February 4, 2014, 11:39 AM

Catalogers send 37% more holiday e-mails in 2013

Multichannel retailers’ e-mail volume surged 33.5% in the final 10 days of last year's holiday shopping season. Data for Top500Guide.com tell which retailers set the pace and which merchants offered the largest discounts.

Bill Briggs

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

Retailers had a blast with e-mail marketing in the 2013 holiday shopping season. From Sept. 29 through Dec. 31, catalogers in particular boosted their e-mail volume by 36.5% over the previous year, while store-based retailers’ e-mail volume grew by 9.3%, according to a recent e-mail marketing study conducted by Experian Marketing Services.

The final 10 days of the past holiday shopping season saw a big push as catalogers’ e-mail volume grew by 26.6% and multichannel retailers pulled the trigger often enough to record 33.5% increase over the same period in 2012.. E-mail volume in the last 10 days of the holiday season across all business categories in the study increased by 35.8% over 2012.

The merchants ranked in Internet Retailer’s Top 1000—the combined 2013 Top 500 and Second 500 companies—sent a total of 9,501 promotional e-mails to customers from Nov. 1 through Dec. 13, according to a recent holiday e-mail marketing study conducted by Internet Retailer. Staffers signed up to receive e-mails from the Top 1000 online merchants and tracked the number and nature of messages that came in during November and December.

By comparison, during non-holiday months of 2013, the Top 1000 sent, on average, a total of 6,299 e-mails to customers, according to an analysis of Top500Guide.com data compiled by Internet Retailer staffers in early 2013.

Those retailers that tend to send the most e-mails throughout the year are flash-sale merchants like NoMoreRack.com (No. 202), Real Real Inc. (No. 554), or daily-deal leaders Groupon Inc. (No. 65) and LivingSocial Inc. (No. 119), which rely heavily on e-mail to drive home the limited-time nature of their online sales.

The same was true during the holidays, as LivingSocial sent the most e-mails of all Top 1000 retailers—68 during the Nov. 1-Nov. 27 period. NoMoreRack sent the second highest number at 56, Real Real sent 52, and Groupon sent 51 e-mails to customers.

Among the Top 1000 catalogers who have e-mail marketing programs, Jewelry Television (No. 185) sent the most non-holiday missives, averaging 44 per month, and Chelsea & Scott Ltd., which sells baby and toddler products (No. 306), sent the second-most per month at 34. Retail chains that sent the most non-holiday e-mails were department stores. The Bon Ton Stores Inc. (No. 475) sent 71 per month and Von Maur Inc. (No. 728) with 50.

During the holidays, percent-off deals were the most common enticement to get recipients to visit an e-commerce site. 255 (47%) included discounts ranging from 5% to 93% and another 87 Top 1000 retailers (16%) offered unspecified discounts. Another 133 (24.4%) sent e-mails during the holidays but offered no discounts or any other incentives.

The largest November percent-off discounts came from Christianbook.com LLC (No. 480) at 93% and e.l.f. Cosmetics (No. 488) at 92%. The deepest dollar discounts were offered by Office Depot Inc. (No. 7) at $220 and West Marine Products (No. 30) at $250.

Of the 532 retailers that send e-mails to customers in December, 339 (63.7%) included discounts ranging from 5% to 91%. Another 30 Top 1000 retailers (5.6%) mentioned but didn’t identify the discount, and 107 (20.1%) did not mention a discount or any other incentive. The remaining e-mails offered free shipping (by 24 e-retailers, or 4.5%), dollars off ranging from $5 to $1,000 (by 16 or 3%) and a free gift (by 16 or 3%).

December e-mail percentage discount leaders were 91% off by Jomashop.com (No. 226) and six web retailers including e.l.f. Cosmetics offering 90% off. The greatest dollar-discounts were in e-mails from Helzberg Diamonds (No. 722) at $1,000 and appliance and electronics chain Conns.com (No. 542) at $600.

E-mail marketing and other key 2013 e-commerce data is now being gathered for the next editions of the Top 500 and Second 500 guides and will be available later this year on Top500Guide.com database.

To read previous Top 500 Insider stories, click here.

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