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Retailers Exhaust 'Black Friday' Early: Bronto

12/3/13

By Ken Magill

Retailers made solid use of the promotional value of Black Friday in their emails this year, just not on Black Friday, according to Jim Davidson, email service provider Bronto’s manager of marketing research.

“A lot of retailers exhausted Black Friday as a promotional theme because they started using it earlier in the month,” said Davidson. “A lot of retailers dropped Black Friday from their offers, subject lines and content throughout the weekend.

“Some were using November as Black Friday Month,” he said. Moreover, at least one retailer pushed out a Black Friday email aimed at the Friday before this year’s actual Black Friday.

“To get ahead and use Black Friday effectively, it became a month-long theme,” said Davidson. “Then when Black Friday arrived, consumers had already seen Black-Friday offers and shopped Black-Friday deals. You can’t send Black Friday emails out when everybody’s already tired of it.”

According to Davidson, rather than make Black Friday offers on Black Friday, at least one major retailer sent Cyber-Monday themed email on Black Friday.

For readers outside the U.S., Black Friday is the term used for the Friday after American Thanksgiving. It is traditionally considered the unofficial start to the Christmas-shopping season.

The term “black” in this context refers to retailers recording profits in black and losses in red.

“Cyber Monday” refers to the first Monday after Thanksgiving weekend.

The term was coined in 2005 by the U.S. National Retail Federation to refer to the spike in sales online retailers saw on the Monday after Thanksgiving when people returned to work and took advantage of their employers’ broadband Internet connections to shop online.

Back then, most American Internet users didn’t have broadband access at home.

However, even though most American consumers now have broadband at home, the term has stuck.

Davidson cautioned against using Thanksgiving weekend 2013 email-marketing trends to draw any conclusions about with may happen next year.

“This is the latest Black Friday to Cyber Monday we’ve had in more than a decade,” he said. “And it’s not going to happen again for a long time. This is kind of like a leap year. I think the decline of Black Friday emails and the bump into Cyber Monday emails was due to the fact that folks started earlier.”

Davidson’s observations came from a study of thousands of emails from more than 400 retailers. As of this writing, he is still processing the data and said he isn’t comfortable sharing hard numbers yet.

He added that Bronto plans to hold a webinar on the exact findings next week. Click here to register.

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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Andrew Bonar
Date: 2013-12-03 22:58:10
Subject: Another Perspective..

Thanks, it is always great to see another perspective. Based on my own research of in excess of 50,000 campaigns sent in the days preceding black Friday, and hundreds of thousands over the previous month, I have not seen the same however. I enjoyed the anecdotal research and thought I would share some of my own research here.. The use of 'Black Friday' in a subject line peaked on the 29th of November (Sydney AU time) with 8% of all campaigns containing that subject line. The preceding 2 days it peaked at around 4%. In the 60 days prior to that we see a spike just once to 0.1% using the Black Friday subject line. Use of the word "Sale' in subject lines has been consistent throughout October and November at around 2% of all campaigns containing this word, however been the 27th of November and the 2nd of December this has hovered between 4% and 5% A blog with my reflections on Black Friday will be available on emailexpert.org shortly.

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