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BFCM 2022: Email, SMS, and push message statistics & trends

Reading Time: 11 minutes

Each year, the holiday shopping season seems to start earlier, which is nothing new to marketers. This year, however, with high inflation causing uncertainty around consumer spending, ecommerce brands were pressed to capture sales early for fear that consumers would pull back on purchasing.

Another challenge for brands was maximizing profits amid fluctuating paid marketing costs and performance on channels such as social media and paid search. For many brands, this meant refocusing efforts on tried-and-true opt-in channels such as email and SMS marketing to increase BFCM sales.

In our BFCM report, Omnisend looked at sales and the performance of email, SMS, and web push marketing channels in November, paying special attention to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, BFCM weekend, and the Cyber 10 (the Sunday before Black Friday through Giving Tuesday).

Here are our key findings from this BFCM holiday marketing period.

BFCM 2022 email, SMS and push marketing statistics key findings

Ecommerce sales increased, email and SMS were more effective than ever

  • Online sales noticeably increased starting on November 6th, indicating an early start to the shopping season.
  • Sales on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday were up slightly YoY, but indications point to inflation as the reason, not an increase in purchases.
  • Sales for the 29-day period ending on Cyber Monday are slightly lower (0.58%) than in 2021, before accounting for inflation.
  • Even with fewer purchases, the number of orders generated by email, SMS, and push message marketing all increased from 2021, indicating these increasingly relied-upon channels were more effective at generating sales than others. 

Email sends increase, automation drives orders, and Black Friday is king

  • Promotional campaign sends increased 28% in November and 27% during the Cyber 10 compared to 2021. Automated sends increased 45% in November and 73% during the Cyber 10.
  • Sends on Black Friday increased 28% and on Cyber Monday increased 30% YoY.
  • Email marketing was responsible for a 13.8% increase in orders on Black Friday, and a 34.4% increase during the Cyber 10.
  • Black Friday saw the highest email conversion rate of the month. Campaign emails finished at 0.13% and automated messages ended at 2.5%.
  • Automated messages generated 27.1% of orders during the Cyber 10 and only accounted for 1.7% of emails. In November, automated messages were responsible for 30.4% of orders and 1.8% of email sends.

SMS & push are still rising

SMS:

  • Brands sent 68% more SMS on Black Friday and 47% more during the Black Friday weekend (Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday), resulting in a 57% and 23% increase in orders respectively.
  • Automated SMS sends in November decreased by 34% YoY but orders increased by nearly 1600%—proving that relevant messages via consumer-preferred channels matter.
  • 65% of all November’s SMS campaign orders came during the Cyber 10, with Black Friday leading the way at 23%.

Push messages:

  • Year-over-year, brands sent 245% more push messages in November and 83.5% more during the Cyber 10.
  • On Black Friday, web push conversion rates soared to 0.27%, a 400% lift over November and 244% better than the Cyber 10.
  • Nearly a quarter of people who clicked on a push message in November made a purchase. That jumped to one in three on Black Friday.

In November, automated messages were responsible for 30.4% of orders and 1.8% of email sends.

Methodology

For this report, we analyzed over 1.8 billion marketing emails, 17 million SMS, and 22 million web push messages sent by Omnisend merchants in November of 2022. We calculated conversion rates by looking at attributed orders compared to total emails/SMS/push messages sent and calculated click rates by looking at the number of clicks compared to the number of emails/SMS/push messages sent. 

When making YoY comparisons, we analyzed this year’s Cyber 10 with last year’s, which lasted from November 21 to November 30.

We also use the following terminology:

  • Promotional campaigns (campaigns): messages manually sent by brands, such as promoting special offers, discounts, new products, and other promotional-style messages.
  • Automated messages (automations): automated messages triggered by user behavior, such as when a user abandons a cart, subscribes to a newsletter, or makes a purchase.
  • Cyber 10: Time period starting the Sunday before Black Friday through Giving Tuesday.
  • BFCM weekend: Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday 

Holiday ecommerce sales and marketing’s share of orders

The prediction of early shopping seems to be accurate. Adobe reported that beginning on November 6, there was an average daily sales increase of nearly $1B, moving the daily average from $2B to $3B. These sales figures held consistent until Saturday, November 19, the day before the start of the Cyber 10, when they again increased leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.   

