Cyber Monday emails sent in 2017 generated the highest average conversion rates (purchase per click) among all holiday emails (9.8%), confirming Cyber Monday's significant potential as a purchase driver. In fact, despite generating a nearly 16% lower engagement rate (12%) than business-as-usual (BAU) emails (13.9%), Cyber Monday campaigns were almost twice as effective in converting clicks to purchases. This article is copyright 2018 The Best Customer Guide.

In its 2018 Holiday Marketing Guide, Yes Lifecycle Marketing analysed over 8 billion emails sent in Q4 2017 through its multichannel communications platform, Yesmail360i, and found that, even though more than half (53%) of Cyber Monday emails were sent on the day of the event, they drove a 12.7% conversion rate, the highest of any other day on which Cyber Monday campaigns were deployed, confirming the idea that a sense of urgency plays a pivotal role in driving purchases for the holiday shopping season.

"Shopping events like Cyber Monday have become table stakes for marketers looking to maximize revenue during the holiday season, but the competition for customer attention and share of wallet is stiffer than ever," said Jim Sturm, president of Yes Lifecycle Marketing. "To cut through the noise, marketers must evaluate factors such as day of the week performance, themes and offers and tweak their Cyber Monday campaigns accordingly."

The report found that conversions dropped off sharply for emails sent in the days following Cyber Monday. In fact, 8% of all Cyber Monday emails were deployed on the Tuesday following the event. While they generated an impressive 16.2% open rate, these messages promoting a one-day extension of the Cyber Monday sale only drove a 2.7% conversion rate, suggesting shopping fatigue, underwhelming offers or other barriers to purchase.

In addition to day of deployment, the report revealed that offers included in the email subject line had a significant impact on the performance of Cyber Monday campaigns. Emails promoting 'percent off' discounts in their subject lines generated an average conversion rate of 18.1% while messages that didn't include a specific offer in the subject line drove only a 3.8% average conversion rate.

"Shopping events like Cyber Monday can be a boon for marketers," said Michael Iaccarino, CEO and chairman of Infogroup, parent company of Yes Lifecycle Marketing. "But in order to make the most of these holidays, drive meaningful engagement and generate revenue, marketers need to utilize intuitive technology to identify consumers' shopping behaviors and preferences and rely on data-savvy services teams that can translate this data into a cohesive, results-driven holiday marketing program."

Additional findings from the report included:

  • Green Monday, the second Monday of December, was the least utilized campaign theme (leveraged by just 7.1% of marketers), yet Green Monday emails generated the third highest engagement and conversion rates among all messages, outperforming conversions for standard emails by 35%.
  • In 2016, Black Friday emails sent on the Tuesday before the holiday generated just a 2.5% conversion rate, while in 2017 they drove a 9% conversion rate, reflecting a shift in marketers' strategies around the event - from making savings accessible earlier in the week to offering limited qualities of popular items and emphasizing the limited time frame for accessing these offers.
  • For Thanksgiving emails, click rates were highest (17.1%) for messages sent on Wednesday, while open rates (18.3%) were highest for those sent on Tuesday, as many brands moved to send themed emails on Thanksgiving Eve with last-minute previews for upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.
  • While open rates for Christmas emails increased by 22%, conversions dropped by 30% YoY, likely due in part to marketers adopting a value-add approach that focused on nurturing engagement and eschewed offers in the subject line.