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Francis Santos

Post-Holiday Marketing: Email Lessons Learned from Cyber Monday

Dec 27 2011, 07:49 PM by

With Christmas over and done with, we’re already looking towards the holidays yet to come. And what better way to analyze holiday marketing than to take a brief look back at last month’s Cyber Monday extravaganza? As Cyber Monday wrapped up, the digital marketing community finally got a chance to sit back and analyze their results. By taking a look at the numbers, the kickoff to the holiday season was a huge success for retailers.

According to an online retail benchmark study conducted by IBM, Cyber Monday 2011 outpaced the Black Friday that fell just a few days before it by 29.3% in terms of sales. In comparison to the same Monday in 2010, its performance was up by 33%. That one day alone brought home well over $1 billion in sales. With numbers like this, it is easy to see why John Squire, Chief Strategy Officer of IBM’S Smarter Commerce division, hailed Cyber Monday as the clear cut victor of the 2011Thanksgiving shopping season.

Retailers relied on a host of tactics to drive their promotional efforts, and many decided that email would be the workhorse to carry them to the finish line. Who were the winners and losers? While all that is still being determined, there are a few important lessons that have been learned from Cyber Monday.
Email Marketers Weren’t Prepared for Mobile
IBM’s research shows that mobile shoppers were out in full force on Cyber Monday. According to its study, mobile sales this year were nearly triple of what was calculated in 2010, a sign that brands who planned for smartphone and tablet devices and optimized to accommodate the mobile shopper made out nicely. What is interesting about this is how email marketers failed to capitalize on the mobile trend.
Social Wasn’t a Big Factor
Here’s a bit of surprising news. While social media did have an impact on holiday shopping, it was not as big a factor as you may have thought. According to the IBM study, social accounted for just 0.56% of all online sales on Cyber Monday. Its influence on Black Friday sales was even less at only 0.53%. However, social media may have played a bigger role than we will ever know by generating chatter that led to sales. IBM’s data shows that social discussion heading into Cyber Monday 2011 grew by 115% in comparison to 2010.
Subject Lines Were Dressed for the Occasion
Sometimes the difference between success and failure could be the appeal of your subject lines. That definitely looks like it could have been the case this year. Data compiled by eDataSource shows that 1,252 of the 7,520 permission-based commercial emails it monitored used “Cyber Monday” in the subject line. 1,440 of them used the term “Cyber.” While it is safe to assume that this subject line tactic was effective for some, I can’t help but wonder how many marketers struck out by using it. Unopened messages have a habit of blending in with the rest of the inbox when all the subject lines look similar on first glance.

Cyber Monday was without a doubt one of the biggest parts of the holiday shopping phenomenon, but the metrics for Christmas are still to come. Will email marketers learn from their mistakes, or continue to swing and miss? With so many research parties working diligently to track down the results and transform them into comprehensive data, something tells me that we will all know soon enough.

Posted in Tips & Resources, Email Marketing News

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