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[2021 Update] To Send Or Not: Email Open Rate Trends During The Holidays

The holidays are right around the corner, and, as usual, they present challenges for email marketing communications.

The volume and frequency of email communications during the busy holiday season creates an inbox blizzard and can make it more difficult than at any other time of the year to get your messages through to target audiences.

Ensuring that your healthcare emails stand out in an inbox that is overstuffed with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas Clearance emails, and as people checkout to spend time with family and friends, is more important than ever.

As always, it is important to look at last year’s trends to gauge optimal opportunities for deployment. Keep in mind, too, that 2020 was a highly unusual year due to the global pandemic.

 

The Holiday Lull

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend routinely hits a lull in regards to engagement

As one might expect, the Thanksgiving weekend hits a lull in engagement. People travel, spend time with family and friends, and shop for deals. Because this holiday weekend is consistent each year (Thursday to Sunday), the following trends can be expected to remain constant.

Thanksgiving 2020 Open Rates

 

Thanksgiving 2020 Comparison

 

If there is one trend that has emerged from the pandemic, it is that digital engagement is being relied on more than ever now. And as the economy reopens this holiday season, it is important to apply common sense to email campaigns.

Christmas and New Year’s present challenges too, but it is possible that engagement trends skew based on the day of the week these holidays fall each year. Since that day is Saturday this year (2021), one can expect a considerable drop in engagement in the days leading up to Christmas and New Year’s, as well as immediately after the holidays.

Engagement can be expected to pick-up on the Tuesday to Thursday between Christmas and New Year’s. If healthcare professionals take vacation between Christmas and New Year’s, it provides an opportunity to “catch up” on emails they may have been neglecting—which is a reasonable explanation for the boost in engagement.

As in past years, a sweet spot for email deliveries exists in the week after Thanksgiving and first two weeks of December. As a rule, marketers should be very targeted with the emails they send in December. You don’t want to send messages too close to Christmas and New Year’s that are likely to get lost in the shuffle. The period between December 28 and 29 can be okay for sending emails but avoid deliveries right before New Year’s when people are offline.

Christmas and New Year’s present similar patterns, but it is possible engagement trends skew based on the day of the week these holidays fall. Since that day is Saturday this year, one might see a considerable lull Friday through Sunday with a spike in engagement Monday to Thursday leading up to the holidays and as physicians plan to be away from their practices.

Christmas 2020 New Years 2021 Open Rates

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Christmas 2020 to 2021 Comparison_2

 

Design Impact

One way to standout during the holidays, when inboxes are even more cluttered than usual, is with creative and engaging email design. Subject lines and preheaders need to be catchy and inviting and adhere to recommended character counts. Calls to action should be easy to find (and click), using text links or buttons. 

Also, be sure to render tests across multiple browsers and email service providers to avoid display issues. The best way to achieve true segmentation is by working with a high-quality email list.

Designing for mobile ensures that busy physicians can effectively read your email at their leisure, whether after Thanksgiving dinner or on the plane ride home after Christmas. Render testing is especially important for mobile, as a poorly formatted email is likely to be deleted in seconds and could lead to an unsubscribe.

Designing for mobile ensures that busy physicians can effectively read your email at their leisure no matter where they are, whether that's after Thanksgiving dinner or on the plane ride home after Christmas

Precision Targeting

Segmentation of an audience lays the foundation for precision targeting and personalization, which is one of the most impactful factors that prompts recipients to either engage or disengage with an email. The way to achieve true segmentation is by working with a high-quality email list, which assures you have the accurate data necessary for building that foundation.

As healthcare marketers, you are constantly creating and refining the content within your emails to ensure the highest engagement. Understanding holiday trends and practices should be equally important. Keep them in mind to make the most out of your deployments this holiday season.

 

Originally published November 2018; updated November 2021.

About DMD

DMD, an IQVIA business, offers the only authenticated database available that can reach, report, and respond to the dynamic digital behavior of fully opted-in physicians and NP/PA prescribers. Through this database, pharmaceutical marketers, hospitals and health systems, medical societies, publishers, medical marketing agencies, and others have digital access to more than 90% of physicians with email addresses and real-time web activity data that unlocks precision targeting and engagement capabilities across the most influential healthcare audiences.