Dec 6, 2016

A New MailChimp Record: 1.5 Billion Emails on Black Friday

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Everyone knows that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are big days for sending email, but for our deliverability team, the planning starts much earlier in the year. Way back in July, we started provisioning 500 new IPs and 3 new routing servers to ensure we had the stability and delivery speed to make it through those days. I’m glad we did all that work though, because our users sent 1.5 billion emails on Black Friday (a new record!), and they saw more than $90 million in sales on that day alone. Cyber Monday wasn’t far behind, finishing with a total of 1.4 billion emails. During our peak hours—between 9am and 11am—we were sending just more than 100 million emails an hour.

 

Thanksgiving 2016 email volume

One of our biggest concerns was delivery speed. We know there are deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday that sell out in just a few hours, so time is of the essence. As you can see, the average delivery time to any given subscriber was under a minute on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Just before Thanksgiving, we were seeing 6 minute waits to Yahoo, but luckily those wait times came down when it mattered most.

 

Average Delivery Time

Of course, getting emails out the door isn’t enough. Our users want to see subscribers engaging with their email marketing and, ideally, making purchases. While we did see slight dips in open rates on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the overall engagement numbers were still very strong. Over the entirety of the Thanksgiving holiday, our users averaged open rates around 28% and click rates around 13%.

 

Average Engagement

When we investigate patterns in click activity, we typically find that subscribers engage with email on their desktop computers early in the day and on their mobile devices in the evening. The holidays definitely shake up that trend. The chart below shows that mobile engagement doesn’t increase until around 6pm on Wednesday. By Thanksgiving day, there’s a lot more mobile engagement around lunch time, and on Black Friday, mobile engagement spikes in the early AM hours. I have 2 big takeaways here: 1) desktop still wins in the morning on holidays (but only barely), and 2) people need to put their phones away during dinner. 😉❤️🍗

 

Clicks by device

MailChimp users who connected their stores also made a ton of money on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In fact, total sales on Black Friday were nearly 3 times higher than the totals from the days leading up to Thanksgiving. We also saw a large surge in the percentage of sales that can be directly attributed to email engagement. You can actually see subscribers starting to pay more attention to their emails as Black Friday approaches.

 

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales

We also noticed that shoppers who made purchases through email engagement spent, on average, around $3 more per transaction than shoppers who found stores and made purchases through other channels.

 

Black Friday Sales - Campaign Difference

While most people are happy to shop on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, our geographic data shows that some states definitely prefer to spend their money on one day over the other. Oklahomans and Alaskans strongly prefer to do their online holiday shopping on Black Friday. Meanwhile, in MailChimp’s home state of Georgia, everyone would rather wait it out and see if better deals pop up on Cyber Monday. Black Friday has a slight edge in California, but New Yorkers seem to do a bit more of their online shopping on Cyber Monday. States like Arkansas, Colorado, and Michigan are equal opportunity shoppers.

 

Comparison of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales by state

The last 2 weeks have been a great kickoff to the holiday season. There are plenty of people, myself included, who haven’t even gotten close to finishing their holiday shopping, so we expect to send many more emails over the next few weeks. If you’re looking to make the most of this holiday season, check out our holiday tips. Also, don’t forget to connect your store so you can take advantage of our product recommendations and abandoned cart features.