Holiday online sales grew 10.7% year-over-year to $79.2 billion, according to a report from Adobe Digital Insights, and email helped drive as much as a fifth of revenue.
Adobe’s sales data is based on aggregated, anonymous data collected from more than 22.6 billion visits to retail Web sites between November 1 and December 20, 2016. Adobe measures up to 80% of all online sales transactions from the top 100 retail companies in the United States.
Adobe’s data suggests that email became an increasingly important marketing channel for retail brands as the holidays approached, with email’s share of sales increasing throughout the month of November.
Email accounted for 15% of the $25.59 billion in online sales between November 1 and November 22 -- a jump from the 14.4% percent of online sales driven by email marketing in the first two weeks of November. By the end of November, email’s share of sales had jumped to 18.1%.
The holiday period around Thanksgiving proved especially fruitful for email marketers this year, with email jumping 2.8% from its holiday averages to contribute to 17.8% of sales on Black Friday’s $3.34 billion haul. Email generated an even greater 18.4% of Thanksgiving’s $1.93 billion in online sales the previous day.
Cyber Monday 2016 was likely the best email marketing day of the year, with 19.9% of $3.39 billion in online sales being generated by email.
Although the vast majority of email opens initially occur on a mobile device, desktop purchases far outnumber their mobile cousins. American consumers are looking for and investigating products and promotions on their mobile devices, but then coming back at a later point in time to make their final purchase.
This is reflected in Adobe’s data, where smartphone visits almost doubled sales. A fifth of online sales happened on a mobile device, while the smartphone's share of visits numbered a much higher 40%. The share of purchases made on a desktop computer numbered 69%, while its share of visits remained a lower 51%.
The share of visits and sales on tablets were relatively equal with shares of 9% and 10%, respectively.