The Q4 2019 Megaphone Report investigated two main channels:

Facebook & Instagram ads for 58 brands and retailers, who ran a total of 15,425 different ads during the survey period of November 25th to December 1st, 2019. We take a snapshot of Instagram and Facebook ads to get a sense of how brands approached the channel across the quarter, and in Q4 focus on Black Friday.  

Email marketing campaigns of 54 brands and retailers, which sent a total of 4,366 emails during the survey period of October 1st to December 31st, 2019.

Key takeaways:

  • Total digital marketing campaigns (defined as email combined with Instagram and Facebook ads) grew 39% between Q3 and Q4 2019.
  • Paid social ads grew 35% quarter over quarter, with the most significant increase of the year between Q1 and Q2 (88% increase). 
  • In Q4, marketing emails increased slightly month over month, remaining steady even around key holiday dates.
  • However, total email marketing campaigns increased the most (62%) between Q3 and Q4 2019. 

Case studies:  Best Made Company, Comme des Garçons, Dirty Lemon, Dollar Shave Club, Dover Street Market, Everlane, Fenty Beauty, Hims, Honest Co., Glossier, Kylie Cosmetics, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, Outlier, Ralph Lauren, Revolve, Rhone, Supreme, Sephora, Stitch Fix, The RealReal, Tuft & Needle, Warby Parker, Ulta Beauty, Zara.

Q4 2019 Superlatives

?Social Butterfly Award: Revolve ran 1,340 digital marketing campaigns.

?Discount Queen: 74% of Tuft & Needle’s digital marketing campaigns included a discount or promotion. 

?Do I need to ghost you? The RealReal sent 192 marketing emails (an average of 16 per week) followed by Kylie Cosmetics sending 180 emails (15 per week).

?The latest and greatest: Revolve ran 448 new product ads on Facebook and Instagram followed by Warby Parker with 98.

?Sign me up: The RealReal sent 189 emails featuring sign-ups and downloads.

?Anyone home?: Dirty Lemon didn’t send any emails and Hims only sent 6. 

?Most intentional: 74% of Sephora’s paid social ads featured brand-related content rather than specific products. 

?Social media cleanse: A tie between Dover Street Market, Outlier, Supreme and Zara who focused on email but avoided social media. 

?Trust me: 51% of Dollar Shave Club’s social ads included testimonial text or videos.

Paid social ads grew by 78% between Q1 and Q2—the biggest increase of 2019. Growth in paid social ads remained consistent throughout the year, growing around 30% quarter over quarter.

*Reflects weighted averages.

Notable Mentions

  • Email campaigns increased steadily throughout the year but grew significantly (60%) between Q3 and Q4.
  • While paid social ads increased the most between Q1 and Q2 (growing 88%), emails increased the least (growing one percent), proof that both channels operated independently throughout 2019.

Q4 2019 Facebook & Instagram ads

Paid social ads increased by 35% between Q3 and Q4 2019, with 22% of all ads featuring Black Friday promotions—a sign that Black Friday promotions were not the focus for discounts in Q4.

Notable Mentions

  • Tuft & Needle, Rhone and Glossier each grew their paid social ads by over 400% between Q3 and Q4; the majority of the ads included discount messaging.
  • Comme des Garçons, Dirty Lemon, Dover Street Market, Outlier, Supreme and Zara did not invest in any Facebook or Instagram ads in Q4 2019.

Signup/downloads decreased significantly (79%) between Q3 and Q4 2019 as brands focused on selling products via promotions and discounts.

Notable Mentions

  • 41% of all paid social ads in Q4 included promotions and discounts; 78% of all promotions featured Black Friday offers. 
  • The only two companies to include signup and downloads in Q4 were Rhone (one ad) and Sephora (35 ads vs.128 ads in Q3). Fenty Beauty featured 35 in Q3 and zero in Q4.
  • Stitch Fix and Warby Parker featured the most ads with messaging about a service offering (27 and 25, respectively).

Q4 2019 Email Marketing

Marketing emails remained steady month over month, even around key holiday dates, but the most significant increase of the year was between Q3 and Q4 (62%). The increase was mainly from four brands doubling their email campaigns in Q4.

Notable Mentions

  • Overall, brands doubled their email marketing campaigns between Q3 and Q4, significantly out-emailing retailers.
  • Brands sent 75% of all emails in Q4 versus 52% in Q3.

The most emails were sent on December 2nd—40% more emails were sent on this date than on Black Friday.

Notable Mentions

  • The most emails sent in October were sent on the 28th, in November on the 29th and in December on the 2nd. 
  • The majority of emails sent on December 2nd featured urgent subject lines. 
  • In both November and December over 60% of emails included promotions while only 45% of emails featured promotions in October.
  • Discounted emails increased by 7% between November and December. 
  • All of Sephora’s (40) and Ulta’s (7) emails included discounts or promotional messaging. 95% of Nordstrom Rack’s emails featured promotions.

Of the companies that sent the most emails, TheRealReal was the only one to remain consistent between Q3 and Q4.

Notable Mentions

  • Kylie Cosmetics and Michale Kors sent the most emails 15 emails on average per week.
  • TheRealReal (16 emails) and Revolve (13 emails) sending the most on average per week. 
  • Fenty Beauty had the greatest increase in email output between Q3 and Q4, sending close to three times more emails in Q4.
  • Hims sent the least (6) followed by Ulta (7).

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.  
  • Fenty Beauty (70 emails) and Rhone (68 emails) sent the most catchy/clickbait emails.

Loyalty and membership programs continue to decline each quarter; exploding offers became a top attribute in Q4.

Notable Mentions

  • Over 50% of Sephora’s emails included exploding offers.
  • The top brands utilizing Loyalty and Membership sign-ups in emails are Michael Kors (172) and Fenty Beauty (148).

New email messaging surfaced this quarter including emails promoting click & collect and an email with no specific messaging.

Email messaging promoting a sale for a discontinued product line featuring a company email.