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Flash Sale Emails Boost Transaction Rates


The flash sale is one of the hottest tools being used today to capture customers' attention, and email is a key driver of such campaigns, generating on average 18% of referral traffic to websites advertising flash sales, higher than social media (13%) and search (11%), according to a report by Experian CheetahMail.

Moreover, flash sale emails boost transaction rates. Among email campaigns studied, transaction rates for flash sale email campaigns were more than 35% higher than standard bulk campaigns to the same clients: 0.11% vs. 0.08%.

Flash sale emails also generated more actions and transactions: 74% of mailers had higher transaction-to-click rates and 67% had higher transaction rates, compared with bulk emails sent to the same clients.

Below, other findings from a report titled "Top 5 Flash Sale Tips," by Experian CheetahMail Services.

Regardless of industry, flash sale promotions are an effective tool, the study emphasizes, not just for retailers wanting to sell off excess inventory, but also for hotels to driving bookings in specific regions, restaurants driving traffic on typically slow times of day, and so forth.

Moreover, flash sales are on the rise: Among email campaigns conducted in the first two weeks of retail season (Sept 30 to Oct 2011) the number of flash sale and daily-deal-related campaigns have more than doubled, according to CheetahMail Services.

Among the reports key findings:

Subject lines that convey exclusivity improve open rates: Among flash sale and daily deal campaigns conducted from Jan to May 2011, subject lines that included the word "exclusive" in the subject line boosted unique open rates 14%.

  • Flash sale emails increase engagement: 56% of businesses have higher click-to-open rates on their flash sale emails compared with yearly click-to open averages.
  • Two-hour flash sale emails generated the best click-to-open rates—roughly 14% higher than the average for bulk email campaigns sent to the same businesses. 
  • Three-hour flash sale emails have the best transaction-to-click rates— 59% higher than the average for bulk email campaigns sent to the same businesses. 
  • Three-hour flash sale campaigns generate the highest transaction rates among all flash sale offers: 0.14%. 

Evening Flash Sales Perform Best

Flash sale email campaigns delivered in the evenings perform best. Among campaigns studied, flash sale email campaigns sent after 3:00 pm generated open rates 9% higher than lunchtime sales, and 33% higher click rates.

Among campaigns sent after 3:00 pm, transaction rates were nearly 23% higher than lunchtime sales (0.12% vs. 0.10%) and such messages generated nearly 30% more revenue per email on average ($0.14 vs. $0.11).

Looking for solid, substantiated information about email from the industry's best resources? The 67-page Email Marketing Factbook featuring 39 charts tells you about email usage, what captures users' attention, and how organizations are using email to reach customers. This email factbook consists of chapters 1 & 2 from the larger Digital Marketing Factbook a 144-page compilation of data and 110 charts that also covers search engine marketing and social media.

What Makes It Successful?

Overall, the most successful flash sale email campaigns create a sense of urgency, by clearly mentioning the discount and time limitations in the subject line, according to the report.
They also have some combination of a strong offer (e.g., "50% to 70% off") and a selection of desirable products.

About the data: Findings are based on the results of 400+ flash sale and daily deal email campaigns conducted by Experian Marketing Services' CheetahMail clients, from Jan 2010 to Feb 2011. Research on email subject lines was based on campaigns conducted from Jan to May 2011 and seasonal retail campaign data are based on emails sent Sept 30 to Oct 17, 2011. Unless otherwise noted, flash sales were defined as sales lasting less than 24 hours.

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