The Holiday Email Invasion, No Personal Touch At the Holidays? How Cold!


Last week was a massive week for marketers. Black Friday 2017 hit record numbers: Not only did shoppers start early, they began clicking at a rate of 2,800 orders per minute, spending $1 million per minute at the peak of Black Friday. Research shows that email is a major driver to get consumers’ attention during Black Friday. And our inboxes showed how serious marketers were about this. Personally, I received about 80 promotional emails related to Black Friday, Black November, Cyber Monday, Cyber Week, Cyber Month, and a myriad of other combinations all asking the same of me: buy something!

The quantity of emails didn’t surprise me, but the quality of them did. The generic “one size fits all” approach to these email campaigns, especially from brands that I’ve had many interactions with, really threw me for a loop. Take, for example, Dick’s Sporting Goods. I participate in its “Scorecard rewards” program and have received many personalized and targeted emails from the firm in the past year. What I received this Monday was an email encouraging me to buy crossbows, child-sized soccer nets, and outdoor games. Not only am I a) not a hunter, I am also b) not a father, and c) not able to enjoy the outdoors anymore because it’s December in New England.

Why do brands think it’s okay to drop personalized email strategies during the time of the year they want to grab consumers’ attention the most?

Personalization is the key to consumers’ wallets. And, more importantly, consumers have come to expect a personalized approach. Research from our ConsumerVoices Market Research Online Community shows that consumers really appreciate when businesses provide personalization:

“I’m okay with companies offering personalized experiences because it provides me with what I want to see rather than wasting my time having to filter through what I don’t want to see. Companies have been doing this for a while now so I’ve become used to this sort of service.” – US female, 31

In his recent report, my colleague Brendan Witcher found that while 90% of organizations claim to be focusing on personalizing customer experiences, less than half of shoppers say that the information they receive from retailers is relevant to their tastes and interests. Brands should not cut corners and de-personalize relationships they’ve built with consumers in favor of volume, as this will hurt their overall brand perception.

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