Black Friday sales clocked in $9.12B, up slightly from $9.03 in 2021, and Cyber Monday registered a record $11.3B in sales, up from $10.7B in 2021. However, these sales figures are not adjusted for inflation. Factoring in inflation at nearly 8% indicates that sales figures are up because people are paying more for the goods they purchased, not because there is an uptick in purchasing. 

That begs the question, were consumers purchasing less? It appears they are. 

In 2021, consumers spent $109.8B from November 1st through November 29th, Cyber Monday. This year, accounting for the same number of days ending on Cyber Monday, consumers spent $109.16B. While this decrease is slight, factoring in inflation, sales do appear to be down year-over-year.

But with $109 billion in holiday sales up for grabs, how were brands capturing shoppers’ attention? As costs and performance of marketing channels like paid social fluctuate throughout the year, there was an expectation that brands would rely more heavily on more tested and reliable opt-in channels like email and SMS marketing. They did, and consumers responded.  

Sends and orders were up not only for email and SMS marketing but also for web push notifications. These figures indicate that consumers not only turn to these channels as part of their shopping journey but do respond to them during the busiest times of the year. 

2022 BFCM email marketing campaigns

This year, merchants sent nearly two billion promotional emails in November, a 28.5% increase from 2021. The total number of campaign emails sent during this year’s Cyber 10 was 820 million, a 26.9% increase YoY.  

The five highest send days of the month were all during BFCM weekend: 

  • Black Friday (141 million) 
  • Cyber Monday (118 million)
  • Thanksgiving Day (88 million)
  • Sunday, November 27 (80 million)
  • Saturday, November 26th (76 million)

Sends are often a good indicator of when brands expect consumers to shop, so it makes sense that the top five sending days were during BFCM weekend. 

Sales figures showed an increase in shopping in early November, and that was reflected in email send counts, especially behavior-based automated messages. 

In the first 14 days of November, Cart abandonment sends increased by 52%, and browse abandonment sends increased by 241%. This resulted in a 66% and 86% increase in orders respectively. For promotional email campaigns, sends increased by 30% during this time, resulting in a 17% increase in orders.  

Email marketing conversion rates

Overall, conversion rates for the entire shopping season were down from the previous year. As we’ve noted, this is common when accompanied by a large increase in sends.

The overall conversion rate for November was down 13% YoY, from 0.11% to 0.9%. Conversion rates during BFCM weekend and the Cyber 10 ended at 0.10%. 

On Black Friday, nearly one in ten people who clicked on a promotional email went on to make a purchase. Promotional email conversion rates peaked at 0.13%, helping the day account for 23.4% of all Cyber 10 email orders.

One interesting side note. Wednesday, November 9 through Thursday, November 11 saw a YoY increase in click-to-conversion rate, the only three-day span in November to post positive YoY increases. While the reason for this is unclear, maybe the lifting of the election day burden had something to do with it.

Email campaign takeaways:

  • Email remains a significant part of the consumer shopping journey, and brands rightfully relied on it, sending 28% more emails than they did in 2021.
  • Shoppers turned to email during the busiest shopping days of the year. Black Friday emails were responsible for 11% of all November orders and 23.% of orders during the Cyber 10.
  • Overall, email marketing saw a 13.8% increase in orders on Black Friday and a 34.4% increase during the Cyber 10.

 

Automated emails during BFCM

Behavior-based automated emails are a potent tool for engaging shoppers and increasing ecommerce sales. In November, automated messages saw a conversion rate nearly 4000% greater than promotional email campaigns.     

Merchants on Omnisend sent more than 33 million automated emails during November, with the largest send day being Black Friday with 1.9 million. With more sends and greater conversion rates, orders increased by 57% over 2021.

As mentioned earlier, automated messages like cart and browse abandonment saw a large uptick in sends early in November, highlighting that consumers were shopping and brands were targeting those high-intent shoppers with behavior-based messages to generate sales.  

In the first 14 days of November:

  • Cart abandonment sends increased by 52% and orders increased by 66%.
  • Product abandonment sends increased by 54% and orders increased by 66%.
  • Browse abandonment messages increased by 241% and orders increased by 86%.   

Year-over-year, merchants saw:

  • In November, automated sends increased by 45.5%, and orders increased by 48.9%.
  • During the Cuber 10, sends increased by 60% and orders increased by 59%.

