Q3 2015 Retail Email Campaign Metrics

Listrak serves as the marketing automation platform for hundreds of retail clients across a variety of verticals. Following are their average email campaign metrics for Q3 2015:

See web version of infographic for actual numbers.

What email marketers and designers need to know about iPhone 6s and iOS9

By Aaron Pearson, Listrak senior graphic designer

Every designer loves to be asked the age old cliché, “Can you make it pop”? Thanks to Apple, now we can make your emails Peek & Pop!

iPhone 6s has some fancy new features that are getting email marketers a little worked up. It’s certainly not something to ignore, but I think we’ve done a pretty good job in preparing for this. Let’s take a look at some of these new features and find out how they will impact our inboxes.

The big kicker is the new gesture called ‘Peek and Pop’ ­-- a 3D touch feature that functions as a “right-click” for mobile devices.

3D Touch helps you get through the email in your inbox more quickly and efficiently. To Peek at a message, just press it lightly. 

The content of the email appears on top of your inbox. If it’s a short message and a Peek is all you need, simply stop pressing and you’re back in your inbox.

If you want more than a Peek, press a little more deeply to Pop into the message for a full view — just as if you’d tapped to open it from your inbox.

There are a few concerns with this new ability to preview messages in your inbox. Is it going to count as an open? How will it affect engagement? Will responsive design impact engagement? Does this reintroduce the fold to emails? Is anyone even going to use this new feature???

An open by any other method is still an open.
Opens are collected when images are downloaded in a message, which triggers the download of an image tracking pixel. This varies across inboxes and devices because some inboxes force the user to agree to download images first. You may recall Gmail updating in 2013 to download images automatically without consent from the user. iPhone has long been known to perform the same way.

Since the Peek preview is downloading images, we will be tracking this as an open. #quickwin

However, what is different about this open? The way users are engaging with this preview is probably more of the focus for concern. I’ll quote one of my past blog posts:

“The life span of a subject line and preheader are measurable by one statistic, open rate. Subscribers only spend about 3-4 seconds reading the description of your email in an inbox. We need to grab their attention and interest immediately.”
It’s true. We really do need to grab their attention immediately. We don’t spend a lot of time pondering over emails (unless you’re an email design geek). Subject lines and preheaders will still be the key to getting an open or a Peek. #quickwin

The Peek.
The Peek preview is not scrollable so it will only show the top section of the email. With only 3-4 seconds of undivided attention on each message, it’s easy to swipe left and delete. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that…

Take control of your email with a press and a swipe. While you’re taking a Peek at an email, you can swipe left to delete it or swipe right to mark it as unread.

What does that mean for designers?

Enjoy some technical specs, or just skip ahead and get to the important stuff:

iPhone 6s
  • Retina HD display with 3D Touch 
  • 4.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit widescreen
  • 1334-by-750-pixel resolution at 326 ppi 
  • 1400:1 contrast ratio (typical) 
  • Peek preview: 1050-by-710 pixel at 326 ppi 

iPhone 6s Plus
  • Retina HD display with 3D Touch 
  • 5.5-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit widescreen 
  • 1920-by-1080-pixel resolution at 401 ppi 
  • 1300:1 contrast ratio (typical) 
  • Peek preview: 1510-by-1020 pixel at 401 ppi

The important stuff
At a standard web pixel density of 72 ppi, the preview will show about 380 pixels of the top of the email. If you design at 2x for retina then do the math and you’ll get 760px.

Peek preview changes the way recipients engage with the email initially. You have to be strategic with the limited amount of real estate you have. How do you get the most value out of 380px of space? Because you can’t click-through in Peek view, a call to action “above the fold” or “within the preview” isn’t going to provide a lot of value from a functionality standpoint. Remember, the goal is to get the user to Peek and then Pop. Then you can work on your content strategy and test engagement.

