The Q3 2019 Megaphone Report investigated two main channels:

Facebook & Instagram ads for 56 brands and retailers, who ran a total of 11,384 different ads during the survey period of August 12th to 31st, 2019. We take a snapshot of Instagram and Facebook ads to get a sense of how brands approached the channel across the quarter.  

Email marketing campaigns of 56 brands and retailers, who sent a total of 2,002 emails during the survey period of July 1st to September 25th, 2019. Despite the level of consumer activity on Facebook & Instagram, email marketing remains crucial—not only because of rising digital advertising costs, but also because emails are one of the most direct channels a brand has to communicate with its customers.

This Megaphone Report is exclusively available to Plus, Team and Premier Members.

Key takeaways:

  • Overall, digital marketing campaigns (defined as email combined with Instagram and Facebook ads) doubled between Q2 and Q3 2019. The surveyed companies focused mainly on paid social advertising versus email marketing.
  • Although digital marketing campaigns increased overall, the companies who sent the most digital marketing campaigns sent 16% fewer emails in Q3 versus Q2.
  • Discounts and promotions were included in 24% of all emails sent (versus 40% in Q2) and 63% of all paid social ads in Q3 (versus 34% in Q2).

Case studies:  Away, Brandless, Dirty Lemon, Dover Street Market, Everlane, Fenty Beauty, Hims, Honest Co., Kylie Cosmetics, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, Outlier, Ralph Lauren, Rebag, Revolve, Ritual, Supreme, Sephora, Stitch Fix, The RealReal, Warby Parker, Ulta Beauty, Vineyard Vines.

Q3 2019 Superlatives

🏆Social Butterfly Award: Sephora ran 1,570 digital marketing campaigns.

🏆Discount Queen: 99.4% of Vineyard Vines’ paid social ads included a discount, promotion or exploding offer. 

🏆Do I need to ghost you? The RealReal sent 216 marketing emails (an average of more than 18 per week).

🏆The latest and greatest: Revolve ran 355 new product ads on Facebook and Instagram.

🏆Sign me up: The RealReal sent 213 emails featuring sign-ups and downloads;  Revolve followed with 137 emails featuring these calls-to-action.

🏆Anyone home?: A tie between Louis Vuitton and Ulta Beauty, who sent zero marketing emails.

🏆Most intentional: 80% of Warby Parker’s paid social ads featured brand-related content rather than specific products. 

🏆Social media cleanse: A tie between Brandless, Dirty Lemon, Outlier, Supreme and Tommy John who sent email marketing campaigns and evaded paid social altogether.

🏆Trust me: 81% of Honest Company’s social ads included testimonial text or videos.

Digital Overview: Paid Social and Emails

The companies with the most digital marketing campaigns also ranked the highest in paid social ads, showing an overall focus on this marketing channel in Q3 2019.

Notable Mentions

  • The average number of digital marketing campaigns in Q3 increased to 181 versus 137 during Q2.
  • Nordstrom (-28%) and Ralph Lauren (-26%) were the only companies in this group that had fewer digital marketing campaigns in Q3 versus Q2.

Notable Mentions

  • Revolve sent the most emails in Q3, the same number of emails it sent during Q2.
  • Honest Co. and Nordstrom Rack were the only companies to feature fewer paid social ads in Q3, while Honest Co. featured 31% less and Nordstrom Rack 5% less than Q2.

Q3 2019 Facebook & Instagram ads

Vineyard Vines’ ads accounted for 10% of the total Q3 2019 paid social ads and strongly contributed to the paid social channel’s growth between Q2 and Q3 2019.

Notable Mentions

  • Vineyard Vines ads increased by 4x between Q2 and Q3 2019. 99% of its ads featured promotions and discounts.
  • Sephora ads comprised 13% of all ads sent during the survey period,  followed by Revolve, which accounted for 10% of the total.
  • Everlane decreased its paid social output in Q3 by 76%. Most of Everlane’s Q3 paid social ads focused on new product and new colorways whereas Q2 included more ads featuring basic items like T-shirts and button-downs.
  • Hims continues to simplify its paid social strategy (as discussed last quarter) with 31% fewer paid social ads in Q3 versus Q2.
  • 52% of Fenty Beauty ads included discounts and promotions this quarter. The company increased its ad output by over 4x between Q2 and Q3, which was mostly due to an increase in new product ads.

Notable Mentions

  • For retailers, non-product ads increased in Q3 with Sephora and Stitch Fix leading the way.
  • 30% of Ulta’s ads did not reference products and instead focused on store openings and exploding offers.

Discounts and promotions within paid social ads increased significantly between Q2 and Q3, featured in 55% more ads in Q3.

Notable Mentions

  • Brands featured more discounts than retailers in Q3 (78% of brands vs. 21% of retailers). The inverse was the case in Q2.
  • Rebag had the lowest number of discount/promo ads in Q3.

In Q3 2019 signup/downloads for paid social ads decreased by 4% from Q2, mainly due to Stitch Fix’s lack of signup and download ads in Q3.

Notable Mention

  • Fenty Beauty had 66% more signup/download messages between Q2 and Q3 2019.

Q3 2019 Email Marketing

Retailers sent the most emails in Q3 2019, using this channel to feature multiple messages in one format. Companies sending the most emails often combined loyalty program information with curated product assortments.

Notable Mentions

  • Dover Street Market entered the top-ranking group, but with only a small increase in its overall number of emails. It replaced Net-a-porter, who held the spot in Q2. 
  • Stitch Fix sent the smallest number of marketing emails among retailers, with only 24 emails.

Notable Mentions

  • Kylie Cosmetics and J. Crew entered the top six brands in this category in Q3. 
  • Kylie Cosmetics doubled its email output this quarter. The brand continues to use social channels only for organic content.
  • Ritual sent 53% fewer emails and 44% less paid social ads in Q3, reflecting its focus on organic social content as told on its Instagram and Facebook pages. 
  • Him’s, All Birds, Dirty Lemon and Away sent the least number of marketing emails among brands.  

Most subject lines were straightforward, followed by catchy or clickbait-worthy prose. Even fewer relied on time-sensitivity to get recipients to click out of FOMO.

Notable Mentions

  • Straightforward subject lines are consistently the most used each quarter by both retailers and brands.  
  • J. Crew sent the most emails that featured urgent subject lines and accounted for 17.8% of all of the urgent subject lines, followed by Casper and Kylie Cosmetics at 8% each.
  • Michael Kors had the most clickbaity emails, which comprised 10% of all clickbait emails.

Loyalty and membership programs continue to be the most widely used attribute for marketing emails in Q3 2019. 76% of emails contained loyalty program or membership information, the same percentage as Q2.

Notable Mentions

  • Michael Kors has the most sign-up/download emails (27% of all emails sent) followed by Fenty Beauty with 12.4%.
  • 98% of Michael Kors’ emails included a prompt to signup/download the brand’s app. 
  • Three emails during Q3 featured information around a charity event or a donation program, the same as Q2.