3 Data-Driven Recommendations for Effective Emails this Holiday Season

By Dave Pickett

Capturing the attention of consumers is a challenge marketers face year round, but it becomes even more pronounced during the holiday season. If you want your brand’s Black Friday or Cyber Monday emails to stand out, you can’t just send a good email, you need to send a great email. That means investing extra time into testing and optimizing subject lines, creative, and calls to action. 

However, some areas of your email might deserve more attention than others. Cheetah Digital conducted an analysis of more than 3,000 emails sent by more than 40 retail brands during the 2017 holiday season. Try incorporating three of our key findings into your 2018 holiday email campaigns. 

Forget about subject length

The prevailing wisdom on subject line length has been that shorter subject lines perform better. However, our analysis found no correlation between subject line length and email success. Most subject lines contained seven words and deviating from the typical subject line length had no consistent impact on open rates.
holiday emails 2018

Instead of worrying about how many words are in your subject line, worry about which words are in your subject line. If your email is about a great offer, make sure that it’s front and center in your subject. Think about the message and emotion you want to convey and how you can grab your customer’s attention. How are you going to craft a subject line that stands out in an overcrowded inbox?

Don’t forget that the inbox displays more than just the subject line. Use pre-headers to complement subject lines rather than repeat them.

Timing is Everything

There is no single best time to send an email. However, there are advantages to sending during different time slots.

Of the holiday email campaigns we tracked, 42% were sent between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. EST. This time slot might seem ideal because it hits consumers early in the day, but emails sent during this time in our 2017 study period performed below the baseline for open rates, click rates and transaction rates.

Campaigns sent between midnight and 4 a.m. EST stood out — transaction rates and revenue per email were at least 30% over baseline. But the sweet spot seemed to be 8 p.m. to midnight. The volume of email sent during that frame is low, and all metrics are consistently above baseline. This time slot could be a great opportunity to send reminder and “offer ending soon” campaigns, especially to customers who opened in the afternoon.

Don’t be afraid to send emails at off-peak hours. You will have less competition and may be able to drive more revenue. Experiment throughout the year to optimize your re-email timings.

Add Some Motion

Remember that your customers will be receiving more email than normal this time of year. A lot more. If you want your email to stand out, you can’t just rely on static text and images. In our 2017 study, we found that emails containing animation had click-through rates 8% above the baseline,

One trend in 2017 was the inclusion of animation. It appeared in 15% of all campaigns and significantly boosted engagement and conversion. Emails with animation drove more clicks and had increased revenue and transaction rates.
holiday emails 2018

In 2017 Bloomingdale’s partnered with the release of The Greatest Showman for a holiday series of emails. This was a twist on the typical holiday theme and many of the emails had captivating animations within the featured area.

Even if you can’t incorporate all of these ideas into your email campaigns this holiday season, remember to test them throughout the year and see how they resonate with your audience. 

Learn more about Persado for Cheetah Digital here: persado.com/cheetah

Further Reading: 3 Marketing Predictions for 2019 and How to Prepare

Dave Pickett is the Director of Blog and Social Media at Cheetah Digital. He has over a decade of experience as a creative digital marketer and has worked on campaigns with brands such as LEGO, Warner Bros., and Mattel.