Analyzing the types of automated emails sent, we see that they’re mostly related to high-intent shopping. Unsurprisingly, cart abandonment messages saw the highest number of sends. Many shoppers either use their carts as wishlists and abandon them in search of a better deal or an emailed discount. New customers looking for an introductory discount sign-up for emails, which explains the large number of welcome messages sent. 

Coming in third is the combination of browse and product abandonment messages. These messages are sent to shoppers who browse websites but don’t place items in their carts. These messages are highly-effective at re-engaging shoppers and leading them to purchase, with each message converting more than 1100% better than promotional campaigns. 

Automated messages generated 27.1% of orders during the Cyber 10 and only accounted for 1.7% of emails. In the month of November, automated messages were responsible for 30.4% of orders and 1.8% of email sends.    

Automated email takeaway: Automated email continues to generate sales. They were responsible for 27% of all email orders and less than 2% of email sends during the Cyber 10. Brands who utilize behavior-based automations reap the rewards, and by all accounts, more brands are being rewarded. There were 73% more automated sends during the Cyber 10 YoY.

Brands should continue to invest in automated emails that generate the most sales, notably cart, browse, and product abandonment, and welcome messages.
 

SMS marketing during Black Friday and Cyber Monday

SMS has been growing consistently over the past several years, especially during the holidays. This year was no exception. 

In November, brands sent 64.5% more SMS campaigns than the year before, eclipsing more than 16 million messages sent. Not surprisingly, the highest send days of the month fell during the Cyber 10, with Black Friday (2.9 million), the day after Black Friday (2.1 million), and Thanksgiving Day (1 million) leading the way. 

A large increase in sends usually accompanies a decrease in click rates. Overall click rates for campaign SMS ended November at 10.9%, a YoY decrease of 20.7%. Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day were two days that recorded above-average click rates. And while Black Friday recorded lower-than-average click rates, the number of messages sent and the conversion rate well outperformed other days.  

Cyber Monday was the only day in the BFCM weekend that saw a decline in orders. Not coincidentally, brands sent 52% fewer SMS messages than they did last year. We’re not sure of the reason for this, it may be because brands were putting their efforts into Black Friday, sending 68% more SMS on that day.  

While scheduled SMS campaigns gave brands a boost, so too did automated SMS. Brands sent 1.1 million automated SMS in November, half of which came during the Cyber 10. While these 1 million sends represent a 30.9% YoY decrease, the reason for the decline is simple. Last year’s overall growth of automated SMS was a substantial 258%. As brands become more sophisticated about when to send automated SMS, they send fewer, more targeted messages. 

SMS conversion rates and orders

Conversion rates for campaign SMS ended at 0.21% for both November and the Cyber 10. This represents a YoY decrease of approximately 21% for both. Again, with an increase in sends, this is expected. While orders increased 28.8% in November and 19.8% during the Cyber 10, the ten-day stretch was responsible for 64.9% of all November SMS campaign orders.  

Black Friday was the clear winner for driving SMS sales. The day was responsible for 23.2% of all orders in November, and 132.6% more orders than the next closest day—the day after Black Friday.

Conversion rates of automated SMS increased by more than 2200% during the Cyber 10 and by more than 2400% for the month of November. Overall, the Cyber 10 was responsible for 32.5% of November’s automated SMS orders.  

SMS marketing takeaway: SMS continues to grow and is now an established component to brands’ marketing strategies, especially during the holidays. Campaign sends increased significantly during the BFCM period resulting in more orders than ever, including a 68% increase in sends on Black Friday.

Automated SMS may be even more impressive than that. Using SMS in the same automated workflows as email is proving to be effective. Automated SMS orders in November increased 1600% despite sending 34% fewer messages. Think about how your brand can capitalize on this.

Push message BFCM performance

In the first half of 2022, brands sent 260% more push campaign messages and 27% more automated push messages YoY. This trend continued during the holidays. During the Cyber 10, brands sent 83.4% more campaigns and 141.5% more automated push messages. In all, brands sent 245% more push messages in November compared to the year prior.

While push campaigns were heavily used and engaged during the Cyber 10, they were a utilized tactic throughout the entire month.

