Email is a staple of online retailers’ promotions this holiday season, whether it’s from discount giant Inc. or a single-owner wine e-retailer, according to an Internet Retailer survey.

It paid off for LivingSocial Inc., which had 31% higher sales than forecast for its Cyber Monday email promotion, says Danny Hsia, the retailer’s head of email and customer relationship management. He declined to give specific figures. LivingSocial ranked No. 5 for most emails sent to a single email address in November in an Internet Retailer survey of the Top 1000 retailers in North America, as ranked by For the survey an Internet Retailer researcher signed up to receive email from all of the Top 1000 retailers that offered that option, and tracked the 13,000 he received. The survey is representative of what someone who had just signed up to receive email would receive from leading e-retailers.

The top five retailers in terms of number of emails sent in November to a newly signed-up consumer, are:

  1. Inc. (No. 1 the Top 500), 128 emails.
  2., 102 emails.
  3., (No. 627)100 emails.
  4. Big Fish Games Inc. (No.179), 94 emails.
  5. LivingSocial, 90 emails.

A separate category examined retailers that sent emails that offered some kind of promotion. The top five retailers sending emails with such incentives during November were:

  1. Amazon.
  3. (No. 229).
  4. (No. 51).
  5. The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. (No. 181).

LivingSocial’s emails in November focused on giving as gifts experiences such as a massage, a facial or a restaurant meal, and more than half of the recipients read the emails from a mobile device, Hsia says. LivingSocial’s customers are primarily educated, affluent women who use email to do their shopping online, he says.


Living Social’s holiday emails started going out in early November at the rate of 300 million a week, but Hsia would not disclose the size of the retailer’s email list. The promotions represent LivingSocial’s repositioning in September to offer deals at restaurants and health and beauty retailers, as well as to be a marketplace for deals on physical goods, Hsia says. owns a 31% stake in LivingSocial, according to Amazon’s financial filings.

Email is one of LivingSocial’s best-converting channels, Hsia says. “It always should have a place in any marketer’s plan,” he says. LivingSocial is No. 206 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide.

Wine retailer, second in the number of promotional emails sent in November in the Internet Retailer survey and No. 555 on the Internet Retailer Top 1000, uses email as its primary promotional vehicle year-round.  But the retailer doubles the rate of emails it sends customers to an average of twice each day during the holidays, says Saurabh Abrol, WineChateau CEO and president.

The retailer’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions focused on shipping discounts and gift ideas, and WineChateau’s conversion rate is 3.1% versus an industry average of 2.5%, he says.


Retailers’ dependence on email promotions coincides with a study provided exclusively to Internet Retailer by email marketing firm Listrak. The study shows Listrak’s 136 client retailers have sent more email promotions and obtained higher conversion rates from email so far this holiday season than during the same period last year.

Retailers’ emails to consumers increased 32.44% on Thanksgiving Day compared with 2014; 50.74% on Black Friday; 48.59% on the Saturday after Thanksgiving; 46.18% on that Sunday and 41.89% on Cyber Monday, the survey shows.

Email’s share of conversions increased to 28.9% this year from 24.9% on Thanksgiving Day 2014; to 31.5% from 24.4% on Black Friday, and to 30.5% from 24.1% on Cyber Monday. Including the five days from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, email’s share of conversions increased to 30% this year from 24% in 2014, the survey shows.

Listrak CEO Ross Kramer says retailers are sending more email this holiday season and using analytics to include deals tailored to customers’ preferences and shopping histories.

Even high-end shoe retailers such as Stuart Weitzman and John Varvatos sent emails promoting discounts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and those brands rarely offer discounts, even during the holidays, Kramer says.


“Retailers know it’s going to be a great opportunity to drive revenue,” he says.