Email Marketing Trends for July 2012 - Are Special Characters Declining?
July is a busy month for email marketers. Independence Day, Back to School and Christmas in July promotions compete for attention in the inbox. Look for more on those promotions in the upcoming Mid-Month Email Menagerie. Meanwhile, let's look more closely at July's sending trends.
Email Volume by Day
The most actively mailed day of the month was Monday, July 30th which saw 44% of brands sending at least one email. That's down 1% from June's busiest mailing days though overall volume for July was higher. No particular promotion or event was featured on the busiest day of July.
Oddly enough, July's slowest day was the Saturday after Independence Day - July 7th. The slowest day was used by many brands to remind subscribers about July 4th related sales ending soon.
(The number of brands I monitor increases each month. To provide more consistent data month-over-month, "Email Volume" is presented as the percentage of brands sending that particular day rather than quantity of emails received.)
Email Volume by Day of Week
The Mondays before and after Independence Day helped Monday win the most popular day to mail in July. Pre- and Post- Independence Day Sundays also led to Sunday's month-over-month increase. After a spike in June for Father's Day related promotions, Friday was returned to the neighborhood of 15% of the total month's volume. Email traffic on Thursdays continues to decline.
Emails Sent per Brand
July's most frequent sender sent 71 messages. Slightly up from June's 68.
13% of brands sent only one email in July and 30% sent 4 during the month
Subject Line Trends
Subject line data has been consistent each month so it will no longer be presented here unless there is a significant shift away from lengths of ~200 max and ~50 average. The shortest subject lines of the month will always be included in the "Tiny Dozen."
Last month I decided to exclude Gilt and Rue La La from the longest subject line contest... if you want to consider it a contest. I'm adding a few more this month. I'll term them "list subject lines." While this approach may work for particular brands, I find it more interesting to see how brands are using long subject lines in ways other than comma-separating every offer in the email.
One of those brands is Fab.com. In July, 18 of the 20 longest subject lines belonged to Fab.com. I'm a fan (and customer) of the brand. This isn't a critique of their subject lines, I just find it more compelling to exclude these list subject lines. Just for fun, here is Fab.com's longest subject line in July coming in at 240 characters strong!
Fab.com: "Keith Haring Cleaning Tools. Industrial Chic Lamps. Eclectic Contemporary Pillows & Rugs. Warhol Skate Decks & Tech Cases. African Beat Accessories. Abstract Aerial Photos. Ethically Made Furniture. Starchitect Prints. Diverse Design Books."
And now... July's longest (non-list) subject lines:
SmartBargains: "Sunglasses Blowout: Brand Name Shades From $7.20 Plus Free Shipping! Chloe, Fendi, Nina Ricci, Tom Ford, Calvin Klein, Diesel, Coach, Ray-Ban, Guess, Juicy Couture & More"
SmartBargains: "Sunglasses Blowout: Brand Name Shades From $8.00 Plus Free Shipping! Chloe, Fendi, Nina Ricci, Tom Ford, Calvin Klein, Diesel, Coach, Ray-Ban, Guess, Juicy Couture & More"
SmartBargains: "✭Midday Sale✭: 4 Hours of Extreme Price Drops - Hurry! - Guess, Chloe, Fendi, Michael Kors, Invicta, D&G, Coach & More - On Sale Now"
Wayfair: "Weekly Open House: 5 Must-have Trends, Berry Crisp Parfaits, A Bright Idea, Wayfair Builds with Habitat for Humanity and more."
eBags Alerts: "Steal of the Day - Kenneth Cole Reaction "Not Half Bag" Canvas iPad Day Bag - eBags Exclusive now $59.99! Only 13 available"
Technically, the shortest subject line I received during the month was:
Barack Obama: "So"
Although that email wasn't part my data set, I thought it was worth mentioning.
Of those that I monitor for these reports, the shortest was:
Though I believe "WIP" stands for "Work In Progress," I couldn't immediately tie that subject line to the "Start your week in style" content.
“The Tiny Dozen” features subject lines that are 12 characters or fewer to give you ideas to keep it short and sweet!
|The Tiny Dozen|
|Journeys Alerts||For You||7|
|NASTY GAL||ROCK OUT||8|
|FreePeople.com||What We ♥||9|
|OshKosh B'gosh||Oh, Baby!||9|
|Origins Online||Sneek Peek||10|
|NASTY GAL||Crush Hard||10|
|Brooks Brothers||Fall Color||10|
|UrbanOutfitters.com||Fire It Up!||11|
|adidas Basketball||Light It Up||11|
|Sally Beauty||2 For Sale!||11|
|UncommonGoods||As You Wish||11|
|NASTY GAL||Bring It On||11|
|Old Pueblo Traders||Layer it on||11|
|Sephora||Free for all||12|
|carter's||Oh So Super!||12|
|NASTY GAL||SUMMER SALE!||12|
|UncommonGoods||This Just In||12|
|NASTY GAL||Need A Lift?||12|
|Brooks Brothers||Layering 101||12|
July Subject Line Word Cloud:
It looks like the novelty of using special characters in subject lines is starting to wear off. For the first month since special characters really started peppering inboxes with hearts and stars, special character usage declined. Read more about the downward trend in my article: Special Characters: A Trend or Just Trendy?
Most Frequently Used Characters
Fewer special characters were used in July though, not surprisingly, July 4th promotions led to consumers seeing more stars than previous months.
Only 3 mailings used 3 characters or more in July:
|Hartstrings||60% ★ +25% ★ 60% ★ +25% ★ 60% ★ +25%|
|Grandin Road||★★ 100% Free Shipping AND 20% off – Our advice? Buy NOW ★★|
|Things Remembered||Waterford®, Bulova®, Gund® & More: Now Personalized with Your Words!|
Please let me know if there are other trends that you would like to see in the monthly Email Marketing Trend reports.
Manager of Marketing Research
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About the Author
As an expert in email, mobile and social strategies, Jim Davidsonbrings over 14 years of experience in online marketing, managing email and cross-channel programs for top retail clients. From strategic vision to implementation, Jim has led clients to successfully meet aggressive revenue and performance goals. As Bronto's Manager of Marketing Research, he regularly publishes industry-focused white papers, research reports and contributes to the Bronto Blog. His articles can be found in publications such as DM News, ClickZ, eM+C and Multichannel Merchant.