Top-Three Email Insights From Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend

After combing through my inboxes over the past week, here are my top findings from the Thanksgiving holiday weekend:

1. Thanksgiving Eve is the new Thanksgiving. Last year the news was Thanksgiving stealing Black Friday’s thunder. Well, this year Thanksgiving Eve is taking some wind out of Thanksgiving’s sails.

Email marketing activity rose significantly on Thanksgiving Eve this year. Nearly 70% of major online retailers sent at least one promotional email on Nov. 27, up from just 57% the day before.

Thanksgiving Eve is the busiest travel day of the year, which means that many people aren’t able to stop at their favorite stores. However, the increasing availability of WiFi in airports and, in particular, on planes, as well as the rise of smartphones and 4G-connected tablets, means that it’s easier than ever to reach the in-transit consumer.

A number of retailers promoted online sales on Wednesday to engage traveling consumers — and those enjoying a half-day off from work — while other retailers tried to build excitement around their couchbuster deals on Thanksgiving and doorbuster deals on Black Friday.

2. Black Friday prompts rise in mobile-friendly emails. Black Friday, Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Eve are high-mobility days, when consumers are much more likely to be reading their emails on a smartphone or tablet than on a desktop or laptop. These are also key shopping days, which makes sending mobile-friendly emails that render and function well on mobile devices critically important.

Retailers are rising to meet this new imperative. Thirty-two percent of major online retailers sent mobile-friendly emails using either responsive or mobile-aware design techniques during Nov. 27-29. While that may not seem all that impressive, in early October only 23% of retailers were sending mobile-friendly emails. So that’s pretty rapid adoption in less than two months. Plus, the vast majority of that increase was from increased use of responsive design, which is much more sophisticated than mobile-aware design.

Even though some of the executions were a little rough, this rise in mobile-friendliness bodes well for the coming year. With responsive design simplified, I expect its use to become standard among many more marketers next year.

3. Cyber Monday’s No. 1  -- for at least the next two weeks. More retailers sent promotional email to their subscribers on Cyber Monday than on any other day of the year thus far. And per-subscriber email volume was also at a high-water mark. But those highs were a little lower than last year’s, which makes me think that Cyber Monday’s long-standing position as the busiest email marketing day of the year might be in jeopardy.

With the fewest number of days between Thanksgiving and Christmas in over a decade, it’s reasonable to expect a bigger push for sales late in the season as retailers try to connect with a higher number of last-minute gift-buyers. This may be the year, and Free Shipping Day (Dec. 18) may be the day, when Cyber Monday falls to the No. 2 spot.

I think there’s a 40% chance of that happening. If it does, Cyber Monday will return to the top spot next year when the holiday season becomes very long, and Last Sleigh Day (the last day for express shipping by Christmas) is well-positioned to pull a little attention away from Free Shipping Day.

I hope that the past week has been good for you, both as a marketer and a consumer. Best of luck in the coming weeks.

Tags: email, holiday
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2 comments about "Top-Three Email Insights From Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend ".
  1. Andrew Kordek from Trendline Interactive , December 3, 2013 at 2:57 p.m.
    Chad, I also noticed that the word "cyber" was the most used word in the subject lines. Seems like more than last year. Thoughts? Andrew
  2. Chad White from Salesforce Marketing Cloud , December 3, 2013 at 4:25 p.m.
    Hi, Andrew. "Cyber Monday" is a brand in and of itself. Consumers equate it with great deals online. Retailers are wise to leverage that brand. I'm not exactly sure was the frequency of use in subject lines was last year, but I believe it was pretty high then as well. I'll be watching the subject line use of "Green Monday" on Dec. 9 and "Free Shipping Day" on Dec. 18 to see what sort of brand power these newer pseudo-holidays have.