Black Friday & Cyber Monday Trends and Analysis

Discussion in 'Mail Chat' started by PushSend, Dec 16, 2011.

  1. PushSend

    PushSend VIP

    Apr 12, 2011
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    The Post-Thanksgiving promotional period saw many shifts this year. Stores opened earlier, customer petitioned to have them open later, and Black Friday kicked off days before it was actually Friday. This report will review trends leading up to the major shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and will then dig deeper into analysis on the specific days.


    Brands included in sample: 254
    All times are Eastern Time
    Total Number of Emails in October Sample: 2,746
    Total Number of Emails in November Sample: 3,803
    Black Friday Promotional Period: Monday 11/21 - Saturday 11/26
    Total Number of Emails During Black Friday Promotional Period: 896
    Cyber Monday Promotional Period: Sunday 11/27 - Tuesday 11/29
    Total Number of Emails During Cyber Monday Promotional Period: 585
    Overall Trends

    The climb to the high frequency holiday season began in early October. It should be noted that email volume consistently dips on Saturdays and tops off for the week on Fridays. This trend can be seen leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
    Retailers sent an average of 15 emails during the month of November compared to 10 in October. 2.4% sent over 50 messages in November compared to 0.7% in October. The most frequent sender sent 68 messages in November.
    247 emails in November contained "Black Friday" representing 6.95% of November***8217;s overall sample. October contained 5 references representing 0.18%. Early mentions of Black Friday promotions can build anticipation, but clearly marketers are not promoting the event during the month prior. The Black Friday rumble really starts on 11/18. The last Black Friday reference was received Sunday 11/27 at 7:00am.

    142 emails in November contained "Cyber Monday" representing 3.88% of all messages received in November. October only contained 1 reference representing 0.04%. Cyber Monday references are concentrated closer to the actual day when compared to Black Friday and really do not take off until the Saturday after Black Friday. The last Cyber Monday reference was received Tuesday 11/29 at 1:30pm.
    Viewing email volume for -/+ 1 day of the shopping event shows that more email is sent the day before Black Friday getting shoppers prepared for the big event. Cyber Monday saw higher volume on the actual sale day and day after compared to Black Friday though both events declined at a similar rate for post day deployments.
    Black Friday

    Black Friday Promotional Period (Mon 11/21 - Sat 11/26)
    896 emails received during the Black Friday Promotional Period.
    Email volume steadily increased beginning the Tuesday before Black Friday. Wednesday and Thursday saw a similar amount of hits to the inbox. While this builds anticipation for the main event, messages sent on Tuesday may stand a better chance of cutting through the clutter of the other pre-Black Friday days. Saturday saw the lowest amount of traffic with a 41% decrease in emails received compared to the previous day.
    Thanksgiving Day saw an early morning spike followed by a mid-afternoon increase at 4pm. It should be noted that no emails were received during the 11:00pm hour from the sample of 254 brands. With many stores opening at or before midnight, the late night hours could be a prime time to message the night owls. These hours could be used to influence late night or early morning shopping plans or since volume is low, this window could be an opportunity to send a light hearted email to known in-store shoppers encouraging them to "hang in there."
    Volume begins to climb at midnight but continuing the trend from Thursday, these early morning hours are lower than expected. The rise between 3:00am - 7:00am means inboxes are being slammed with "Black Friday Begins Now" emails when earlier sends could cut the clutter.
    Retailers sent an average of 4 emails during the Black Friday Promotional Period. The most frequent sender sent 17 emails within the 6 day shopping period.
    3.2% of retailers sent 10 or more messages during the period and 17.3% only sent 1 email.
    Sending multiple messages during Black Friday was common with 23.1% of retailers sending more than 1 email within the 24 hour period.
    Black Friday subject lines are notorious for pushing urgency noting when offers become available or expire. Taking a look at percentage and dollar off usage provides an interesting spectrum of the variation of promotions.
    Subject lines containing percentage discounts and no dollar off were most common with 32.5% of the sample. Dollar off with no percentage was a far second representing 14.4%. Only 4.7% of subject lines contained both a % and $ discount.
    Black Friday definitely leans more toward in-store shopping but a sizeable amount of subject lines, 17.4%, touted "Free Shipping."
    Only 1.3% of subject lines featured "Gift Card" or "Gift Certificate.
    Only 6 emails used the phrase "Free Gift." Most specified the gift rather than using the generic phrase "Free Gift" in the subject line such as P.S. from Aéropostale: "Black Friday Starts NOW! Free Bear, Free Shipping & MORE!"
    Only 44.7% of emails received on Black Friday used the phrase "Black Friday" in the subject line saving valuable real estate to highlight offers.
    With Black Friday starting earlier each year it***8217;s worth noting that marketers continue to promote their deals after Friday has come and gone. 10% of emails received on Saturday contained a reference to Black Friday in the subject line.

