Halloween 2016: More emails, slightly worse read rates, and sharply eroding deliverability

We’ve just seen a slightly…

Article by John Landsman CATEGORIES: Holiday/Event, News & Updates TAGS:

We’ve just seen a slightly more active Halloween email cycle this year. Brands mailed more than 20,000 messages (up about 27% from last year) with various Halloween-themed keywords in their subject lines. Seventy-five percent of those used “Halloween” itself.  Other frequent keywords, appearing in combination or separately, included “Trick or Treat,” “Boo!”, “Scary,” “Costumes,” and “Spooky.”  Others, in smaller numbers, conjured “Ghosts,” “Goblins,” “Witches,” and “Fright.”

Most Halloween-themed emails deployed during October.  Forty percent of those deployed in just the five days ending October 31. Almost 40% of those on Halloween itself.  We also saw almost 200 between July and September, and almost as many deploying on the day after Halloween.

halloweenHalloween emailers spanned the breadth of B2C companies. Retail Halloween email promotes occasion-related merchandise, as well as general use of Halloween as an opportunity to mount yet another sales event  Travel is represented (Uber was selling home delivery of costumes, and party supplies), as are gifts (Halloween bouquets), food and candy (festive eats — see example at left).

As we have observed in virtually all recent special-event selling cycles, the major retailers mailed very lightly for Halloween. The number of campaigns ranged from only a handful (Macy’s, Kohl’s, Target), to 30-40 (Walmart, Amazon).

Halloween-themed Email Year-over-Year

  • Read rates eroded slightly, from 12% in 2015 to 11% of 2016 Halloween emails with read rates exceeding 20%.
  • Inbox delivery rates eroded sharply, from 47% in 2015 to 23% of 2016 Halloween emails with inbox deliverability exceeding 90%.


Here are subject lines and other details from eight examples of high-performing 2016 Halloween emails, reflecting the wide range of mailers leveraging the Halloween theme. How did your email measure up?

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