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One Last Look at Valentine’s Day 2018

Article by John Landsman

Our friends in the trade press often ask us to share insights from our data, to show email activity and performance around a variety of issues, events or occasions.  A recent request covered Valentine’s Day. The inquiring reporter’s focus was on how 37 specified brands had mailed for the occasion.  The brands represented five categories:  Chocolates, Jewelry, Flowers, Mass Merchants and Watches.

For these brands, we looked at the number of Valentine-themed email campaigns for the month ending on Valentine’s Day, along with campaign inbox and engagement performance. We thought you might be interested in our findings too, so here’s a topline rundown by category. The number in parentheses for each category shows the number of brands we analyzed for that category.

  • Chocolates/specialty eats (4 brands): The big mailers here were Edible Arrangements and Godiva, with 28 and 35 campaigns, respectively.  Edible Arrangements’ activity reflects a decrease versus last year; Godiva’s was an increase.  Fannie May and Harry & David each mailed 11 such campaigns.
  • Jewelers (15): Prominent names in this list were also the biggest senders:  Kay (10 campaigns) Jared (14) Zale (17), and Pandora (21).  Kay, Zale and Pandora increased YOY; Jared decreased.   Other analyzed brands deployed far fewer 2018 campaigns; e.g., Tiffany (2), Helzberg (3), Jewelry.com (7), People’s (5).
  • Florists (6): Not surprisingly, this category shows the heaviest activity:  1-800-Flowers (61 campaigns); ProFlowers (57), Teleflora (51), and FTD (53).   All but 1-800-Flowers decreased campaign deployments YOY.  Two other florist brands (ProPlants and com) each sent only four 2018 campaigns.
  • Major Retailers (5): In this category, the heavy hitter (again no surprise) was Amazon (63 campaigns), followed distantly by eBay (23). The former decreased YOY; the latter increased.   As we’ve often reported for this event, other major retail brands treat it very lightly; e.g., Target (6 campaigns); Walmart (9).  Campaigns in this category tended to be less about selling Valentine-related gifts than piggy-backing on the occasion as a general promotion opportunity.
  • Watches (7): This category may represent significant gift activity, but evidently not for Valentine’s Day.  Of the brands we investigated in this category, three (Bob’s Watches, Beckertime and World of Watches) sent no Valentine-themed email at all.  Three others (Fossil, Ashford and MVMT) sent only one apiece.  The seventh brand (Jomashop) sent 6 campaigns, an increase (by 1) from last year.

 

In general, the activity described above reflects improving year-over-year inbox performance, but somewhat deteriorating read rates.  As a group, the gift categories have tended over time to reflect more problematic overall inbox and read rate performance.

The table below shows twelve examples of the best performing 2018 Valentine-themed emails, reflecting the Chocolates, Flowers, Jewelry and Mass Merchant categories.  It also includes a simple analysis of certain subject line references:  time urgency, free shipping, price promotion, and “gift guide” or “must have” specificity.  Of those:

  • By far the most frequently used (7 of the 12 campaigns) is time urgency; ie., the amount of time remaining, or time running out, before Valentine’s Day.  Only Mother’s Day subject lines generate more guilt-avoidance.
  • Three each are price-promotional or reference gift ideas.
  • Two offer free shipping.
  • Four subject lines contain two of these references.
  • Only one contains no such references, and is simply a reminder for the occasion.
  • Without exception, these campaigns reflect highly targeted send-sizes.