This year 67% of the online retailers tracked by RetailEmail.Blogspot sent at least one promotional email on Cyber Monday, making it the biggest email marketing day of the year to date. That's up from the 44% of the group who emailed last year.
Moreover, 25% of retailers sent at least one promotional email on the Sunday directly preceding Cyber Monday, making it the biggest Sunday for email marketing this year. That's up from 12% last year. So the record Cyber Monday volume is even more impressive when considering the record Sunday email volume that preceded it.
Like it or not, Cyber Monday is a real shopping holiday now, even if it's not "the biggest online shopping day of the year," as it's billed. Retailers are highly motivated to move sales earlier in the holiday season -- especially this year -- and Cyber Monday gives them another occasion relatively early in the season to promote sales.
Retailers used the Cyber Monday concept a few different ways. Some, like DisneyShopping, Staples, CompUSA, Sears and TigerDirect took the direct approach, trumpeting the day as Cyber Monday. In its email, with the subject line "Click Quick! Cyber Monday Specials End Tonight!," DisneyShopping explained that Cyber Monday "means all the best deals are online," while Staples and CompUSA each declared it "the biggest online shopping day of the year." But most of these retailers used the "Cyber Monday" term without explanation, expecting consumers to be familiar with it from media reports. TigerDirect, which extended its Cyber Monday sale right through to Tuesday, was among those who felt the term needed no explanation.
Sam's Club took the Cyber Monday concept a step further, starting a Cyber Monday Club that will feature deals every Monday until Christmas. It's an interesting idea. Last year, most of the "Echo Mondays," as I call them -- the Mondays between Cyber Monday and Christmas -- registered higher promotional email volumes than Cyber Monday, so there's definitely something special about Mondays during the holiday season.
While not invoking Cyber Monday by name, another group of retailers held one-day sales -- many of them online only -- including Avon, Lillian Vernon, Home Depot, Nascar, Macy's, Omaha Steaks, Kmart and Spiegel. Perhaps these retailers felt that Cyber Monday wasn't established enough to use the name, not wanting to leave consumers scratching their heads as to what Cyber Monday was, but still wanting to get in on the action.
The third group of retailers that sent email on Cyber Monday simply extended their Thanksgiving weekend sales through Monday. Coldwater Creek, Chadwick's, Banana Republic, Bloomingdale's, Sharper Image and Bed Bath & Beyond were among other retailers to take this approach.
Despite the record email volume sent on Cyber Monday, I don't expect the record to stand very long. Last year Cyber Monday was only the sixth most popular day of the year to send retail emails. It was outperformed by two of the three Echo Mondays, plus the day after Christmas, which saw the greatest percentage of retailers sending promotional email, at 53%. The fact that we've already exceeded last year's highwater mark is another sign that retailers are embracing the power of permission-based email marketing to drive sales.