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Labor Day Kicks Off E-Mail Holiday Season

As people head off to enjoy the last holiday weekend of the summer, few are thinking about the next stretch of holidays ahead: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah and New Year’s. Rest assured, though — retailers are giving the matter plenty of consideration.

Labor Day weekend signals the start of the holiday e-mail season, according to a new report by the Email Experience Council (EEC), the Direct Marketing Association’s vertical working group called “Ring-Cha-Ching, Hear Them Ring: The Guide to Gearing Up for the Holiday Email Season.”

Cyber Monday

Increasingly, online strategies are becoming an integral part of overall corporate sales goals. E-mail marketing, in other words, not only drives online sales but also traffic to the brick-and-mortar stores.

A survey the association conducted last December found 21.9 percent of marketers queried experienced an increase in their 2006 Cyber Monday sales compared to the same post-Thanksgiving Monday in 2005, according to DMA Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Ramesh A. Lakshmi-Ratan.

“Many of those sales were the result of commercial e-mails,” Lakshmi-Ratan noted.

Special Series and Other Practices

E-mail marketing campaigns sent during the holiday season last year jumped 47 percent from the previous year, according to Chad White, the EEC’s director of retail insights and editor-at-large, told CRM Buyer.

“I hope it won’t be much more than that this year — that was a considerable uptick,” he said, adding that at a certain point the risks of sending more e-mail outweigh the awards.

One best practice he hopes to see more retailers deploy this holiday season is the use of special series e-mails: that is, consumers would opt-in to receive holiday oriented e-mails that might feature, say, a particular product or a particular category.

Other themes in the e-mail might focus around decorating or baking or, for some of us, just surviving the holidays. These are typically sent once a day or at least several times a week. A handful of retailers did that last year, White said, with good results.

Last year, seven of the eight biggest retail e-mail volume days of the year occurred in the weeks before Christmas. Those days included Cyber Monday (Nov. 27) and all three “Echo Mondays” (Dec. 4, 11 and 18) — the Mondays that follow Cyber Monday. Interestingly, two of the three Echo Mondays were bigger e-mail days than Cyber Monday, which is billed as the biggest online sales day of the year.

Twenty-nine percent of major retailers promoted e-gift cards in their e-mail campaigns during the eight days ending Christmas Day.

Last year, some online and multichannel retailers promoted Thanksgiving Day sales to get a leg up on offline competitors whose stores are closed on that day. This year, the EEC predicts some retailers will also begin their post-holiday sales on Christmas Day and promote them in their e-mail campaigns.

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