Email Marketing Trends for October 2013
And so it begins! October saw some of the busiest mailing days in months. Not only were there five days when 50% or more retailers mailed, but the slowest days of the month were still quite busy. October is the crossroads of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Fall Promotions and Holiday Kickoffs. This is also the month when subscribers start to feel the pain of an inbox that is getting busier and busier.
Email Volume by Day
The busiest day of the month was Monday, October 14th which was Columbus Day. The day saw a mix of sales ending, sales extended (that were supposed to end on Sunday), one-day sales and completely unrelated promotions. This reinforces the need for your holiday programs to clearly set expectations about when sales begin and end. Your customers are hearing a lot of sales buzz and one brand's idea of a holiday's duration may not be the same as yours.
Only 28% of retailers mailed on the slowest day of the month, Saturday October 5th. While this ties September's slowest day, it's worth noting the next slowest days were busier compared to previous months.
(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
Thursdays were the busiest day of the week to mail in October. The boost came from the launches of Columbus Day weekend sales and by Halloween falling on a Thursday. The bump in the earlier days of the week are related to Columbus Day sale extensions and a last minute push before Halloween.
Following the trend seen this year, Mondays saw a Columbus Day lift and Wednesdays came in second place thanks to Halloween falling on a Wednesday.
Emails Sent per Brand
Not only was email traffic busier in October, the average number of messages sent per retailer increased by 1%. The busiest sender jumped from 75 emails to 84.
Subject Line Trends
If the "list subject lines" are included, the longest subject line was by Gilt City NYC and clocked in at 242 characters. Excluding the "list subject lines," the longest subject line was 53 characters shorter at 189.
Papa John's threw in a slice of pizza and a cookie for you to snack on while making your way through their long subject line but clearly Naartjie Kids wanted to squeeze everything in this month.
“The Tiny Dozen” features subject lines that are 12 characters or fewer to give you ideas for keeping it short and sweet!
Retailers really wanted folks to "Shop" this month. Three different retailers sent the blunt, four-character subject line in October. I typically point out a few of the shorties that I found fun but there were two this month that I really did not like. Hammacher Schlemmer, who has a very creative email program, used the bland short subject line, "New Catalog," JC Whitney took the screaming all-caps approach with "PRIVATE SALE." Definitely not a treat!
|The Tiny Dozen|
|Yankee Candle Alerts||4||Shop|
|Gander Mountain Product Alerts||4||Shop|
|Design Within Reach||4||Boo!|
|Spencer's Alert||7||For You|
|carter's||9||Pins we ♥|
|Ann Taylor||10||Go WILD...|
|OshKosh B'gosh||10||Last Day!!|
|carter's||10||We ♥ shoes|
|L'OCCITANE en Provence||10||Tote-ally.|
|The Museum of Modern Art||11||Our Mission|
|Hammacher Schlemmer||11||New Catalog|
|Origins Online||11||Fast & Free|
|JACK SPADE||11||Wear it Out|
|Johnnie Boden||11||Shiny & new|
|UrbanOutfitters.com||12||Art On Tees!|
|JACK SPADE||12||New Arrivals|
|JC Whitney||12||PRIVATE SALE|
|Bergdorf Goodman||12||Fall Dresses|
|Cooking.com||12||We ♥ Truffle|
|fredflare.com||12||This is why.|
|LOFT||12||Live in Pink|
Free shipping continues to dominate subject lines, but if you look closely near the center, you will see that "holiday" is starting to gain momentum. "Free Shipping" will continue to be plastered in the inbox so, if you have free shipping throughout the season, it's important to create awareness early so your subject line real estate can be used in other ways to stand out in the inbox.
I was wrong! Last month I predicted that we would see an increase in special characters as we approached the holidays but they actually went down in October. I may be setting myself up again, but I do think we will see more of them in November.
Most Frequently Used Characters
Pumpkins, ghosts, pizza slices, cookies and the Japanese character for "Tsu" were all newbies this month. There were several other first-timers that you can view in the full list. In case you are wondering, "Tsu" kind of looks like a smiley face.
Not only was overall usage of special characters down in October, there was only one subject line that used three. Each month I feature any subject line that includes three or more special characters, but this is it for October. Perhaps the novelty finally wore off for some of those brands who used multiple characters in their subject lines month after month.
|From||Special Characters||Subject Line|
|Wet Seal||3||♥ 100s of NEW Styles at 60% Off ♥ $24.50 Boots are BACK ♥|
Please let me know if there are other trends that you would like to see in the monthly Email Marketing Trend reports. And as always, I welcome your comments... any trends you're seeing? What do you make of the trends for October?
Manager of Marketing Research
Previous Email Marketing Trends Reports:
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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.