With a projected $626.1 billion in sales at stake during the holiday season, marketers around the globe were on point with their email campaigns for the big Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday bonanza that saw inboxes brimming with offers and promotions to stoke the revenue fires.

Retailers sent 55.4% more email campaigns on Black Friday this year than they sent in 2015, and they sent 42% more on Cyber Monday from a year earlier, according to data released by digital marketing vendor eDataSource.

And there’s a good reason that email volumes increased. According to an article by Internet Retailer, about 20% of Black Friday-themed emails had a read rate exceeding 20%, up from 13% a year earlier. Roughly 19% of Cyber Monday-themed emails had a read rate over 20%, up from 12% in 2015.

To discover which days had the highest email volume and inbox engagement for our customers, we analyzed data from nearly 400 million emails. The results might surprise you.

Email volume and engagement by day

We analyzed data from 400 million emails our customers sent during Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. Those emails generated engagement with over 63 million opens and close to 9 million links clicked. During these five critical days of email sending our customers launched an average of 3 million emails per hour.

So, how did those email sends and engagement break out by day?

Black Friday reigned supreme in terms of the highest email send volume (116.5 million), opens, and links clicked followed by Cyber Monday (106 million emails sent) Thanksgiving ranked third with just about 95 million emails sent. Surprising or not, Thanksgiving ranked the second highest for the number of emails opened with over 17 million opened. When folks are waiting for their turkey and sides to cook they had plenty of time to engage with their inboxes and take action. Giving Tuesday showed strong results with over 40 million emails sent by our nonprofit customers, generating nearly 5 million opened emails and over half a million links clicked.

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Email sends by the hour – 10 am rules

Now that we know which days were the strongest for email sends and engagement, what were the peak send times by hour? (All times are reflective of the timezone that the sender was in)

  • Thanksgiving: 10 am saw over 9 million emails sent. The second most popular send time was 12 pm with just over 7 million emails sent.
  • Black Friday: 9 am and 10 am were most popular with 13 million and 11 million emails sent respectively as retailers pumped up doorbusters and incentives to shop early.
  • Small Business Saturday: 10 am was the most popular time with 5.5 million emails sent.
  • Cyber Monday: The trend continued close behind Black Friday with almost 13 million emails sent at 9 am and another almost 10 million sent at 10 am.
  • Giving Tuesday: Nonprofits continued the 10 am send trend with 5.5 million sent at that hour.

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Wrap up

Marketers around the world drove revenue and results with their personalized and targeted campaigns and we expect to see heavy email send volumes centered around peak shopping times near the end of the week and weekends in the lead up to Christmas and Hanukkah. For more tips on holiday email marketing, get the Ultimate Guide to Holiday Email Marketing.