The 100 largest e-retailers by sales each sent an average of 4.26 messages to consumers in their databases during the first 12 days of December, but the biggest e-mail senders sent 3.2 messages per day during the same period, twice the rate they e-mailed during the entire month of November.

E-retailers intensified their e-mail marketing efforts during the first 12 days of December, with the highest-volume senders blasting more than three messages a day to consumers in their databases, twice the rate at which they e-mailed in November, according to an analysis of data Internet Retailer collected on the top 1,000 North American e-retailers by 2012 sales.

The top 1,000 e-retailers sent 3,559 promotional e-mails from Dec. 1 to Dec. 12. To collect the data, Internet Retailer in late October signed up with the 843 of the top 1,000 merchants, as ranked in the Top 500 and Second 500 Guides, that offer e-mail registration on their e-commerce sites. Internet Retailer then recorded how many e-mails each e-retailer sent. Internet Retailer did not connect any shopping or purchasing activity with the e-mail address.

More than half of top 1,000 e-retailers, 532, sent at least one e-mail during the period, and the average was 6.68 messages.

The top five e-mailers by volume were:

  • Women’s apparel e-retailer, No. 686 in the Second 500 Guide, sent 46 messages from Dec. 1 to Dec. 12. The largest discount it promoted in a subject line was 50% off.
  • Toy and hobbyist e-retailer, No. 578, sent 41 messages, with at least one message promoting 66% off in its subject line.
  • Discount e-retailer and No. 202 in the Top 500 Guide, sent 37 messages and promoted free shipping in its subject lines. NoMoreRack said in early December that it had pulled in $78 million in sales from Nov. 1 to Dec. 2, 168% more than the same period last year.
  • Cookware e-retailer (No. 220) sent 35 messages and offered 50% off.
  • Cookware e-retailer (No. 317) sent 32 messages with a high offer of 70% off.

Melina Ash, co-founder and chief merchandising officer of, says e-mail marketing is performing well for the retailer so far this holiday season, and open rates are up. “Open rates have increased by about 20% from the norm,” she says. “We’ve seen a particular increase in traction when we release door busters.”

advertisement and were both purchased by Target Corp. (No. 18) in 2013. Target said at the time that it would operate the two sites as one subsidiary company., interestingly, sent zero e-mails to the e-mail address Internet Retailer used in its test.

These top five senders by volume sent an average of 3.2 messages per day, double the 1.6 daily average they sent during all of November. The top 20 senders by volume sent an average of 2.3 messages per day, up from an average of 1.4 in November. Fourteen of the top 20 senders come from the Top 500 Guide, which ranks the largest online retailers by sales, and six come from the Second 500 Guide, which includes retailers with $18.8 million in annual sales or less.

The top 100 e-retailers as ranked in the Top 500 Guide sent an average of 4.26 e-mails from Dec. 1-Dec. 12 to the e-mail used by Internet Retailer in this survey; that compares to 7.78 e-mail average for all 30 days of November.

Internet Retailer also recorded e-retailers’ largest percent-off offers. Among the top 20 e-retailers by December volume, BeyondTheRack , a Canadian flash-sale e-retailer and No. 155 in the Top 500 and thirteenth in the top 20 by volume, promoted the greatest discount in an e-mail subject line, 85% off. ValuePetSupplies, No. 674 in the Second 500 and fifteenth by December e-mail volume, offered the lowest percent-off offer, 21%. The most popular high offer among the top 20 retailers by e-mail volume was 50% off, which four e-retailers offered during the Dec. 1-Dec. 12 monitoring period, which included Cyber Monday, the Monday following Thanksgiving.