Amazon Prime Day email marketing lessons for retailers

by | Jul 11, 2019 | Marketing, Public Relations

In 2018, Amazon Prime Day generated more than $4 billion in sales, according to an analysis by Internet Retailer.1 Prime Day has dominated the summer retail buzz since it started in 2015,2 but retailers competing with Amazon don’t have to miss out on the engagement opportunities that summer deals and off-season sales can offer.

Subscribers are accustomed to receiving offers from brands around Prime Day and are eager to engage. According to email data collected and analyzed between July 9 and July 20, 2018 using Yes Marketing’s proprietary market intelligence tool, ecommerce brands who sent emails that featured the words “Prime Day” in their subject lines generated a 47% higher open rate than the average of other top-performing themed emails sent in Q3 2018, including Oktoberfest, National Dog Day, National Coffee Day and Black Friday in July. In addition, Prime Day emails sent by ecommerce brands saw a 43% higher open rate than the average for all emails sent in Q3 2018.

Prime Day emails sent by apparel and consumer electronics brands also saw significantly higher than average open rates at 15.6% and 15.5%, respectively, compared to the 13.9% average for Q3 2018.

Marketers can learn from Prime Day’s success and harness the excitement around it to engage their audience and drive revenue. Below are four Prime Day takeaways you can apply to your own email marketing strategy this season.

Remember that holidays and themes come and go

Key to what makes Prime Day enticing for consumers is that it doesn’t last forever. The same logic applies when thousands line up for limited Black Friday deals. Stressing scarcity in subject lines and email body is an effective motivator for on-the-fence shoppers to complete a transaction and avoid missing out on major savings, so be clear in your messaging that your offers won’t be around long.

For example, a hair care vendor selling on Amazon got creative with Prime Day’s ticking clock by using the end of Prime Day to offer personal deals, with emails reading, “Amazon Prime Day Offer – extended just for you.” Including a time-sensitive call-to-action is a great way to engage consumers because it communicates a sense of urgency in your offer to them and spotlights the limited time frame in which they have to act on it.

Amazon Prime Day email marketing lessons for retailers


The above email from Amazon, with subject line “Last chance. Have you shopped Prime Day yet?” includes time-sensitive content to create a sense of urgency and an easy-to-find call-to-action button to engage deal shoppers and drive conversions. 

Keep the subject line short and simple

The foundation of a successful email marketing campaign is the subject line. Without a compelling subject line, potential shoppers are less motivated to open your emails. The best way to get your message across is to keep it simple; less is more, especially in today’s age of mobile marketing and purchasing. According to our Subject Line Benchmark report, almost three-quarters (74%) of email subject lines are between 21-60 characters, but the maximum number of displayed characters on most mobile devices is only 35. Make it clear what your email is about, and don’t be afraid to be enthusiastic! Here are some subject line do’s and don’ts illustrated by Amazon Prime Day campaigns.

  • Do: Keep your message simple and clear. Amazon achieved high open rates and engagement with a subject as simple as, “Unique Prime Day deals – Amazon Exclusives.” This email saw a 29.7% open rate, which is more than double (114%) than the Q3 average.
  • Do: Use your subject to stress urgency. As Prime Day neared its close, a heart health tech company selling through Amazon piqued customer interest and earned a 22.1% open rate, 58.9% higher than average, with the subject line, “Amazon Prime Day Sale Ends Tonight!”
  • Don’t: Make subject lines wordy and complicated. Consumers are using mobile devices to check email and make purchases, which means they’re scanning their emails on a smaller screen. Findings from the aforementioned report showed that subject lines with 1-20 characters had a 31% higher-than-average open rate, indicating that subject lines perform better when they can be read quickly and on smaller devices.
  • Don’t: Use misleading subject lines. Subject lines are just the tip of the iceberg. Your email content should support the subject line, and customers shouldn’t have to dig to find your offer. For example, if you’re offering a 30% deal for Amazon Prime Day in the subject line, make it clear which items are eligible and provide a clear call-to-action that brings subscribers directly to the offer or product page.
Amazon Prime Day email marketing lessons for retailers
The above email, with subject line “Bar & Serving Carts: 4 stars & up,” uses a clear and simple subject line to drive engagement and includes specific product deals to engage the subscriber beyond the open.

Prime Day doesn’t have to have all the fun

If your brand wants to capture some of the Prime Day energy and strengthen off-season sales, Black Friday in July is a popular alternative. In the season of summer sales, consumers are eager to engage with truly valuable offers.

According to the National Retail Federation’s Back-to-School 2018 survey, last year’s back-to-school spending totaled an estimated $82.8 billion, and college shopping reached its highest level yet.

Don’t forget, not every promotional message needs an offer. You can use unique seasonal themes to delight or inform your customers and get them in the habit of opening your emails. Forgoing offers like percent or dollar amount off purchase in favor of fun pictures on National Dog Day (August 26) could bring more engaged customers back to your brand on Black Friday.

Amazon Prime Day email marketing lessons for retailers
Amazon Prime Day email marketing lessons for retailers
The above email from Macy’s, with the subject line “Yay for Black Friday in July: get extra 25% off now!” uses a clear 25% discount offer and category-specific call-to-action buttons to drive subscribers to convert. 

Pick your battles

About half (55%) of consumers ignore marketing emails because they receive too many, according to our “Surviving the Retail Apocalypse” report. With so many consumers experiencing inbox overload, brands need to recognize when an opportunity doesn’t fit to avoid contributing to the noise. Holidays and seasonal events can be a great way to increase off-season sales, but if you can’t provide value specific to the chosen event or theme, it’s best to bide your time and wait for a more relevant opportunity.

Subscribers won’t open emails if they don’t see the value, regardless of the theme. If you decide to take advantage of Prime Day, Black Friday in July or another summer sales event, be sure to convey the value of your message and ensure it ties back to your core value proposition to stand out from all the noise.

This article originally appeared on the Yes Marketing blog; reprinted with permission.


1. www.digitalcommerce360.com/article/amazon-prime-day-data/

2. https://www.businessinsider.com/what-is-amazon-prime-day

Ivy Shtereva
Ivy Shtereva is a VP of marketing at Yes Marketing, and is responsible for multichannel strategy and implementation across the email, database, web, and direct marketing channels. She is dedicated to improving the quantity and quality of incoming leads through a combination of engaging content.