipping! + Band of Outsiders, Bespoken, Velour, Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Comfy Sweaters, Mirafiore Barbera, n.d.c. made by hand and more Starts Today at Noon ET TigerDirect, 12/22 Don’t Panic, Choose Next Day Delivery: Quad-Core Laptop $399...24” 1080p HDTV $149...3D Blu-ray Player $79...over 50 deals Sam’s Club, 12/22 Last day for Christmas orders! Neiman Marcus, 12/22 Noon CT: Last Chance for Christmas Delivery Crate & Barrel, 12/22 Final hours for guaranteed Christmas delivery. Bloomingdale’s, 12/22 Save 25-50% On Gifts! + Last Day For Holiday Express Shipping 31 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season
    • responsys.com / 32 Nordstrom, 12/22 Last Day for 12/24 Delivery! Order by 3pm EST (Details Inside) | Denim from Hud- son Jeans & More Orvis, 12/22 Order by 4PM ET for Guaranteed Christmas Delivery with Next-Day Shipping. Norm Thompson, 12/22 20% Off Everything | LAST DAY TO SHIP FOR CHRISTMAS Blue Nile, 12/23 Final Chance! Order by 7 PM ET on Friday for FREE Saturday Delivery J&R, 12/23 Last Chance for Christmas Delivery. . . Order Today by 3pm EST! Ross-Simons, 12/23 Chad, There’s Still Time! Christmas Delivery Ends at 3PM ET Today Free Shipping Day Free Shipping Day, which was Dec. 16 last year, was the 13th busiest email marketing day of the year. However, days in mid-December were high volume days long before Free Shipping Day came into existence a few years ago. The premise behind Free Shipping Day when it was launched is to (1) encourage retailers to offer free shipping and (2) to offer it later in the season. Both of these goals have been met and exceeded at this point. As mentioned earlier in this report, the majority of retailers offered free shipping for the duration of the holiday season last year. And most retailers also offer free shipping after Free Shipping Day. But while its original purpose seems passé, some retailers are bringing new purpose to Free Shipping Day by amping up their free shipping offers by eliminating the minimum purchase required and by eliminating the requirement for a promo code to receive the offer. Roughly 10% of major retailers offered free shipping with no minimum on Free Shipping Day last year and we expect more to do so this year. A few retailers may even offer free express shipping as a way to stand out.
    • 33 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season Free Shipping Day this year is on Monday, Dec. 17 To help you craft your own, here are some Free Shipping Day subject lines: Brookstone, 12/16 Hurray for National Free Shipping Day... $49 MINIMUMS! Oriental Trading, 12/16 Today Only! FREE shipping on ANY order J. Crew, 12/16 Happy holidays: 30% OFF every purchase, in stores & online (PLUS, FREE SHIP- PING on every order) OfficeMax, 12/16 Preview Our December 18 Ad + Free Shipping No Minimum 1-800-Flowers.com, 12/16 Free Shipping/No Service Charge - HURRY TODAY ONLY! Eddie Bauer, 12/16 40% Off Everything + Free Shipping! Today Only! JC Whitney, 12/16 FREE Shipping NO MINIMUM Extended ‘til Midnight! Bass Pro Shops, 12/16 LAST DAY for Free Shipping In this Dec. 16, 2011 email, J&R mocked Free Shipping Day while promoting its loyalty program, one of the benefits of which is free shipping year-round.
