Cyber Monday Email Strategy

The big kahuna of e-commerce. How should you optimize your Cyber Monday email campaigns?

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Cyber Monday started out as an online alternative to Black Friday but has evolved into Day 5 of a six-day string of branded shopping days that begins on Thanksgiving, covers Black Friday and Small Business Saturday and ends on Giving Tuesday.

It’s also one island in a flood of emails that begins to build on the Saturday and drops off quickly (see the volume distribution chart above). But keep in mind that while the Cyber Monday stream is building, the post-Black Friday and post-Thanksgiving emails are still flowing into your customers’ inboxes.

You have some big challenges to overcome with Cyber Monday:

  • Subscriber burnout
  • Inbox invisibility
  • Ramped-up frequency from competitors
  • Deliverability issues
  • Driving value beyond discounts

Cyber Monday Email Examples

It's all about the online experience

Cyber Monday is all about the online experience. So, make a name for yourself with an email-exclusive offer. That’s what Warby Parker does here with four limited-edition, only-only models. The CTA “Going, going …” emphasizes the short-lived nature of the offer, and the simple design zooms in on the four models. It’s not the usual 20% discount!

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Tick-tock. How much time is left?

Go big or go home! That can be your strategy when Cyber Monday reaches its waning hours, as with Glossier’s final Cyber Monday email. The countdown clock shows how much time is left to jump on its offer. What offer, you ask? The one that’s down in the fine print at the bottom of the email. This might not work as a one-off Cyber Monday email, but it’s a knockout punch in the last round.

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Editorial over hero images

This Cyber Monday email takes an editorial approach to the email message, emphasizing and information over just a straight sell. It can be risky if your subscribers are merely in a scrolling mood unless you play it right. Here, a combination of action-focused copy, appealing photos and design leads the eye straight down to the call to action.

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Merge Cyber Monday with Giving Tuesday

More brands are doing what MeUndies is doing – creating a promotion that merges their commercial Cyber Monday emails with Giving Tuesday, which comes on the heels of the five-day shopping extravaganza that began with Thanksgiving. This promo combines active commerce – buying underwear – with passive altruism, which can make customers feel good about shopping with the brand without actually having to pay for the donations.

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Pique the curiosity of customers

Here’s a Cyber Monday email that doesn’t actually sell. Instead, it uses intrigue to move customers right to the website for the main sales job. Mystery permeates the email, from the subject line (“Achievement Unlocked: Cyber Monday”) to the headline (“Cyber Monday Access Granted”) to the “Unlock Mystery Deals” call to action. It can pique the curiosity of people who seeing nothing but hard-sell subject lines in the inbox, and that might all you need to push someone to purchase.

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Cyber Monday Email Marketing Strategy

As with Black Friday, creativity and value are your two best friends with Cyber Monday messaging.

Let’s dive into some specific strategies you can use.

Build frequency gradually

Deliverability experts warn against changing tactics unexpectedly — especially during the high-volume opening weeks of the holiday shopping season.

ISPs are quick to jump on sudden shifts in email habits, such as a sudden increase in frequency, sending from untested IP addresses or moving from modest sends to heavy broadcast deliveries. So, ramp up frequency logically and strategically in the weeks before the Thanksgiving weekend crush.

Bombarding your entire list with hourly offer updates might satisfy your Cyber Monday plan. But it could torch your sender reputation and spam-folder your emails for the rest of the holiday season, especially if you touch off a subscriber rebellion that results in unsubscribes and spam complaints.

You also could burn out your subscribers if you aren’t in their inner circle of favored brands.
Pro tip: Give subscribers the option to opt down – to choose a lower frequency – rather than opt-out. Or, create a secondary list with a higher frequency that would appeal to your avid customers and use it for daily or twice-daily sends.

Celebrate your VIPs

We’re struck by the lack of targeted and personalized Cyber Monday emails. This is not the time to treat your customers equally!

Show your customers you know who they are and how special they are to you. Personalization is just the start. Segment your VIPs – past buyers, regular open-and-clickers, anybody on whom you have activity data – and send them special offers with content that recognizes your special relationship.

Maximize inbox visibility

Two tactics can help you rise above the noise and increase your visibility:

1. Coordinate the sender name, subject line and preheader. Your subscribers use all three elements to decide whether to open your emails.

  • Sender name: We like Gap’s tactic, creating a new sender name just for the day (“Gap Cyber Monday”). No matter what, though, be sure the sender name mentions your brand, not the name of the person who sent the email.
  • Subject line: Shoppers are looking for deals, bargains, great discounts and other “what’s in it for me?” motivators. So, put your best offer where they’ll see it. A value-driven subject line won’t blend into the crowd with subject lines like “Hurry – deals end soon!”
  • Preheader: Brands have caught on to the tactic of using custom preheaders to support the email subject or content. If your preheader still says “View in a browser” or “Add us to your address book,” you’re falling behind. Use that valuable space to promote a secondary offer or flesh out your subject line.
  • Bonus: Avoid the obvious! Everybody knows it’s Cyber Monday, so don’t waste 24 characters on “Cyber Monday starts now!” (That’s why putting it in the sender name, as Gap did, is genius.)

2. Resend your email campaign. No matter how well you build your inbox presence, your email could get lost in the email crush. Resend later in the day to people who didn’t open it the first time. But be strategic. This tactic can backfire if you don’t think it through and test the impact it may have on your list.

When to send your Cyber Monday email campaigns

Unsurprisingly, retailers relied heavily on emails to drive sales during Cyber Monday. But as our data show, a staggering 56% of emails are sent on Cyber Monday. Less than 17% of emails go out the week leading to the holiday.

To build anticipation and make your company the one subscribers associate with the holiday, we suggest bucking the trend and crafting a pre-Cyber Monday campaign.

Extending your Cyber Monday sale for 24 hours also helps capture all the customers who waited too long the previous day to make a decision. It’s also a chance to stand out now that email volume is lower and the other deals are over.

14% of Cyber Monday emails are sent after Cyber Monday—as a “last chance” reminder.

Consider the above strategies and email timing for your Cyber Monday email marketing campaigns, so that your emails stand out in a crowded inbox.