Black Friday Email Strategy

Black Friday is one of the busiest one-day shopping days of the year. How should you optimize your Black Friday emails so your brand stands out?

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Black Friday is one of the busiest one-day shopping days of the year. Not coincidentally, it spurs one of the year’s heaviest email streams. Its nearest online rival is Cyber Monday, three days later.

With open rates hovering around 10% on general promotional emails, you can’t assume that your customers and subscribers will even see your emails, let alone open them over the hundreds or thousands of messages descending on their mailboxes.

And that flood starts earlier every year, even before all the Halloween candy gets handed out. The email volume distribution chart above shows the Black Friday flow begins to register before Halloween, ramping up fast 10 days to two weeks before the crush on Black Friday Week.

Standing out in this crowd is your chief mandate. Pull in every bit of customer intelligence from your data and testing to lay the groundwork. Use technology advances and tactics such as interactive emails and tactical message resends to boost engagement.

Black Friday Email Examples and Subject Lines

Zig while others zag

Like many consumer brands, Patagonia’s corporate values include supporting environmental groups.

It’s one of a handful that focus Black Friday sales on generating donations to its charitable causes. We picked this email because it serves two purposes: furthering the corporate social missions while still making it easy for customers to shop.

Gift giving for friends and family

Here’s a great service for you and your customer alike. Wish lists let your customers give their friends and family lists of exactly what they want. You get the traffic, sales and all that preference data. The animation gives this no-frill email some eye-catching zing, too.

Engage then convert

This is a great way to hook a shopper, especially if your brand rules among gamers. Why would you encourage customers to take a break instead of prodding them to buy? Because you can sell to them while they play. On a hectic shopping day like Black Friday, a tactic like this can get the click you need to keep customers on the path to purchase.

Exclusivity stands out

Another way to stand out on Black Friday: Offer a new or exclusive product, like the one in this email. Two key elements in this campaign are the subject line (“Black Friday: an exclusive CHANEL palette”) and the headline: “Black Friday exclusive.” The minimalist design provides a striking background for the cosmetic, too.

Dynamic content to the rescue

Lots to like in this email! The countdown timer at the top reminds customers how long they have to shop. The offers and calls to action stand out on both desktop and mobile. Plus, the map at the bottom shows the exact location of the closest store based on user location. Much better than making your customers clink a “Find Nearest Store” link.

Black Friday Email Marketing Strategy

Once you entice your recipients to open your messages, the real work begins. What do you offer that they can’t get from your competition? Low prices aren’t the only thing that attracts shoppers. How can you help them shop more successfully?

These strategies can make sure your Black Friday emails stand out.

Avoid copycat subject lines

How many “Black Friday starts NOW!” subject lines do you see in your own inbox? Your customers know it’s Black Friday. Tell them something they don’t know. Highlight your offers or impart urgency (see next item) to use your precious subject-line space more effectively.

There’s one exception to this rule: Put the fork down. Black Friday starts right now, sent by My Publisher. That’s clever.

Blow up your offers

The “exploding offer” is tailor-made for Black Friday. Real-time innovations like countdown timers (ticking watches, counters and other timekeepers) drive home limited-time offers. Specify the time limit in the subject line: “Two hours left,” not “ends shortly.”

An offer a day ...

Email frequency by itself isn’t the problem on heavy ecommerce days like Black Friday. Rather, repetitive or irrelevant messaging turns people off and makes your messages invisible in the inbox. If your Black Friday strategy includes weekend-long campaigns, send unique offers each day.

Resend certain messages

The Black Friday email you send at 3 a.m. could get buried under an avalanche of competing messages in the inbox. Consider resending it later in the day when traffic is lighter, especially if you didn’t get the traction you expected.

Two approaches can drive more action:

  • Resend the original message, but only to those who did not open or act on it the first time.
  • Revise the message and subject line slightly, and send to people who opened and/or clicked but did not convert. Let them know your offer is still good but about to expire.

Use preheaders to deliver important secondary information

These can be store hours, secondary offers or CTAs and any other information that could entice customers to open. This gives you more space in the subject line to focus on key offers or themes.

When to send your Black Friday email campaigns

According to our review, some retailers send their first Black Friday-themed campaigns in mid-November. The volume of Black Friday emails grows steadily before peaking on the day itself. Surprisingly, these “day-of” emails account for 30% of the total email volume.

With this in mind, consider sending at least one email in advance. Not only do you want consumers to associate your store with the holiday, but they’ll be mapping out their shopping strategy ahead of time.

Let shoppers know if you’ll be open (if you have physical stores), what your hours will be, and what deals they should expect. Many department and general stores, like Target, Walmart, and Kohl’s, send out virtual catalogs with their most compelling discounts.

16% of Black Friday emails are sent after the holiday, meaning there’s an additional opportunity to create revenue.

By following the above strategies to optimize your Black Friday email marketing newsletters, you can help your brand stand out on one of the busiest days of the year for shopping and email marketing.