Cyber Monday, Black Friday e-mail volume up, deliverability down

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The volume of e-mail marketing messages sent on Black Friday and Cyber Monday hit an all-time high this year. However, according to e-mail vendor Pivotal Veracity, message deliverability was an issue for marketers.

According to the Retail Email Blog, which is run by Smith-Harmon, 71% of major online retailers sent at least one promotional e-mail on Cyber Monday, up 1% from last year. On Black Friday, 69% of major online retailers sent at least one promo message, which was up from 59% in 2008.

“Inbox clutter is a big challenge, and the change in strategy this year on Black Friday was to get on people's radar early,” said Chad White, research director at Responsys and author of the Retail Email Blog. “I saw lots of references to Black Friday in the days leading up to Black Friday, as well as the week before, so that consumers would be ready for the Black Friday e-mail.”

Interestingly, the Sunday before Cyber Monday (November 29) saw an increase in e-mail, as 45% of retailers sent at least one promotional e-mail this year versus 36% last year. That made November 29 the biggest Sunday ever for retail e-mail marketing.

“A lot of retailers were trying to avoid the rush of Cyber Monday by getting their e-mails out on the Sunday before,” said White.

The large volume of e-mail challenged deliverability. According to Pivotal Veracity, almost one in four e-mail marketing messages were not delivered to recipients' inboxes on Cyber Monday, meaning that 76% of retail e-mails made it to the inbox.

“Everyone is trying to do the same thing – get their e-mail in front of customers to increase sales,” said Michelle Eichner, COO and VP of client development at Pivotal Veracity.

Deliverability was at its lowest on Cyber Monday from 8 to 9 am and noon to 1 pm, when the largest volumes of mail were slowing down ISPs.  

Another factor in the drop in delivery rate comes from mailing to inactive names, or recipients who have not opened an e-mail in more than six months.

“Everybody is mailing as deep as they can within their customer file, even to people who have been inactive for nine to 12 months, in hopes to inspire an impulse purchase,” added Eichner. “It is not a best practice to mail to a name that is too old. We suggest mailing to active names first and only when they have gone through all current active names would I consider mailing to the inactive list.”

ComScore reported that consumers spent $887 million online on November 30, up 5% from 2008's Cyber Monday and matching the heaviest online spending day on record.


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