According to Responsys there are Five Stages of the Holiday Season
Summer through the end of October ( nearly gone!)
The first three weeks of November
Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend
The days around Thanksgiving, Black Friday and
Countdown to Christmas
The remaining weeks leading up to Christmas
Christmas through the end of January
According to Responsys, 'Every year retailers approach the holiday season differently, looking to be more responsive to their customers and to adjust to changing shopping habits. Last holiday season there were a few big changes that you should be aware of when
planning your campaigns this year:
1. Thanksgiving has replaced Black Friday as the unofficial kick-off of the holiday shopping season. Thanks to more retailers opening their stores on Thanksgiving Day and the growing impact of mobile commerce, as well as “showrooming,” sales and marketing efforts have increased rapidly over the past couple of years. Last year, 75% of major retailers sent at least one promotional email campaign to their subscribers on Thanksgiving Day, up
from 60% in 2010 and only 45% in 2009. That increase supported a huge leap in online sales, which rose 39.3% compared to Thanksgiving Day 2010, according to IBM Coremetrics.
While some may bemoan the creep of commercialism into the Thanksgiving holiday, there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle at this point. We expect Thanksgiving to remain among the top 5 email marketing days of the year again this year.
2. Express shipping went mainstream on “Last Sleigh Day,” which is the new end of the holiday season. Retailers dramatically increased their messaging around express delivery last year, with many retailers offering free or discounted express delivery options. Their efforts were concentrated on Dec. 21—a “Last Sleigh Day” for Christmas delivery—when 74% of retailers sent at least one promotional email to their subscribers. That made it the fourth busiest email marketing day of the year, ahead of Green Monday (No. 5), the day after Christmas (No. 9), and Free Shipping Day (No. 13).In the past, the end of guaranteed Christmas delivery with standard shipping signalled the wind-down of the online holiday shopping season. Retailers sent a very clear message last year that this is no longer the case.
That said, retailers’ willingness to push express shipping may have been influenced by higher-than-usual inventory levels, in which case “Last Sleigh Day” may not be as prominent this year if inventory positions are kept more in check. And perhaps even more important, this year Christmas is on a Tuesday, which stretches out the delivery time for express delivery, making it less effective and less appealing.
3. Mobile will be more important this year, but especially on days when consumers are on the move. By the end of 2012, more people will be reading emails on mobile devices than on desktops or webmail, according to Return Path. The readership habits of your brand’s subscribers will determine your email design and messaging strategy, but you may want to pay special attention to being mobile-friendly on days that consumers are more likely
to be away from home,
— The day before Thanksgiving, which is the busiest travel day of the year;
— Thanksgiving Day, when most consumers are with family with a smartphone in their purse or on the couch watching TV with a tablet on their laps, or out shopping with their smartphone in hand;
— Black Friday, when many consumers are out shopping at brick-and-mortar stores; and
— Christmas Day, when consumers are flush with gift card cash and shop online
because stores are closed.
And those days are in addition to the weekends as well, which also see higher
than average mobile email reading. Weekends are particular important during
the height of the holiday season in December, when weekend email volume is
about 50% higher than at other times of the year.
4. Free shipping is now the norm for the holiday season. Fifty-five percent of
major online retailers offered free shipping all holiday season long. Half of
those retailers have adopted an “Every Day Free Shipping” policy, while the
other half offered free shipping just for the holiday season. The remaining 45%
of retailers offered free shipping for limited periods of time, offered it on just
a narrow selection, or didn’t offer it.
It's not too late to get cracking. To help, the full Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season can be found here
As always,it's worth looking at last year as well.
- What Campaigns did you run last year?
- What worked? What didn't?
- How did your tests pan out?
- Did an increase in mailing frequency annoy your customers?
- What did the competition get up to?
- Did that 12 Days of Christmas campaign look live everybody elses?
Don't forget the importance triggered messages, delivery options, delivery updates as shown by the UPS infographic
Christmas gifts are important and customers will need to balance the security of getting deliveries safely and on time with the need to avoid the hysteria of the High Street.
Many consumers will be tempted to buy online for the very first time. Email can be used effectively to reassure customers with
- purchase confirmations
- delivery updates
- early notification of problems
- and not forgetting the simple Thank You and Happy Christmas !