It’s no secret that holidays are huge for retailers— hello, Amazon literally made up its own holiday— and the most recent end-of-year shopping season was no different. Retail sales soared, particularly online. 

For a high-end sector like watches and jewelry, this time is particularly crucial. November and December alone accounted for a fifth of visits to brand sites analyzed in Gartner L2’s Watches & Jewelry Holiday Recap.  As consumers were deluged with marketing emails, the report sought to determine which strategies helped brands stand out from the crowd.

Holiday season emails saw 14% higher open rates compared to the rest of the year, according to the report, which signals that consumers are more engaged and receptive to brand emails during this time. However, brands had to stand out by creating subject lines that both captured attention and resonated with shoppers. Notably, the content that brands prioritized in email subject lines was not what consumers ended up being most receptive to, suggesting that many need a new approach to email content.

W&J

Brands focused on fulfillment, pushing emails that discussed free shipping during the holidays. A third of brands sent an email highlighting free shipping during the season, yet no lift in open rates was observed. While fast and easy fulfillment is increasingly important to consumers in an Amazon Prime world, brands need to do more to offer a value proposition in email inboxes.

Conversely, emails detailing exclusive offers garnered 8% higher open rates. One brand that stood out with this strategy was Alex and Ani, which landed in the top 10 in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Watch & Jewelry Global. By offering free gifts to the first 50 consumers in stores every day leading up to Christmas, the brand saw open rates 55% higher than its average competitor.

Crucially, in addition to driving open rates, this innovative omnichannel tactic also got customers into stores. Yet exclusive offer emails made up only 2% of watch and jewelry brand campaigns during the holiday period, suggesting that the content strategy remains a hidden gem. 

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