How Holiday-Themed Email Campaigns Perform

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Holiday-themed email campaigns from brands tend to have lower open rates and higher conversion rates than non-themed campaigns, according to recent research from Yes Lifecycle Marketing.

The report was based on data from 8 billion messages sent by Yes Lifecycle Marketing clients in 4Q16. The researchers examined campaigns that incorporated messaging for nine holidays/special events: Columbus Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday, Christmas, New Year, and general holiday.

Campaigns for eight of the nine holiday/special event themes examined had lower open rates, on average, compared with business-as-usual (BAU) campaigns; emails themed around the ninth holiday/special event (Black Friday) had open rates on par with BAU campaigns.

However, campaigns themed around six of the nine holidays/special events had higher conversion rates (the ratio of unique email clicks to purchases) compared with BAU campaigns.


More than half (55%) of the brands examined sent general holiday-themed campaigns (e.g., “last-minute holiday sale”) in 2016.

Percent-off discounts were the most effective general holiday email offers, on average, the analysis found.

Campaigns that did not include an offer had a better average open rate, unique click rate, and click-to-open rate compared with campaigns that did include an offer.

General holiday-themed campaigns sent on Thursdays had a higher average open rate, unique click rate, and click-to-open rate than campaigns sent on other days of the week.

About the research: The report was based on data from 8 billion messages sent by Yes Lifecycle Marketing Clients in 4Q16.

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