It’s December—lights are going up, all things pumpkin spice have been in cafes for months—so it’s time to pause and review how Twilio SendGrid processed the equivalent of 1+ emails per person on the planet during each day on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
If I had to summarize the cyber week I’d say it was: 🔥🎁⏰. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the fire emoji was by far the most popular thing to “say” this year! We saw 769 million processed emails containing the fire emoji followed by presents and then clocks. The message here? The deals are hot and time’s running out so buy your holidays gifts now!
The big picture
Twilio SendGrid processed 8.8 billion emails on Black Friday and a whopping 8.9 billion emails on Cyber Monday. As of November 15, 2022, it is estimated that the human population reached 8 billion, so it makes sense that our email platform may be ready and able to engage everyone on the planet.
All in all, we processed over 50 billion emails during the holiday week from November 21 to November 28. In terms of growth on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Twilio SendGrid’s volume grew 30% and 26% respectively YoY. During peak hours when our customers most depended on Twilio SendGrid’s ability to connect them to their customers, we were processing 4.2 million emails per minute.
While some parts of the country were sitting down to dinner, and other parts were still busy in the kitchen, Twilio SendGrid processed 664 million emails between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. PST, which happened to be the highest volume hour during the holiday. If you’ve ever questioned whether or not email would cease to exist, then let the numbers speak for themselves: email is here to stay.
We saw exceptional growth from our clients compared to 2021 with an increase in volume anywhere from 10%-22% YoY. We saw a peak of approximately 620,000 emails per minute from one customer, and many others with 2 second end-to-end times and 99% delivery rates. In fact, our largest email customer sent 2.8 billion emails on Black Friday and 2.4 billion on Cyber Monday, a 62% increase YoY.
Every year we look back and wonder how the peaks of holiday email traffic grow YoY. This year is no exception. The month of November is a steady incline until you come to Black Friday where volumes spike and then spike again a few days later. What does this mean? It means that Twilio SendGrid is powering almost every email use case imaginable.
During and shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday, news reports are filled with shopping metrics: how much did we spend during the bonanza of deep discounts and 1 day only sales? What isn’t discussed is how people heard about these discounts in the first place. The answer is simple: email, lots and lots of email.
The numbers don’t lie—email drives engagement that translates into real dollars, especially in a challenging marketplace still healing from the pandemic, a tough economic market, and supply chain shortages.
Getting an email to the inbox is only the first step in making the holidays a success. If you’re a sender, you’re not only thinking about how quickly your ESP can deliver your email but also what will happen when that email is received.
Will it reach the inbox? Will it be opened? Will that open lead to a click?
These are the metrics that help you measure and optimize everything you do. After adjusting for Apple Mail Privacy Protection (MPP), Twilio SendGrid logged 4.6 billion opens from November 21 to November 28. MPP usage has grown over the course of the last 15 months since it was announced in June of 2021; during the same time frame, we saw 10.1 billion opens by MPP and logged over 534 million unique clicks.
It’s worth pointing out here that not every one of our customers uses our open-and-click tracking systems; some of our customers prefer to use their own.
It’s important to understand that the pattern of opens was closely matched by the pattern of sends. What we can learn from this is that recipients are engaging with email as it is hitting their inboxes.
What’s more is that they are engaging with email throughout the week and not on isolated days. However, what the open chart above demonstrates is the massive drop-off after Cyber Monday. The holiday week is indeed time bound, to a certain extent, and once the week is over, we are all returned to our “regularly scheduled programming.”
Similarly, we measured the number of unique clicks by hour, with 1.14% of all holiday week clicks happening on November 28 at 3 p.m. PST.
Email subject lines
During the holiday week, we saw that 90% of subject lines were between 1 and 15 words in length with 4 word subject lines delivering a 10.62% unique open rate. It seems that less is more, and customers are most likely to click on emails with concise subject lines that deliver value without trailing off the screen.
Mailbox provider growth
We dug deep into our data to learn how recipient distribution changed between 2021 and 2022 for the holiday week. Based on our findings, Apple Mail and the Apple Mail Relay saw the largest growth.
This aligns with the increased MPP opens we have observed as well. Gmail recipients grew at a very healthy 26% as did certain German mailbox providers. What does this mean for senders?
It means that more mail is being anonymously opened but for mail that is not, it’s good to take stock of which mailbox providers your recipients are using as they may have unique design requirements and naturally, based on their location, very different privacy and consent requirements.
Not all mailbox providers are architected equally. In past years we reported on the speed of the Twilio SendGrid platform and its ability to push mail through critical portions of it in milliseconds. This year we took a look at the median end-to-end times for individual mailbox providers to see where email might hit the proverbial traffic jam on the way to the inbox.
On average, our median end-to-end time was 2 seconds through the week. However, when we look at median end-to-end times for individual mailbox providers (from time of sending an email to the time we received a 250OK) the view is quite different.
Does this mean you should plan time-based offers differently? Not necessarily, but it does show how different and nuanced the routing and transit of email is.
Build for consistent and flexible scale with Twilio SendGrid
What was once meant to be a day-long shop ’til you drop spree has turned into a week-long multi-channel shopping event. Every year we see our customers’ volumes grow, but what does this mean for the Twilio SendGrid platform?
It means we plan for Cyber Week all year long to ensure that our customers can reach their customers efficiently and quickly. To deliver that efficiency year-round, we’re changing how we think about the holidays and building for consistent and flexible scale throughout the year.
We’re excited about the future of the Twilio SendGrid platform and look forward to remaining the platform of choice for anyone who depends on reaching their customers’ inboxes when it matters most.
For more information, watch our latest LinkedIn webinar where we discuss this year’s Cyber Week recap and tips to get the most out of email both during and after the holiday season.