When you think of stressful quarters, Q4 is probably the first one that comes to mind. While Q1 isn’t the most stressful quarter, especially if your fiscal year ends in December, it still has a lot of great holidays and plenty of opportunities to capitalize on your holiday efforts in email.


Why is your Q1 email strategy important?

As we mentioned above, Q1 doesn’t get much credit in comparison to Q4. Many brands take a breather once they finally make it through the holiday season. This makes sense given it’s typically a period of chaos. Although the key holidays have passed by the time Q1 starts, there is more opportunity to nurture and bring back holiday shoppers with middle-of-the-funnel tactics like email and SMS during this time. In addition to bringing back holiday shoppers, brands can also capitalize on those who may have received gift cards during the holidays.

While you might not be acquiring as many leads in Q1 as you did in Q4 (unless you’re a fitness company – new year, new you, amirite?), you have the chance to capitalize on the efforts you put into Q4. Plus, many holidays in Q1 don’t get enough credit for creating additional sale periods. These offer you a chance to clear out your winter stock before spring hits.


Email trends & insights during Q1 2020

Due to Coronavirus, Q1 2020 was unlike any other Q1 we’ve seen in recent history.

While we did see YoY growth in the ecommerce marketing sector, we also saw a smaller share of retail sales coming from ecommerce from Q4 2019 to Q1 2020. This means people were spending more in-person vs. online even though we were seeing YoY growth in ecommerce as a whole.

All this to say, future Q1s will not be similar to the uncertainty the ecommerce industry faced in 2020. US retail ecommerce and total retail sales 300x258

In Q1 2020, across premium brands, we saw the following ten popular subject line terms trending. Noteworthy among these terms is the month sent (#4, “January”) as well as the fact that 2020 was a leap year (#6, “Leap”). In addition to month sent as a popular term, travel terms (#2, “Hotel” and #3, “Resort”) and virtual gift cards (#8, “eGift”) also performed well, which was interesting given this time period.Most popular terms 300x253
Most popular terms2 300x254

The 2020 Q1 season brought similar discounting seen during the holidays.

While November 2019 was a peak for promotional rates thanks to big holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we saw a steady percentage-off from December through February before peaking again in March (likely due to end-of-season discounting). Unsurprisingly, percentage-off was the most popular among types of discounts (compared to dollars off, free shipping, and BOGO).

While there weren’t any noticeable upticks in sends across industry pages for Q1, a few things to keep in mind:

  • Given the additional holidays in Q1, market gifts and guides where applicable (Valentine’s Day!)
  • If you’re involved in the health & wellness industry, be cognizant that many shoppers in Q1 are likely looking to better their health due to New Year resolutions
  • Be mindful that shoppers just went through a busy shopping season so consider centering other holidays like President’s Day around sales, especially for higher-priced items like mattresses or home goods


Key dates and holidays through Q1

Click below for in-depth email examples and strategies to prepare key campaigns for Q1.


Q1 email strategies and ideas

Take a look through several of our favorite blog posts covering a few thought-starters for your Q1 campaigns.


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