Thanksgiving Email Strategy

November 28, 2019

MailCharts saves you the trouble of secretly subscribing to your competition’s emails and then spending hours trying to find something actionable.

Below you’ll find the canonical reference for Thanksgiving email planning. From email examples to specific promotional strategies, we’ve included everything you need to ace your campaign.

Email Examples

Thanksgiving Email Campaign Planning

Use the calendar below as a starting point to plan your email campaigns.

This The Vitamin Shoppe email calendar is based on The Vitamin Shoppe, who sent 1 emails for Thanksgiving in 2018.
Want to see a specific company’s email calendar?

Thanksgiving Email Marketing Statistics

Day-by-day volume distribution

Will you simply send one email on Thanksgiving or will you send a few emails leading up to it, including a “last chance” email once the event is over?
Emails sent before Thanksgiving
Emails sent on Thanksgiving
Emails sent after Thanksgiving
Based on 2903 emails mentioning "thanksgiving", "turkey", "gobble" in the subject line.

Thanksgiving promotional strategy

Discount Analysis

Discover the most popular types of promotions used for Thanksgiving.

Note: One email might contain more than one type of promotion — this is why these totals may not add up to 100%.

Distribution of Promotions

Understand how steep a discount companies offer for Thanksgiving. You can toggle between Dollars Off and Percent Off.
Be prepared for every holiday with the
perfect cadence and discount strategy.

Thanksgiving Content Strategy

Ace your Thanksgiving email content with these ready-to-implement strategies. Enjoy!

Until the last decade of the 20th Century, Thanksgiving was a day to spend with family and friends. Stores, offices and schools closed. The big commercial excitement came from the daily newspaper, stuffed to bursting with ads and inserts promoting after-Thanksgiving/Black Friday/early Christmas shopping.

Enter the Internet, where stores never close unless the site crashes. Shoppers at loose ends during the day browsed and bought, and merchants were quick to capitalize on it with dedicated Thanksgiving Day promotions sent before or on Thanksgiving.

Online browsing and buying hasn’t generated the same negative public reaction that Thanksgiving Day shopper in physical stores generated, but many marketers still prefer to mark the day with a “thank you” email, often sent under the CEO’s imprimatur, to preview Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals or launch holiday gift guides and look books.

Let’s dive into some email strategies you can use to ace your Thanksgiving email planning.


Strategy #1: Let culture guide you, but also look at the data

Thanksgiving Day’s historical association with family gatherings and the religious (albeit non-denominational) aspect of giving thanks distinguish it from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, where the focus is squarely on scoring deals.

That’s the cultural aspect of the equation. Now, here comes the data part: analyse historical traffic and email data (from Thanksgiving Day) to understand what your audience wants. Did they actively click on your emails and make purchases? Did open rate meet your expectations but not click rate? That can signal high interest but low intent. Aggressive promotions can work for some brands but backfire for others, especially if they market to older or traditional audiences.

It’s your duty to know your customers as if they were your best friends — and we encourage you to create a report summarizing the insights you draw from this analysis. As Thanksgiving loses its distinction from the shopping days that follow it, your brand managers might want to change tactics. If you don’t believe your data or other factors support that move, you will be able to defend your position.


Strategy #2: Move “lean back” browsers to “lean forward” buyers

The opposite scenario also is possible. Suppose your brand typically sends only a personal thank-you, but you know your customers browse and buy in sizable numbers on Thanksgiving. That could suggest they might welcome a low-key promotion.

Normally you’d never want to change strategies in midstream, but you get only one shot a year with Thanksgiving Day. Consider splitting your audience in half and sending a different email message to each group – one with the traditional thank-you message, and another with a promotion attached as a secondary message. Track your results and use them in your Thanksgiving plan for next year.

Note: Look at the results from Thanksgiving Day, but also analyse the impact this might have had across the five-day weekend. Make sure you’re not poaching sales from the rest of the long weekend.


Strategy #3: Remember the “thanks” in Thanksgiving

Don’t overlook the chance to say “thank you,” even if your Thanksgiving emails are all about deals and discounts. It’s easy to get caught up in the stress and strain of the holiday season. If you can’t devote an entire email to saying “thank you,” dedicate a key part of your email real estate to a short but sincere message, ideally signed by your head honcho, thanking customers for their business and wishing them a happy day.


Strategy #4: Increase visibility for more clicks

As with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving Day email volume can threaten to flood the inbox. Customers who are occupied early in the day might miss your email when they finally have a chance to sit down and scroll through their inboxes.

If you send a promotional campaign in the morning, consider resending it in the afternoon to those who registered no activity the first time around. You might want to revise the subject line if it includes a deadline or was clearly designed to be read early in the morning. However, know that everybody else is tacking “Last Chance!” and “Final Hours!” onto their emails. You must find another way to stand out.