The wild shopping weekend bracketed by Black Friday and Cyber Monday is just around the corner. One of the biggest battlefields of this shopping extravaganza will be the inbox.
I'm predicting an email blitz like never before in 2014, with some historic shifts happening:
1. Cyber Monday email volume will beat Black Friday's by about 10 percent.
Cyber Monday doesn't get the same media attention as Black Friday, but it's a bigger email event.
In 2013, Silverpop retail clients sent 9.2 percent more emails on Cyber Monday over Black Friday. This year, several factors will widen that gap:
- Cyber Monday has become a continuation of Black Friday. Black Friday promotions aim to get shoppers into stores, while Cyber Monday builds on shoppers' experiences and expectations to persuade them to buy online. If Black Friday sales disappoint, brick-and-mortar-focused retailers will step up their game by increasing follow-up offers on Cyber Monday.
- A big share of those Cyber Monday emails will be remarketing messages. Site and cart abandonment soars on busy shopping days. Shoppers get interrupted, can't complete checkout or just hold off on the purchase. With mobile email readership north of 50 percent for most retailers, abandonment is a top challenge and opportunity for remarketing.
Smart retailers will develop mobile- and holiday-specific remarketing programs that remind and make it easy for shoppers to complete their purchases. A solid bump in these targeted and automated emails will contribute to the overall increase in email volume on Cyber Monday.
2. Email volume will nearly double from Sunday to Cyber Monday.
The Saturday and Sunday sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday have been relative days of rest for email with volumes roughly 55 percent of the two email blitz days in 2013.
With more retailers jumping on the Cyber Monday bandwagon, we expect Cyber Monday volume to nearly double the Sunday volume, even as retailers also increase their weekend cadence.
3. Thanksgiving Day will be the third-busiest email day of the Black Friday week.
How about a little email with your pumpkin pie or tofurkey? Retailers have traditionally used Thanksgiving to send "thank you" emails or Black Friday promotions, but expect more messages from retailers looking to drive traffic to their stores open on Thanksgiving or starting at midnight.
4. Black Friday and Cyber Monday together will account for 40 percent of the email volume sent during Black Friday Week (Nov. 24-Dec. 1).
The remaining 60 percent represents a big opportunity to stand out in your customer's inbox.
Assume that by the time Black Friday rolls around, many shoppers know what they're doing and where they're going. Instead of yet another discount or promotion, consider an informational message such as a "Black Friday Shopping Kit."
Include helpful information such as store locations, special parking arrangements such as valet services, store cafes and coffee shops for lunch or snacks, gift wrapping services, nearby bus or train stops, customer service hours and locations, key in-store events and anything else that will help your customers have a successful shopping expedition with friends and family.
5. Mobile devices will account for more than 35 percent of all email click-throughs on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Expect high mobile traffic on Thanksgiving Day, too, because so many of your customers will be checking email at someone else's house. Those clicks will account for 40 percent of all click-throughs that day.
Mobile's growing influence on email reading and clicking means you need to make sure now that your messages and corresponding web pages and forms render and function correctly on small and large screens alike:
- Design for the 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.
This holiday season, smart retail email marketers will make their messages simpler and more mobile-shopper friendly, add more remarketing emails to convert abandoners, and introduce helpful "white space" content to their campaign mix to stand out from their competition's non-stop "Today Only" sale messages.
For more 2014 holiday marketing predictions, news and data, visit the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark Hub.
1) Tip Sheet: “5 Tips for ‘White Space’ Emails That Entertain, Educate and Engage”
2) Blog: “Emails and Smartphones: Tips for Closing the Conversion Gap”
3) Ebook: “15 Post-Purchase Emails That Build Loyalty and Drive Revenue”