10 Black Friday Emails That Almost Made Us Break Out Our Wallet

Our bellies are not the only thing bloated post-Thanksgiving. The inbox is overstuffed with Black Friday messages, tempting the user with clickbait subject lines and purse string-loosening calls-to-action (CTAs).  

Here we’ve drawn up a list of the ten sends which most encouraged us to spend.  

Less is more

A picture says a thousand words, so J Crew have let their image do most of the talking. Animals are always hard to say no to, and this, combined with the wordplay makes for a click-worthy message.


The red theme is festive as well as energizing, ideal for triggering a post-holiday spending spree.

Extend the spend

For Miss Selfridge subscribers, it’s Black Friday all week. Instead of directly urging the customer to buy, they use fun, friendly announcements in their subject lines. ‘Omg!’ ‘T.G.I #BlackFriday!’ appeal to their young, female, social media-wise audience.


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To go a different route to flash sales, make like them (and John Lewis, Aldi and Jeep) by spreading your holiday promotions over an extended period. Drip-feed your subscriber an offer each day. Create a dedicated hashtag on Twitter and drive more exposure to each email treat with an intriguing tweet. A/B test your email subject lines to find the one which speaks loudest to your user.

The year’s best offer

The New York Times shows its distinctive brand style by turning a normal promotional paragraph into what resembles a colorful news column, with the key actionable phrases being the most eye-catching.


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Their bulletproof CTA is also a great tactic in battling for the top of the inbox! Before you look into this though, there are some simple ways to safeguard your email against responsive design issues.

Show your true colors

Lomography has stayed true to itself, incorporating images of cameras into its text and using the brand colors – red and blue. Take a leaf out of their book and infuse your brand’s DNA into all of your email marketing.


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Be prepared

With deeper discounts and bigger shopping crowds, you have to be ready to tackle any problems that might come your way. Whether it’s your website bandwidth or in-store shelves being ransacked, don’t fret when something goes wrong. Take a deep breath and use this formula to recover: Humility + Social Proof + Incentive!   


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Flor gets it just right, apologizing while celebrating the great deal of interest they received and offering a promotion to sweeten the deal.  

The shareability factor

Email and social are the perfect partners in crime when it comes to stealing a click from your customer. Integrating the two extends your brand’s reach and drives more exposure to each piece of content used. Modcloth invites subscribers to share their content on social, as well as by sending a gift certificate to their contacts.


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Bring your email to life

An easy way to capture a user’s attention is to add movement to your email. Newegg uses an animated GIF of a ticking clock to add some life and emphasize that their offers are time-limited.

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If you want to add an interesting visual element, but are having trouble embedding video, using a GIF which links to a video-hosting network can be a handy workaround.

Laugh your customer into the checkout

Using humor is a great way to stand out in the Black Friday inbox, whatever your industry. Make like Chubbies and sell your brand’s personality as well as products. Maybe you’ve got a couple of funny subject line ideas and want to find out which to go with. Split test to split your subscribers’ sides.



Low risk, high reward

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” the old saying goes. Sevenly recycles their most popular past holiday campaigns, combining this with another low-risk strategy – including a charitable cause. Spending on others makes us happier than spending on ourselves and consumers are primed to give around the holidays.

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A little less choice, a little more action

Sometimes too much choice can overwhelm the consumer and actually be bad for business.

Nasty Gal offers a promotion only on black items – narrowing the selection and embracing the Black Friday theme. The succinct, urgent headline gets the subscriber pumped up and primed for impulse-buying. Not the first time a blackout and marketing has worked perfectly together.



Whether you’re running a flash sale or a drip promotional series, use these ingredients to up your email game.  

Show a human side with charity and humor. Pick a color scheme which complements your brand but, where appropriate, incorporate red to drive excitement. Use FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)-inducing subject lines and CTAs.  

So, all geared up for your next promotional campaign? We can already see your email training montage!

Which of these campaigns do you think packs the most punch? Drop us a comment below!


Want to define your email strategy to win customers over this holiday season? Check out Mailjet’s Ultimate Guide To Holiday Emailing.

Holiday Emailing Guide


Ask An Email Marketer: Where do you find inspiration for holiday email campaigns?

From now through the end of 2015, we’ll be collecting your most burning email questions on strategy, deliverability, design and more through our Holiday Email Toolkit. Each week, we’ll draw one question to feature here on the blog. Want your question answered in our next Ask An Email Marketer? Head on over to submit it on our Holiday Email Toolkit.

