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Survey: Promotional emails drive Thanksgiving holiday sales

San Bruno, Calif. -- A report released Thursday by email and cross-channel marketing solution provider Responsys found that promotional email marketing volume during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend hit an all-time high, helping to drive significant increases in online sales.

“Over the five day holiday weekend, promotional email volume sent by major retailers was up 27% year-over-year, with Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday all seeing record email volumes,” said Chad White, research director at Responsys. “Retailers are making email marketing central to their cross-channel marketing efforts this holiday season like never before, and the record online sales results speak for themselves.”

Some 87% of major retailers sent at least one promotional email to their subscribers on Cyber Monday this year, up from 77% last year and making it the largest email marketing day of the year for the fifth consecutive year. That email volume increase helped propel Cyber Monday online sales to a new all-time high, up 33% year-over-year and shattering last year’s record of $1.03 billion, according to IBM Coremetrics.

This year, 81% of major retailers sent at least one promotional email campaign to their subscribers on Black Friday, making it the second busiest promotional email day on record behind this year’s Cyber Monday. Last year, 69% of retailers sent emails on Black Friday. That increase in email volume helped drive significant gains in online sales, which jumped 24.3% compared to Black Friday 2010, according to IBM Coremetrics.

“This year’s Black Friday email marketing campaigns were much more focused on buying online than in past years, with even large store-based retailers like J.C. Penney and Office Depot promoting their online sales just as prominently as their in-store sales,” said White.

This year, 75% of major retailers sent at least one promotional email campaign to their subscribers on Thanksgiving Day, up from 60% last year and only 45% in 2009. That increase supported a huge leap in online sales, which rose 39.3% compared with Thanksgiving Day 2010, according to IBM Coremetrics.