Why 'Cyber Monday' Is the Spammiest Day of the Year

Despite Cluttered Inboxes, Marketers Turn to Email to Drive Holiday Sales

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Cyber Monday is shaping up to not only be the biggest online shopping day in history, but also the spammiest.

Since early morning, promotional emails have come pouring in to inboxes, touting free shipping and cut-rate deals at a volume never seen before. So far this holiday season, email volume is up 18.4% over 2010, according to Experian's email marketing provider CheetahMail.

This Cyber Monday is expected to beget the largest volume of marketing email ever, according to email firm Responsys. So far, this year's Black Friday saw the most marketers turning to email to shill holiday deals, even though the day after Thanksgiving has traditionally been a big day for brick-and-mortar retailers. More than 80% of major retailers sent at least one promotional email on Friday by Responsys' count, which is up from 69% of retailers last Black Friday and 77% of retailers last Cyber Monday.

As the stalwarts of the online shopping holiday, on- and off-line retailers including Macy's , Amazon and West Elm, are largely responsible for the flood of emails, but even marketers of another stripe, such as Procter & Gamble, have jumped in. Today, P&G sent out emails for buy-one, get-one deals on products ranging from Old Spice to Bounty paper towels on its online store. Even high-brow magazine The New Yorker sent an email with a 25% off promotional code for the cartoons and covers in its online store. Standing out from the pack, one email from retailer Patagonia has grabbed attention for urging customers not to shop at all.

Despite the inbox clutter, those emails are still driving traffic to retail sites. More than 9% of all email traffic on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday this year went to the top 500 retail sites-a share of traffic just shy of that coming from online search, according to Experian Hitwise. Walmart and Amazon together accounted for 2.75% of the traffic on Thanksgiving and 2.14% on Black Friday.

And for those of you that have already cleared out your inboxes from this morning, more are on the way. While most marketing emails come through overnight or in the early morning, those marketers that send two or three in a day, such as Toys 'R Us, Buy.com or Brookstone, push the later "Last chance!" or "You haven't missed out yet!" waves around 3 to 5pm.

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