Email Marketing Trends for January 2013

Jim Davidson

The New Year started off with a bang!  The first day of the year saw the number of brands sending more than one email within the first 24 hours of 2013 more than double.  So, how did the first month shake out?  Let’s dig into sending trends for the first month of 2013!  

Email Volume by Day

Surprisingly New Year’s Day came in as the 21st busiest day of the month.  The peak arrived on Jan 21st with 55% of brands mailing. Mailing volume on that day saw a mix of weekend sales extended, new sales launching, Valentine’s Day promotions, Super Bowl Sales, and MLK Day events.  It definitely was a busy week!  The slowest day of the month was Jan 23rd with only 10% of brands mailing.  The day nearly flat lined.  Only a few one-day and weekend sales were seen.

(click to enlarge)

(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


Thursdays were the busiest day of the week in Jan.  The month was filled with weekend sales.  These are common throughout the year but there was an increase (especially for white sales) this month.  Thursdays were used to announce the sales, drive in-store traffic or to reinforce urgency to shop before the sales expire. Saturdays were the slowest days of the month but it’s interesting to compare the slowest days in Jan to those in Dec.  3.7% more brands were mailing during the holidays even on the slowest of days.

There was a shift to mailing later in the week in 2013 compared to 2012. New Year’s Day 2012 was a Monday which helped push volume earlier in the week last year.

Emails Sent per Brand

The holidays are definitely over!  The most frequent sender dropped by 26 emails!  The average number of messages sent by all brands also dipped by nearly 5 emails.

Subject Line Trends


If the “list subject lines” are included, the longest subject line was by Gilt City NYC and clocked in at 233 characters.  Excluding the “list subject lines,” the longest subject line was 90 characters shorter at 143.

B&H Photo Video Pro Audio 143 “February B&H Events Lauren Greenfield Ansel Adams 111th Birthday, Copyright, Printing, Canon, Nikon, Leica, Bob Krist, and Photo 101 plus more…”
Plum District 138 “Our Valentine to You | Personalized Books Perfect for Valentine’s Day | Epiphany Chocolates | Personalized Valentine’s Day Cards  and More”
Wayfair 137 “Weekly Open House: get inspired by Zooey Deschanel’s Golden Globes look, cozy into a bean bag chair, gear up for winter sports, and more.”
Wayfair 134 “Weekly Open House: get inspired by the Presidential Inauguration, decorate with 2013’s hottest hues, celebrate the big game, and more.”
HUGO BOSS 129 “BOSS Men’s Spring 2013 Collection – Shop Suiting, Casual Clothes, Accessories and More – In Store & Online | Free Shipping Always”
Saks FASHIONFIX 124 “Up to 70% off Men’s Best Sellers, Italian Designers, Cold Weather Picks + 50% off Givenchy Scarves, Adami & Martucci Jewelry”
The Children’s Place 122 “Baby, It’s Cold Outside! Shop Our Baby Sale, New Arrivals and Final Winter Clearance Up to 80% Off + 20% Off Savings Pass!”
Wayfair 118 “Weekly Open House: get inspired by a trip to St. Barts, build the ultimate home gym, make perfect pizzelles, and more.”
Saks FASHIONFIX 115 “Up to 70% off Men’s Top Picks, Cashmere for Him + 50% off Oscar de la Renta, Nicole Miller Sleepwear & Wear-to-Work”
Plum District 114 “Let’s Try That Again | Plum Picks: Grapefruit Dark Spot Serum, Dark Circle Eye Cream, and Facial Scrub from Yes to”

“WOW” and “Shop” popped up again in January.  I see these subject lines frequently enough that they have started to lose impact.  FredFlare’s “<33 FF” shortie was fun, clever and communicated enough about the sale to pique interest.

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


The Tiny Dozen
From Length Subject
Sephora 3 WOW
Journeys Alerts 4 Shop
YANKEE CANDLE Alerts 4 Shop 5 <3 FF
Sephora 7 L ♥ V E
Sephora 7 Go BIG!
OshKosh B’gosh 7 Splash!
Haband Alerts 7 For You
The Body Shop 8 ♥ XOXO ♥ 9 Thank You
OshKosh B’gosh 9 We ♥ New!
Tiffany & Co. 9 All Heart
OshKosh B’gosh 9 Stock up!
Roots USA 9 Be Mine ❤ 9 Our Top 5
Old Navy 10 Clearance!
The Container Store 10 Sweet #16!
Club Monaco 10 Bold Blues
UncommonGoods 10 Made By…
Lands’ End 11 Happy 2013!
Old Pueblo Traders 11 Sneak peek!
OshKosh B’gosh 11 ♥ Be Mine ♥
Buckle 11 NEW NEW NEW
New York & Company 11 Here’s $100 11 modern boho
carter’s 11 What’s New?
Sephora 11 ☞ Pick me ☜
Origins Online 12 5-4-3-2-1…
LOFT 12 It’s Here… 12 48-HOUR SALE
carter’s 12 Tickled Pink
Tiffany & Co. 12 A Chic Stack
Bedford Fair 12 Two day sale 12 fall in line
The Body Shop 12 ★FLASH SALE★
The Container Store 12 A must-read!
Buckle 12 Think Spring

January Subject Line Word Cloud

Free shipping loses some dominance this month with clearance, winter and spring sales creeping in.  You can also see that “extra,” “day,” and “today” are bubbling up which fits well with the limited time offers seen in the month.

(click to enlarge)

Special Characters

I honestly expected special character usage to spike during the holidays and decline again in the new year.  I was wrong.  The were used more often in January, this could be some post-holiday enthusiasm carrying over another month.  This number may start to decline again in the coming months, though I predict that we will see more as we go from winter’s snow flakes and snowmen to spring’s sunshine!


Most Frequently Used Characters

Stars and hearts dominate once again though the bubbled numbers are still hanging in there.  These numbers have been used to liven up # day sales.

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

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

Thankfully there brands are not saturating their subject lines with special characters.  There were only 4 brands who used 3 or more special characters in their subject lines.

From Special Characters Subject
Lillian Vernon 6 ♥♥♥ Discover Valentine Décor that’s absolutely engaging! ♥♥♥
Rainbow Shops 4 ♥♥3 Sweet Looks for Valentine’s Day ♥♥
Horchow 4 ★★ 25%-30% off entire site ★★
Hartstrings 3 ☀ 25% Off New Arrivals ☀75% Off All Fall and Holiday ☀

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

Jim Davidson
Manager of Marketing Research

Previous Email Marketing Trends Reports:

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

  • Dear Jim Davidson,
    I do agree with your suggestion but that is the fact that all email marketers know that a more relevant email will produce greater engagement, and being plugged-in to trending topics is a great way to be right on point.

  • Anonymous

    I really enjoyed the Email Volume by Day of Week Chart, it gives a great visual to a topic I think is much talked about and tested in email marketing. I think there is a lot of information regarding B2C email information, it would be very interesting to see B2B information also.

    • Jim Davidson

      Glad you enjoyed the charts! The data reflects the nearly 400 B2C email programs I monitor. While we focus on online retailers at Bronto, many of the strategies and data in our content can be useful for the B2B marketer. Hopefully you will continue to find useful information on our blog and our resources section.