American Marketer


Omnichannel buyers represent 71pc holiday sales: study

July 27, 2012


Consumers who expect and even require an omnichannel presence from brands are those that made up approximately 71 percent of gross sales last holiday season, according to the 2012 Holiday Trend Report from Epsilon.

Email is proving to be a very important asset to luxury marketers trying to hook shoppers during the holiday season. However, brands need to be present on all channels, especially online, mobile and in-store.

“Omnichannel buyers continue to play an integral role in the marketplace,” said Jill LeMaire, senior director of digital strategy at Epsilon, Dallas. “The key takeaway here is that marketing planning needs to develop contact strategies that do not rely on one channel alone.

“That said, email continues to remain effective and was the most notable holiday communication driving consumer to shop online,” she said. “We also saw quarter-over-quarter growth that continues into the first quarter of 2011. The key point here is that markets should be sure to incorporate immediate post-holiday planning and those plans should continue well into the new year.”

The 2012 Holiday Trend Report examined more than 1.4 billion email messages from more than a dozen campaigns from October, November and December 2011 and part of January 2012.

Tis the season
Even though email is important, most customers responded to an omnichannel presence from brands. This is especially true of affluent consumers, who expect a level of service not met by mass-market brands.

For the second consecutive year, overall sales increased during the 2011 holiday season.

Online sales peaked during the week of Cyber Monday and then again two weeks before Christmas. Since email volume was at a high during Cyber Monday, this marketing could have helped drive sales.

Meanwhile, sales increased in the online and call center/mail order two weeks after Thanksgiving and Black Friday and two weeks before Christmas.

Also, retail reached its peak in the 51st week of the year leading up to Christmas Day.

Because of this, it is recommended that luxury marketers incorporate pre- and post-holiday campaigns into their 2012 holiday planning.

The best tip that Epsilon can give is to start early, according to Ms. LeMaire.

Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton has already started sending out holiday emails.

Meanwhile, Neiman Marcus and Target are already building hype for the anticipated holiday collection featuring 24 luxury designers (see story).

“Last year, we saw little fluctuation in open rates throughout November and December, indicating consumer interest in holiday-related content is steady,” Ms. LeMaire said. “What this means to us marketers is that both elongating the holiday window and deploying higher volume early in the season may help retailers drive up total revenue.

“This impacts luxury marketers a great deal in that high-end, big purchases happen early in the season,” she said. “Also, they need to be prepared for Black Friday and Cyber Monday volume.

“Brands should start testing a mix of tactic now and leverage these learnings in their holiday planning.”

Email remains one of the most important marketing mediums for luxury brands this year.

Based on the reports from last year, email volume was at its highest the weeks of Nov. 27, Cyber Monday and Dec. 4.

Kiehl's 2011 Cyber Monday email

However, conversion rates peaked at 15.7 percent the week of Black Friday. This was also one week before the holiday email volumes peaked.

Wednesdays and Fridays were the heaviest email volume days, but open, click-through and conversion rates varied.

Opens were the highest on Tuesday-delivered emails, click rates were highest for Sunday-delivered emails and Wednesdays saw the highest conversion rates for the second year in a row.

Nordstrom's holiday email from last year delivered on a Tuesday

Many marketers used “shipping” “free” and “sale” in subject lines, but these did not mean open rates.

“Email was the most notable holiday communication driving consumer to shop online,” Ms. LeMaire said. “The channel is low-cost while achieving strong engagement and sales.

“Email is also an excellent medium to bridge to other marketing channels such as social, mobile and even direct mail,” she said.

Final Take

Rachel Lamb, associate reporter on Luxury Daily, New York