Almost one-quarter of e-mail messages sent on Cyber Monday didn't reach the inbox, according to new data from deliverability services firm Pivotal Veracity. The waves of messages being sent out on one of the busiest e-commerce days of the year resulted in only 76.2 percent of campaigns being successfully delivered. Depending on whose data one looks at, marketers these days generally report deliverability percentages in the 80s and sometimes as high as the mid-90s.
Len Shneyder, a director for Pivotal Veracity, placed blame on an unmanageable glut of messages going out almost simultaneously. He added that the most popular send time was between noon and 1 p.m. Central Daylight Time for Cyber Monday, as well as Thanksgiving weekend as a whole.
"It's not so much a matter of what marketers did wrong individually, but what they did wrong collectively," he explained. "They all sent at what appears to be the same exact time... When volumes go up, [Internet service providers] are forced to take more draconian actions to control the volume of e-mail they are trying to process."
When it came to the four major e-mail services -- AOL, Yahoo, Gmail, and Hotmail -- Schneyder said Hotmail was 7 percent worse than the others on Thanksgiving Day. The report, he said, was based on "thousands of campaigns sent to tens of millions of recipients" between Nov. 23 and Nov. 30. About one-third of the campaigns hailed from retailers, he explained, while the data overall reflects benchmark averages across all the Phoenix, Ariz.-based company's clients.
"Marketers should keep in mind that the busiest online shopping days actually tend to be later in December, as e-commerce sites' deadlines begin to arrive for the final days that gifts can be shipped with guaranteed delivery by Christmas," Schneyder said. "[Those] days will likely look similar to Cyber Monday when it comes to e-mail deliverability challenges."
It was the first time that Pivotal Veracity has tried to zero in on Cyber Monday's e-mail deliverability issues, Schneyder said. "For this study, we were able to document that Cyber Monday experienced the lowest inbox delivery rate in the past 7 days, which shows how mailers performed as [it] relates to the most-recent activity we are seeing across ISP networks," he said.
The data was pulled via Pivotal Veracity's tracking system, which maintains e-mail addresses at numerous ISPs/e-mail providers, with default spam-filtering settings left intact. The system, which sends campaigns to what are dubbed "seed accounts," is set up to automatically log in to each account to identify whether the message was received, sent to the spam folder, or blocked.
Meanwhile, attempting to figure out whether or not the e-mail slowdown reported by Pivotal Veracity actually harmed overall Cyber Monday sales isn't so easy. For instance, analytics company Coremetrics found that online sales jumped 13.7 percent when compared to Cyber Monday 2008, while tracking sites for about 500 brands. But, Hitwise reported that traffic for the top 500 e-retailers was down 9 percent on Nov. 30 compared with last Cyber Monday.
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.