By John Landsman, Director, Strategy and Analytics

eDataSource took a look at examples of this year’s Halloween email, and put together a quick story that might interest you.

This year’s Halloween activity started as early as July.  It’s divided between mailings about traditional Halloween merchandise, and mailings that piggyback on the Halloween event, but promote goods and services unrelated to Halloween.  There’s been a lot of activity, but less than 10% of the read rates we saw exceeded 20%.  There’s a strong relationship between smaller mailing quantities and higher read rates, reflecting the effectiveness of targeting.  Most of the campaigns reflect direct price-off promotional activity.

See additional detail in the accompanying content.



– We began detecting Halloween-themed email as early as July
– In the 30 days or so ending 10/31, we’ve seen over 30,000 campaigns with the word Halloween in the subject line or message body
– A lesser number of campaigns carry other keywords; e.g., ‘fright,’ ‘ghost,’ boo,’ ‘scary,” ‘costumes,’ ‘candy,’ and/or variations of ‘spook’
– The messaging we see is divided into two distinct categories:

  • The predictable — featuring Halloween-related merchandise; e.g., costumes,candy, party goods
  • The piggy-backers — those leveraging the Halloween event, mounting special promotions featuring goods and services not related to traditional Halloween merchandise. Many of these occur in the travel space.

– We looked at examples of strong and weak performers from each category


Key Takeaways

– Engagement with these emails has not been consistently robust. Only about 6% of the directly Halloween-themed messages had a read rate of 20% or higher.
– We see the usual relationship between lower mailing quantities and higher read rates, reflecting the effectiveness of targeting
– Virtually all campaigns reflect promotional activity; most with direct price-off references.
– Frequent use of symbols in subject lines: e.g., pumpkins, ghosts, skull and bones. Their effect on email engagement is not clear.
– Other highlights:

  • Highest read rate: Amazon (42% — Subj. “ Halloween Costumes, Candy + More”)
  • Most interesting Halloween merchandise: Vision Direct (theatrical lenses); Petco (pet costumes)
  • Most imaginative subject line (from a Piggyback example) — JetSetter: “Costume Idea: Be On Vacation”
  • Most arresting subject line (from a Piggyback example) — Jet Blue: “Halloween fares from $31, one-way”




Strong Preformers
Babies R Us: 9/28
Subject: “Celebrate baby’s first Halloween with us on October 17th”
Mailed: 125,000
Read Rate: 33.33%

Kmart: 10/5
Subject Line: “This is not a drill. Get 30% off over 5,000 Halloween costumes”
Mailed: 60,000
Read Rate: 27.78%

Amazon: 9/16
Subject: “ HalloweenCostumes, Candy + More”
Mailed: 43,000
Read Rate: 41.67%

Weaker Preformers

Vision Direct: 9/28
Subject: “20% off theatrical lenses – scary good Halloween savings”
Mailed: 516,000
Read Rate: 17.54%

Target: 10/15
Subject: “ 3Halloween-deal treats”
Mailed: 13.2 million
Read Rate: 10.98%

Better Homes & Gardens: 9/20
Subject: “Halloween Crafts We ♥”
Mailed: 936,000
Read Rate: 10.24%

Toys R Us: 10/16
Subject: “Boo-ray! Save BIG on ALL Halloween Costumes
Mailed: 518,000
Read Rate: 15.15%

Petco: 10/12
Subject: “Halloween Bootique – Shop Now and Save Big!”
Mailed: 4.2 million
Read Rate: 11.82%




Strong Preformers

Jet Blue: 10/4
Subject: “Halloween fares from $31, one-way”
Mailed: 2.9 million
Read Rate: 26.47%

TravelZoo, 9/28
Subject: “California’s great American Halloween Haunt”
Mailed: 139,000
Read Rate: 25.38%

SeaWorld – San Diego: 9/23
Subject: “Halloween spooktacular pass members sneak peak – 9/25”
Mailed: 72,000
Read Rate: 28.57%

Weaker Preformers

JetSetter: 10/22
Subject: “Costume Idea:Be On Vacation”
Mailed: 6.2 million
Read Rate: 12.51%

Urban Outfitters:
Subject: “Click on the to shop Halloween.”
Mailed: 267,000
Read Rate: 12.77%


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