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Independence Day Update

Article by John Landsman

Independence Day Update
By John Landsman, Director, Strategy & Analytics

Welcome to full summer!  As if we needed proof of what season we’re in, searing heat has been oppressing just about every part of the continental U.S.  Still, we had a somewhat peaceful midweek July 4th holiday, the All Star game is about a week away, and that same date also marks Amazon’s much-anticipated 2018 Prime Day event.

So, first, a quick look at this year’s July 4th email campaigns, and then a few words on early Prime Day emails.

  • Independence Day (see table just below) does occasion heavy promotional email activity. Patriotism aside, this is not a gift-giving event. It’s almost all about sales.  In the month ending on July 4th, we see almost 33,000 related email campaigns this year, reflecting a 16% increase over last year’s 28,000.  (Not in table) 23% deployed this year on July 4th itself, versus 21% in 2017.
  • Based on the percentage of that activity achieving better than 90% inbox performance, deliverability improved this year, extending a longstanding trend.
  • However, based on the percentage of activity achieving better than 20% read rate performance, audience engagement eroded this year, continuing another longstanding trend (see my recent Blogpost on the subject).
July 4th Emails* 6/4 - 7/4, 2018 6/4 - 7/4, 2017
# % >90% Inbox % >20% Read # % >90% Inbox % >20% Read
Total 32,837 27.4% 20.0% 28237 24.4% 22.5%

(*) Identified by screening for related subject line language; e.g., 4th, fourth, independence, flag, red/white/blue

  • The table below shows examples of twelve related best performers, ranked by their read rates. They cover a range of sellers, but all represent retail and/or food categories.
  • Nine are explicitly promotional, and five of those use aggressive price-offs. Only two make any direct reference to specific products.
Brand Date Subject Quantity Read
Calphalon 28-Jun Take Advantage of July 4th Celebrations with 30% Off! 156K 32.8%
Titleist 27-Jun 4th of July Special Offer from My Titleist 213K 29.4%
Untuckit 30-Jun 4th of July Sale going on NOW! 242K 29.2%
Ben & Jerry 2-Jul Your 4th of July Needs These Recipes 215K 27.7%
Planet Beauty 29-Jun Summer Savings up to 75% off! Perfect products for the 4th! 309K 26.0%
PGA Tour Superstore 21-Jun Online Only | 4th of July Sale: Take $20 Off $100 221K 24.0%
Chico's 1-Jul Red, white, blue (and up to 50% OFF, too) 969K 23.4%
Lamps Plus 1-Jul 4th Of July Savings Blowout On Like-New Returns 595K 22.7%
Urban Outfitters 28-Jun red, white and blue… for YOU → 2.9M 22.4%
Chili's 2-Jul [REDACTED] Kid's Eat free this week in celebration on the 4th. Claim now! 209K 20.8%
Target 30-Jun Ends on the 4th of July: Extra 15% + up to 30% off patio. Boom! 205K 20.8%
Sams Club 30-Jun Put the fireworks in your 4th of July BBQ 1.9M 20.6%

Now   . . . on to Amazon’s Prime Day.

As you likely saw, Amazon announced to Prime Members on July 3rd that its 2018 Prime Day would start at 3 PM on July 16th, and run through July 17th.  They deployed a series of high-volume campaigns, most with the subject line, “Prime Day is coming on July 16. Woohoo!”  The largest such U.S. campaign went to 54 million customers.  The campaign to India had an audience of over 200 million. Similar campaigns deployed to proportionally large audiences in other countries.  By Amazon standards, read rates have not (yet) been uniformly strong (10-25%), but their reach is still extensive, considering the audience sizes.

As in past years, it’s clear that the Prime Day event has actually already begun, long before the official start-date.  We’ve now also seen numerous smaller mailings, with “Prime Day” offers — all effective immediately — on specific categories; e.g., Kindle, Echo, music, magazines and books.

For the most part, other sellers have not yet asserted themselves regarding Prime Day, but we see two interesting exceptions:

  • PepsiCo deployed an email on July 3rd to one million of its subscribers (“Don’t miss PepsiCo deals on Prime Day”), promoting sale of its many brands — on Amazon.com! We’ve not seen a coordinated cross-brand Prime Day promotion before, but I suspect we’ll see more.
  • Ashley Furniture deployed a campaign on July 5th, (“Extended savings & PRIME DEALS (no membership required)”), to an audience of 44,000.  Numerous competitive brands have historically used this approach, but this was the first of the type we’ve seen this year.

Our ongoing Prime Day coverage will continue shortly after Prime Day itself, with our “Prime Day– First Look,” a topline report on campaign activity and engagement.  Several days later, we will publish our “Full Prime Day Recap,” analyzing send volume and read rates by day, best performers, year-over-year Amazon business lift, and related competitive activity.