2020 is an unusual year. Nothing can be assumed, and shopping trends are no exception. We at 97th Floor commissioned a study that dove into all of the newest trends in Black Friday and holiday shopping. Our objective: to help marketers prepare for this unusual season. In this post we’ll look more closely at some of the most interesting data points specifically around email, and how they might affect your marketing strategy.

This year, shoppers are getting a head start on their holiday lists. 54% of shoppers say they want to do their holiday shopping by early November to avoid crowds, and 68% of shoppers say they’ll be moving online. As marketers, we need to meet our customers where they are. This year, that means online and early.

Because shoppers want to get their shopping done earlier, you should consider emailing them earlier too. Don’t be afraid to email more consistently during the holiday season; shoppers expect to see more emails this time of year, so it’s a great time to take advantage of that as an opportunity to push your brand’s value and story.

Build a story

Ultimately, the end goal of any email track is to lead your contacts on a journey. You can use email to tell your story, and to explain your value. Use your email marketing this holiday season to build a story for your products. Like J. Peterman’s famous catalog illustrates (pun intended), the way that you present your products must be more than an explanation: it needs to be a story. Best case scenario, even your presentation will be a kind of art. Don’t underestimate the importance of this. Email is a great way to control the way your product is positioned and presented.

Email marketing is the way you’ll be able to take people with casual interest in your products and turn them into true fans. This holiday season, treat all your email contacts like they are at least mild fans of the product (a safe assumption as they did give you their email) and turn them into mega-fans of your brand.

Make it an experience

Our stats say that 81% of shoppers aren’t sure they’d head to brick and mortar locations even if the retailers offered great in-store experiences for the holidays. In fact, 88% of parents even say they won’t let their kids sit on Santa’s lap this year. Yet we know that experience is everything. So this holiday season marketers need to turn their attention to the digital sphere.

Be sure that all of the content you put out this season, including your email, provides an enjoyable experience for the user. This includes your website and landing pages. Take a look at the ease of use on your site — can users easily navigate your site to find what they need?

Get inventive with the way you use email as a part of an experience. Create amazing digital experiences and use email to share the opportunities with your audiences. For example, share social media campaigns your audiences can interact with, like zoom calls with Santa, an interactive about how your business works, or whatever the digital experience is that fits best with your business goals. Consider building out a multi-part, text-based experience for your email marketing, something that your audience will look forward to engaging with on day 1, but also day 3, 5, and 9. A story (see below) is one option, but any content that can be broken up in a linear fashion can be turned into an email experience.

Email is an effective way to spread the word about--and create--the experiences you have going on this holiday season; be sure you make the most of it.

Pay attention to your metrics

Consider which metrics are most important for you, and then track them diligently. For brands just starting on their email marketing, your open rate might be your top priority. More mature email marketers will probably want to make their top priority either CTR (click through rate) or CToR (click to open rate).

The important thing is that you don’t just launch your emails out into the world like fledgling birds where they will either fly or die. Pay attention to performance, experiment, and continually tweak things to see how it affects outcomes. As an agency, we spend a lot of time measuring performance -- it’s our lifeblood. If we aren’t producing results, we lose your trust and your business. For you, in your business, you can afford nothing less.

Get personal

The age of impersonal email is long behind us. There are many simple, easy ways to make your email copy individualized for your audiences, and they are common enough that they have become expected best practices, not only from savvy marketers, but the everyday consumer. When getting ready for a large-volume push with many different email tracks, it can be easy to want to cut corners, talk generally, and forget what your audiences really want to see.

Use your list’s first names in the email greetings, and choose the email track you put your contacts in based on their specific interests and issues. This will be a busy season, so everyone is about to get busy inboxes. If you want your emails to stand out, get personal. Put in the extra effort, use the research and data you have on your contacts and put it to good use.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of personalization-for-personalization’s-sake. We don’t personalize just because we can, but because it works. However this comes with a risk, too. If you’re not careful, personalization can come across as smarmy, too familiar without cause. This can turn off customers and lose business. The solution is simple: use personalization as a way to show respect for your customers, to demonstrate that you are thinking of them not as a patsy or a mark, but as a valued individual. Use personalization not to manipulate your audience, but to humanize them. Do it because you truly do value and respect them. It’ll show -- and it will help your bottom line.


If you’re not doing email marketing today, now is a great time to get started. Don’t wait until you have every single piece nailed down, even a moderate effort can be valuable. If you are doing email marketing already, now’s the time to ramp up your efforts and improve your process. Get personal, pay attention to your metrics, make it an experience, and build a story. Yes, it’s hard work, but it’s worth it (and we can help!).

May your holidays be bright with email marketing success.