Email Insights from Black Friday and Cyber Monday

We can learn a lot from this year’s holiday shopping stats from Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Shoppers opened their wallets and spent a total $11 billion online from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, a whopping 15% increase year-over-year, according to marketing data from Adobe. A record $2.98 billion (12% more than in 2014) was spent online on Cyber Monday alone, making it the largest online sales day in history, as reported by ComScore:

2015_holiday_season_ecommerce_sales_cybermonday_blackfriday

From the recent Thanksgiving holiday we can extract two important insights:

  • Email marketing was the most effective marketing channel, driving 25.1% of sales – from Custora.
  • One in five sales happened on smartphones on Black Friday 2015; a 75% increase from last year – from IBM Silverpop.

Let’s look at these insights in more detail.

Email was the most effective marketing channel

Email marketing was a leading driver of online sales on Black Friday. Custora reports that while email marketing usually lags behind online search, a shift was seen this past Black Friday, with email marketing driving 25.1% of orders, followed by free search (21.1%) and paid search (16.3%). Social media drove only 1.7% of sales.

2015_holiday_season_ecommerce_sales_cybermonday_blackfriday_sales_marketing_channels

Time and time again retailers see email marketing is paying off. IBM’s Silverpop reports that while mobile opens on Black Friday were up only 2.7% over 2014, click-throughs grew 22.8%, from 44.7% in 2014 to 54.9% in 2015. Subscribers are finding email content more compelling, and brands’ good design—including mobile-first techniques—is no doubt at the center of that.

Email isn't just a key component of your holiday marketing campaign, it's once again the key component. Serious attention to email strategy, including messaging, design, and statistics, can have a dramatic impact on sales.

All the action was on mobile

As eConsultancy put it best, this year’s Black Friday was “the first smartphone Black Friday” with more shoppers browsing on their mobile device than desktop:

On Black Friday, sales from mobile devices hit 36%, up nearly 30% from 2014. Of mobile sales, about 1 in 5 purchases occurred on a smartphone, a marked 75% increase from Black Friday last year (11.8% in 2014 to 20.6% in 2015). According to IBM Silverpop’s benchmark data, mobile traffic and sales have expanded 10x from 2010 to 2015.

Black-Friday-2010-2015

What “mobile first” really means

At the same time, on Thanksgiving Day, mobile exceeded desktop shopping traffic at 57% for the first time, and mobile generated over $639 million in sales, a new record, according to Adobe.It can’t get even more evident that smartphones are becoming a dominant device for holiday browsing and shopping.

And that’s what “mobile first” means for marketers: realizing that “mobile” has become the browsing method of choice for the majority of users. It’s no longer a new, growing trend. It’s the new normal.

As shoppers continue to shift to mobile browsing and shopping, how your emails look on mobile becomes the first concern. Responsive design and mobile-optimization techniques for email are a must.

Mobile sales are on Apple devices

Where are the purchases happening? Apple products lead the way. On Cyber Monday, Adobe reports that of $514 million in sales occurring on mobile devices, $313 million came from smartphones ($205 million iPhones, $107 million Android) and $201 million from tablets ($170 million iPad, $28 million Android). Data from Custora E-Commerce Pulse showed that 77.6% of all orders made on mobile devices happened on Apple devices, followed by 22.1% on Android devices.

2015_holiday_season_ecommerce_sales_cybermonday_blackfriday_sales_mobile_device

Know your audience and how they use mobile devices. If they reflect this holiday's shoppers—heavy iPhone users—be sure your email campaigns are optimized for those devices.

Key takeaway for email marketers

Among all the stats and numbers, the biggest learning we took away from the Thanksgiving holiday shopping season is this: mobile email click-through-rates skyrocketed 23%, despite open rates changing very little.

Brands are clearly becoming more adept at executing effective email design, and understanding the importance of responsive design and mobile optimization. It’s no longer an option to bypass mobile optimization for email. Feel free to check out our Design Tips for Holiday Shopping Emails blog post.

ScreenShot1467

Remember, email design for mobile includes a combination of approaches and best practices, including:

  • Single column layout
  • Concise, large-sized, easy-to-read content
  • Minimalistic design (no complex headers, no clutter)
  • Tap-friendly navigation and bulletproof buttons (with appropriate padding)
  • Smaller image file sizes (allowing for quicker load times)
  • High-contrast design for mobile screens set to low brightness
  • Not solely comprised of images (and all images used have great ALT text)

Start with these mobile best practices, above anything else, to reach your mobile subscribers. You can start designing your email message with our free, drag-n-drop BEE email editor, which creates fully responsive and mobile-optimized emails.

And, let us know what was your most interesting or surprising email marketing stat during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Design Beautiful Emails in the BEE Editor

Give it a try! Design stunning, fully responsive emails in our easy-to-use, drag-n-drop BEE editor. No HTML or CSS coding knowledge required. What more? It's free and online!

Take me to the BEE email editor