How We Prepped for Black Friday and Cyber Monday – And How We Did

Erik Morse, Vice President of Software Development

Author Bio

As vice president of software development, Erik leads the effort to scale Oracle + Bronto’s technology organization in order to meet the increasing performance demands of the company’s rapidly growing roster of commerce-focused companies. Erik also leads Oracle + Bronto’s product development teams, bringing his lengthy SaaS experience to continually deliver innovative, yet easy-to-use functionality that helps retailers to maximize the impact of their marketing campaigns.

Prior to joining Oracle + Bronto, Erik was the founding employee at Peopleclick, where he served for thirteen years as COO and CTO. During his tenure at Peopleclick, Morse was instrumental in building the technology organization and leading key product development initiatives, including the establishment of the company’s successful and rapidly scaling SaaS business model. Prior to Peopleclick, Erik served as a director of development for Seer Technologies, a leader in enterprise software infrastructure products. Previously, Erik held a key role at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) as a senior software engineer.

The holiday shopping rush kicked off earlier than ever last year with the rise of Gray November, marking an ongoing change in how retailers are approaching the typical end-of-year discounting season. However, Black Friday and Cyber Monday still reigned supreme as Bronto (and our customers) once again shattered records. Bronto customers sent out 30% more emails on Black Friday this year than in 2016, while Cyber Monday sends were up 26%.

We noticed some interesting trends this time around. While Cyber Monday was historically the sending day of choice for commerce marketers, the gap between total sends on it and Black Friday continued to shrink this year into the single digits. Along with increased discounting throughout the month of November, marketers are starting to treat Black Friday with the same importance as Cyber Monday.

It’s not just the volume of messages that stood out, though. After all, you can send as many emails as you want, but it doesn’t mean all of them will make it to your contacts’ inboxes – or that your contacts will engage with them when they do. However, our deliverability warm-up processes and our customers’ smart segmentation paid off, contributing to high deliverability during this critical period.

We also saw increased engagement from consumers on both days, showing that customers are paying attention to these days as well. The average click-to-open rate for Bronto customers on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday was higher than the November average.

The planning process to handle the increased volume started shortly after Cyber Monday 2016. Our engineering team assessed how our systems performed at peak load and looked for opportunities to eliminate any single points of failure in our infrastructure. Every component must have at least one backup component, and very often there is more than one backup. That helps give our customers extra peace of mind when their emails absolutely must arrive on time.

We also invest in a large monitoring infrastructure that allows the engineering team to see deeply into the performance of our platform. Combined with the elasticity purposefully built into our infrastructure, this gives us the flexibility to increase the capacity of our system on the fly during times of peak activity.

Thanks to all of that hard work, we saw only minor slowdowns in delivery and reporting during the busiest times on Cyber Monday. Chat and support ticket times also stayed near our baseline targets throughout the weekend. The weekend was a great example of how Brontos from across the company – product, engineering, support and more – come together for our customers.

Despite these successes, we’re not resting on our laurels. We’ve already started analyzing our performance and making short- and long-term plans for the year ahead. As our customers’ sending needs continue to grow, so does our commitment to ensuring the high standards of reliability and performance that you’ve come to expect from Bronto.

I can’t wait to share some of the exciting updates we have planned for 2018. Keep checking out the Bronto Product blog to see what’s new, or ask your account manager for more information!