Early shopping, higher store traffic sent Cyber 5 sales lower

Shoppers spent an estimated $12 million every 60 seconds from 11 a.m. ET to noon on Cyber Monday 2021, the busiest shopping hour of the day according to Adobe Analytics

But the daily total of $10.7 billion was $100 million shy of the $10.8 million spent in 2020, and it echoed the declines spent online in the 5-day shopping holiday that began on Thanksgiving Thursday, also according to Adobe’s spending data.

Total Cyber 5 spending reached $33.9 billion, down 1.4% from 2020. Black Friday spending of $8.9 billion was down $100,000, while Thanksgiving’s online sales were flat at $5.1 billion.

Retail experts say consumers started spending earlier thanks to well-publicized concerns about supply-chain problems that could have emptied store shelves and driven prices higher. The move poached sales from the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. Also, the spread of vaccinations made shoppers more confident about venturing back into stores. 

Despite the pullback on Cyber 5 sales, online buying remains hot. Shoppers spent $109.8 billion online in November, up 11.9% over 2020.

In tracking Cyber 5 campaign frequency, promotion rates and  other messaging highlights, we discovered these four trends:

1. Sending frequency rose 6% over November 2020

Although consumers began shopping earlier to avoid price hikes and empty shelves, marketers apparently didn’t respond with a corresponding increase in email campaign frequency. Brands sent fewer email campaigns weekly in the three months leading into Cyber 5 than they did in the same period in 2020. 

However, sending frequency for November alone showed brands gradually increasing frequency until they peaked in the week leading into Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Data from the MailCharts Ecommerce Spectrum 300, an index of leading ecommerce brands, shows weekly average email volume fell 2.28% in the 3-month period from Sept. 1 to Nov. 23. 

Weekly frequency followed 2020’s patterns, rising sharply the week of Nov 22, when brands sent an average 7.9 campaigns for the week. That was up 6.1% over 2020.

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2. Ecommerce brands reserved promotions for November shoppers

Shoppers who were looking for the usual Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts and loss leaders would have been disappointed this year because brands generally held back on price cuts, according to Adobe Analytics data. 

MailCharts data on promotion rates shows brands generally followed their 2020 playbooks in the three months preceding Cyber 5. On average, 60.8% of email campaigns brands sent per week contained a discount or other promotion from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30. That was just over 1 percentage point higher than 2020’s average of 59%.

In November, however, the promotion rate rose 7% year over year, from 64% in 2020 to 68% in 2021.

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3. Brands got creative with emojis and animated GIFs

As we scrolled through emails from Ecommerce Spectrum 300 brands while looking for email inspiration (yes, we do it, too!), we saw brands using these attention-getting tactics more creatively and strategically in 2021.

Grabbing attention in the inbox and keeping it in the email are two major challenges for email marketers in this high-volume season. We were looking for brands that combined subject line emojis and email animations to accomplish this twin set of goals, and we found a great one in this email from Rugs Direct

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Why we love it: This email shows how a little goes a long way. It begins with a starry emoji in the subject line:

 In the email itself, an animated iPhone promotes the brand’s virtual reality app showing how a rug would look in the shopper’s room. This subtle animation solves a big pain point when buying home décor online. The animation isn’t there just to look clever. It shows readers what they can expect to see on the app when they use it, which can drive more customers to download, install and use it.

4. Discounts rule Cyber 5 email promotions 

Discounts are almost always the most popular email promotion all year long, beating out dollars-off, free shipping or buy-one/get-one. But they really rule in Cyber 5. 

MailCharts data showed more than 50% of promotions sent in November included discounts, and more than half of those were 25% off or higher.

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Tip: Customize your weekly roll-up email in just a couple of clicks

MailCharts users receive a weekly roll-up of emails from Ecommerce Spectrum 300 that shows what leading ecommerce brands are sending right now. But you can make your weekly feed even more useful by adding groups and brands that you’re most interested in.

Here’s all you have to do:

  1. Log in to your MailCharts account under your profile photo.
  2. Choose Preferences to select up to 5 industry groups – select from MailCharts’ dozens of industry groups or add your own custom groups.

That’s it! You don’t even have to hit “Save” – our system does that for you automatically. 

Adding your custom groups to your weekly roll-up email helps you stay on top of what your key brands are sending this week in a single scroll.

Look for your customized choices in your next weekly email, sent every Monday.