Segmenting and A/B testing to find the right fit for your consumer. Adjusting the size of a message so it reaches the inbox. Crafting an eye-catching, mobile-responsive email. Creating a message your subscriber wants to open is like trying to find the perfect wedding dress.

Finding the right size, a good fit and a great look for your email doesn’t have to be difficult though. Use conventional wisdom to find holiday email inspiration:

-Something old. Crowdsource from your team or company to see what interesting email they’ve received in holidays past.

-Something new. Think about how you can tie in current trends to freshen up your campaigns.  

-Something borrowed. Stay up-to-date with what your competitors are doing.

Something blue. Use social platforms (Twitter, Facebook), and the social listening tool Buzzsumo to keep an ear on what your customers are talking about.

For more help in getting to that eureka! moment, use our Content Brainstorm Worksheet to help you map out your holiday email ideas.


Popping some music is another great way to get those brain cogs whirring. The dwarves in Snow White had the right idea. Whistling while you work (or listening to a great tune) releases dopamine in the brain, one of the neurotransmitters behind pleasure, motivation and cognition. Our holiday playlist can help bring those awesome ideas to the forefront of your mind.

Happy brainstorming!


Want to define your email strategy to win customers over this holiday season? Check out Mailjet’s Ultimate Guide To Holiday Emailing.

Holiday Emailing Guide


10 Things All Highly Successful Email Marketers Do

A successful email marketer is both a good house guest and a host. They don’t show up on your doorstep uninvited and they know how to cater to your tastes. In a post that would make Airbnb proud, we’ve drawn up a list of ten things all great email marketers have in common.

#1 : Don’t show up unannounced

For some, the holiday season is the perfect opportunity for gatecrashing. Everyone has that strange distant relative who turns up uninvited, eats all your food, and then leaves (if you don’t, then maybe that person is you). In any case, an awesome email marketer is the one who asks permission.

Growing your contact list organically is cool because it means you’re building real, meaningful relationships with your prospects and customers. Using a double opt-in is even cooler because it shows you’re willing to go the extra mile to make sure your contacts want your content and that you’re thinking about quality over quantity when it comes to growing your list.


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#2: Keep things clean and tidy

Stave off the stink of a bad ROI by regularly cleaning your list. Keep an eye on bounces and try to re-engage inactive contacts.

Filter out customers that haven’t opened or clicked your emails in the past 4-6 months and send them a “We Missed You” email with a special promotion. You’ll identify inactive contacts and remind users of the benefits of subscribing to your amazing email.


#3: Listen to your customers

All great email marketers dive deep into their customer profiles or survey existing customers to better segment their lists by historical behavior, interests and more. Have your ears to the ground, whether it’s using social monitoring tools like Mention, Google Adwords tracking or analyzing your email KPIs. There’s no shortage of data out there and the more you tune in, the easier it’ll be to create engaging content.


#4: Follow the house rules

Keeping ISPs happy is the first step towards a high deliverability rate. Stay up to date with their requirements and enjoy the fact that you’re working together to make the user experience a great one.

To make sure you’re covered on all bases, stay on top of global SPAM law. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be dry! The main ideas are to: make sure your sender name is clearly identifiable, send with your recipients’ permission, and provide an easy way for users to opt-out.


#5: Don’t overstay your welcome

As the quote goes, “Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose.” Every great marketer knows when to accept defeat and gracefully learns from it.

There are a few different reasons why a user might unsubscribe, but if your awesome re-engagement messages haven’t worked, it’s time to say goodbye. Honor your unsubscribe requests promptly and thank your subscriber for letting you stay. This will leave them with a good lasting impression of your brand, making them more likely to say positive things about you.

#6: Stay on top of things

A good host quickly fixes any problems (or tries their best to). A sudden increase in bounces or declining open rates? Analyze your metrics so you know what needs to be fixed.

Also, quickly owning up to mistakes or tech issues makes all customers love you. It’s transparent and humanizes your brand.  if there are any temporary mishaps (e.g. website bandwidth overload, a broken link, product out of stock), message your subscribers to apologize and let them know you’re doing all you can to sort it out.


#7: Have a guestbook



Encourage your users to leave feedback, whether it’s a written testimonial or a star system review. Not only will this show you what needs to be improved, but great success stories can be used in a testimonial or case study.


