'

FLASH! Email Black Friday Run-up

Article by John Landsman

FLASH!  Email Black Friday Run-up

 We’re still analyzing full email activity around Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Here’s a quick look at what key early senders did.

As you witnessed the Holiday hustle and bustle that the Thanksgiving weekend ushers in, perhaps you were also wondering how major retailers were emailing their customers for the early approach to the Black Friday/Cyber Monday crush.  The answer is surprising:  there was far less early activity than you’d think explicitly themed to Black Friday. Have a look.

Methodology

  • The analysis (see table below) covers thirteen major retail brands, during the October 31 – November 14th period in 2018, and for the comparable (November 1st – November 15TH) year-ago period.
  • We focused primarily on Black Friday-themed emails. Cyber Monday emails were, as expected, virtually not in evidence for the analysis period.   These tend to ramp-up during the post-Thanksgiving weekend itself.

What We Saw

  • There was heavy overall email activity for the analyzed brands during this period. Moreover, almost all of them increased their year-over-year campaign send activity.  The only exceptions were eBay, JC Penney and Office Depot.
  • Inbox performance, measured as the percentage of campaigns exceeding 90% deliverability, improved year-over-year for all but Penney’s, Staples and Best Buy.
  • Read rate performance, measured as the percentage of campaigns exceeding 20% read rates, improved for about half the analyzed brands.
  • However, Black Friday themed emails were a relatively small percentage of these brands’ overall period activity, and none at all for this category were detected for Macy’s. Dick’s Sporting Goods showed the highest percentage (1.7% of total), but the rest were in the range of 0.3-0.4% of total period campaigns.  This pattern is not appreciably different from the one we observed in 2017.
  • Why so little Black Friday emphasis during this period? It’s speculative, but our sense is that the general customer base is so accustomed to the onset of the intensely promotional Holiday shopping period that not a lot of uniquely-themed reminders are necessary to create a seasonal spirit around a promotional event that virtually everyone knows Is happening.  General email messaging can carry that same spirit, especially in the early run-up period to Black Friday.
  • (Not in table) For the true record-keepers, Best Buy owns the earliest “Black Friday” promotional reference, which we saw in a campaign they deployed on October 15th.
Note description below* 2018
2018: 10/31 - 11/142017: 11/1 - 11/15 TOTAL Period CAMPAIGNS Black Friday Themed
2018 2017 # % to Tot > 20%
Brand Camps Dpld >90% Inbox >20% Read Camps Dpld >90% Inbox >20% Read
Amazon 12193 11346 5065 10295 9517 4067 52 0.4% 31
% of Campaigns 93% 45% 92% 40% 60%
eBay 1862 1611 875 1981 1630 905 5 0.3% 0
% of Campaigns 87% 54% 82% 46%
Dick's Sporting Goods 181 45 36 164 28 37 3 1.7% 0
% of Campaigns 25% 20% 17% 23%
Barnes & Noble 235 200 108 194 154 92 2 0.4% 0
% of Campaigns 85% 46% 79% 47%
Target 735 562 381 263 187 118 2 0.4% 0
% of Campaigns 76% 52% 71% 45%
Walmart 753 654 235 455 341 210 21 0.4% 1
% of Campaigns 87% 31% 75% 46% 5%
Kmart 158 56 32 246 77 23 1 0.4% 0
% of Campaigns 35% 20% 31% 9%
Kohl's 205 196 127 178 157 116 5 0.4% 3
%of Campaigns 96% 62% 88% 65% 60%
Macy's 490 255 239 262 212 146 0 0 0
% of Campaigns 52% 49% 81% 56%
JC Penney 259 231 90 256 227 112 5 0.4% 0
% of Campaigns 89% 35% 89% 44%
Staples 424 213 164 508 256 155 1 0.4% 1
% of Campaigns 50% 39% 50% 31% 1
Office Depot 181 103 46 122 67 52 3 0.4% 0
% of Campaigns 57% 25% 55% 43%
Best Buy 460 358 200 423 363 232 22 0.4% 1
% of Campaigns 78% 43% 86% 55% 5%

*Table reads; e.g, for Amazon:  Deployed 12,193 total campaigns in the relevant 2018 period; 10.295 in the comparable 2017 period.  93% of those campaigns achieved 90% ior better deliverability in 2018, versus 92% in 2017.  45% of those campaigns drove 20% or better read rates in 2018, versus 40% in 2017.   Of the 2018 total, 52 campaigns (0.4%) had Black Friday themed subject line, and 60% of those had read rates of 20% or higher.

Best Performer Examples

  • The table below shows twelve of the strongest performers from among eight of the analyzed brands. These campaigns are sorted by read rate.
  • Virtually all of them explicitly reference deals and/or price promotion. Only one contains any merchandise or classification reference.
  • Mailing quantities generally reflect somewhat limited percentages of the respective brand’s likely list size, suggesting at least some degree of targeting,
Date Brand Subject Quantity Read %
3-Nov Amazon Early Black Friday deals available now 516K 37.4%
11-Nov Amazon Shop holiday deals before Black Friday 10.7M 30.0%
1-Nov Kohl's 20% off + exclusive Black Friday Deals + earn $15 Kohl's Cash for every $50 spent (today only!) 145K 22.4%
14-Nov Staples Black Friday for Business – On Now! 299K 22.1%
6-Nov Best Buy Save up to 40% on Appliance Top Deals. (We couldn’t wait until Black Friday.) 1.6M 19.6%
13-Nov Amazon [REDACTED] Early Black Friday Deals, no waiting 8.5M 18.4%
3-Nov JC Penney Black Friday Deals NOW! Up to 40% OFF Major Appliances 3.7M 14.6%
9-Nov Walmart Black Friday Deals—Buy Now! 13.9M 14.4%
15-Nov Walmart âš« Black Friday deals have arrived early! Hurry & score big now. 41.7M 13.9%
9-Nov Office Depot Black Friday Prices Every Friday 18.1M 13.2%
31-Oct Office Depot BOOst your spirit with early Black Friday Deals 9.7M 13.0%
4-Nov Dick's Sporting Goods Your Weekly Ad Is Here + Black Friday Prices NOW! 16.4M 12.6%

More to Come

Stay tuned for our full rundown on Black Friday and Cyber Monday email activity and performance, due out on November 29th.