Pat yourself on the back – you’ve survived another Cyber Week. If you’re like us, you’re reviewing your performance and tallying your totals. This Cyber Week was one for the books, with record-breaking online sales on Black Friday and some eyebrow-raising conversion stats on Cyber Monday.

Here are our key takeaways from the Cyber Week email data we collected that includes the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (11/23) through Cyber Monday (11/27).

Black Friday became an online holiday

Black Friday’s online sales are quickly outpacing Cyber Monday’s growth rate, and this is a big deal.

Shoppers spent a record $3.34 billion online on Black Friday alone. Average order values on Black Friday were $154 – incredibly close to AOV on Saturday and Cyber Monday.

One possible reason for more consumers shopping online on Black Friday was simply because more brands promoted limited-time sales via email.

Many brands used urgency to their advantage. For example, Amazon offered one-day only sales on Black Friday. Others, like Overtone, released new products with a limited inventory. Apple shrouded their Black Friday deals in mystery, building up excitement with their biggest fans.

Each of these companies used email to tease their Black Friday sales. All the more reason for brands to hone in on their email strategy to take advantage of this surge of online shoppers – on Black Friday and beyond.

Cyber Monday conversions were huge

Typically, email read lengths and conversions work hand-in-hand – but not this Cyber Week. Read lengths were longest on Thanksgiving (15+ seconds), but conversions for that day only made up 14% of total Cyber Week conversions. On Cyber Monday, most people only spent an average of 0-3 seconds reading email… and conversions were highest (24%) on that day.

Our hypothesis? It’s possible that many consumers did their shopping research via email at the beginning of Cyber Week, and then returned to those emails on Cyber Monday to complete their purchases. Urgency likely played a role too, since most brands promoted limited-time sales, using Cyber Monday as a deadline.

Finally, some brands may have saved their best deals for last to take advantage of last-minute Cyber Week shoppers.

Desktop won for the highest order values…

Desktop isn’t dead! Desktop users spent more than smartphone and tablet users, with average order values reaching $162. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that desktop users are high-rollers – many consumers just feel more comfortable completing purchases on a larger screen.

…but smartphones had the highest email opens.

Smartphones are as popular as ever for opening emails. As we reported in our Retail Holiday Readiness Report, many consumers do holiday shopping research on their smartphones – saving emails, comparing prices and making their holiday shopping lists.

It’s also possible that some of those consumers are viewing those emails across multiple platforms – opening an email for the first time on their smartphone, then re-opening it on desktop once they’re ready to make their purchase. That’s why it’s so incredibly important to use device-targeted emails!

Learn more about testing and optimizing your emails across devices.

Most retail apparel conversions happened on smartphones

Retail apparel conversions are notoriously high on smartphones, and Cyber Week was no different. One surefire way to drive your smartphone users to make a purchase? Optimize and test for mobile. When you optimize your email design for mobile, you make it easier for your customers to quickly scan your message, find the call-to-action and complete a purchase.

Find out how retail marketers are using context to deliver amazing customer experiences.

Conversions for retail (non-apparel) was a different story, with desktop users accounting for 56.8% of conversions. This once again points to the many ways consumers interact with your emails: researching on their smartphones, then re-opening and completing their purchases on their desktop. All the more reason to include email marketing as part of your cross-channel strategy!

Let’s recap

  • Black Friday is no longer an in-store only event. It’s right up there with Cyber Monday in terms of online sales.
  • Cyber Monday read rates were low, but conversions were high. This indicates that consumers are checking their emails for research purposes, then returning back to them later to complete their purchase.
  • AOV was highest on desktop. Consumers feel more comfortable completing their purchases on a larger screen.
  • Smartphones had the highest email opens. Consumers love opening emails and researching on their smartphones.
  • Retail (apparel) conversions were highest on smartphones. Use device targeting to optimize your email experience.
  • Retail (non-apparel) conversions were highest desktop. There’s an excellent chance that your customers are opening your emails on multiple devices.

Takeaways for email marketers

Email is a huge driver of online sales during Cyber Week. Black Friday is now one of the biggest online holidays, so a well-planned holiday campaign is key for successful holiday sales. Limited-time promotions are incredibly successful for driving more sales in a short time frame. Finally, always be aware of which devices your customers are using to open your emails. Test your email design, optimize for mobile and use device targeting to deliver better email experiences.

Want to learn more about using device targeting, time targeting and more to deliver contextual email experiences? Download Everything You Need to Know About Contextual Marketing.