Thanksgiving Black Friday 2014‘Tis the season for a really crowded email inbox – don’t let your holiday messaging get lost in the crowd. Email marketing firm Yesmail studied last year’s holiday campaigns by 30 name brands and came up with these email marketing tips for Halloween, Black Friday, Christmas and everything else in between.

(Get your copy of the Yesmail report here . And use this handy 2014 Holiday Email Marketing Calendar from Salesforce.com.)

Key Findings from the Study

Consumers get choosier about opening emails as the season wears on and inboxes fill up. The average open rate for email messages peaked in October and then dropped, hitting bottom in December. Email sending went in the opposite direction, with 40% more messages in December over October.

Customers were more likely to open messages about Halloween and Thanksgiving just before those holidays, rather than in advance, presumably because they don’t require gift buying. Ditto for Black Friday and Cyber Monday messages – customers probably wait till the last minute to see the best offers.

Special offers extending Cyber Monday sales past Monday tended to flop; either consumers were suspicious of the deals or just shopped out.

Christmas-themed emails or general holiday messages scored better open rates earlier in the season, rather than later, as customers make their gift, travel and entertainment plans. In the three weeks leading up to Christmas, messages with non-Christmas themes scored slightly better than Christmas themes.

Holiday Email Marketing Tips

Send Christmas-themed campaigns as early as a month before Christmas.

Focus Christmas-related campaigns on gentler themes that build relationships – consumers get enough of the hard sell in the Black Friday/Cyber Monday promotions. Some examples: a Christmas décor gallery or gift ideas for loved ones.

Target messages to consumers based on what you know about their past purchases or browsing of your website to better capture their attention in this peak period.

Ramp up your volume of email messages well before the holidays and carefully check your lists for dead email addresses. Email service providers may blacklist you for sudden increases in volume or undeliverable mail.

Image from Salesforce.com Holiday Email Marketing Calendar

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