Ringing in the holidays with 68 billion messages and emails

Ringing in the holidays with 68 billion messages and emails
November 29, 2023
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Our customers broke records by reliably sending over 4 billion messages and over 64 billion emails during Cyber Week 2023! To put that into perspective, this means that our customers combined could have sent 8 messages or emails to every single person in the world over the past week. This volume is something we couldn’t have dreamed of when we started this communications journey over 15 years ago. Apart from the scale, one thing that continues to astonish us is how our customers have shaped and changed the way that businesses interact with consumers. Our customers continue to innovate across multiple channels for more meaningful engagement in order to reach consumers when and where they prefer.

Even though we continue to see record numbers in volumes of communications sent, the goal should be less about how much you can send and more about how personalized you can be with your customer. In our 2023 Customer Engagement Report, 66% of consumers say they will quit a brand if their experience isn’t personalized. With a statistic like this, it may seem daunting to keep up with constant change in consumer preferences, so in this post we will walk through what we can learn from this past week, how we think about communications at scale for Cyber Week and beyond, and how trust and reliability can impact how consumers interact with your business or organization.

What can we learn from Cyber Week?

The best thing about Cyber Week is that businesses are able to engage with consumers at a tremendous scale. However, after more than 6 months of preparation and a grueling week of execution development, marketing, and operations teams are left exhausted. To help ease that exhaustion and give you a headstart into your post-Cyber Week retrospective, here are a few trends and learnings we saw this year.

  • Cyber Week turns into Cyber Month – The term ‘Cyber Week’ now carries a different meaning than before, and in fact, is turning into ‘Cyber Month’ with sales starting as early as October and ending as late as January. By November 20th this year, our customers were already sending 7 billion emails daily. This means that businesses are reaching their customers earlier than ever before.
  • Consumers are driving change – There are more options for how consumers can interact with businesses digitally. While texting and email will continue to be the cornerstone of Cyber Week, OTT (over-the-top) channels such as WhatsApp, Messenger, Chat, or Google Business Messaging are growing in popularity. Last year’s Cyber Week saw a 32% increase in messages sent over these OTT channels, and it continued to grow an additional 14% in 2023. It’s easy for businesses to be distracted with so many channels available, but it is more important than ever to optimize your messaging and channel usage for where consumers are at in their buying journey. Strategic investment in more targeted and bottom-of-funnel messaging will result in less messages being sent, but higher ROI.
  • Building consumer trust leads to higher engagementOnly 1 in 3 consumers find it very or moderately easy to contact brands through their preferred messaging channels. Understanding what channels (email, voice, messaging) your customers want to be contacted on, when they want to hear from you, and what types of messages they want to receive will make or break your customer engagement.
  • Twilio Trusted Communications played a role this year – If you sent a text message in the US this Cyber Week with Twilio you are aware that 2023 was the first Cyber Week in history where every at-scale sender in the US had to be registered. Just like building trust with your customers, building trust with the industry and carriers plays a large role in message deliverability, reliability, and engagement. This shift towards a fully trusted and verified communications ecosystem will continue to create a safe and trusted environment for businesses to engage with consumers.
  • Similar to carriers for messaging, Gmail and Yahoo! lead the way to ensure the email channel is trusted and valued. The new Gmail and Yahoo! announcement requires customers to align their SPF and DKIM and create a DMARC policy reinforcement to ensure delivery. With senders now having to publish a DMARC record to comply with these new announcements, customers can create a more secure authenticated email environment for all senders and recipients.
  • Data Drives Deliverability - The 3 Ds to remember. When it comes to communication deliverability, preparation is key. The fact is that no one is exempt from experiencing delivery failures. However, you can minimize the damage by carefully monitoring deliverability rates across your messaging and email solutions while paying careful attention to the key metrics that will alert you to any problems.

Communications at scale is no longer just for Cyber Week

While Cyber Week feels like the final exam at the end of the year to see how your communications solutions handle increased volume, it’s not the only week that your ability to grow and send reliable messages will be put to the test. Whether you’re scaling geographically, expanding and adding new communications channels, or growing the sheer volume of communications you send, you can run into common hurdles as a result of this scale. That is why our product, engineering, and operation teams have dedicated the last 2+ years developing and testing a messaging product suite that can handle the volume and scale that makes Cyber Week feel like just another week out of the year, the Traffic Optimization Engine.

The Traffic Optimization Engine works across different networks, senders, geographies, and use cases to ensure that your most timely messages are delivered based on your highest priority needs and without overwhelming the carrier networks. This means that your messages will always be delivered in the time you and your customers expect – something other providers can’t always do.

Reliability isn't something that just applies to texting and with 100% uptime across our Messaging and Email platforms during Cyber Week, we understand the power that reliable communication creates. However, we know first hand that emails that miss the inbox and experience delivery delays can prevent you from delivering the best experience to customers. To combat these hurdles, real-time data can be valuable to improve your email deliverability. The SendGrid Event Webhook provides real-time feedback on every email you send across nine event types, such as open and bounce rates. Customers can rely on our infrastructure to achieve optimal inbox placement and make the process of sending emails trustworthy and reliable.

Building a communications solution that lasts

At Twilio, we spend the full year preparing our platforms for the volume that comes with Cyber Week, but our ultimate goal is for you to experience this level of scale and engagement throughout the year. If you find yourselves getting nervous when thinking about Cyber Week or when expanding your communication platforms, we are always here to help you achieve the scale your business deserves.

To learn more about how business can reach customers on the platforms they prefer using a cohesive omnichannel strategy, please watch our latest webinar Driving Meaningful Customer Engagement at Scale During Cyber Week