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Black Friday email marketing: The complete guide

Anyone with an email account will know that Black Friday weekend is akin to a category five hurricane, slamming into our inboxes each holiday season. Competing with this level of offers, deals, and discounts requires tact, finesse, and an eye-catching design.

Hermes and a Goddess shopping in front of a sofa

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Some things keep coming back faster than you expect them to. As soon as the summer heat starts to fade, stores magically become filled with Halloween and holiday decorations…and suddenly, you’re thinking to yourself, “oh, right, it’s that time of the year again…”. Yep, now’s the time to take your brushes and tools out to craft your Black Friday email marketing campaigns.

In our recent survey, more than three-quarters (77%) of email marketers agreed that investing in Black Friday email promotions provides a significant return.

So, raise up, email marketers: it’s time to design the perfect Black Friday Monday campaigns. Just follow our steps and check out all the amazing Black Friday email examples we've picked out for you, then it’s over to you to create that masterpiece.

Black Friday email marketing strategy

Your usual email marketing routine isn’t going to cut it during the most competitive time of year for the inbox. We’ve crafted the perfect playbook to win the limited attention and budget of this season’s shoppers.

Plan ahead by listening to your customers

This year, Black Friday weekend will be even more important for retailers and ecommerce stores. Deloitte expect holiday retail sales to reach between $278 billion and $284 billion in 2023, a projected growth of 10.3% to 12.8% compared to 2022.

With 60% of marketers sending multiple emails between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, customers receive a huge volume of offers in their inbox. So, it’s important that you set clear goals and build a winning Black Friday email marketing strategy that targets your core audience. Have a look at the data and analyze what worked and didn’t work during last year’s holiday season.

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 customers to your store or focus on driving online sales?

  • Which items were most popular in the past few weeks?

  • How can you segment your audience to send them the right kind of content?

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 to get the best Black Friday deals. Send them a pre-sale teaser email with a little taste of what’s to come and give them everything they need to make their online shopping decision at least a week before.

Email is the new Black [Friday]

Are you maximizing your Black Friday email marketing?

In this exclusive survey conducted in partnership with Ascend2, Sinch Mailjet examines the email sending cadences, most-used email tactics, and best practices for a successful holiday season. Find out what’s typical for brands, businesses, and industries like yours.

Use email content to your advantage

Don’t get us wrong – we just told you to make sure your emails look pretty, but moving forward, you also need to make sure design and content go hand in hand.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a minimalist trend out there with a lot of beautiful Black Friday emails that don’t tell you much about the sale because…they’re just pretty.

Style over substance won’t take you too far in the this game.

Be careful with being too mysterious

Unless you’re sure everyone knows who you are and what it is you offer, be careful when sending emails that focus only on the discount.

Black Friday campaign with coupons

Don’t only highlight your discounts on your Black Friday emails – show your products too!

Sure, a sleek design and a good call-to-action (CTA) can go a long way, and some Black Friday emails are real works of art. However, while this could work well when you launch a brand-new mysterious collection or tease your VIP loyal customers…here we’re talking about the most competitive time of the year for inbox space.

Make it crystal clear to readers which products or services your offer applies to.

Create a sense of urgency in your Black Friday email campaigns

Now, this can seem like Marketing 101, but it’s a time-tested email marketing psychology tactic. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are all about time-sensitive deals, and fear of missing out (FOMO) kicks in when your customers believe they might miss out on an offer.

The best Black Friday emails use email copy and images that drive a sense of last-minute urgency to improve open and click-through rates.

Focus your wording on deadlines and scarcity, like:

  • “Time is running out” or “Get it before it’s gone”

  • “Sale ends tomorrow” or “Sale almost over”

  • “Last chance” or "While supplies last”

  • “Only 5 days left” or “Only 3 spots left”

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

  • “Great deal”, “Special offers”, “Prime offers”, “Limited-time”

  • “Off everything”, “Reduction”, “Only”, “Savings”

However, be careful not to use Black Friday email subject lines that don't deliver what you promised. They might get higher open rates, but if your email subscribers think you're being purposely misleading, they might decide to unsubscribe or send your email directly to their spam folder.

Showcase your products to attract attention

If your readers can’t immediately deduce what’s actually on sale, it’ll go either one of two ways: Either they’ll be intrigued and click to find out more, or they’ll be annoyed (and too lazy) to search for themselves and move on.

Yes, your contacts can be lazy, never overlook that fact.

