Welcome to part one of a two-part series providing tips to get the most out of email marketing throughout Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

How many shopping days are there left till Christmas?

Answer: Two.

Black Friday this year falls on November 28th and Cyber Monday on December 1st.

The juggernaut of online consumer demand on these two shopping days shows no signs of abating on either side of the Atlantic, making these the most important two days of the year for most online retailers.

Let’s crunch the numbers

In the UK, Amazon saw an increase in Black Friday 2013 sales of 63% and eBay an increase of 84% (source: econsultancy.com).

Total Black Friday US online sales revenue was up over 18.5% from 2012 with the average online value up by 2.2% year on year.

Cyber Monday in the US, as in the UK, ranked as the highest online spending day of the year, with over $1.735 billion spent on desktops alone in the US.

So how are your Black Friday and Cyber Monday email marketing plans looking?

Follow these 10 email marketing steps to make sure you maximize your share of the available online spend this year.

1. Discount to drive engagement

Consumers have learnt to expect big discounts on Black Friday.

Analysis of your customer behavior last year will show you which products and offers created the greatest online demand.

Armed with this knowledge you can create email offers around products you know will drive email engagement, drive traffic to your website and drive sales revenue including non-discounted sales.

Elizabeth Arden

Elizabetharden.com offer a bundle offer for Black Friday weekend including 2 free gifts and free shipping.

The ‘secret code’ helps to deliver an exclusivity message that makes the offer feel more compelling.

2. Build anticipation

A short drip campaign leading up to and on Black Friday and Cyber Monday will help drive your message home.

Rather than focus on re-mailing non-openers with the same message, consider creating an email marketing automation program that delivers a series of different messages and subject lines to help build customer anticipation before the event.

Online consumers take a commando approach to the launch of heavy discount sales like Black Friday. They’ll research the best offers and deals in advance, visit a host of websites and be ready to strike and get the deal they want on the day.

So use your email automation program to feed this need. Make it easy for consumers to include your brand and your offers in their reconnaissance.

Eagle Outfitters

American Eagle Outfitters use a holiday gift guide email to encourage pre-Black Friday gifting research.

3. Encourage opt-in

Building a Black Friday email alerter list will deliver you a ready-made database of engaged customers and prospects who want to take advantage of your Black Friday offers.

And the good news is there’s still time to do it. This quick checklist will help you get the process in place:

  • Change the banners and signup forms on your homepage and key traffic pages on your website to promote your Black Friday email alerter
  • Spell out the benefits of signing up: e.g. subscribers will be the first to know about limited availability offers and special subscriber-only deals
  • Create a dedicated signup landing page, with a webform that populates your email list in your email marketing platform
  • Use email now, to drive customers and prospects to the signup
  • Use paid search and social channels to drive signups to your dedicated Black Friday and Cyber Monday email signup page

Here’s the first advantage of opting customers into this specific email conversation: you can make them feel special in your emails, offer them exclusive previews, early-bird discounts, and even subscriber-only offers. And when subscribers feel special, they are more likely to engage.

What’s more, you can tailor your subject lines around the fact that you’re conversing with a special group, and drive higher open rates.

Not only that, but you’ll reduce your unsubscribe rates and support your inbox deliverability rates, because your emails are relevant and requested.

Planet Blue

Planet blue cuts through in the inbox with its empathetic, 5-step ‘Black Friday Strategy’. The soft-sell approach offers a creative, light-hearted plan for how their customers can spend their day, while keeping Planet blue front of mind.

4. Be relevant and personal

You’ll be facing an extremely crowded inbox on the days leading up to and over Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Now is the time to focus more than ever on ensuring the email messages you deliver are personal and relevant.

The first thing to recognize is that consumers rely on email to keep them up to date with online shopping offers. So your messages will be welcomed, as long as they are relevant.

  • Remember that this is the holiday gift buying season, so meet your customers’ needs by tailoring your email content around gift ideas and gift guides.
  • At the same time, don’t overlook consumers’ propensity to purchase for themselves when discounts are on offer.

A separate email conversation around ‘treating yourself’, and based on previous purchase behavior will ensure you have both bases covered.


NastyGal takes the black theme through their creative and their sales offers, to create a compelling sales proposition.

5. Underline the subject

While we’re on the subject of busy inboxes, we need to also be on the subject of subject lines!

Getting inbox cut-through on Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a challenge your subject line needs to tackle, head on.

This is a busy time and a typical inbox may look a lot like this:

Busy inbox

  • Using key words including ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ may help your emails to stand out, as may the use of symbols.
  • Targeting key words in your subject line for relevancy will definitely help. If you’re segmenting your market and your email for maximum relevancy, then do the same with your subject lines and the key words you include in them.
  • Consider personalization using first name, location, nearest store, or other key data you hold.
  • And above all, split test your subject lines throughout your holiday email program to hone and optimize your response metrics.

In part two of this blog…

Discover the OTHER 5 steps you need to complete your checklist for a killer Black Friday and Cyber Monday email program in part two.

Read more: