Black Friday UK 2015

Posted by Guy Hanson on

Black Friday in the UK is over. But what did Black Friday UK look like in the world of email? To answer this, I loaded 15 of the UK’s biggest retailers into Return Path’s Inbox Insight solution. Their broadcast volumes as a percentage of the quarter can be seen below:

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The interesting point worth noting from my analysis is the highest volume senders also had the worst-performing programs. The ones that did best were the ones that didn’t use Black Friday as an excuse to triple their email volumes and annoy their customers by doing so.

Here are five key takeaways for Black Friday following my analysis:

  1. Good things come to those who wait: Companies that refrained from blasting out large volumes of emails tended to be rewarded with higher levels of subscriber engagement. Sending 10% fewer emails than would be typically sent over a total quarter earned brands a higher read rate. High volume senders were also subjected to greater levels of spam filtering. Just don’t wait too long; customers should not continue receiving Black Friday stretch over a long period of time.
  2. Expect the unexpected: A number of choice brands benefit from having customers that are expecting to receive Black Friday offers and are quick to check spam folders if they don’t find any. Brands not so lucky used dynamic content to inform late openers that offers had expired, providing a call to action to other offers instead. However, it’s important to be aware that recipients may not always see these and assume the offer is not relevant—and mark as spam accordingly.
  3. The early bird catches the worm: Research shows that subscribers set their alarms to wake up at dawn, grab Black Friday bargains just after midnight, and then go back to sleep. Strategic senders programmed their sending activity to start just after midnight, and almost of all Black Friday promotions were sent in the pre-dawn window before 6am when read rates were the highest.
  4. Keep it simple: Select brands went to efforts to draw attention to themselves by putting a different spin on Black Friday (for example, Pink Friday, or Fri-yay). However, these attempts were met by low read rates and higher user-marked spam rates. Senders should keep it simple. If their customers are expecting Black Friday offers, they should be named so.
  5. Black Friday bucks: Ultimately, subscriber engagement metrics are all well and good, but the true promise of Black Friday is its ability to drive revenue. For retailers deliberating whether to get involved with Black Friday promotions, the proof is in the pudding. Without a doubt, order confirmation emails generated by customer transactions are dramatically higher on Black Friday, generating more transactions than any other average week. This certainly rang true this year as physical stores were emptier and Black Friday became an online event, making email promotions a hot ticket for shoppers. In fact, Black Friday revenues on the high street were actually flat this year, but there was an overall year-on-year uplift and the variance was nearly all online.

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About Guy Hanson

Guy is a passionate advocate for intelligent use of customer data to drive responsive email programs. With a knowledge base that now spans nearly 15 years, he is a global e-mail expert and thought leader. Leading Return Path’s International Professional Services consulting team, Guy has worked with a broad range of clients across 5 continents to improve their email delivery, subscriber engagement and revenue generated. Outside of work, Guy is the Chairman of the DMA Email Council. In this role, he works with industry peers including brands, agencies, and service providers to promote the best interests of the email industry to a broader audience. He is also a regular contributor to the industry press.

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