#8: Be friendly

One solid way to invite feedback is by forgoing the no-reply email address. The reply-to address is the digital equivalent of making your guest pancakes, giving them some advice about where to go and, well, just being the opposite of this rabbit.      


#9: Plan for busy periods

Many email marketers ramp up their sending during the lead up to the holidays. Want to fire up your productivity over this period? Simplify and gamify! Make planning easier with a whiteboard and be the winning team by gamifying the process.

Don’t panic – if you’ve got marketer’s block, we’ve some handy tips to make your holiday content and design sparkle.


#10: Don’t make empty promises

Ultimately, trust is what keeps the customer-brand relationship strong. We find that all highly successful email marketers deliver exactly what they promise. It leaves us feeling warm and fuzzy, like a delicious meal cooked up by a great host. Give your subscriber what they signed up for and always keep listening to what they have to say.

Now that you’ve got your inbox etiquette down to a tee – happy sending!


What do you think makes for a successful email marketer? Share your ideas below!

Flight School Friday: Building The Perfect Drip Campaign

Drip campaigns are the ice breakers of the email world – only way less cheesy. The process of getting to know someone can be unnatural sometimes, both in the real world and online, so it can be a huge relief to have a pre-scripted intro.

Like the trust fall or two truths and a lie, the drip campaign is meant to warm up conversation and build trust. These automated email series are scheduled to be triggered as a prospect or customer takes a certain set of actions. It could be used to move a prospect through the sales cycle or to onboard a new customer. According to DemandGen, nurtured leads (prospects that went through a drip campaign) drove an average 20% increase in sales.

Needless to say, it’s a very effective way to build up long lasting relationships. But just how do you get started with the meet-and-greet? This Flight School Friday, we’ve put together our top four tips for a perfect drip campaign.

1) Introduce yourself

The first handshake with your contact should be pretty straightforward. Be sure to clearly re-introduce yourself, remind them how they landed on your list and what value your emails will bring.

Headspace does a great job of this in their welcome email. They thank their customer and explain exactly what to expect in the coming weeks. We love that they suggest and offer 10 x 10-minute sessions of expert-guided meditation.

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2) Timing is everything

Dig into your historical data to find the best cadence for your drip campaign. Check out how many interactions customers or users have before converting. Look out for the most common drop off points in engagement and help them through those pain points.

Unbounce got creative with one of their emails by having their Campaign Strategist personally check in and survey customers on why they weren’t upgrading their account. It’s short and to-the-point, the subject line draws you in with a hint of mystery and the fact that the email looks personally written, makes the customer more likely to reply with their feedback.

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3) Keep it organized

You can (almost) never have too many lists. Segment your customers by acquisition channel, previous shopping habits, or if you want to get really technical – the number of previous touchpoints with your content.

Like in all email marketing, segmentation is at the heart of a well delivered drip email. These lists can help you accurately pinpoint what call-to-action to deliver and how frequently to deliver. Where prospects might be more interested in case studies and guides, new customers might want to see tutorials or a free trial.

4) Present the ultimate call-to-action

Last but certainly not least, think about the overall goal of your drip series. Is it to drive conversion? What does conversion mean? Are you using a drip campaign for sales – to nurture leads?

Each email send should tease and build up to this master call-to-action, but also think about how to strategically place the last and final send. Here are some possible ideas:

  • Onboarding: Point them to the right support channels and forums so that they can continue to get the help they need and to share their experience about using your product.
  • Sales lead: Scheduling a call or sending a promotion for the customer to try your product.
  • Re-engagement: For those who still haven’t responded, make it known that this is the last message you’ll be sending, or give them an option to change their subscription or unsubscribe.

Wrapping things up

By the end of the drip campaigns, the ice will have been broken and your customer should feel comfortable finding their way around your content and product themselves. Easily set up your first drip campaign by using Zapier and Mailjet. Learn more about the integration here.

Have you tested out any of the drip campaigns we’ve mentioned? How have they worked for you? Let us know in the comments below!

Ask An Email Marketer: What are some tactics that all great holiday emails use?

From now through the end of 2015, we’ll be collecting your most burning email questions on strategy, deliverability, design and more through our Holiday Email Toolkit. Each week, we’ll draw one question to feature here on the blog. Want your question answered in our next Ask An Email Marketer? Head on over to submit it on our Holiday Email Toolkit.

