Thanksgiving Email Strategy

November 26, 2020

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 Bloomingdale's email calendar is based on Bloomingdale's, who sent 2 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 3547 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!

Goodbye, “Thanksgiving,” hello “Gray Thursday.”

Thanksgiving once was a day to spend with family and friends. Enter the Internet, where stores never close unless the site crashes. Then some big-box stores began opening at midnight, then 8 p.m., then 4 p.m. Has your email strategy evolved to keep up with your customers’ changing holiday shopping habits?

Keep these Thanksgiving stats in mind as you create your Thanksgiving marketing plan:

  • 21% of consumers said they would shop on Thanksgiving Day 2018, up from 19% in 2017 (via the National Retail Federation).
  • On Thanksgiving Day, 60% of shoppers say they’ll start before 7 p.m., and early shoppers expect to spend more than those who start later, at $128 on average (via Deloitte).

Here are four email strategies that can help you ace your Thanksgiving email planning.


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

Thanksgiving Day is associated with family gatherings and the religious (but non-denominational) aspect of giving thanks. That distinguishes it from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, where the focus is squarely on scoring deals.

That’s the cultural. Now, consider the data part. Analyze historical traffic and email data from your last Thanksgiving Day to understand what your audience is doing.

Did they click on your emails and browse or buy? Did open rate meet expectations but not click rate? That signals high interest but low intent.

Thanksgiving is still emerging as a shopping holiday. Summarize the insights you draw from your analysis to show how Thanksgiving email activity and shopping behavior reflect or differ from the days that follow to help others on your team understand what’s going on and to avoid making disastrous tactical decisions.


Strategy #2: 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. Dedicate one email out of your Thanksgiving-weekend plan to thank customers and wish them a happy holiday.

You can send only a Thanksgiving greeting, with no promotional content, or attach a greeting to your standard promotional email. Use the next strategy to decide which approach you should take.

Strategy #3: Move “lean back” browsers to “lean forward” buyers

Knowing your data can help you decide what kind of promo to send. Let’s say your brand sends only a nonpromotional “thank you” email on Thanksgiving. But, your data shows your customers browse and buy in sizable numbers on Thanksgiving. Not including an offer could mean you’re losing out on sales.

Consider A/B testing your Thanksgiving email. Send a nonpromotional “thank you” email to half and a similar message with a promotion attached as a secondary message. (See the email examples above for some steal-worthy ideas.) Use the results in your Thanksgiving plan for next year.

Note: Analyze the impact a Thanksgiving offer might have across the five-day weekend to determine whether it poaches sales from the rest of the long weekend.


Strategy #4: Increase visibility for more clicks

As with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving Day email volume can flood inboxes. An early-morning email could get lost in the shuffle, while a late-afternoon message could miss the activity window after things settle down.

If you send a promotional campaign in the morning, consider resending it in the afternoon to those who didn’t open or click the first time around. Revise the subject line, especially if the original one was time-sensitive.

However, know that everybody else is tacking “Last Chance!” and “Final Hours!” onto their emails. So. look for another way to stand out.

Want more email inspiration? Scroll through our entire curated selection of Thanksgiving emails!