More than 13% of the major online retailers tracked by The Retail Email Blog in July referred to Christmas or the holidays, a higher proportion than in any of the prior 6 years. According to a new report [download page] from Epsilon, as the holiday season nears, retailers may want to rethink their subject lines, as the most popular keywords used during the 2011 season did not drive the highest open rates.
In fact, the Epsilon study finds that the subject-line keywords that had the highest open rates, “coupon” (16.3%) and “intro” (16.1%), were only used in 2.1% and 0.4% of retail emails, respectively. Similarly, “toy” (14.7%), “now” (14.5%), and “new” (14.2%), which rounded out the top 5 subject line keywords in 2011 by open rate, were only used in 0.3%, 4.9%, and 9% of emails, respectively.
By contrast, “free” (used in 25.2% of emails), “shipping” (in 24.8%), and “sale” (in 12%), the most-used keywords in holiday subject lines, only saw open rates ranging from 10.2-10.9%.
Sunday Saw Highest Click Rate
During the 2011 holiday season, click rates were highest for emails delivered on Sunday (3.5%), which the report suggests may be due to consumers searching for last-minute deals or considering purchasing online items they viewed in-store earlier in the weekend. Saturday (2.9%) saw the next-highest average click rate, followed by Tuesday (2.8%), while click rates were on Thursdays (2.5%) were the lowest.
Open rates were also lowest on Thursdays (10.1%), while they reached a peak on Tuesdays (11.6%), closely followed by Saturdays (11.5%). Email volume was highest on Fridays and Wednesdays.
Average Order Values Soared on Saturdays
Data from Epsilon’s “2012 Holiday Trend Report” indicates that Saturdays saw the highest average order values, close to double that of any other day. The report recommends that marketers take advantage by promoting big-ticket items on Saturdays.
Meanwhile, Wednesday (the second-highest day for email volume) saw the highest average conversion rate (10.4%), followed by Saturday (9.5%), Thursday and Friday (both at 8.5%).
- Overall, holiday email open rates during the season were steady from the previous season throughout November and December. Open rates did climb during the post-holiday period, although conversion rates remained flat, indicating that consumer interest was there, but that this interest did not necessarily translate to purchases.
- Overall conversion rates during the 2011 holiday season were up from the 2010 season, and reached their peak (15.7%) during the week of Black Friday, with another spike during the week of December 4 (12.2%).
- Due to an increase in average order value and purchase frequency, overall sales increased by 11% year-over-year in 2011.
About the Data: Epsilon’s “2012 Holiday Trend Report” is based on over 1.4 billion email messages from over a dozen companies from October, November and December 2011. Metrics were aggregated and summarized by week. The findings also reflect a segment of historical purchasing activity from the Abacus Cooperative database from January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2011.