Emails for Dear, Old Dad

Article by John Landsman CATEGORIES: Holiday/Event, Trends & Analysis TAGS:

By John Landsman, Director, Strategy & Analytics

If commercial emails marking the occasion are any indication, our collective Dads spent a very happy Father’s Day, played and ate well, and received cool stuff to wear.  We analyzed related emails sent by marketers in nine key business categories during the thirty days prior to Father’s Day, for both this year and last year.  Details are in the table below.


  • While 2018’s Father’s Day emails were first seen as early as March, these were teasers, and brands deployed most of their Father’s Day messaging in the thirty-day run-up.
  • The Apparel and Accessories, Restaurants, Bars and Food Service categories generated the highest volumes of Father’s Day emails. Online Shopping shows a sharp year-over-year decline in the number of Father’s Day email campaigns deployed, but every other category increased their campaign sends.
  • Inbox performance — shown as the percent of campaigns achieving 90% or better deliverability —reflects a wide range of performance, with the Restaurant and Retail/Department store categories owning the top numbers, and Jewelry/Watches and Sporting Goods on the low-end of the range. Except for Sporting Goods, all categories improved their year-over year inbox performance.
  • Read rate performance — shown as the percentage of campaigns achieving a 20% or better read rate — was strongest in the Sporting Goods and Apparel/Accessories categories; weakest for Jewelry/Watches and Retail/Department Stores. Year-over-year, read rate performance eroded in every category except Online Shopping and Gifts/Remembrances.
  • For the Sporting Goods category in particular, the apparent discrepancy between weak deliverability and strong read rates reminds us that business can be left on the table when otherwise effective email can’t get to many inboxes.
  • Not shown in table, but worth noting:
    • About 8% of Father’s Day emails deployed this year on Father’s Day itself, versus 6% last year. This year’s same-day campaigns show somewhat weaker read rate performance than seen for total Father’s Day activity.
    • Slightly under 10% of this year’s Father’s Day emails contained emoji’s in their subject lines. Those campaigns had slightly lower deliverability performance and about the same read rate performance as did campaigns without subject line emoji’s.
Thirty Days Ended Father's Day
Father's Day Themed Emails Earliest 2018 Observed Campaign 2018 2017
Campaigns > 90% Inbox >20% Read Rate Campaigns > 90% Inbox >20% Read Rate
# % % # % %
Retail and Department Stores 13-Mar 430 61% 13% 284 24% 18%
Online Shopping 27-Mar 534 35% 20% 2016 62% 10%
Gifts and Remembrances 2-Mar 925 23% 20% 893 11% 18%
Food and Candy 6-Mar 629 25% 16% 571 13% 17%
Restaurants, Bars and Food Service 25-Apr 1018 55% 18% 838 35% 23%
Apparel and Accessories 15-Mar 1710 25% 22% 1513 19% 28%
Sporting Goods 9-Apr 913 17% 23% 769 19% 32%
Sporting Goods - Outerwear 5-May 82 32% 20% 51 14% 29%
Jewelry & Watches 4-Apr 449 19% 15% 441 10% 20%
TOTALS 6690 31% 20% 7376 31% 20%

The table below shows sixteen examples of best performing Father’s Day campaigns with circulation of 100K or more.

  • Twelve of these deployed in the two weeks before Father’s Day.
  • As is common, the two top performers belong to Amazon. One of those deployed the day before Father’s Day, and features quickly-acquired eGift Cards.
  • Eight of these subject lines contain explicit product references, including both of Amazon’s top performers. Five contain explicit price or price-off references.  Only two feature both product and price.
  • Two reference “dads and daughters.”
  • Two offer advice: “Gift guide,” or “What Dad really wants.”
  • Two carry time-urgency.
  • Two mention “best Dad ever.”
Date Brand Subject Quantity Read %
31-May Amazon Father's Day Gift Ideas in Patio, Lawn and Garden 218K 39.7%
16-Jun Amazon eGift Cards for Dad - there's still time 398K 33.3%
10-Jun Fig & Olive (Rest) What Dad Really Wants For Father's Day 249K 31.9%
14-Jun Macy's Save on Apple Watches this Father's Day! 160K 31.5%
4-Jun Hallmark Unique gifts for the best Dad ever 115K 31.0%
17-Jun Patagonia When dads and daughters tie in together 1.0M 30.9%
4-Jun Van Heusen Dad Approved Polos from $19.99 110K 29.0%
8-Jun Bed, Bath & Beyond Redeem your 20% off coupon in time for Father's Day + 25% off ALL Nespresso 116K 28.7%
24-May Yeti The Father's Day Gift Guide is Here 678K 28.5%
7-Jun Bonobos Dads, Daughters & Dogs: A Feel Good Story 350K 26.9%
5-Jun Georgetown Cupcake Celebrate Father's Day, Graduation, and the Start of Summer with Georgetown Cupcake! 407K 26.7%
12-Jun Mrs. Fields Cookies No (Dad) Joke - 25% Off! 132K 26.7%
15-Jun T.G. I. Fridays Dad's eat free. 410K 26.6%
24-May KOA Father's Day Gift Idea: Camping! 411K 26.3%
5-Jun Container Store For Dad: The Perfect Garage 660K 26.0%
16-Jun Macy's Time is running out! Extra 25% off gifts for the best dad ever! 1.2M 25.7%

The erosion of read rate performance mentioned above reflects a pattern we’ve been observing for longer than we like to see.  Our next Blogpost will explore that subject in more depth. Stay tuned.