If sending volume is any indicator, email marketers are out to make this holiday season more impactful than ever. Using our consumer data network to analyze messages delivered to Gmail’s promotions tab, we found during the last 15 days of November marketers sent far more messages this year than they did in 2014.
On Cyber Monday alone, subscribers typically received 92 percent more promotional messages than they did last year. During the entire span the average subscriber received anywhere from 11 to 17 messages a day, up from nine to 12 in 2104.
What impact did this amount of messaging have on subscribers? We looked at the three busiest mailing days in November and saw that marketers aren’t holding back this holiday season, making the competition for subscribers’ attention in the inbox tougher than ever.
In 2014, Thanksgiving was the third-highest sending day of the season, but this year it was knocked down to fourth place, surpassed by Tuesday, Nov. 24 as marketers increased their efforts to drum up excitement for holiday shopping early in the week. That doesn’t mean sending volumes dipped, though: Marketers sent more than twice as many Thanksgiving Day messages this year.
But the sending frenzy made it more difficult to engage subscribers, who only read 10 percent of the messages they received — a 15 percent drop from 2014 when they read more than 12 percent of their promotional mail. Of course this decline didn’t offset the surge of volume, so consumers collectively read far more email marketing messages than they did last year.
According to our data, 95 percent more messages landed in Gmail’s promotions tab on Black Friday than in 2014: Subscribers received an average of 17 messages. But was this too much? With the increased sending came a 12 percent drop in read rate from last year (10 percent vs. nearly 12 percent in 2014) suggesting that subscribers were slightly less engaged overall.
Retailers put in a major effort to get the most out of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend by holding preview sales and extending the length of Black Friday discounts in-store and online, making it easier than ever for consumers to score a deal right away. So instead of waiting until Monday to shop from their offices, they had the freedom to turn to their home computers, tablets, and phones and mobile devices to compare offers from almost anywhere at any time, throughout the weekend. So did consumers burn out after waves of preview emails and three days of holiday shopping deals? Is Cyber Monday losing its momentum? Nope. Not according to our data.
The average Gmail user received 17.4 promotional messages on Cyber Monday, making it the biggest sending day of the year. Brands increased their messaging volume by 91 percent compared to last year with the hopes of enticing users to shop online sales. Engagement peaked on Cyber Monday, with an aggregate read rate of 10.5 percent — the highest in the 15-day period, indicating shoppers were still very interested in hearing the deals of the day.
However, the Cyber Monday read rate in 2014 was 14 percent higher at almost 12 percent, showing that consumers were pickier when it came to engaging with brands in the inbox this year — probably because there was so much to choose from.
Email marketers may be celebrating this year as their efforts to connect with subscribers appeared to pay off. But it may come with a price. The competition in the inbox was tougher than ever, and subscriber engagement waned significantly. If this trend continues into 2016, next year will be even harder — and not just during the holiday season.
Ensure your success next year by preparing now. Focus your email marketing strategy on building stronger relationships with subscribers and use engagement metrics to guide your decision making to help establish and maintain your place in the inbox during the biggest shopping days of 2016.