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July 27 , 2010

Helping marketers break through holiday clutter

Data, analytics keys to success, Epsilon

According to Epsilon’s Holiday Trend Report, creating a unique experience for customers across multiple channels will help marketers break through the clutter during the 2010 holiday season. Based on analysis of the 2009 holiday season, the research examines channel-specific trends, days of the week and weeks that were best for reaching consumers and how these trends compare to previous years.

According to Kevin Mabley, SVP of Strategic Services at Epsilon, “Deep insights into past consumer behavior and trends will lead to a more thoughtful and successful marketing strategy for the upcoming 2010 holiday season. Techniques such as triggered campaigns, testing and analytics will also maximize performance.”

Key findings from the Holiday Trend Report include:


  • Sales were slightly lower in the fourth quarter of 2009 than the previous year due to lower average order value and fewer active household counts;
  • In both 2008 and 2009, sales peaked later in the holiday season compared to prior years;
  • For Online and Call Center/Mail Order, sales increased in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and reached their peak in Week 49;
  • Retail reached its peak in Week 50, closer to Christmas Day;


  • Email volume reflected a late season surge of deployments, similar to 2008;
  • Open rates averaged 14.4% in 2009 compared with 12.0% in 2008;
  • Conversions were highest the week of Cyber Monday. Average Order Value peaked the week of Thanksgiving/Black Friday;
  • Over the last three years, early season purchases were larger than late season purchases;
  • Tuesdays and Fridays were the heaviest email volume days and the peak revenue per email days; Opens, clicks and conversions were highest for Friday delivered emails;
  • The words “Shipping,” “Free” and “Gift” were most often used in subject lines but did not necessarily drive open rates;
  • The use of the symbol “%” was high in 2008 and 2009; The “$” drove higher open rates;

“Early planning is the key to a successful holiday season. By synchronizing efforts across channels, marketers can create a seamless experience for customers. It is not just what you say, but where you say it and when,” said Mabley.

Tips for multichannel marketers as they plan for the 2010 Holiday Season:

  • Know your online and in-store buying and browsing trends from October through January – behavior in past years can guide future campaigns.
  • Consider engaging consumers earlier in the season, especially if you are marketing big ticket items.
  •   Perform testing activities in the early holiday season while purchase patterns are weaker, to help maximize peak season performance (i.e. Thanksgiving week).
  • Utilize triggered campaigns to target consumers who demonstrated early season interest – follow up with a combination of brand-building and hard-offer messages. Watch for abandoned carts and items saved in shopping carts to closely target customers.
  • As a late season tactic, focus on procrastination, smaller ticket items and deals. Cross-sell opportunities can mitigate the lower transaction amounts.

The Holiday Trend Report examined more than 1.4 billion email messages from more than a dozen companies from October, November and December 2009. The findings also reflect a segment of historical purchasing activity from the Abacus Cooperative database from January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2009. Additional in-depth information about the Holiday Trend Report can be found at www.epsilon.com/pr/HolidayTrendReport2010. 

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