Once we hit Q4, we start hearing from clients / prospects (and start asking ourselves) an annual set of calendar-related questions:
What should I do about my email prospecting campaigns over the November and December holiday breaks?
Will we still get leads in December?
Should we just shut it all down in November and pick up in January?
How does Santa get to all of those houses in a single night? Is it timezones? Magic? If it is magic — is it elf magic? Reindeer magic? Does the magic originate from Santa? Or does Santa just act as a conduit or activating agent for the magic? Seriously, how does he do it?
When should we stop and restart sending our prospecting emails?
I’m so glad that you asked!
We’ve covered these topics (in nauseating detail) before, so we thought we’d take another look this year with (admittedly) better data and a simpler methodology. Read on for more.
Our data shows that November and December email prospecting performs more or less on par with other months, with the obvious caveat that you should plan for a few blackout weeks around Thanksgiving and Christmas.
So to you, our clients and friends, we recommend that you:
- Run at full throttle for the first few weeks of November.
- Stop all email the Tuesday afternoon before Thanksgiving. (No Wednesday email.)
- Resume at full throttle the first few weeks of December.
- Stop all email the week of Christmas and New Year’s.
- Resume at increased throttle the first business day of January to make up for the lost volume / activity from the December pause.
You’ll see some variability week-over-week, but we can say with a very high degree of confidence that November and December are productive months well within the margin of “normal” months — just with a bit less volume.
You can stop reading now if you want. 🙂
Or continue for the data and graphs that support these recommendations…and the answer to the Santa question.
Data Tells the Story
When we looked at this data 12 months ago, we had to look at data from 2018/2019 (24 months ago) to uncover the story. Our data from that period of RevBoss is…not that great.
Today, we have waaaay more clients and much richer, much tighter data — i.e. we couldn’t easily track lead rate 24 months ago.
Surprisingly, the more comprehensive and instructive data tells a story that is awfully boring.
First — let’s take a look at the following key metrics:
Open Rate — the number of opened emails divided by the number of sent emails.
Reply Rate — the number of email replies divided by the number of prospects that received at least one email.
Lead Rate — the number of leads generated divided by the number of prospects that received at least one email.
…for November 2019, December 2019, January 2020, and February 2020:
Overall open rate dips slightly in December, because obviously — people get distracted around the holidays. It recovers slightly in January and trends up heading into February and March, even though we don’t show it here. And even these fluctuations are single digit points, so pretty small potatoes.
Reply rate basically doesn’t change.
Lead rate ALSO basically doesn’t change — which was honestly a surprise for us. We figured we’d see a drop off in December and a big bounce in January. Nope, we saw lead rates as follows:
- November — 1.24%
- December — 1.31%
- January — 1.16%
- February — 1.10%
Lead rate actually INCREASED by 5.6% in December and then DROPPED 11% to a more “normal” number in January…and we think that the changes in volume help explain why:
Even when we stopped sending for nearly two full weeks around Christmas and New Year’s, email volume and lead volume only dropped by 18% and 14% from November and December.
We suspect that the lead rate didn’t snap back in line with email volume in January because, well…I’m not sure why. The holiday hangover seems like an easy answer — January is a super busy month for a lot of people. But the graph definitely looked weird to us at first glance.
We send A LOT of email in January, so the month-over-month percent changes are a bit misleading. Framing the numbers in a different way might simplify the comparison — in January we sent 1.67X the email we sent in December and we generated 1.48X the leads we generated in December. These ratios are clustered much closer together and might be the better way to think about the December to January transition.
This got us feeling better about things, but we wanted to keep digging. We thought that we might uncover an interesting story by looking at the data week over week…but we really didn’t.
As you probably would expect, performance slowly tapers off heading in to Thanksgiving, then perks back up the first week on December, then slowly degrades heading in to Christmas, and then looks “normal” in January / February:
So if you’ve read this far, thank you.
Ultimately, I think that the “what should we do about December!?!?” mini-panic that we (and our clients) experience every year is much ado over nothing. There is a little variability week-over-week, but in aggregate the monthly data looks more-than-reasonably consistent — even with large chunks of no volume in November and December.
So please plan accordingly.
Lastly — regarding Santa, it’s definitely magic…but the magic comes from all of us in the form of THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT. We’re both the source AND the conduit for Christmas magic. Santa is merely the manifestation of our collective magic and — more importantly — our universal hope for renewal, goodwill, and peace for all mankind.
Holler if you have any questions, Santa-related or otherwise.
Happy (almost) holidays!