Of course it will take a while, but before you know it you will be back among the gingerbread cookies, Christmas wreaths, oliebollen and apple turnovers. December is bursting with holidays and therefore with commercial opportunities. You can make the most of these opportunities with newsletters and smart email marketing. Digital email agency Yesmail from the US analyzed 8 billion newsletters sent during the fourth quarter of 2017 and has explained in detail what works… and what doesn't.

Business As Usual (BAU) emails versus Theme emails

The research distinguishes between two types of newsletters. The first are the Business As Usual (BAU) newsletters, normal, standard emails sent in corporate house style. The second are the theme emails, emails that are clearly focused on a specific holiday. Think of Halloween, Christmas or New Year's Eve. The report then shows the differences in open rates and conversion.

newsletters conversion holidays versus business as usual emails

What is striking in the results is that 5 of the 9 theme emails have higher conversions than the BAU emails. At the same time, we also see that 7 out of 9 theme emails have lower open rates than the BAU emails.

The battle for attention… in the inbox

Yes' report offers a number of possible explanations for the lower open rates for the theme emails. Due to the unique nature of holidays, many companies and brands use these holidays to send a newsletter. At the same time, the frequency of the number of newsletters per brand will also increase in the run-up to these holidays. That means more competition in the user's inbox. The choice of which newsletter to read becomes more difficult for the user as there are more of the same emails in his inbox.

The quickest solution to stand out in the mailbox is to choose a relevant and eye-catching subject line that is close to what your brand offers. The worst-performing newsletters in Yes' report often had subject lines that didn't say anything about the products the brand offered.

Provide a clear CTA

Despite the lower open rates for theme emails, in 5 of 9 cases the conversion is higher for theme emails compared to BAU emails. The explanation for this is that the 5 successful theme emails contained a very clear Call To Action (CTA) and the other 4 did not. Some theme emails only brought good wishes for the New Year or a Merry Christmas. Although this is of course not useless and can certainly contribute positively to your brand or relationship with the customer, such a message is not clearly aimed at making a purchase. A clear CTA in your theme email therefore increases your conversion.

Urgency and scarcity

In addition to a clear CTA, the authors of the report also see that creating urgency and scarcity leads to an increase in conversion. Make smart use of this in the subject line of the newsletter. The user then immediately has a trigger to open the email and will make a purchase more quickly. Set a clear deadline for when a product can be ordered or when it can still be delivered on time. You can possibly work with discounts for customers who order extra quickly. Emphasize scarcity by indicating that certain discounts you give are finite or that there are only a certain amount of products left in stock.

Below you can see an example of the Nespresso newsletter. By responding to urgency and including a clear CTA, you increase the chance of conversion. Also respond to urgency in the subject line and you have everything you need to make your newsletter a success.

Nespresso newsletter scarcity