Retailers -- aware that inboxes are flooded at holiday time -- made fun of themselves in their subject lines this year, noting the glut and offering sales:
Woooosh, here comes another email…we’re offering you up to $800 off…
Hey don’t delete me! Have you heard about these top-notch SAVINGS?
This happened as brands waited until later in the month to highlight Black Friday, instead focusing on general holiday deals, according to Email Marketing Retail Showdown, a monthly tracking report by SmarterHQ.
The reason for their tardiness is the fact that Thanksgiving occurred so late in the month, shortening the holiday shopping cycle.
SmarterHQ tracked 19 retailers, having signed up for each brand’s email newsletter on July 11. There were four categories: Top retailers, digital natives, department stores and members-only brands.
Department store Neiman Marcus sent the most emails in November — 99 messages, 45 of which were holiday-theme, an six based on behavior.
But the famous brand didn’t start sending its Black Friday emails until Nov. 25, four days before the event, saying: “Shop Black Friday a little Early. And on Nov. 27, it promoted a Black Friday Early Access Sale.
Another big department store, Nordstrom, also didn’t feature a Black Friday theme until Nov. 25. And Sephora didn’t bother with Black Friday messaging until the day itself.
In contrast, Macy’s sent its first Black Friday message on Nov. 17, changing from “From Sender” to “Macy’s Black Friday.”
The top retailers were also active. Target sent 78 emails, and started hyping Black Friday on Nov. 8.
Amazon sent 53 emails in October, 20 more than in October. The online giant’s first Black Friday email — “$22 Echo Dot and more - Black Friday deals start early, only with Alexa” — went out on Nov. 23. And it was followed by several others, although in general Amazon sent fewer than some other brands.
On the Saturday following Black Friday, the SmarterHQ team received one email from Amazon: “Deals have landed for Cyber Monday Countdown!”
On Black Friday itself, Amazon sent least two emails: "It's Here! Black Friday Starts Now." at 11:44 a.m. and "Don’t Miss These Deals,” with deals of the day and gift guides.
Other digital native brands such as Warby Parker, Bonobos and Birchbox sent less than 10 apiece all month, and none included Cyber Week messaging. However, Bonobos sent frequent Instagram ads.
Digital native Everlane sent a mere five emails all month, and didn’t mention Black Friday until Nov. 28. But that message promoted the charity The Black Friday Fund.
Among membership-only retailers, Sam’s Club created its own holiday — a Members Saving Event “Biggest Event of the Year!” on Nov. 9. Each included a countdown timer.
Sam’s Club starting sending specific Black Friday emails on Nov. 20, promising “free shipping on most items.”
Costco was out of the gate on Nov. 10, offering a Samsung TV deal and other promotions. In addition, Costco inserted Black Friday banner ads on the bottom of several emails.