The week leading up to the deployment of Black Friday and Cyber Monday emails is the busiest of the year for a lot of marketers. The short work week translates to a lot of volume to create in a condensed time period, and because of what is at stake, the pressure couldn’t be higher. Here at DEG, we definitely aren’t strangers to the pressures of this time of year.

By simply looking at your own inbox you can see that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are no longer just “days.” They are campaigns, each promoted for multiple days, sometimes for a week or more. Many Black Friday deals were previewed or promoted as early as the Monday prior, but the majority of Black Friday emails I saw arrived last Wednesday. Similarly, as retailers raced to be first to the inbox, many Cyber Monday emails arrived on Sunday evening—clearly setting the precedent for this “shopping holiday” no longer isolated to a single day. That was the most easily identified trend of this new-born holiday season, but here are a few other things I noticed in my inbox:

Pete, Meet Repeat: Ironically, during a time when being relevant is perhaps most critical due to the volume of email, predictability and repetition seemed to be the name of the game. Many retailers followed a pattern of sending a preview email the day prior to the holiday, an email the morning of the holiday, and a “last chance” email nearing the end of the day. All too often, these sets of emails had only slight variations in creative or subject line, as seen in this example of the series from Macy’s:

More is Better?: While sending a set of emails in the above pattern is predictable and falls short on delivering the most relevant content, it definitely places a retailer in the inbox far more than those retailers who only sent one email per day or less. Outperforming a competitor in volume can be a simple, cost-effective way to make the difference in gaining additional sales. Also following the pattern series theme of pre-, during, and last-chance emails, Walmart noticeably sent me two emails per day, far more than Target sent:

Gift Guide to Collect Shopping Intel: Several retailers did a great job of leveraging gift guides in their creative. I would expect them to take this one step further, capitalizing on this behavioral click-through data to send dynamic content in their subsequent emails over the next few weeks.

 

Just Kidding, The Sale is Still On: Another common theme immediately following Black Friday and Cyber Monday is sending an email the day after, furthering  the series of emails by extending the “limited” offer another day, as demonstrated in these examples from MLB.com and Kate Spade New York:

This is a win for those shoppers who procrastinated or took an extended vacation and hadn’t checked their email yet.

From Email to Conversion: Email is a significant driver of online shopping traffic for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. A successful email program will further increase revenue generated around these holidays. But email is only one piece of the puzzle. Once the customer clicks-through the email the shopping experience must be exemplary.

With mobile sales up significantly year over year, those retailers with mobile-friendly sites (and specifically those optimized for the iPad experience) likely outperformed those that did not. Interestingly, retailers did not seem to focus on responsively designed emails this past week. If they had, I predict the click-through rates and resulting conversions on mobile devices would have been even higher. Take a look at those examples above again and imagine clicking those tiny call-to-actions with your thumb on your phone.

There are Still 24 Shopping Days Left!: Black Friday and Cyber Monday may have passed but there are still plenty of key shopping dates left in the season (three weeks left, two weeks left, last day to ship, etc.) – and let’s not forget all of those procrastinators (ahem, men) who haven’t even started shopping yet! It’s not too late to make some adjustments to your holiday marketing plan and finish the year with even stronger sales. DEG even recently presented a webinar on the topic to help you.

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