    • responsys.com / 34 ‘Last Sleigh Day’ One of the major developments last year was that retailers dramatically increased their messaging around express delivery, with many retailers offering free or discounted express delivery options. Messaging was the busiest on “Last Sleigh Day,” the last day for guaranteed Christmas delivery with express shipping, which was Dec. 21. On that day, 74% of retailers sent at least one promotional email to their subscribers, making it the fourth busiest email marketing day of the year, ahead of Green Monday (No. 5), the day after Christmas (No. 9), and Free Shipping Day (No. 13). Retailers sent a very clear message last year that the end of guaranteed Christmas delivery with standard shipping is no longer the end of the online holiday shopping season. That said, the willingness of retailers to push express shipping may have been influenced by higher than usual inventory levels, in which case “Last Sleigh Day” may not be as prominent this year if inventory positions are kept more in check. And perhaps even more important, this year Christmas is on a Tuesday, which stretches out the delivery time for express delivery, making it less effective and less appealing. To help you craft your own, here are some subject lines about the end of guaranteed Christmas delivery with express shipping: Buy.com, 12/20 EXTENDED | FREE 2-DAY SHIPPING* | Order by 9AM PST on 12/21 Lands’ End, 12/21 Christmas delivery with express shipping - on Dasher, on Dancer, on Procrastinator ShopNBC, 12/21 Today: $5 shipping & gifts guaranteed to arrive by Christmas TigerDirect, 12/21 Last Chance for 2-Day Delivery...or get Free Econoship Delivery on Orders Over $50...Hurry! Lane Bryant, 12/21 Hurry Last Day For Christmas Delivery + 50% Off All Lane Bryant Eddie Bauer, 12/21 Hours Left: Free Guaranteed Christmas Delivery + Ultimate Sale! Sony, 12/21 Last Chance For Holiday Shipping | Shop and Save Today Macy’s, 12/21 Hurry! Incredible web busters + free guaranteed delivery ends tonight! NFLshop, 12/21 It’s Not Too Late! Get Express Shipping For $4.99 On Last Minute New York Giants Gifts
    • 35 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season CB2, 12/21 final hours: free shipping + guaranteed standard Christmas delivery ends at noon CT today. HP, 12/21 Great Gifts Still Available! FREE 2 Business Day Shipping Too Macy’s, 12/21 Final hours for free guaranteed Christmas delivery! Brookstone, 12/21 FREE 2-DAY Shipping for Holiday Delivery... Ends Tonight at 7:00 p.m. eGift Card Day Dec. 23 is eGift Card Day, which has traditionally been the height of the e-gift card messaging. Last year, more than 38% of the promotional emails sent by retailers promoted e-gift card offerings on Dec. 23, with half of those making e-gift cards the primary message of the email. However, last year e-gift card messaging on Christmas Eve was very nearly as high as on eGift Card Day—and up significantly from the same day in 2010. This increase is due to improvements in e-gift card order processing and quicker deliveries. Dec. 24 will likely be the high poit for e-gift card messaging this year.
    • responsys.com / 36 E-gift cards, which are delivered via email usually within hours or minutes of being purchased, are routinely touted as “the perfect last-minute gift” and “the gift that always fits.” Over the past few years, a small number of retailers have also started delivering e-gift cards via Facebook and SMS. In this Dec. 23, 2011 email, American Eagle Outfitters promotes gift cards, e-gift cards and mobile gift cards. Among the last-minute gift options in this Dec. 23, 2011 email, Sephora allows customers to post an “Instant Gift”— essentially a voucher for a specific item—on someone’s Facebook wall that’s redeemable either online or in-store.
    • 37 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season But the newest opportunity is to turn eGift Card Day into a broader eGift Day, by offering other digital gifts, such as books, apps and games as last-minute gift options. Barnes & Noble’s Instant Gifting store is a great example of a retailer going after this new and rapidly growing market. To help you craft your own, here are some subject lines about e-gift cards: Target, 12/21 There’s still time for Target GiftCards. J. Crew, 12/21 The ultimate last-minute gift (no wrapping required) Lands’ End, 12/22 Send an E-Gift Card - no time like the present! L.L. Bean, 12/22 It’s Never Too Late for an Email Gift Card Bass Pro Shops, 12/22 Instant Delivery* for that Last Minute Gift Crutchfield, 12/22 Need a last minute gift? Problem solved. Nordstrom, 12/23 There’s Still Time: Send a Virtual Gift Card in Under 4 Hours Sephora, 12/23 Instant gifts. A beautiful thing. Backcountry.com, 12/23 Redeem Yourself - Send A Gift Certificate or Get Saturday Delivery Foot Locker, 12/23 Still Need a Gift? Don’t Panic - We’ve Got You Covered! American Eagle Outfitters, 12/23 Last-Minute AE Gift Cards + 40% Off Ends Tomorrow Neiman Marcus, 12/24 Last Chance: Virtual Gift Card Targeting procrastinators, Barnes & Noble promoted digital gifts in this Dec. 20, 2011 email.