However, with 80% of consumers seeking personalization from retailers, you can capitalize on that laziness with tailored product recommendations. Why make your audience trawl through your website when you can give them exactly what they want, delivered straight to their inbox?

Send more than one email

Don’t get missed or ignored during the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping season. 84% of the most successful email marketers – those that see high ROI during the holiday season – are sending at least two emails per week leading up to Black Friday.

But before you pepper your subscriber’s inbox with shiny deals and reminders, make sure to stop and take an informed, strategic approach.

Introducing untested tactics at this crucial time of year for sales could backfire. Take the time to first A/B test the waters using a small portion of your subscriber base.

Respect your brand identity in your Black Friday email designs

We’ve said it before: Having a dedicated email voice helps you stand out in the inbox. It’s even more crucial during a noisy period like Black Friday and Cyber Monday when all the brands use similar wording and content with percentages of discounts and similar designs.

Focus on your own brand identity to make your customers feel at home. Remind your customers of how they feel when they connect with your brand. Whether your specific touch is humor or emotion, use your DNA to write and illustrate your emails.

  • Brainstorm with your marketing team on specific products or ideas you can promote in an original way – as Chubbies did with their “Turkey pants” promo email.

  • Ask your copywriting magicians to create marketing messages that reflect your brand and use marketing psychology tricks.

  • Use graphics, illustrations, and colors that reflect your brand identity.

  • Don’t feel like you have to go black: You can also make color the new black and use a dark touch only here and there.

There’s no one recipe to create the perfect Black Friday email. The main idea is to make sure that your customers recognize you and read it in the crowd of other Black Friday emails.

So, we recommend that your emails clearly display your brand identity (logo, style, voice, type of subject lines, images, etc.) to capture your reader’s attention.

Black Friday beauty product campaign

SEPHORA's Black Friday email design perfectly shows what SEPHORA is all about.

Follow email design best practices

Yes, we’re being Captain Obvious here. But no matter how attractive your prices are, you can’t afford to send out an average looking sales email campaign with multiple CTA buttons, a festival of fonts and kaleidoscopic colors. Last Black Friday, we still saw a lot of these.

A few rules to follow to avoid a design disaster:

  • Stick to a simple structure with columns (easier to get your email responsive).

  • Keep a 60/40 ratio fair mix of images and text.

  • Align fonts and size of your messages.

  • Decide which call-to-action buttons to use and make sure they are clearly displayed in a contrasting color.

  • Follow email accessibility best practices to ensure your email is accessible to all.

  • Have a look at our Ultimate Guide to Holiday Emailing to dig further.

Does all this sound like Mission Impossible to you? Don’t panic: you don’t need to hire the best designer in town. Our popular Black Friday email templates are now available directly within the Mailjet app.

Mailjet’s new Black Friday email templates

Make your Black Friday email stand out in the inbox

We’ve already said this: your contacts’ inboxes will be completely full-on Black Friday, and most of your subscribers will only dedicate a few seconds to each email they’ve received. But you don’t want this to happen to your campaign, and so you must prepare to do whatever it takes to prevent it.

To stand out in the inbox and ensure that your contacts pay attention to (and appreciate) your Black Friday offers, sometimes you must go all in and give your campaign an innovative touch.

Want some design ideas that can capture your reader’s attention? You can play with these elements to create an unforgettable email:

Black Friday email featuring scratch card GIF

GIFs can be great for getting your Black Friday email to stand out from the crowd

You’re probably going to spread your efforts across several marketing channels: ads, website, online store, social media, you name it. But since email is a consent-based channel and your subscribers have chosen to be part of your email list, why not use your Black Friday email marketing campaign to reward your email list for being such a faithful audience?

Rewarding customers is arguably the most effective strategy for building brand loyalty. Want to know why? Then get acquainted with relationship marketing.

Create matching Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaigns

Are you preparing for a Black Friday sale and Cyber Monday sale? Make sure that your contacts recognize you by pairing up your Black Friday and your Cyber Monday emails with similar designs and slightly different messages, like Jonathan Adler.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaigns side-by-side.

Aren’t these email twins just perfect for Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Running campaigns for both events extends your promotional period. This year, Black Friday falls on November 24, while Cyber Monday follows on the subsequent Monday, November 27.

By creating matching campaigns, you essentially have a long weekend of promotions, allowing you to capture the attention of consumers who may be busy on one of the days but available on the other.

7 all-time-best Black Friday email examples

Designing a great Black Friday email is not easy. Check out some of our favorite examples for inspiration when creating your own. If you’re short on time, you can use one of ours!

