Retailers send more promotion-touting emails than last year and offer deeper discounts.

80% of online holiday shopping was completed by the end of the day on Friday, Dec. 15, projects e-commerce platform and technology service provider Salesforce Inc. Commerce Cloud.

Salesforce bases its data off of 2,750 e-commerce sites, 350 million global shoppers in 53 countries and billions of transactions.

Free shipping continues to be a priority for shoppers as 84% of orders shipped free Tuesday, Nov. 21-Monday, Nov. 27, which is the Tuesday before Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday. What’s more smartphones accounted for 61% of traffic and 41% of orders during this period as well.

Salesforce finds the average discount was 28% during that period, slightly deeper from 27% on average during the same time last year. Salesforce also finds the discount rate is steeper Dec. 12-18 at 18% compared with this time period last year at a 16% discount rate.

Email marketing vendor SendGrid also finds that retailers are touting discounts more in their subject lines this year over last. 15% of subject lines on Black Friday mentioned a specific discount, such as 20% off, up from 8% of Black Friday emails last year.


The vendor analyzed emails of its 58,000 clients to hundreds of millions of consumers during the five-day period of Nov. 24-28 (Black Friday-Tuesday after Cyber Monday).

Retailers would also be wise not to overuse promotional sales event words, SendGrid finds, as emails with subject lines using the words “Black Friday” had an 11% open rate, “Cyber Monday” a 10% open rate, while those with no mention of these promotions, generated a 16.5% open rate, on average for the five day period.

The vendor also finds that the shorter the subject line, the better. Holiday emails with fewer words in subject lines had higher open rates than subject lines with more words. In fact, subject lines with four words had the highest open rates at 18%.


Subject lines that used the word “soon” had a 19% open rate vs. a 15% open rate for subject lines with the word “now.” Similarly, subject lines with “tomorrow” had a higher open rate than subject lines with the word “today.”

In addition, 31% of Black Friday subject lines had at least one exclamation point. However, open rates for those emails were 14%, which is less than the 16.2% open rate for emails without exclamation points.