    • responsys.com / 38 Urban Outfitters, 12/24 E-Gift Cards: Instantly Awesome Home Depot, 12/24 Still Need a Gift? Give The Home Depot eGift Card Now! Lowe’s, 12/24 Instant Gratification. Grab a Gift Card and These 8 GREAT Gifts. Other Last-Minute Messaging The waning days before Christmas also see retailers with stores messaging their store hours, which are usually different from their usual hours. For instance, last year Toys “R” Us was open 24 hours a day through Christmas Eve and promoted that heavily in their emails. Over the past couples of years, some store-based retailers have been messaging in-store pickup for online orders quite aggressively. Toys “R” Us was unique in holding a sale solely for products purchased online and picked up in store. In this Dec. 19, 2011 email, Toys “R” Us began promoting that that they were open around the clock until Christmas Eve, as well as touting their in-store pickup of online orders. Toys “R” Us was unique in that they held a sale on items ordered online and picked up in one of their stores. The sale likely caused many customers to try the service for the first time.
    • 39 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season To help you craft your own, here are some subject lines about store hours and in-store pickup: Toys “R” Us, 12/19 In-Store Pickup Available Through Dec. 24! Last Day For Standard Shipping Dec. 20! Walmart, 12/22 Get Gifts Today - Order Online 12/22 by 6 p.m., Pick Up Today at a Walmart Store. Home Depot, 12/22 Buy Last-Minute Gifts Online for Pickup at Your Local Home Depot Crate & Barrel, 12/23 Looking for last-minute gifts? Shop online and pick up in stores. Office Depot, 12/23 Stores Open Christmas Eve - Save on Technology, Furniture and More! Barnes & Noble, 12/23 Cutting it Close? Save 25% in Our Stores Today or Tomorrow Toys “R” Us, 12/24 We’re Open Until 10PM Tonight! FREE $50 Gift Card with iPod Touch Purchase! Plus, BOGO 50% OFF LEGO, Nerf, & Crayola & More J&R, 12/24 Attention Last Minute Shoppers. . . Our Park Row Stores Are Open Until 7pm Sears, 12/24 Christmas won’t wait, neither should you: Buy online, pick up in store today Kmart, 12/24 Take hold of the present! Buy online and pick it up in store today
    • responsys.com / 40 5. After Christmas Even before Christmas Day arrives, the holiday season has already started to shift gears from gift-buying to holiday clearance sales, gift card redemptions and upsell opportunities. For many retailers that shift in focus is marked by the sending of season’s greetings emails. Season’s Greetings Sending a season’s greeting email that wishes subscribers “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” or simply says, “Thank You,” have become increasingly common. Last year, nearly one-third of retailers sent a season’s greeting email. Among those retailers that sent a season’s greeting, 70% of them sent it on Christmas Day, up from 50% in 2010. That’s mostly due to subscribers opening emails more quickly, in part because of the adoption of smartphones and tablets. The use of season’s greeting emails has increased at a 5% annual rate over the past several years. Ann Taylor used their Dec. 25, 2011 season’s greeting email to run a “Like” campaign to raise money for St. Jude.
