Overall, looking at UK retail campaigns during the winter holiday season (Nov. 1 – Dec. 31, 2020, vs. 2019):
- The number of campaigns decreased by 10%, however, the number of emails sent (list sizes) increased, and read rates increased.
- This data indicates that fewer marketing campaigns were created, but as read rates increased, UK retailers were potentially working smarter not harder with their targeting and personalisation.
- Across the industry we do know that as the pandemic hit, marketing professionals leaned into email as a channel, and this data supports that theory.
Now let’s look at retail campaigns leading up to Easter in 2021 vs. 2020 for these same brands.
- We started to see some more consistent trends here in terms of ramping up campaign creation across the board as retailers started leaning back into email (apart from John Lewis where everything decreased).
- The number of emails being deployed is a bit of a mixed bag for these brands, with Next ramping up their sends significantly, and Amazon a close second.
- Next also successfully increased their campaigns, as well as volume without taking a hit to engagement, which tells us they were optimising their email programmes here and seeing results.
- ASOS on the other hand ramped up their campaigns in this period, while sending to fewer people, but also managed to see a good increase in read rates.
Lastly, during the weeks before Father’s Day in 2021 vs. 2020:
- We saw similar trends. Most email campaigns are on the rise. However, read rates continue to decrease as subscriber lists grow.
- Amazon interestingly scaled back campaigns and volumes, and their read rates reduced.
3 Important Takeaways for Retailers As You Optimize Your 2021 Winter Campaigns
Warm Up Your Lists
Increasing holiday volumes will almost certainly require mailing to subscribers who have been email-inactive for 90 days or more. This needs to be done practically (and soon!) in order to avoid spam issues and inbox risks during holiday prime time later this year. Inactive segments should be embedded within larger sends to activate new audiences – or warm up cold ones. To optimize deliverability, avoid making those inactive audiences more than around 10% of any given deployment. Check out these 9 Holiday Deliverability Tips for more expert advice!
Relevant Content Matters More Than Ever
Especially given these deliverability concerns, it’s critical for brands to strategically target and segment your audiences by curating messages and offers based on what’s known about those subscribers – like status, location, preferences, and browse/purchase behavior. And don’t forget to factor this personalized content into your subject lines.
Start Early for Happier Customers
Given the persistent shipping and supply chain issues being encountered during the pandemic, it’s important this year for retailers to be talking to customers about holiday buying/giving earlier than you might normally begin. If holiday-related messaging typically ramps up in November for your brand, consider at least starting those campaigns in mid-October or earlier.
All data was provided by SparkPost’s Competitive Tracker, the only platform available for delivering comprehensive competitive email intelligence. Analyze your email execution and performance against your industry and top competitors across a variety of metrics and elements, like inbox performance, read rates, send-times, contact frequencies, degrees of segmentation, subject lines, and creative. Get a demo to discover your use case.