The five highest send days in November were:

  • Thursday, November 17 (1.1 million)
  • Friday, November 4 (1 million)
  • Cyber Monday (991,980)
  • Wednesday, November 2 (990,330)
  • Friday, November 11 (989,051)

Conversion rates for push messages ended November at 0.05% while the Cyber 10 saw conversion rates increase to 0.07%. BFCM weekend also saw an uptick in conversion rates, ending the five-day span at 0.09%. 

Push messages convert those who engage. In November, 24% of people who clicked on a message made a purchase. During the Cyber 10, this increased to 25%, and BFCM weekend increased to nearly 28%.

Black Friday, like email and SMS, was the most effective day for web push messages. The conversion rate for the day was 0.25% on nearly a half million sent, and one in three people who clicked on a web push message went on to complete a purchase. This led to Black Friday generating 10.3% of all orders in November and 48.5% more than the second-highest day, Thursday, November 10.  

Web push takeaways: Push messages continue to become more commonplace for ecommerce brands, probably because they work. Nearly a quarter of people who clicked on a push message in November went on to make a purchase. More impressively, on Black Friday that jumped to one in three.

If you haven’t yet, begin exploring the usage of web push messages, and be sure to include them in the same email and SMS automations to ensure an exceptional customer experience with your brand.

2022 recap and what brands can do

This year, the holiday shopping season started noticeably early. And while ecommerce sales increased from last year, adjusting for inflation indicates that consumers were spending more but purchasing less.  

With the increase in costs and fluctuating performance this past year on paid channels like social media, there was an expected renewed emphasis on more consistent-performing channels like email marketing to drive sales. And we saw it. 

There was an increase in email, SMS, and push message sends and orders, and on the biggest shopping days, brands relied on these channels to drive action. Black Friday regained some of its luster, securing the highest conversion rates and number of orders for email, SMS, and web push messages, proving that customers look to these opt-in channels to aid in their shopping journeys. 

Here are the biggest takeaways and ways ecommerce brands can prepare for the remainder of the season.   

Email marketing 

  • Indications are consumers were shopping earlier but purchasing less, putting a larger emphasis on securing as many sales as possible as quickly as possible.
  • Promotional campaign sends increased by 28% in November and 27% during the Cyber 10 compared to 2021. Automated sends increased by 45% in November and 73% during the Cyber 10.
  • During the Cyber 10, promotional campaign sends increased by 27% and automated sends increased by 45%, resulting in a 34.4% increase in orders.
  • Automated messages generated 27.1% of orders during the Cyber 10 and only accounted for 1.7% of emails. In November, automated messages were responsible for 30.4% of orders and 1.8% of email sends. 

SMS marketing

  • Brands sent 68% more SMS on Black Friday and 47% more during the Black Friday weekend (Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday), resulting in a 57% and 23% increase in orders respectively.
  • Automated SMS sends in November decreased by 34% YoY but orders increased by nearly 1600%—proving that relevant messages via consumer-preferred channels matter.

Push messages

  • Year-over-year, brands sent 245% more push messages in November and 83.5% more during the Cyber 10.
  • Nearly a quarter of people who clicked on a push message in November made a purchase. That jumped to one in three on Black Friday.

How ecommerce brands can adapt to BFCM results

  1. Focus on value to consumers. Brands should focus on building consumer confidence by prominently promoting their value-adds and competitive differentiators in their email messaging, in both campaigns and automations. These value-adds include shipping and return policies, showcasing customer testimonials that reinforce customer service, company, and products, using product reviews to guide consumers toward a purchase, and promoting loyalty programs.
  2. Maximize the usage of automation. With automated emails generating 29% of all email orders, using them to communicate the right message at the right time pays off. The automated messages that brands should concentrate on most are cart abandonment, browse and product abandonment, and welcome messages.
  3. Implement SMS and push messages. SMS and push messages are two opt-in channels that continue their consistent growth and show no signs of slowing down. The holidays have seen an increase in sends and orders. With automated SMS messages converting 1600% better than campaign SMS, adding them to already effective email workflows can provide customers with an improved shopping experience that leads to sales.  
Greg Zakowicz
Article by
Greg Zakowicz

Greg Zakowicz is an ecommerce marketing expert with more than 15 years of experience in email, mobile, and social media marketing. He has consulted numerous IR top 1000 clients on their email and SMS marketing programs and is a frequent speaker and writer in the ecommerce and marketing industry.


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