    • 41 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season While the number of retailers sending season’s greetings emails is up, that increase has been paralleled by an increase in the number of emails that have a strong secondary message that’s promotional in nature. And in some cases, the season’s greeting message is now secondary to the promotional message, which almost undermines the whole concept. To help you craft your own, here are some season’s greeting subject lines: Blair, 12/23 Merry Christmas from your friends at Blair. Oriental Trading, 12/23 Merry Christmas from Oriental Trading Orvis, 12/24 Merry Christmas from Orvis! Sam’s Club, 12/24 Merry Christmas from Sam’s Club Tiffany & Co., 12/24 Happy Holidays from Tiffany & Co. Toys “R” Us, 12/25 Merry Christmas From “R” Family to Yours! J. Jill, 12/25 Warmest holiday wishes from J.Jill. Cooking.com, 12/25 Happy Holidays to You and Yours from Cooking.com
    • responsys.com / 42 JCPenney, 12/25 Merry Christmas From jcpenney Sony, 12/25 A Special Holiday Greeting from Sony Ralph Lauren, 12/25 Warm Wishes For The Holiday Season ShopNBC, 12/25 Happy Holidays! Yoox, 12/25 Holiday Wishes Avon, 12/24 Happy Holidays! Ann Taylor, 12/25 Happy Holidays! ’Tis The Season To Give... Lands’ End, 12/25 Merry Christmas! And for our fans... The Company Store, 12/24 Wishing You A Happy Holiday With 20% Off! Coldwater Cree k, 12/25 Merry Shopping! 50% off EVERYTHING Kohl’s, 12/25 Merry Christmas! Extra 20% Off Everything Online, Plus Free Shipping! Williams-Sonoma, 12/25 Happy Holidays! Plus, 20% off a gift for you Overstock, 12/25 Happy Holidays + $10 Off NFLshop, 12/25 Happy Holidays New York Giants Fans! Today - Free Shipping On Orders Over $25 JC Whitney, 12/25 Happy Holidays from JC Whitney! 20% OFF! 2 Days Only! The Children’s Place, 12/25 Merry Christmas! Monster Sale + Free Shipping Today Only! Target, 12/25 Merry Christmas! Save $10 when you spend $50, good today only.
    • 43 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season After-Christmas Sales While many after-Christmas sales start before Dec. 25—Brookstone announced theirs on Dec. 16 last year—this messaging is strongest between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Whether a retailer is holding an “After-Christmas Sale,” “End of Year Liquidation” or “Winter Clearance,” this period is marked by a shift back to consumers buying for themselves rather than others. In recent years, “Get what you really wanted” has become a major messaging point. For those retailers promoting online sales on Christmas Day, pay special consideration to making those emails mobile-friendly, as many consumers are spending the day with family and will be reading their emails on a smartphone or tablet. To help you craft your own, here are some subject lines for after-Christmas sales: Brookstone, 12/16 SALE & Clearance Blowout - Early After Christmas Sale! In this Dec. 26, 2011 email, Urban Outfitters announces their “Get What You Really Wanted Sale,” using a humorous juxtaposition to illustrate their point.
    • responsys.com / 44 Cooking.com, 12/21 Find Great Savings During Our Pre-Holiday Clearance ShopNBC, 12/22 Year-End Clearance & Sale starts now! Lane Bryant, 12/23 After Christmas Sale Starts Early – Now Save Up To 60% Online Neiman Marcus, 12/23 Up to 60% off: “After” Christmas Sale starts EARLY! SmartBargains, 12/23 Liquidation Starts Now. Up to an extra 50% off markdowns dELiA*s, 12/23 End of Season Clearance! Up to 80% OFF + Free Shipping! TigerDirect, 12/24 Christmas Clearance Starts NOW...Plus Free Shipping on Orders Over $50 Bloomingdale’s, 12/25 Save Up To 75% - After Christmas Sale & Clearance Starts Today Online! Macy’s, 12/25 After Christmas Sale & Clearance: Extra 15% off + Free Shipping! Toys “R” Us, 12/25 After Christmas Blowout Sale! BOGO 40% Off ALL Video games & Movies! Plus, Save on LEGO, Hasbro Games, LeapFrog & More! Orvis, 12/26 Winter Sale. Up to 60% Off! Walmart, 12/26 Hurry! Shop Our Year-End Clearance Event, While Supplies Last Sony, 12/26 After Holiday Deals | Clearance Sale + Savings up to 50% OFF + More Crutchfield, 12/26 Big end-of-the-year savings at Crutchfield eBags, 12/29 Year-End Sale & Clearance - Huge Savings on Top Brands! Bluefly, 12/25 Get What You REALLY Want: Now Up to 80% off 1000+ Already Reduced Items! Urban Outfitters, 12/26 The Get What You Really Wanted Sale! Musician’s Friend, 12/26 Sale Announced: Get What You Really Wanted!
