Hurricanes increase the sales of Pop Tarts! | DMA

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Hurricanes increase the sales of Pop Tarts!


Have you ever considered that external factors such as the weather can have an impact on your email marketing? It may seem obvious but a recent talk by Return Path’s Guy Hanson at the Festival of Marketing Awards explained some of the less predictable effects…

When hurricane Charlie hit the United States this year, Walmart noticed some significant patterns in the sales of certain products – they wanted to uncover insights to help them with future sales strategies.

It was discovered that pop tarts sales during hurricane Charlie increased by 15%. We can only guess that this was seen as a convenient comfort food! This allowed Walmart to increase stock on these types of products next time a Hurricane warning was issued, in turn increasing sales.

Hanson’s team have discovered some further interesting trends in consumer behaviour. For example, as temperatures rise, fewer marketing emails are read and more people unsubscribe or hit spam. In colder weather, opens increase – so retailers need to be creative and savvy with their online selling, adapting the focus of their product offering as the weather changes.

And it’s not just weather that affects marketing strategies. There is also a strong linear correlation between earnings and open rates. The more you earn the more likely you are to open an email ‘selling goods’. In addition payday i.e. end of the month will help increase opens – all good points to bear in mind when sending out email campaigns.

One of the most interesting factors Hanson highlighted was not to underestimate the influence of external sentiments and how this can provide opportunities. During the most recent rounds of tube strikes, clever businesses such as taxis, restaurants (offering 2-4-1s), and grocers (dine-in meals) utilised targeted timely email campaigns that played to the mood of the public.

Current affairs can also play a big role; If a retailer is in the news (and it is positive i.e. John Lewis at Christmas) it can increase open rates. However, bad press can heighten unsubscribes – think Talk Talk and the effect that would have had on consumer sentiment. Those retailers that suffer from fraud can also suffer when people are too nervous to engage.

Hanson recommended a good read - Inside the Nudge Unit - which touches upon how you can use ‘crowd power’ to help conversion. For example, HMRC increased its email opens by 4.5% by including the line ‘9 out of 10 people pay their tax on time’. So how about saying 9 out of 10 people are happy to receive the emails you receive, to help stop those opt outs?

With the above in mind, next time marketers embark on a new email campaign it is well worth thinking of how external factors could build into you strategy and may create better conversions.

Some of this great insight will be covered in the new DMA tracking report, to be published soon – keep your eyes peeled!

Sharon Oliver is Client Services Director at Fieldworks.

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