Did Estee Lauder and Clinique’s Lunar New Year Emails Pay Off?

Over this past weekend, San Francisco’s Chinatown hosted their annual Chinese New Year parade. Approximately one million people attended the event to enjoy the lion dancers, floats, fireworks, and of course, the 200-foot long Golden Dragon.

In my last blog post, I praised Estee Lauder and Clinique for recognizing the Chinese New Year holiday in their emails. In this blog, I will share some of their key metrics (e.g., Read Rate) by leveraging data from Return Path’s Inbox Insight and Labs Frequency Finder, which is an exciting new app that’s only available to clients through the Email Intelligence Suite.

As suspected, Estee Lauder and Clinique sent their Lunar New Year emails to a segment of subscribers, rather than to their entire list file. According to Inbox Insight, Estee Lauder only sent their mailings to ~34% of their panel subscribers, while Clinique only sent it to ~35%. The “panel size” represents the largest number of subscribers the sender has sent to in a single mailing.

To conduct my analysis, I used the tagging feature in Inbox Insight to allow me to compare the performance of Chinese New Year campaigns with other categories of campaigns.   The “free” category reflects emails that included free offers or bonuses, while the “regular” emails didn’t.

Estee Lauder

Table 1 compares Estee Lauder’s 2/8/2015 “Be Radiant for Chinese New Year with Nutritious” email to mailings from the other categories. The results of the Chinese New Year email were very similar to the regular emails with the same Read Rate, slightly higher Deleted Without Reading Rate, and a lower percentage sent to the spam folder. Emails that include a free offer continued to outperform with a 10% Read Rate.

Table 1: Estee Lauder Inbox Insight Data from February 5 – March 5.estee_1_cyn

On Chinese New Year day, the following Estee Lauder emails were sent:

Table 2: Estee Lauder’s Follow-up Emails

# Time Subject Line & Notes Panel Size
2a 4:36 AM “Happy Chinese New Year! Celebrate with 6 Free Top-Rated Favorites (with your purchase)” In this email, a free offer was included, whereas the original email didn’t. 32%
2b 11:08 AM Celebrate the New Year and Try 6 Free, with your purchase.‏ The creative resembled a simple text format with limited images. 33%
2c 5:06 PM Final Hours! Try 6 Favorites Free, with your purchase.‏ The body of the email mentioned Chinese New Year, even though the subject line didn’t. 32%

The follow-up Chinese New Year emails were a hit, most likely due to the free offers. The Read Rate increased from 9% to 11% and the Spam Rate declined as low as .2% from .6%. The file size decreased slightly from 37%, indicating that some form of deliverability or engagement metric was used to reduce the segment size. Table 3 shows that the follow-up emails even outperformed the standard “free” emails.

Table 3. Estee Lauder’s Follow-up Emails.


The Labs Frequency Finder results below show that Estee Lauder sends to a high percentage of Secondary Account holders, who only contribute to 11% of the overall Read Rate. To gather this data, Labs Frequency Finder collects behavioral data from a panel of more than 4 million consumers and classifies mail into one of three Account Types. Based on a consumer panel size of 4,157, 29% of Estee Lauder’s consumers are Primary Account holders, who read all or most of their messages. 70% reside with Secondary Account holders, who selectively read their emails. 1% are Dead Account holders, who don’t read their emails at all.  The Primary Account holders generate 89% of the overall Read Rate, while the Dead Account holders generate less than 1%.



Overall, Estee Lauder’s Chinese New Year emails were a success. The initial email resulted similarly to their other emails and the follow-up emails had even stronger Read Rates when free offers were provided. However, Estee Lauder’s emails in general have “Below Average” campaign engagement ratings with subscribers, as indicated by the orange triangles. This is further supported by Labs Frequency Finder with the low Read Rates among their highest consumer account type. Estee Lauder should still leverage the free offers when necessary, test the sending frequency, and be cautious about fatiguing their subscribers, especially since they’re known to mail every few days and multiple times per day.


Table 4 compares Clinique’s 2/6/2015 “Lunar New Year looks to love + FREE lipstick mini.” email to their other emails. The results were the reverse of Estee Lauder. The Lunar New Year email didn’t outperform their other mailings. However, it is important to note that the “regular” emails are typically sent to a very small segment size that regularly engages.

Table 4: Clinique Inbox Insight Data from February 5 – March 5


Clinique sent the follow-up email on February 17, instead of the actual New Year day (February 19). The subject line was “Start the Lunar New Year in Style + Free lipstick.” The panel size was slightly lower at 33% than the initial mailing at 36%. The Read and Spam Rates improved, but the Deleted Without Reading Rate increased, as shown in Table 5.

Table 5: Clinique’s Follow-up Email




Although Clinique’s Lunar New Year emails weren’t as successful in comparison to their other emails, Clinique has a campaign engagement rating of “Above Average,” as indicated by the green outlined circle. This is evident when they send to a smaller panel size, which results in higher Read Rates and lower Deleted Without Reading and Spam Rates. Labs Frequency finder also supports this data and shows a higher percentage of Primary Account holders that contributes to 91% of the overall Read Rate. Like Estee Lauder, Clinique is also known for mailing every few days and multiple times per day. By reducing the frequency and focusing more on segmentation, Clinique’s Lunar New Year emails for next year should improve and hopefully see good fortune.


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