    • 45 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season Newegg, 12/26 AFTER-CHRISTMAS SALE: Over 100 deals on just what you wanted this year! SmartBargains, 12/26 Time To Get What You Wanted, On Clearance! Spiegel, 12/27 Note To Self: Shop Spiegel & Get 50% OFF What I Really Wanted! J. Jill, 12/28 Take an extra 25% off our sale and get what you really wanted. ShopNBC, 12/26 Didn’t get what you wanted? Treat yourself! Ralph Lauren, 12/26 What’s Still on Your Wishlist? Enjoy An Additional 30% Off Blair, 12/27 Santa let you down? Take 30% off your own gift now! Ross-Simons, 12/29 Didn’t Get What You Really Wanted? Treat Yourself! Sony, 12/30 HURRY and SAVE up to 50% | Give Yourself the Gift You Really Wanted In this Dec. 29, 2011 email, Barnes & Noble suggests that subscribers use their holiday gift cards to buy textbooks, tying the holiday season to the spring back-to-school season.
    • responsys.com / 46 Gift Card Redemptions Going hand-in-hand with the “get what you really wanted” messaging is a push to get subscribers to redeem any gift cards they received. More than 18% of major online retailers reminded subscribers to redeem their gift cards this past holiday season, up from just under 17% the year before. Because gift card values can’t be booked as revenue until they are redeemed, there’s strong incentive to encourage subscribers to make purchases with their gift cards, preferably before the end of the year. So while gift card redemption messaging continues into late January, the majority of it hits inboxes at the end of December. Over the years, some retailers have tried to spur gift card redemptions with special offers, such as free shipping when redeeming a gift card. But these kinds of offers have been rare and never repeated the following year. For most gift card holders, after-Christmas sales appear to be enough incentive to unload their card. As Target asserts in a Dec. 28, 2011 subject line, “Your GiftCards + our clearance = goodness.” In this Jan. 19, 2012 email, HP promotes accessories for holiday gifts. They also tie it into the popular “New Year, New Gear” messaging theme.
    • 47 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season Upsell & Trade-in Messaging In the weeks following Christmas, there’s always a bit of upsell messaging, asking subscribers if they got a new device, new puppy, or whatever that they might need additional things for. Not surprising, electronics are the most popular product category to pitch accessories for. Trade-ins are the flipside of that new gift. For some consumers, a new iPod or computer means they now have one that they no longer need. Some retailers are more than happy to give you gift cards for your old gadgets. Apple products have been a major target of these efforts. To help you craft your own, here are some subject lines about upsells and trade-ins: J&R, 12/27 You Got the Gift... Now Get the Accessories You Can’t Do Without Staples, 12/27 Save up to 50% on tech accessories. HP, 1/19 Big Accessory Savings - Up to 50% Off GameStop, 12/27 What’s in Your Drawers? Bring It to GameStop for Credit! Harry & David, 1/4 Send a thank you gift at 15% off! Today only. GameStop makes a play for subscribers’ old Apple devices in this Dec. 27, 2011 email.
