Is Less More On Black Friday? Fighting Email Fatigue

Today marks the start of a critical week for email marketing and a peak period of inbox competition. With Black Friday approaching around the corner, new data from SendGrid reveals that email marketers might want to consider sending fewer but more targeted emails this year.

Victor Amin, data analyst at SendGrid, analyzed email marketing behavior during the 2014 holiday season (Nov 1 to Dec 31) and discovered that higher send frequency and larger email lists are associated with lower email engagement rates. 

“We think that this trend is related to email fatigue,” Amin says. “Every person has a different tolerance for email volume, and when that tolerance is exceeded, they are likely to become disengaged or even unsubscribe.”

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Cyber Monday has been the busiest day in email marketing for the past eight years, according to Salesforce, and email volume during Thanksgiving week grew by 29% in 2014 per Experian Marketing Services. Amin says the high volume of emails on those peak traffic days, and not the days before, might give early marketers a chance to jump out among the competition.

“While it probably pays to be top of mind on the big day, it may also be worth getting on shopper’s minds when they’re planning their Black Friday strategy,” he says.

He also recommends that email marketers segment their emails by engagement rates to fight email fatigue, and that marketers should leverage down-subscribes to allow consumers to indicate their preferred messaging frequency.

We think that smaller lists may be getting more engagement because they tend to have better list targeting and cleanliness,” Amin says. “Small, well-targeted lists get more engagement than big email blasts.”

It's interesting to note, however, that SendGrid says that the volume of emails sent on Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2014 did not lead to higher unsubscribes. This mirrors a July report released by Yesmail that predicted holiday email volume would not have an effect on engagement levels in 2015.

Even with increased email volume, email revenue on Black Friday grew by 23% in 2014, according to Experian. 

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