Retail Email Volume Jumps in 2009

January 29, 2010

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Brand Metrics | Email | Retail & E-Commerce

During 2009, top online retailers substantially increased the volume of promotional emails they sent subscribers, according to Chad White, research director at Responsys and author of the Retail Email Blog.

Top online retailers sent an average of 132 promotional emails to each of their subscribers. On a monthly basis, that averages out to 11 emails a month and 2.5 emails per week per subscriber. By comparison, top online retailers sent an average about 118 promotional emails to each of their subscribers in 2008 and about 95 promotional emails to each of their subscribers in 2007. The volume of promotional retail emails grew 12% from 2008 to 2009 and 39% from 2007 to 2009.

Fourth Quarter, Summer Months Show Biggest Email Gains
During the first three quarters of the year, retailers each sent 10.2 emails each month on average to each subscriber; but during the fourth quarter averaged 13.2 emails. On a monthly basis, the biggest year-over-year gains in 2009 came in June, July, August and November. In June, volume grew 17.7%, from 9 to 10.6. In July, volume grew 17.3%, from 9.2 to 10.8, and in August volume grew 15.4%, from 9.1 to 10.5. November volume grew 16.8%, from 11.3 to 13.2. The increase in November can be attributed to Cyber Monday falling in November and retail marketers putting more emphasis on Black Friday. The gains during the summer months can be partially attributed to an increased focus on back-to-school messaging.

Christmas Season Produces 18 of Top 20 Email Days
The vast majority of the biggest retail email days of 2009 fell in December and November. The only two days of the top 20 which fell outside the November-December Christmas season, Friday September 18 and Friday, July 17, appear to be statistical anomalies not connected to a particular season.

The top five biggest retail email days of 2009, based on percentage of top online retailers sending promotional email to subscribers, were Cyber Monday, November 30 (71%), Black Friday, November 27 (69%), Cyber Monday 2, December 7 (63%), Cyber Monday 3, December 14 (62%), and a four-way tie at 59%: the day before Thanksgiving, Wednesday, November 25, Cyber Monday 4, December 21, Thursday, December 10 and Wednesday, December 16.

Holiday E-commerce Sales Rise 4% for Season
Holiday e-commerce sales results produced by digital market research firm comScore corroborate the Retail Email Blog’s finding that the 2009 holiday season produced heavy online promotional traffic. During the 63-day holiday shopping period between November 1 and December 31, 2009, U.S. consumers spent $29.1 billion online. This marked a 4% increase from $27.9 billion U.S. consumers spent online during the equivalent period in 2008.

By comparison, e-commerce sales fell 3% during the 2008 holiday season. According to comScore, online sales growth this year was driven by a late-season spending splurge, as well as a positive start as a result of early retailer promotions and a strong finish helped by the snowstorms that occurred the weekend of December 19-20, 2009, retailers’ willingness to offer free shipping later in the season, and consumers’ confidence in expedited shipping arriving in time. comScore said 2009 holiday e-commerce sales grew slightly better than originally forecast, which may be a sign of continued positive e-commerce sales performance into 2010.

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