As November approaches, ecommerce email marketers are deep into holiday email planning. But what’s ahead over the next eight weeks? Surveys taken over the last six months reveal wildly varying scenarios:

  • Consumers are heading back into stores but still plan to buy online.
  • Many started shopping earlier to avoid price increases, but some will hold off until they see Black Friday/Cyber Monday and last-minute deals.
  • Marketers plan to push more discounts through their email campaigns. That means more competition in the inbox, so your campaigns need to be smarter and sharper than ever.

Here’s what we’re seeing in the MailCharts Index already and how to apply it to your email planning:

Insight 1. Make bargain-hunting more attractive to anxious shoppers.

The inflation pinch this year means shoppers will hunt for bargains more strategically. While many are browsing online and in stores now, not everybody is ready to click “Buy Now.” Your mileage might vary depending on what you sell and who your buyers are, but consider these stats:

  • 29% of holiday sales will happen in November, up 5% over 2021 (Salesforce)
  • 53% of shoppers will delay most spending until November or December (Marketing Dive)

We all know what happens to email campaigns as the holiday shopping season winds on: Frequency goes up, discounts get bigger, and so do incentives like free shipping and buy one/get one. Inboxes overflow, and consumers start to burn out.

Your customers might be hunting for deals, but your emails don’t have to be a steady parade of bargain-basement promotions. This email from Goldbelly combines a compelling offer with a little extra seasonal design effort:

MC holiday blog goldbelly sales

For extra inspiration, visit MailCharts’ Sales and Promotions email list. It has dozens of emails with ideas for subject lines, images, content, and calls to action that you can modify for a holiday email. MailCharts Pro subscribers can access this group at any time. If you’re a Free user, check your account home page often because we unlock this group for all users from time to time.

Insight 2. Use your onboarding journeys to get customers back to your website ASAP

Your onboarding journey is an untapped resource that can do more than say “welcome.” It should nudge your new customers to go right back to your website to buy. Sending an incentive is one way, but that can eat into profit margins that are already razor-thin. Plus, they can start training customers not to shop unless they have a discount.

Make sure your onboarding emails share lots of links to areas all around your website (customer accounts or preferences, new collections, FAQs, your “About” page, and other popular destinations. These encourage your newbies to browse and shop while their opt-in is still fresh, like this Express welcome email. 

MC insights holiday 1 express

Insight 3. Keep an eye on your competition’s email frequency and promotional activity.

Holiday shopping Every year we say shopping starts earlier, but this year we really mean it. A National Retail Federation survey says 44% of consumers want to buy now to avoid higher prices. 

Brands are responding, too. The number of October email campaigns that mention Christmas or Cyber Five (Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday) is 13% over 2021 and nearly quadrupled the number of mentions sent through September.

Our data also shows brands picking up the promotional pace earlier this year. Promotion rates are already ticking up almost 10% over 2021 among brands in the MailCharts Ecommerce Spectrum 300 group. Frequency is comparatively flat, but we expect that to rise as we move into November.

MC insights holiday 1 promo rates

Knowing when competing brands begin to ramp up their holiday campaigns will help you structure your campaign schedules. Go to the MailCharts pages for the brands you want to track, and discover their current frequency, promo activity, and latest emails. Pro users will see all historical data, while Free subscribers will see a curated set.

Insight 4. Does Cyber Five still matter?

Yes, but the scene has shifted.

Shoppers are spreading out purchases more now to avoid the rush and snag bargains where they can. But a significant subset of shoppers still target the Cyber Five weekend (Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday). Adobe predicts Cyber Monday will drive much of the anticipated 2.8% growth in 2022. Be ready with an eye-catching email like this one from MunchPak:

MC insights holiday 1 munchpak

Need more resources for Cyber Five planning? Our holiday planning guide has strategies, tactics, and email examples covering everything from Thanksgiving to Giving Tuesday. Visit now—it’s available to everybody!

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