    Cyber Monday Promotional Period (Sun 11/27 - Wed 11/30)
    585 emails received during the Cyber Monday Promotional Period
    After a bit of a reprieve on Saturday, pre-Cyber Monday volume begins to ramp up on Sunday. The Tuesday after Cyber Monday saw a similar day-over-day dip at 43% compared to the 41% decrease the Saturday after Black Friday.
    Similar to Black Friday Eve, a very small amount of emails were received during the late night hours of Cyber Monday Eve. This is a time when many shoppers may be sitting at their computers waiting for the stroke of midnight to snatch up the best deals.
    Volume immediately begins to increase at midnight and reaches full steam at 6:00am. While this time may seem to catch customers when they are waking up, it is important to consider that Cyber Monday (for most subscribers) is a work day. Shoppers will likely stay up late the night before or wake up earlier than usual to shop Cyber Monday deals before starting the typical Monday morning routine.
    Retailers sent an average of 3 emails during the Cyber Monday Promotional Period. The most frequent sender sent 10 emails over the 4 day promotional period.
    14.3% of retailers sent 5 or more messages during the period and surprisingly 22.7% only sent 1 email.
    Sending multiple messages per day was more common on Cyber Monday with 29.2% of retailers sending more than 1 email. This is 5.9% higher compared to brands sending multiple messages during Black Friday.
    Leading the pack again at 32.5% are subject lines containing a promotion with a % discount and no $.
    At 7.1%, the amount of subject lines containing a dollar off promotion and no percentage discount is less than half of what was seen on Black Friday which had 14.4%.
    Falling more in line with Black Friday were subject lines containing both dollar and percentage off offers at 4.1%.
    As expected, "Free Shipping" appears more frequently than Black Friday with 30.6% of subject lines contained the phrase. That***8217;s 13.2% more than Black Friday.
    Nearly an identical amount, 1.2%, of subject lines featured "Gift Card" or "Gift Certificate.
    Surprisingly no emails used the phrase "Free Gift."
    49.5% of messages received on Cyber Monday contained the phrase "Cyber Monday" which is nearly 5% higher than what was seen on Black Friday.
    Cyber Monday touts carried over to Tuesday with 8.5% of emails received containing a reference to Cyber Monday in the subject line slightly less than the 10% seen the Saturday after Black Friday.
    Fun Facts:

    Subject Lines:

    Subject Line Length (Including Spaces)
    • Average Subject Line Length: 52 characters
    • Longest Subject Line: 179 characters. (Gilt Group had the top 5 longest subject lines.)
    • Gilt Group: "Gilt Group: Calvin Klein Collection, Edun & Benson, Warm Up: Jackets & Hoodies, Pillow Blowout: Up to 80% Off, Designer 101 Blowout Sale Up to 80% Off: Part 1 and more Starts Today at Noon ET"
    • Shortest Subject Line: 8 characters
    • Sephora: "Surprise"
    Email File Size:

    The average file size was 29kb. Most emails were 17kb. The largest email received was 253kb and 2% of all emails received were over 100kb.
    "Oops" and "Apology" Emails:

    Not making accusations for the emails represented below, but many marketers now plan an "oops" mailing during times of peak volume. These messages can really stand out in an overflowing inbox and typically see high open rates and have been known to bring in some incremental additional revenue.

    There were 5 "apology" or "oops" mailings during the Post-Thanksgiving Promotion Period. The subject lines used were:
    • "Oops! SPECIAL OFFER INSIDE... You shopped till we dropped"
    • "Oops! We're Sorry. Come back and get yesterday's deals - today!"
    • "Our Apologies... Cyber Monday 50% Off + Free Shipping Extended!"
    • "Oops! Sorry Our Site Was Slow. FREE Shipping on Everything & Site-Wide Sale Extended Today!"
    • "Oops! Sorry for the Typo: Cyber Monday Deals End in Minutes!"
    Jim Davidson
    Manager of Marketing Research

    source: Bronto
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2011

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