How a Post-Christmas Holiday Marketing Strategy Can Help You Wrap Up 2020

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on December 3, 2019. It’s been updated to reflect the most current data and insights. 

This is the fourth and final in a series of holiday email marketing benchmark reports. In this article, learn about the discounting competition that occurs for consumers’ attention during and following the Christmas holiday. Competition is defined as the total number of campaigns sent on a daily basis.

 

You’re ready to conquer Cyber Weekend. Your holiday marketing strategy is set to drive significant revenue over this critical weekend and grow your brand as a result. 

But once Cyber Weekend 2020 has come and gone, your work isn’t done. You’ll need to close out the 2019 holiday sales season with a bang. And now’s the time to plan for the post-holiday but before-end-of-year push, along with your Cyber Weekend preparations.

This year, the holiday marketing landscape is extra competitive. There are 24 days between Cyber Weekend and Christmas (two more than last year), but your customers have flocked online in order to shop safely. 

They’ve likely discovered a plethora of new businesses to buy online from amid the pandemic, so you’ll be competing with more brands than usual to gain their attention during, and after, the holiday season. 

Over the last few weeks, we’ve explored the competition that occurs for consumers’ attention in their inboxes during this heightened time of year to help you get a leg up on the competition. 

So far, we’ve seen how brands used discount-focused emails during the holidays to compete. Then, we examined what types of discounts performed best across different industries—dollars-off or percentage-off promotions. And we’ve explored why you need a post-Cyber Weekend holiday marketing strategy to finish out the holiday season. 

While there are still more than eight weeks until Christmas to meet or exceed your holiday sales goals, many brands will soon be closing their fiscal year on December 31st or working toward month-end sales goals if their fiscal year wraps up during another month. 

You’ll seek out last-minute opportunities to close the gap on 2020 revenue goals—or better, drive more growth if you’ve already exceeded your goals for the quarter. 

In today’s fourth and final installment of this series, take a closer look at why you need a strategy to compete during the final week of the year—specifically, December 25th through December 31st. 

While most brands spend months planning their Cyber Weekend and holiday marketing strategies, we were curious about what happens just after Christmas. Does competition remain as strong as it does earlier in the season? 

We had a hunch it would, especially when you consider how many gift cards go into circulation during the holidays. Additionally, gift cards might be even more popular this year as consumers try to avoid unpredictable shipping and delivery times. In fact, 72 percent of people are planning to buy gift cards, according to Deloitte’s 2020 holiday retail survey.

With so many gift cards in shoppers’ hands after the holidays and with just seven days left to drive any year-end revenue after Christmas, the last week of the year is a prime opportunity for brands to try and engage their customers to win their gift card dollars—and, even better, catch their eyes to earn an order value that goes beyond their original gift count amount. 

To understand the competition that occurs during this last week of the year, we once again turned again to Evan Cover and Hannah Schleifer on our business intelligence team to find out what you can expect during this time of year based on data surrounding 427,000 campaigns sent by 19,500 brands during the holidays last year (October 15-December 31, 2019) representing more than $1.4 billion dollars in sales. 

Let’s take a look at the overall volume of emails that brands sent during December 25-31, 2019 and how things break down by day during this timeframe.

 

A look at the post-Christmas competition

Of the 427,000 campaigns that Evan and Hannah analyzed, brands sent approximately 29,000campaigns between Wednesday, December 25, 2019 and Tuesday, December 31, 2019. 

Of the total campaigns sent, 49 percent contained a discount in the subject line. While brands sent slightly more non-discount-focused campaigns per day during this timeframe (2,123) than discount-focused campaigns (2,073), it’s still a very competitive space to win your customers’ attention.

It’s also of note that the difference in the percentage of total non-discount focused campaigns sent versus discount-focused campaigns sent is much slimmer this year (a two percent difference) than in 2018, where the difference was ten percent. 

From this year-over-year change, we can tell significantly more brands are sending discount-focused campaigns after Christmas. This could potentially be from more brands holding “extended sale” and “last chance offer” types of promotions and deals in 2019 than the previous year.