    • responsys.com / 48 Review Your Past Holiday Campaigns We hope that this guide has you inspired and excited about the upcoming holiday season, but before you nail down plans for this holiday season, it’s critical to first thoroughly examine what happened with your 2011 holiday email campaigns. Ask yourself these questions: — Where did we run into time crunches in our production process? Are there production changes that would make things run more smoothly? How can our ESP or agency help? — Which of our email campaigns generated the highest conversions? Try to determine the cause of the outperformance. — Were there any specific offers (percent discount, dollar discount, free shipping, tiered offers, etc.) or calls-to-action associated with those? — What were the subject lines? — On what days were they sent? — At what time or time of day (morning, afternoon, night) were they sent? — Which campaigns generated the lowest conversions? Try to determine the cause of the underperformance. — Which segmentation and dynamic content tactics were the most successful? — Which campaigns generated the highest unsubscribe rates? The highest spam complaints? Why was that? — Did we change our cadence or the number of emails we sent per week? If so, did it impact our complaint rates or the raw number of complaints we gener- ated per 7-day period? Did we encounter deliverability filtering or blocking as a result? — Did we change our audience size or scope (i.e., mailing more inactives)? If so, did that impact our deliverability rates or success in reaching the inbox? — Was our list clean and tidy, with reengagement and re-permission programs in place, and were any deliverability concerns proactively addressed? — Did we have triggered email programs, like shopping cart abandonment and browse-based, in place to capitalize on heavy holiday volume to drive every possible conversion? — Did we have to send any apology emails? What did we apologize about? Have steps been taken to fix the problems? — How well were our email campaigns coordinated with our social campaigns? Did we encourage sharing and include viral elements? Which campaigns were forwarded and shared the most? What about those campaigns made them so viral?
    • 49 / 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season — Were our emails appropriately mobile-friendly? What is being done to ensure they are for holiday 2012? — What were our key successes and missed marketing opportunities across all channels during holiday 2011? — Was every marketing channel queued up to drive email acquisition (transac- tional, e-receipts, organic on-line, in-store, in package, social, inbound mobile/ SMS)? How can we improve email capture rates? — What tests have we conducted this year? What did we learn? How can we ap- ply those learnings to our holiday campaigns? Are we gearing up for this holi- day season by testing and targeting prime audiences like seasonal buyers and lapsed purchasers? “Reviewing past program strengths and weaknesses heading into Holiday 2012 is key,” says Catherine Magoffin, Senior Strategic Consultant at Responsys, “but marketers need to take a leap beyond years gone by. Ecommerce is growing by 15% year over year and consumers expect marketers to understand their interests and create cross-channel experiences that deliver the right message at the right place and right time.” We hope you have a very successful 2012 holiday season.
    • About the Author Chad White is the Research Director at Responsys, a leading provider of email and cross-channel marketing solutions. The author of the Retail Email Blog and doz- ens of research reports, Chad is an authority on email marketing strategies and trends in the retail industry. In addition to working with Responsys clients, he is an Email Insider columnist for MediaPost and has been interviewed by the New York Times, USA Today, the As- sociated Press, NPR and others. About Responsys Responsys is a leading provider of email and cross- channel marketing solutions that enable companies to engage in relationship marketing across the interactive channels customers are embracing today—email, mobile, social, the web and display. With Responsys solutions, marketers can create, execute, and automate highly dynamic campaigns and lifecycle marketing programs that are designed to grow revenue, increase marketing efficiency, and strengthen customer loyalty. Responsys’ New School Marketing vision, flexible on-demand application suite, and customer success-focused services aim to deliver high ROI, increased levels of automation and fast time-to-value. Founded in 1998, Responsys is headquartered in San Bruno, California and has offices throughout the world. Responsys serves world-class brands such as: American Family Mutual Insurance Company, Avis Europe, Deutsche Lufthansa, Dollar Thrifty, LEGO, LinkedIn, Newegg, Orbitz, Qantas, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and UnitedHealthcare. For more information about Responsys, visit responsys.com