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Black Friday: all the stats and trends to know for 2021

12 October 2021Reading time: 4 min.

MailUp presents new research devoted to Black Friday: 2020 email campaign trends, statistics, and results to develop an analytical and effective strategy for 2021. 

The summer holidays and heat have given way to full work and school schedules, while hints of fall are already in the air. Some stores have even started to display Halloween decorations. So there you go: Black Friday, the most anticipated and, for some marketers, dreaded event of the year, pops up circled in red on your calendar. 

Black Friday is the undisputed king of sales. It has been the protagonist of the most profitable season for years, which opens with offers of the last weekend of November and ends with the Christmas holidays. The $789 billion record hit by the U.S. market alone during this crucial period last year—about 30% of the overall profits of 2020—was no coincidence.

The interest and potential surrounding this occasion grow significantly year after year, as does the number of online consumers who anxiously await its offers. But, as we all know, this golden opportunity brings with it a considerable level of competition that is also on the rise. 

For this reason, over recent years, the readiness of an effective, analyzed strategy has become key in really taking advantage of this occasion. 

So we’ve decided to come to your rescue with a research devoted to Black Friday and its figures and trends. Data, graphs, and statistics on 2020 email campaigns will help you understand which choices hit the spot last year and get competitors’ strategies and potential 2021 trends. 

Black Friday in Italy: 2020 statistics

The analysis considered a sample of almost 189 million relevant emails sent by the MailUp customer base. It highlighted a decrease in the sending volumes (-3.32%), but also an improvement in both single message openings and clicks (respectively +11.94% and +10.97%). 

black friday volumes of sending

So companies’ 2020 choice was to send fewer Black Friday-themed communications and to focus more on message quality rather than quantity. This turned into better interactions and degree of interest from recipients. 

The mailing period was wide, which means that the campaigns weren’t limited to the month of September but started from the end of October and lasted until the third week of December. In the first case, the October emails served to create a sense of anticipation and set the course with teasers. The second case was probably about abandoned cart notifications, leveraging the holiday season to trigger the conversion of potentially interested users. 

The subject lines of Black Friday email campaigns

The research focused on many trends and indicators. The analysis of the keywords that companies used for getting impactful subject lines, though, deserves a special mention. The most used keyword of all was “week” with 1,647 recurrences. More generally, among the top 10, there are no particularly original or eccentric keywords. Words reflect concepts of offer, such as “promo”, “discount”, “offers”, or the concept of duration, such as “days” and “today”. 

subject line keywords

Cyber Monday: a growing sales phenomenon

The analysis also focused on the results of the Cyber Monday-themed email campaigns to understand how companies use this occasion to further increase sales. 

In 2020, emails with Cyber Monday in their subject lines were 40 million—a considerable increase compared to the 28 million of 2019 (+42.2%). Only 13 out of these 40 million were sent on the Monday of the event. This means that also for this occasion, companies extended their campaigns over time to hedge against the risk of going unnoticed, as inboxes are typically filled to the gills on Cyber Monday. 

Opening rates confirm the growth trend of sending volumes from 8.26% in 2019 to 9.49% in 2020, with a variation of +14.91%. 

Unique click rates also show a positive increase from 2019 to 2020, from 0.88% clicks to 1.06%. 

Black Friday’s best performers

What sectors have leveraged the Black Friday opportunity the most to send promotions and discount codes in the most profitable month of the year? To answer this question, we analyzed the 28 macro sectors that make up our pool of approximately 11,000 MailUp customers. So we identified the 10 best performers. 

Retail trade, with its 80 million messages, tops the list for mailing numbers. Second up is the fashion, clothing, and footwear sector with 50 million mailings. Third place, with equal merit, goes to sports and transportation/travel, both with 16 million. This bronze is surprising in both cases, given the crisis that has hit the two sectors since the pandemic.

Sending frequency

The email campaigns of brands, therefore, have moved beyond the cap of just one or two communications around the target date. But what’s their frequency? And what’s the distribution and number of sendings companies turn to the most? 

Our research answered these questions by analyzing the sending frequency of 2020 campaigns. Here are the results:

  • about half of the analyzed sample had sent their campaigns in two days, maintaining a 2-day gap between the the sendings
  • 3/4 of the sample sent emails within 1 to 3 days, every 7 days
  • 10% chose to send over 5 campaigns, spreading them across 15 days

Trending keywords

The most used keyword of all was “week” with 1,647 recurrences. The brands have chosen this keyword to communicate that the offer period extends to the entire week of the event. More generally, among the top 10, there are no particularly original or eccentric keywords. Words reflect concepts of offer, such as “promo”, “discount”, “offers”, or the concept of duration, such as “days” and “today”. 

In fact, these campaigns push the user to take advantage of limited-time only promotions, hence this type of keyword. 

This article was written by

Paola Bergamini

Paola Bergamini

I was born in 1993 in Como and I escaped from this little town to study in Milan, where I graduated in 2017 in philosophy. I've always been interested in marketing and communication and I love writing and reading. As Content Editor at MailUp, I try to keep up to date with Email and Digital Marketing news, in order to share trends, theories and tools about this constantly evolving sector.

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