We’ve come across some great emails over the past holiday seasons and always have so much fun sharing what each of these companies did to stand out in the inbox. We’ve found that the campaigns that tend to drive most engagement typically use: urgency, scarcity, exclusivity or transparency.

Here are some of our favorite examples:

1) Everlane puts their profits to a good cause.

Keeping in line with their culture of “radical transparency”, they go a different route from the deeply marked down sales of Black Friday and use the day to raise money to improve their factory conditions in Hangzhou, China.


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2) Starbucks spreads the holiday cheer.

They tap into the gift giving spirit by holding a buy-one-get-one-free “Share Event”. Starbucks turns their consumers into brand ambassadors by getting them to either share via the social share buttons on the email or by bringing a friend along to a brick-and-mortar location with them.

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3) Ann Taylor drives urgency.

Using the tagline “because style never sleeps” and call-to-action “tick tock”, Ann Taylor drives up sales during a short few hour time ramp. From 2009 to 2011 visits to flash sales grew by a whopping 368%. Science explains this phenomenon, showing that this competition to find the best deal triggers the “autonomic nervous system arousal which clouds thinking.”


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Want to define your email strategy to win customers over this holiday season? Check out Mailjet’s Ultimate Guide To Holiday Emailing.

Holiday Emailing Guide


How Do You Make Black Friday Emails That Really Stand Out?

We’re already in the heart of November. Which can only mean one thing: the sales season is approaching! Smart consumers love Black Friday and Cyber Monday because it’s a “great deals paradise”, where the discounts are deep. But I’m not sure if their wallets are as deep though – so while it can be an incredible business opportunity for retailers, this period has also become a very competitive fight for wallet share over the years, especially when it comes to the inbox. 

Don’t underestimate the power of email though. Email deals are still one of the top go-to destinations for customers during the Black Friday period. According to a survey, 35% of customers looked at retailers’ emails to track deals which is more than those searching online (27%) and those checking out TV commercials (20%).

Here are a few tips to make the most of your holiday season emails.

Choose your own timing and content by listening to your customers

Because of the volume of offers customers will receive during these hectic days, it’s important that you target your core customers. Research figures will tell you that:

  • The sales season really starts on Thanksgiving day and lasts until after Cyber Monday. Last year, Cyber Monday was the day that drove the most sales, followed by Turkey day and Black Friday rounding off in third place.
  • The top item categories shoppers will want to see deals for this year are Electronics (more than 40%), Apparel (26%) and Toys (17%).

These are great figures to use as a comparison, but you should really rely on your own metrics to craft your timing and content.

How to execute:

Ask yourself these questions: what did you do last year that really worked or even didn’t work so well? What did your competitors do? Do you want to drive your customers to your store or focus on online sales? Which items were most popular in the past few weeks? How can you segment your audience to send them more of the right kind of content?

Once you have these answers in mind, you can consider adjusting your promotions accordingly. Consider creating flash sales or hourly deals. Focus on just one sale day (like Black Friday instead of Cyber Monday) to not dilute the message, or create different campaigns for your various lines of products.

One tip that’s guaranteed to work for all retailers: provide information to your customers in advance. Shoppers are tech savvy and know how to prepare their sales season way ahead of time – 81% of consumers now do online research before purchasing n. You have to give them all the information they need to make their purchasing decision at least a week before they start their shopping.

Create a sense of urgency with images and words

Now this can seem like Marketing 101 for those experts among you readers, but it’s a time-tested marketing psychology tactic. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are all about time-sensitive deals. Both words and images that drive a sense of urgency can help encourage sales  and improve your wallet share.

How to execute:

Focus your wording on deadlines and scarcity, for instance:

  • “Time is running out”, “Ends tomorrow”, “Right now”, “Moving fast”
  • “Last chance”, “Only N days left”, “Almost sold out”
  • “Get it before it’s gone,” “Only N spots left,” or “While supplies last.”

Choose graphics that appeal to the same feelings of urgency and scarcity: ticking clocks, hourglasses, badges.

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And don’t forget to use all the magic marketing words and graphics that we’ve found to be successful:

  • “Great deal”, “Special offers”, “Prime offers”,
  • “Off”, “Reduction”, “Only”, “Savings”
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Focus on your own brand identity to make your customers feel at home

Because the sales season is so crowded with deals and offers, establishing a strong emotional connection can be a powerful way to  stand out from the crowd. Remind your customers of how they feel when they connect with your brand. And there’s one channel that lets you use all your creativity to speak to your customers in your very own way: that’s email!

