December 4, 2020

Essence of Email Weekly - How eCommerce stole Thanksgiving

We previously wrote about some major retailers' plans to close their stores for Thanksgiving this year. But how has this affected eCommerce sales? Well, traffic to online stores has soared this holiday season, outperforming the numbers from 2019. All we can say is… we're not surprised!

Retailers offering curbside pickup have reported a 31% increase in traffic conversion rates. For its report, Adobe Analytics Data analyzed one trillion (!) visits to U.S. retail sites, 100 million SKUs, and 80 of the 100 largest retailers in the U.S.

Thanksgiving stats: This year, consumer spending accounted for $5.1 billion, up 21.5% year-over-year in comparison with 2019's Thanksgiving online sales ($4.2 billion). This is a considerably bigger YOY growth compared to last year's spending increase of 14.5% on 2018 online sales ($3.7 billion). It's expected that this trend will continue with Christmas holiday sales.

''While it was a record-breaking Thanksgiving Day with over $5 billion spent online, it didn't come with the kind of aggressive growth rate we've seen with the start of the pandemic. Heavy discounts and aggressive promotions starting in early November succeeded at getting consumers to open their wallets earlier,'' said Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights.

Fun fact: It seems that COVID-19 restrictions on family gatherings have affected sales. According to reports, states that were under heavier restrictions saw a 3.4x year-on-year growth in comparison with states that were under laxer restrictions. Maybe people took solace in shopping after arguments about politics at the dinner table?

For stats on Christmas and New Year sales, stay tuned.


BF/CM is setting new records

Source: Giphy
This year's Thanksgiving was obviously a big day for eCommerce. But what about BF/CM? Did the predictions about the biggest online shopping season come true?

According to Adobe Analytics, online Black Friday 2020 sales have increased by 21.6% year-over-year, which makes it the second-highest eCommerce sales day in the U.S., right after Cyber Monday 2019.

However, the scoreboard changed quickly, as Cyber Monday 2020 kicked in with a new record. Holiday shoppers spent $10.8 billion, 15.1% more than a year ago, making history as the biggest online shopping day in the U.S. of all time.

Despite the new record, this year's BF/CM shows that nine months of a global pandemic have left a mark on shopping behavior. Fewer people shopped during the weekend and those who did have spent less than last year. Roughly 186 million shoppers purchased something online or in-store, which is 4 million fewer than in 2019. Plus, people spent $312 on average, which is 14% less than last year.

Who didn't enjoy big success during BF/CM week? To put it simply brick-and-mortar stores. Sensormatic Solutions found that there was a 49% reduction in people opting for offline shopping during the holidays in comparison with 2019. On Black Friday alone, visits to physical stores decreased by 52.1% in comparison with last year.

One question still remains: Will this year's shift to online retail become a trend, or will people go back to a traditional BF/CM shopping routine once the pandemic is over?

As NRF Chief Executive and President Matt Shay put it: "I wouldn't be surprised if Black Friday next year was the biggest in history. I just think that there's going to be an enormous amount of pent-up demand for all of us to go out and to socialize and to be together and to experience some of the things that we miss right now."

Plus, once a new stimulus bill gets approved and the vaccine becomes widely available, retailers can definitely expect a boom!


How did email do?

Source: Giphy
Back in August, Oracle CX Marketing Consulting predicted a 10% increase in email volume on Thanksgiving and a 3% increase on Black Friday. So, did this Thanksgiving weekend live up to the expectations?

Short answer: Not really.

According to Oracle CX Marketing Consulting's study, 3.6% more emails (there are never enough emails, as far as we are concerned!) went out on Thanksgiving compared to last year, and 6% less were sent on Black Friday.

Why? Brands decided to plan in advance and lock in more sales ahead of the Thanksgiving weekend. By sending out their holiday campaigns during the second and third weeks of November, they drove more revenue per email in the weeks before the holiday itself. So, when Thanksgiving and Black Friday arrived, the stats were lower than expected.

On Thursday, unique email open rates were down by 7% YOY, while revenue per email was down 29%. On Black Friday, unique opens decreased by 10% and revenue per email decreased by 9%.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, as explained by Clint Kaiser, Head of Analytic & Strategic Services at Oracle CX Marketing Consulting: "Early revenue is safer revenue this year because of pandemic-related risks, but it reinforces the need to view this unique holiday season more holistically."


Soothing scents of warmth

Source: ReallyGoodEmails
Need a little something to warm you up on winter afternoons? Us too! Here's an email from Hawthorne to make you feel nice and cozy.

First, let's talk about that hero image. Instead of opting for a classic, sleek photo of a product container, they opted for something a little unusual – and it works! We spent time looking through the perfume ingredients, so much so that we can almost feel the warm scents. And here's the thing – by including the ingredients photo, Hawthorne makes themselves seem more relatable and authentic. We're not seeing a shiny, finished product, but a raw image of their perfume's essence.

A prominent CTA displaying the price might seem unusual, but it works, as it calls readers to take action and provides details of the product. Since the focus of the email is on the hero, the body copy is placed towards the end, subtly offering additional info to those interested.

The color palette also works its magic. The combination of warm, earthy tones speaks for itself and enhances the overall cozy vibe.

Our verdict: Yes! This email is a perfect example of how every element of an email can work together to emphasize what the product is all about.

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