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When Should Marketers Send Holiday-Themed Emails?

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Christmas-themed and general winter holiday season emails have higher open rates when sent weeks or even months earlier than immediately before the target holiday, according to a recent report from Yesmail Interactive.

However, themed emails for holidays that do not usually involve gift-giving (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday) have the best open rates right before the holiday or actually on it.

Below, key findings from the report, which was based on fourth quarter 2013 data from the email campaigns of 30 major brands.

Christmas/Winter Holiday Emails

  • Christmas and general winter holiday season email campaigns had higher open rates last year in late October/November than in December.
  • During the three weeks leading up to Christmas, base (non-themed) campaigns received marginally higher open rates than Christmas-themed ones, and general winter holiday-themed emails received the same engagement rates as base campaigns.


Declining open rates as the fourth quarter progresses are likely due to increased email volume, Yesmail Interactive concluded. Consumers receive increasingly more marketing emails starting before Halloween, with the peak coming in December, the analysis found.

Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday

  • Halloween-, Thanksgiving-, and Black Friday-themed emails all had higher open rates last year the week of the holiday than in the weeks preceding the holiday, the analysis found.
  • Cyber Monday emails had a particularly small window of higher opens, with consumers wary of attempts to by marketers to extend campaigns past the actual date.

About the research: The report was based on fourth quarter 2013 data from the email campaigns of 30 major brands.


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Ayaz Nanji is an independent digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Content, a marketing agency specializing in content creation for brands and businesses. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

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