Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Trend

I'm a bit of a data hound. And I always like it when the data shows me something different from my intuition. Don't get me wrong: it's affirming to have data that backs up my intuition, but that's not really very interesting. (Mrs. Moreland and all English teachers, pleas forgive that run-on sentence.)

We track our Christmas cards - who we send to and from whom we receive. If you asked me to tell you whether we'd been getting m
ore or fewer cards over the last few years, I'd say fewer. I'd say no one sends snail mail anymore, and few people take the time or expense to connect via the Christmas card anymore. You saw this coming, though, right? I was wrong.

According t
o our spreadsheet, we actually received more than twice as many cards in 2008 as we did in 1997. The chart was created in Google spreadsheets, btw. Now, in that time, we've also increased the number of cards we've sent. in fact, this year, we're sending way more than we received last year. But that's not actually the point. The point is that the number of cards has increased during the period in which snail mail was dying. Actually, there were two big leaps in our card-receiving: 2002-2003 and 2006-2007. I have theories to explain both.

Before 2002, we sent department store cards and didn't write a Christmas letter; we'd just sign them and write a paragraph or so. The paragraphs got shorter and shorter as we got to the end of the alphabet. In 2002, we sent our first family Christmas photo card featuring the two of us holding an adorable baby. Bam, next year, we break 50 cards received. Then, in 2005, we started writing a Christmas letter, too, and we started including funny and cute quotes by our kids. We've gotten a ton of feedback from family and friends that they really like our card, mostly the quotes. It took a while, but I think that explains the jump from 2006 to 2007 as well. The better the Christmas card we send, the more we get in return.

This reminds me of when we had Madeline Stanionis, an email fundraising expert speak at a work event. A woman asked in the Q&A "how do we get people to read our email and not unsubscribe?" Madeline's answer was at once brilliant, simple and challenging to execute: "Send good email."

1 comment:

AzureSong said...

I was just thinking about this as well-- although my intuition went the other way. I was trying to cut down our list, but I found that it was impossible. New friends are added (for example, we branched a new Bible Study and I joined a book club), but old friends can't be dropped, even if you haven't seen each other in 10years, because they keep sending you cards. (How's that for a run on sentence?) I predict my list will get bigger every year that I am on this earth.

I think the primary reason one receives more cards is because one sends more cards. Why would you send more cards in a particular year? Because you had a baby and you are using the card as a birth announcement. Your surges match up with the birth of your boys.

I need research on how to drop people from my list without feeling guilty. I dropped one family this year because we don't see them any more. Also, last year was the only time we exchanged cards. I just got their card. I definately feel GUILTY! DS is telling me to hold firm.

BTW, you do have awesome Christmas cards that I await every year. But I never sign our cards and our list is still gigantic.