The retail extravaganza traditionally bracketed by Black Friday and Cyber Monday kicks off in a few weeks, most likely with the usual news reports focusing on door-busting crowds and in-store fracases over deeply discounted merchandise.
More importantly for digital marketers, the consumer's inbox will once again be a major battlefield in the "shopper-palooza" that has expanded to include "Cranberry Red Thursday" as a significant shopping day.
I'm predicting an email blitz like never before in 2015 along with some significant shifts, based on 2014 data generated by Silverpop's retail email clients:
1) Email volume on Thanksgiving Eve will nearly match Thanksgiving Day volume.
With Thanksgiving becoming a key day to promote that day's sales as well as Black Friday previews, the day before Thanksgiving will become the new "table setter," with volume approaching what we'll expect to see on Thanksgiving.
In 2014, email volume on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving was 94 percent of Thanksgiving's volume. However, open rates were 15 percent higher on Wednesday. Although a lower percentage of emails were opened on Thanksgiving, they were clicked on at a slightly higher rate (5 percent).
The implication for 2015 is that consumers are surveying their inboxes on Wednesday to find the best sales and offers. On Thanksgiving Day, as they wait for or recuperate from the big meal or football on TV, they will search out and click on offers from the retailers who teed up the best deals the day before.
2) Email volume on Cranberry Red Thursday will gain ground on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Retailers traditionally used Thanksgiving to send "thank you" emails or Black Friday promotions, but Thanksgiving Day shopping has become an established event (hence my nickname for the day).
Expect to see higher volumes in the days preceding Thanksgiving and on the day itself as retailers either promote in-store shopping and/or send online offers to woo shoppers if the stores are closed.
Of the three key holiday email marketing days in 2014, Thanksgiving accounted for 26 percent of total email volume versus 34 percent for Black Friday and 40 percent for Cyber Monday.
While overall email volume will increase on all three days, look for Thanksgiving volume to increase significantly in 2015, likely capturing 30 percent of volume among the three promotional shopping days.
With many retailers doing business on Thanksgiving or beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Cranberry Red Thanksgiving has become the opening act for the Black Friday madness.
3) Mobile devices will account for 60 percent of email opens and 50 percent of all email click-throughs on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Mobile email opens now average more than 50 percent for most retailers, with some even exceeding 70 percent. Across all retailers on key holiday shopping days, expect the average rate to hit 60 percent for the first time ever.
Mobile's growing influence on email reading and clicking means you need to tweak and test your messages as well as their corresponding landing pages and forms to be certain all render and function correctly on small and large screens alike.
My top three tips:
- Design for finger rather than mouse navigation.
- Streamline content, and simplify the number of offers and CTAs.
- Look for other approaches to reduce barriers to browsing and converting. Make it as easy as possible for your shoppers to act on your emails.
For more ideas for improving the mobile and email experience, please check out our tip sheet, “10 Tips for Using Email to Drive Mobile Engagement – and Vice-Versa.”
Tactics to Generate More Value from Holiday Shopping
The holiday shopping season is about building engagement as well as driving sales. As a savvy retail email marketer, you can capture shopper attention and drive both clicks and visits with these tactics that you can implement before the buying frenzy kicks into high gear:
- Make your messages simpler and more mobile-shopper friendly.
- Add more remarketing emails to convert abandoners.
- Introduce helpful "white space" content to your campaign mix to stand out from your competition's nonstop "Today Only" sale messages.
For the most up-to-date news and real-time data this holiday shopping season, visit the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark Hub.
1) Ebook: “15 Post-Purchase Emails That Build Loyalty and Increase Revenue”
2) Blog: “7 Tips to Promote Gift Cards in Email”
3) Tip Sheet: “Transactional Emails: 10 Tips for Driving Value and Engagement”