Valentine’s Day is undoubtedly one of the biggest money-making holidays for companies in our Gifts & Remembrances market sector. Brands such as ProFlowers, Red Envelope, 1-800-Flowers, FTD, Things Remembered and Harry & David all make their promotional email push two or three weeks before February 14th comes around. These campaigns usually do very well, with higher than average open rates. Again, these campaignsusually do very well… that is, when customers actually receive the emails. But when the emails end up in their Junk or Spam folders, potential revenue gets lost in there as well.

There’s always the challenge of finding the right balance between mailing frequency and revenue maximization throughout the year. But right around a holiday, companies are conditioned to increase the mailing frequency of their campaigns in an effort to boost sales, which can overwhelm their subscribers and have a negative effect on inbox placement with various ISPs. As a result, they miss out on potential revenue from a portion of their customer base because the emails do not make it into their subscribers’ inboxes.

A quick glimpse into EDS Analyst™ shows that Gmail was the harshest ISP (as compared to Yahoo and AOL) with inbox placement around Valentine’s Day this year. This is most certainly due to the sudden influx of promotional email activity from the companies themselves and from third party senders. Below is a screenshot of the inbox placement rate for ProFlowers over the past 90 days. The rate for Gmail started to dip two weeks before February 14th (from 92.5% to 62.9%, Jan 30-Feb 12) and plummeted to an alarming 26.1% during the week of Valentine’s Day (Feb 13-Feb 19).

ProFlowers experienced a similar dip in their Gmail inbox placement rate around the same time last year and did not fully recover until November, when the rate went back into the 90% range. This year, however, they have taken a proactive approach by sending out Gmail-specific campaigns to try to restore their sender reputation and improve their inbox placement rate with Gmail more quickly. Since Gmail weighs user engagement heavily when evaluating a company’s sender reputation, ProFlowers is explicitly asking (begging?) their subscribers to open their emails or to add them to their address books by including key call to actions in the subject lines. Some of the subject lines that they have recently used include:

  • Gmail Customer Notice: Open if you missed yesterday’s special discount!
  • Help Teach Gmail to Like ProFlowers. Give us a Star…

Will this tactic help ProFlowers rebound faster with Gmail inbox placement this year versus last year? Key for them, and other companies in our Gifts & Remembrances market sector, is to make sure that they have good inbox placement in time for their next big money-making holiday, Mother’s Day. Their inbox placement rate has improved during the weeks following Valentine’s Day, but is still below 50%.  Let’s see how soon Gmail will allow the majority of ProFlowers emails back into the users’ inboxes, if at all.

Check back here after Mother’s Day to find out if there is indeed love between Gmail and ProFlowers…


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