Campaigns sent during December 25-31, 2019 (overall)

Timeframe: Wednesday 12/25 - Tuesday 12/31 (2019)
Total campaigns sent 29,370
Non-discount-focused campaigns sent (total) 14,862 (51%)
Discount-focused campaigns sent (total) 14,508 (49%)
Average non-discount-focused campaigns sent (per day) 2,123
Average discount-focused campaigns sent (per day) 2,073

Campaigns sent during December 25-31, 2019 (per day)

2019 timeframe (Sunday-Saturday) Non-discount-focused campaigns sent per day Discount-focused campaigns sent per day
Wednesday, 12/25 (Christmas Day) 2,381 1,943
Thursday, 12/26 2,058 3,315
Friday, 12/27 2,102 2,105
Saturday, 12/28 1,508 1,521
Sunday, 12/29 1,595 1,539
Monday, 12/30 2,277 1,972
Tuesday, 12/31 (New Year’s Eve) 2,941 2,113

In the seven-day period Evan and Hannah analyzed, brands sent 2.421 percent more non-discount-focused campaigns but the distribution of those overall campaigns sent across the days is vastly different. 

It’s also important to note that this percentage decreased from 21 percent in 2018, so clearly discount-focused emails are being sent, which is hugely affected by the number of campaigns sent out on December 26th. 

During this last week of the year, brands sent the greatest volume of discount-focused campaigns on December 26, 2019—the day immediately following Christmas when many consumers are either taking time off or anticipate a slow day at work, which makes it a prime day for brands to try to engage consumers. 

Across the final days of 2019 (December 26-31), there was a 60 percent increase in discount-focused campaigns sent on Thursday, December 26. Again, brands are likely taking the day after Christmas when work might be slow to grab consumers’ attention and get them to use their gift card money or extend holiday sales.

On the non-discount-focused side of the story, the most competitive day in the inbox was New Year’s Eve (Tuesday, December 31st) followed immediately by Christmas Day (Wednesday, December 25th)). 

Interestingly, these findings aligned with earlier findings about the most competitive days of the week between Cyber Weekend and Christmas. It’s likely that many brands use this as an opportunity to engage with their customers in a non-promotional way to build trust by wishing them a Merry Christmas or a Happy New’s Year Eve.

Evan and Hannah also dove into the metrics for these campaigns on a daily level and, aside from the high levels of competition in the immediate days following Christmas and the high volume of discount-focused sends on December 26th, they didn’t find any other notable details to share

Communicate to your customers with empathy this holiday season

This brings us to the end of this particular series exploring the holiday marketing landscape. Over the past four weeks, data from 2019 has clearly shown there’s much to learn, from the 8X increase in email competition that occurs during Thanksgiving week to the best days to either send or avoid sending emails between Cyber Monday and Christmas. 

But perhaps the most important takeaway for this indescribable year is to communicate with empathy this holiday—no matter when you choose to send your marketing campaigns.

Last year, you may have noticed many “extended sales” and other promotions that seemed to prolong brands’ holiday campaigns when, in fact, these were clearly pre-planned. These extended sale campaigns are also accurately reflected in some of the data we’ve found throughout this series, and especially in the data of this article where the day after Christmas saw a high increase in discount-focused campaigns compared to the previous year. 

While this can be a clever marketing device to pique customer interest, Val Geisler of FixMyChurn argues that messages such as these can come across dishonest and can compromise customers’ trust in your brand. 

Authenticity is not a new concept in digital marketing, but it can take a backseat to tricky tactics when Cyber Weekend revenue goals are involved. But during a year unlike one we’ve ever experienced in our lifetimes, being honest will do you more favors when it comes to customer trust—and dollars.

Take a note from Moment’s 2019 holiday campaign. Since I mentioned gift cards earlier in this article, this is a great example of how one brand chose to share their gift card offering with their customers last year. Moment was trasnparent about the fact that they ran out of stock, but they still wanted to create a way for their customers to buy with the brand. The tone throughout this email is perfectly on-brand while still remaining straightforward about the reason they’re offering a gift card and thanking their community.

Additionally, this email from Supply is incredibly attention-grabbing but doesn’t rely on any gimmicks. Instead, it encourages customers not to buy from the brand since they’ll be launching their biggest promotion ever in two days.

 

Or take a look at Away’s first-ever sale, where the brand faced quite a few challenges but still managed to keep their customers informed as best they could—and kept a sincere and candid tone throughout their communications.

It’s likely that, no matter how well you prepare or plan around the competition, your brand will experience a hiccup of some kind this year—your supply chain might still be recovering, your shipping carrier might experience delays, or there might be something else completely unforeseen. 

But it’s messages like these, which display understanding, honesty, and humanity, that will resonate most with consumers. 

So if you’re looking for the most effective way to get your customers’ attention through the rest of the year, the best course of action is communicating with empathy—whether you’re starting your sales early, waiting until Cyber Weekend, saving your discounts until the holiday season, or keeping your best deals stashed away until after Christmas. 

Looking for more advice from marketers on how to effectively communicate with your customers this Cyber Weekend and holiday season? Check out the rest of the Cyber Weekend Prep Rally.

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