Email Marketing Trends for February 2014

Jim Davidson

Brrrrrr…. February 2014 saw a wintry chill take over much of the US and email traffic continued the post-holiday cool down.  There was enough love in the inbox to slightly warm things up around Valentine’s Day though overall the month was rather stable.

Email Volume by Day

Predictably, Valentine’s Day was the busiest day of the shortest month with 56% of retailers mailing.  The holiday fell on a Friday this year which meant many retailers used the special day to promote weekend long sales and a mix of online and in-store shopping. There was a tie for the slowest day of the month with 2/01 and 2/22 both seeing only 33% of retailers sending.

Email Volume Index Dec 2013 Jan Feb 2014

(The number of brands I monitor increases each month. To provide more consistent data month-over-month, "Email Volume" is presented as the percentage of brands sending that particular day rather than quantity of emails received.)

Email Volume by Day of Week

Mondays were the busiest day of the week for sending even though Friday, 2/14 was the busiest day overall.  Presidents Day sales significantly contributed to that boost with 55% of retailers mailing on the holiday.

Email Volume Day of Week Dec 2013 Jan Feb 2014

With Presidents Day always falling on a Monday, high traffic was seen on Mondays in February 2013 as well.  Valentine’s Day 2013 was on a Thursday which pushed the traffic earlier in the week compared to 2014.

Email Volume Day of Week Feb 2013 vs Feb 2014

Emails Sent per Brand

On average, retailers sent 14 emails for the month.  That’s one less than January, though this should not be seen as a significant dip considering the shorter month.  The same is true for the maximum number of emails sent (59).

Email Volume by Sender Dec 2013 Jan Feb 2014

Subject Line Trends


If the "list subject lines" are included, the longest subject line in November was by Gilt and clocked in at 200 characters.  Excluding the "list subject lines," the longest subject line was 42 characters shorter at 158.

longest email subject lines feb 2014


The Tiny Dozen” features subject lines that are 12 characters or fewer to give you ideas for keeping it short and sweet!

The shortest subject line in Feb 2014 was a dollar amount.  Rather uncommon to see a lone dollar amount as the subject line.  My fav of the month has to be "Born to Dye" by Urban Outfitters.

The Tiny Dozen

From Length Subject Line
New York & Company 4 $100
Journeys Alerts 4 Shop
Terrain 5 SALE.
Roots USA 7 Be Mine
UncommonGoods 9 Brainiac!
Grandin Road 9 Think BIG
Hot Topic 9 Go green.
New York & Company 10 It’s back!
Hartstrings 10 OMG! W O W
UncommonGoods 10 Date Night
Buckle 10 Break Away
Sephora 10 Rough day?
UncommonGoods 11 Au Naturale
Steve Madden 11 It’s Love ♥
Hot Topic 11 Hey, pinup!
Gap 11 Today only!
Buckle 11 New New New
New York & Company 11 Let’s text!
dELiA*s 11 BOGO Go Go!
Rockport 11 L♥VE shoes?
Mark and Graham 11 We Miss You
New York & Company 11 30? 35? 40?
Origins Online 12 Try it first 12 Weekend Sale
Gap 12 Final hours!
Terrain 12 New Planters
Ten Thousand Villages 12 Love stories
JACK SPADE 12 New Arrivals
ShopHQ 12 Get cookin’!
Domino’s Pizza 12 Pizza Power!
Hammacher Schlemmer 12 New Arrivals
Things Remembered 12 We Miss You! 12 Born to dye.
New York & Company 12 Here’s $100. 12 THIS is BIG!
New York & Company 12 Free pants!!
Spencer’s Alert 12 Just For You

Subject Line Word Cloud

Presidents Day and Valentine’s Day boosted the "day" term unlike previous months where "day" represent limited time offers for holiday shopping, clearance and New Year specials. Percentage discounts were lower than previous months showing aggressive sales and 2013 inventory clearance events cooled down to make way for spring promotions.

Email Marketing Subject Line Word Cloud Small Feb 2014

(click to enlarge)

Special Characters

As expected, February saw a jump in special character usage which can be attributed to various heart characters. The same spike was seen in 2013.

Email subject lines with special characters feb 2014

Most Frequently Used Characters

Lovey-dovey hearts and patriotic stars top the list of special characters for 2014. Planes also saw a boost as many started booking trips to beat the cold or start thinking of summer vacations.

(Click to view the full list of special characters.)

email subject line special character counts dec 2013 jan feb 2014 small

(Click to view the full list of special characters)

Hearts and stars rarely appear as solo special characters except for the occasional "We ♥ ______."  As you can tell from the table below, sometimes using multiple characters makes the subject line stand out but difficult to read.  It’s all about balance, folks!

emails with three or more special characters feb 2014

Please let me know if there are other trends that you would like to see in the monthly Email Marketing Trends reports. And as always, I welcome your comments… any trends you’re seeing? What do you make of the trends for February 2014?

Jim Davidson
Manager of Marketing Research

Previous Email Marketing Trends Reports:

January 2014
November and December 2013
October 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
March 2013
January 2013
October 2012

September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012


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