Whether your specific touch is humor or emotion, use your own DNA to write and illustrate your emails.

How to execute:
  • Brainstorm with your marketing team on a specific product or idea to promote in an original way – like Chubbies did with their “Turkey pants” promo email.
  • Ask your copywriting magicians to come up with marketing messages that both reflect your brand and use marketing psychology tricks.
  • Use graphics, illustrations and colors that reflect your brand identity.

Reward your email audience with exclusive deals

You’re probably going to spread your marketing efforts across several channels: TV ads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,Snapchat, you name it. But since they can be picky with email, why not reward them for being such a faithful audience?

How to execute:
  • Create deals that are exclusive to your email database – don’t forget to mention that in the email subject line for a better open rate!
  • Offer a giveaway in addition to the Black Friday deals
    encourage referrals in the body of the email to take this opportunity to grow your contact lists.

Here you go – time for you to prepare those email campaigns! To sum up:

  • Spend some time analyzing your customers’ behavior before choosing your campaign timing and content
  • Wisely select your copywriting and graphics to suggest urgency and scarcity: Black Friday is just one day indeed!
  • Brand your campaigns to closely reflect your brand identity
  • Consider creating exclusive email deal for your customers, knowing email is still their number one source of catching deals.

One last piece of advice: you can use Mailjet’s Passport campaign builder for a variety of pre-built email templates or to craft your own simply by dragging-and-dropping. You can also incorporate illustrio’s customizable graphics to search and download all the visuals you need in a matter of a few seconds.

Happy shopping!

Want to define your email strategy to win customers over this holiday season? Check out Mailjet’s Ultimate Guide To Holiday Emailing.

Holiday Emailing Guide


This blog post was written by Rachel Vanier. Rachel writes content at illustrio, a startup that provides thousands of customizable graphics, easily editable online.

Content Brainstorm Worksheet

Our Content Marketing team pulled together tricks from our own email planning process build a worksheet to help get your creative juices flowing. Crafting fresh, compelling content is a marathon, avoid burnout by starting early and planning ahead. We’ll guide you through crafting subject lines and call-to-actions that make you stand out in the holiday inbox.

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5 Brands That Rocked The Holiday Inbox

What better way to draw inspiration for this year’s holiday email campaigns than to look at last year’s sends? There were so many brands that crushed the holiday inbox last year, but we dug into our archives to pull together a few above-and-beyond examples to review. We’ve gone ahead and broke down how Of A Kind, Le Monde Du Bagage and others create eye-catching designs consumers can’t resist. Explore the anatomy of each of these winning campaigns, and learn how to build the right design for your goals – from driving engagement to sales and conversion.

For more holiday tips, tricks and hacks, check out our Holiday Email Toolkit and subscribe to our weekly holiday newsletter.

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Ask An Email Marketer: What’s The Optimal Number Of Call-To-Actions?

From now through the end of 2015, we’ll be collecting your most burning email questions on strategy, deliverability, design and more through our Holiday Email Toolkit. Every week, we’ll draw one question to feature here on the blog. Want your question answered in our next Ask An Email Marketer? Head on over to submit it on our Holiday Email Toolkit.

Through a recent study, we saw that getting call-to-actions right in email campaigns is one of the biggest pitfalls marketers face. So, what is the right way to inspire click-throughs? When it comes to call-to-action (CTA) buttons in email campaigns, the magic number is one. This keeps your message concise and your recipient engaged. 

However, I understand there are some exceptions. In some campaigns you’ll want to include additional links to promote a secondary or tertiary objective. In these situations, it’s key to clearly differentiate and prioritize your call-to-actions. Your primary call-to-action could take the form of an above-the-fold button  (above the line where user would need to scroll down to see rest of the email) for maximum impact. Your second or third CTAs can be links embedded within the written content or even a clickable image or banner. Get creative with your links and test them out through A/B testing.

The key takeaway here, is that no matter the number of call-to-actions you need, make sure your call-to-actions are clear and to the point.


Want to define your email strategy to win customers over this holiday season? Check out Mailjet’s Ultimate Guide To Holiday Emailing.

Holiday Emailing Guide