Knowing your audience is important, so always be sure to check if the demographic of iPhone 6s users is important to your brand. Whether you have an active iPhone 6s audience or not, the following are quick design suggestions to implement into your mobile email strategy.
  • Design your logo at a reasonable size. “Make my logo bigger” is not a good strategy for mobile optimized email
  • Remove navigation and other unnecessary information from the top of the email, such as preheader and view in browser links
  • Clearly state the purpose of the email in the hero graphic, headline and body copy
  • Organize your content by placing the most valuable information near the top
  • Continue to write awesome subject lines and preheader text

As of September 2015, iPhone accounts for 30% of all email opens, but we’re only talking about a portion of the market share who will be upgrading to the new iPhone 6s. A breakdown does show that the newest model typically holds the largest number of users. Will users be using this feature? A quick poll around the office tells me that a lot of avid iPhone users do not think they would use this new feature. My experience so far has been: it’s quick for personal emails, but marketing emails still need to get me at the subject and preheader.

Questions? Let us know. Will you be using this new feature? Let us know that, too. 

Fighting Comp: Are Early Holiday Promotions a Charm or a Challenge?

By Arthur Tschopp, Listrak regional director
Holiday marketing campaigns appear to start earlier every year, both in-store and online, and it seems that the larger omnichannel retailers are leading the way this year. RJMetrics released a study to remind us that Q4, specifically November and December, can account for more than 30% of total annual revenue, and the holiday-themed promotions tend to lift revenue upwards of 40% when compared to off-season promotions with similar offers.

With these types of performance metrics, it’s no wonder retailers are anxious to get started early.

Christmas in September

My colleagues and I share our consumer experiences with each other and we were all surprised to have recently received early holiday campaigns from some of the larger omnichannel retailers. The examples below show two unique strategies; one head-on Christmas message featuring holiday decorations from Pier 1 Imports (received 9-16-15) and the second from Wisteria (received 9-29-15) featuring its holiday gift guide and lookbook. Don’t misunderstand, I have no objections to receiving solid marketing messages with offers that help me better prepare for the holidays; but, based on years working in the retail sector, I know that leveraging holiday messaging so early can also have its downside.

The challenge is that these types of campaigns will probably drive an increase in top-line sales, especially when companies compare them against the same time period LY when they didn’t circulate an early holiday campaign. And in addition to seeing top-line revenue lift, these omnichannel retailers will also see an increase in comparable sales across their physical store locations.

This attributable increase in comp sales is probably the main reason retailers tend to start their holiday marketing campaigns earlier and earlier each year. You can just imagine how happy retailers are with the numbers – and themselves - when they run their first early holiday campaign.

Hard Act to Follow

So now that retailers are fighting comp and winning with their newly discovered early holiday campaigns, confidence is high for a strong holiday and Q4. However, there may be a surprise right around the corner.

What happens when the consumer is trained to shop early for holiday and ultimately stops or slows down on the more traditional holiday shopping days, i.e., Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc? This consumer behavior shift can create a huge business challenge with eroding YOY comp sales that could significantly impact a retailer’s business during the most important selling period of the year. Remember, the year before, retailers may not have sent an early holiday campaign, thus pushing purchase demand further into the traditional holiday shopping days.

Text Box: 2015 holiday sales are expected to increase only 2.8% - 3.4% over last yearSimple polling indicates that many consumers will shop early and late, or in other words, when there’s a reason (deals); however, we can all agree that there is a ceiling to total retail spending within Q4. According to a recent Study by AlixPartners via Reuters, 2015 Holiday sales are expected to grow 2.8 to 3.4 percent during the November-December shopping period compared with 4.4 percent in 2014. Although projections don’t always come to materialize, if this study has any accuracy, starting early with holiday marketing campaigns this year could only exacerbate an already challenging Holiday Q4 sales comp.
What you can do

Keep holiday shoppers engaged and buying throughout the entire holiday season – even those who purchased early – by ensuring that every email you send to them is personalized to their needs. Remember that people are not only buying gifts, but also for themselves as 57% of shoppers admitted to self-gifting last year. Emails that feature personalized content based on the shopper’s behavior will be the key to reaching and exceeding your holiday goals this year.