Email Marketing Trends for October 2012

Jim Davidson

Spooks, sales and sleigh bells. With holiday promotions kicking off in September, the fall holidays of Columbus Day and Halloween don’t truly take center stage.  October saw a mix of Halloween treats and early holiday shopping sales.  Overall volume continues to rise as we get closer to Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas! Check out October’s Mid-Month Email Menagerie (pdf) for samples of promotions and content trends in the past month.  Now, let’s dig into sending trends for the month.  You can also download this report as a PDF

Email Volume by Day

Oct 15th & 22nd (both Mondays) tied for the busiest mailing day of the month with 49% of brands mailing. No one theme dominated either day.  Fall sales, Halloween promotions and holiday themes were rather evenly distributed.  There was a 3% increase over September’s busiest day (49% vs 46%).  This makes a 2 month increase that we can expected to continue into November.

Halloween (Sat 10/31) was the slowest mailing day of the month with only 23% of brands mailing.

Bronto Email Marketing Trends October 2012 Email Volume Index - small

(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


Mondays took a strong lead as the busiest mailing day of the week.  Columbus Day and last-minute Halloween deals led to the 3% month-over-month bump.

October 2011’s mailing volume looked similar to this year though Halloween 2011 was on a Monday which may have led to more late week and weekend mailing volume.

Emails Sent per Brand

The most frequent sender in October sent 75 emails which is 5 more than the previous month’s leader.  The average number of emails sent by brands continues to increase.  We will see this climb even higher in November. 12% of brands sent 1 email during the month.  This is up 2%.  A few brands have launched “alert” programs that have a different from name and highlight limited time offers geared toward gifters.

Subject Line Trends


If the “list subject lines” are included, the longest subject line was by and clocked in at 239 characters.  Fab had 43 of the top 50 longest subject lines for the month.  They clearly have a lot to say.  To illustrate the gap between the list approach and a headline approach, excluding the “lists,” we drop down to 127.

And now… October’s longest (non-list) subject lines:

SmartBargains 127 “Bargain Hunters Rejoice! Limted Time – Limitless Savings – Watches, Jewelry, Sunglasses Apparel and More –  Shop Now”
TigerDirect 125 “Tablet Takeover: 9″ Android Tablet & eReader $49…Asus 10.1″ Android Tablet $249…Lenovo Win8 10.1″ Notebook/Tablet $699…” 125 “Tablet Takeover: 9″ Android Tablet & eReader $49…Asus 10.1″ Android Tablet $249…Lenovo Win8 10.1″ Notebook/Tablet $699…” 125 “Tablet Takeover: 9″ Android Tablet & eReader $49…Asus 10.1″ Android Tablet $249…Lenovo Win8 10.1″ Notebook/Tablet $699…” Deals 122 “Wooden iPhone Covers from $19.00, Dell Mono Laser Printer $199.99, Sony Alpha NEX-C3 Camera $369.99 + Free Budget Shipping” Deals 115 “Get 5% Back On Storage Devices | Buffalo MiniStation 500GB Hard Drive $59.99, Kingston 8GB Flash Drive $5.79 + more” Deals 115 “Samsung LED Monitor $124.99, Canon PowerShot Camera $105.00, 16-in-1 Bicycle Repair Set Kits $19.99 + FREE SHIPPING”
eBags Alerts 113 “Steal of the Day – Kenneth Cole Reaction Long Story Port – Expandable Computer Case now $79.99! Only 16 available”
Wayfair 113 “Weekly Open House: Lace, editors’ picks, and décor inspiration from Modern Family. Check out our new Idea Lounge.”
Wayfair 113 “Weekly Open House: plan a Halloween party, decorate with all-black accents, shop tailgating essentials, and more.

Surprisingly, Hartstrings was the only brand to use “BOO!” in October.  Does anyone else frequently receive “We miss you” emails from Hartstrings?  Hmmmm….

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


Hartstrings BOO! 4
Sally Beauty Oops! 5
Sephora N-E-W 5
Haband Alerts For You 7
NASTY GAL Get Set! 8
Coldwater Creek Cozy Up! 8
Willow Ridge Open me! 8
NASTY GAL Run Wild 8
NASTY GAL Cozy Up! 8 Fall Chic 9
carter’s BOGO Pjs! 9
carter’s Only $6?! 9
Buckle Free Gift 9
Bergdorf Goodman Fall Coats 10 Yours Free 10
OshKosh B’gosh We ♥ Snow! 10
CB2 true blue. 10
Ann Taylor Go Wild… 10
Origins Online Fast & free 11 OMG, shoes! 11
eBags Happy Hour? 11
New York & Company Here’s $100 11
The Company Store Come On In! 11
Vera Bradley Let’s date! 11
Club Monaco Hide & Chic 11
eBags Happy Hour? 11
JACK SPADE Hut Hut Hut 11 What’s NEW? 11
carter’s Count on Us 11 On The Road 11
Sephora T-R-E-▲-T-S 11
NASTY GAL Get Your Fix 12
Spiegel Touch & Tell 12
Buckle Keys To Fall 12
Levi’s Get Inspired 12 48-HOUR SALE 12
New York & Company PURPLE Reign 12 Pretty/Tough 12
Bergdorf Goodman Fall Dresses 12
New York & Company $90 for you! 12
American Apparel New for Men! 12 Harvest Moon 12
NASTY GAL Fully Loaded 12


October Subject Line Word Cloud:

Free shipping keeps getting bigger and bigger!  The theme will continue to swell during the holidays.  Finding ways to communicate a shipping offer other than “Free Shipping” could help your messages stand out in the inbox.  The word cloud will be sorted alphabetically going forward to keep a better pulse on how steep those discounts climb.


(click to enlarge)

Special Characters

As I suspected, special characters are slightly ticking up as the holiday promotions are launching.  Remember, moderation is a good thing.


Most Frequently Used Characters

Numbers were used more frequently in October.  The special characters either called out steps the consumer needed to take or the days left for a promotion.

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

Bronto Email Marketing Trends October 2012 Email Special Characters

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

There was only 1 email that used more than 3 special characters last month.  That jumped to 7 star-filled emails in October.


From Special Characters Subject
carter’s 5 ★★★★★ $6 Doorbusters
American Apparel 4 ★★ $5 $5 $5 $5 $5 BLOW OUT SALE. 90% Off! ★★
American Apparel 4 ★★ Free Lip Gloss from American Apparel. No purchase necessary ★★
Brooks Running 3 Brooks outerwear is designed for all-weather running ☁☂☀ 3 Jim, be prepared this cold season with Mucinex®, Delsym®; & Cepacol® & save $1.00.
Hartstrings 3 Choose Your Savings! Extra 35% Off ☆ Extra 30% Off ☆ Extra 25% Off ☆
Hartstrings 3 Choose Your Savings! Extra 35% Off ☆ Extra 30% Off ☆ Extra 25% Off ☆
NASTY GAL 3 ☆*.☆Wanna Party?*.☆.*


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 October?

Email Marketing Trends – September 2012

Email Marketing Trends – August 2012

Email Marketing Trends – July 2012

Email Marketing Trends – June 2012

Email Marketing Trends – May 2012

Email Marketing Trends – April 2012

Email Marketing Trends – March 2012

Jim Davidson
Manager of Marketing Research