#1 Article: Beat the rush with a pre-sale

Most of the tips we’ve shared here today are about winning the crowded Black Friday inbox, but what if you didn’t have to compete at all? Article decided to avoid the rush by getting into the inbox early with their pre-sale campaign.

Article’s Black Friday pre-sale campaign

Of course, a time will come when the lead up to Black Friday becomes just as competitive, but until then, take advantage of the pre-weekend real estate.

#2 KIDLY: Give the gift of GIFs

There are many ways you can use GIFs – like adding falling snow, animating objects, or in this case, making some adorable penguins bounce around. KIDLY use this GIF alongside an extremely stripped-back Black Friday email to encourage a quick click of their CTA.

Black Friday email with bouncing penguin GIF

However, you really need to have faith in your customers’ brand recognition to pull something like this off. Without the allure of products and the hook of a tangible discount, customers need to have a level of brand loyalty to click through.

#3 Bose: Scratch your savings

Everyone loves a gimmick, and this scratch card from Bose is begging to be clicked. Hiding offers behind clever CTAs like this ignite the reader’s curiosity like nothing else. If you can find ways to gamify the Black Friday experience, then you’ll no doubt boost your click-throughs.

Bose’s scratch card CTA goes to an interactive page where you can use your mouse (or finger) to reveal your savings. However, your gimmick doesn’t have to be as elaborate as this – it could simply be a landing page with an image of a scratched-off card with a discount code or list of products on sale.

#4 J. Crew: Less is more

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

Cuteness overload!

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

#5 Chubbies: Laugh your customer into the checkout

Using humor is a great way to stand out in the Black Friday inbox, whatever your industry. Chubbies are a great example of how to 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 find out which line splits your subscribers’ sides.

Email featuring man on couch binge eating

#6 Urban Outfitters: Show them what you’ve got

Be sure to include a few product examples that entice people to use your amazing Black Friday discounts right away. Pair up products and discount codes, like Urban Outfitters' Black Friday emails do, to drive more click-throughs and conversions.

Black Friday email campaign from Urban Outfitters.

#7 Nasty Gal: A little less choice, a little more action

Sometimes too much choice can overwhelm shoppers 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 campaign has worked perfectly together.

Black Friday email campaign from Nasty Gal.

Don’t be the 41% of marketers who aren’t implementing any advanced email tactics for Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Check out our new ebook Email is the new Black (Friday) for tips on interactive and dynamic campaigns.

Free Black Friday email templates

Strapped for time? Not to worry, our UX designers have been hard at work creating some pretty neat “dark themed” Black Friday email templates. Now available directly within the Mailjet app, these templates are fully customizable to match every sale.

Black Friday email templates

Our Black Friday templates follow a dark theme to contrast the typical white backgrounds we see all year round. These templates emphasize product selection with adjacent space for discount pricing. We have featured a prominent coupon cut-out section below the header to drive up conversions further.

Mailjet’s new Black Friday email templates

Mailjet’s new Black Friday email templates

Cyber Monday email templates

Bookending Black Friday, we continue the dark theme with our Cyber Monday templates, where mostly tech sales take place. So, two of our Cyber Monday templates go for bold neon colors to ignite the geek within us all. Yes, we know retailers can still sell non-tech products on Monday – that’s why we created a toned-down template (left) with neutral colors.

Cyber Monday email templates from Mailjet

Mailjet’s Cyber Monday templates

Love them? We do too. To use them, simply open the Mailjet app, head over to “Templates”, and click “Using a template from gallery”. From here, you can select our new Black Friday or Cyber Monday template and begin designing your campaign.

The holidays don’t end after Cyber Monday – check out these other responsive email templates for your holiday campaigns. Then, read Sinch Mailjet's Ultimate guide to holiday emailing and discover great tips, from creating jaw-dropping designs, to crafting original content, and working with our unique checklist.

Want to use our Black Friday or Cyber Monday templates? Find them in our template gallery and customize them with the Mailjet Email Editor – it’s free!

It's your turn: Create a stunning Black Friday email

Now that you’ve got all our master tricks, you’re all set to be the next Picasso of email marketing this season.

Remember these Black Friday tips:

  • Spend some time analyzing your customers’ behavior before Black Friday.

  • Choose a responsive email template and throw in the right number of CTAs (less is more).

  • Wisely select your email content to suggest urgency and scarcity: After all, Black Friday is just one day!

  • Add a few carefully selected images from your brand library that highlight your top products.

  • Follow design best practices and respect your brand image so your clients know it's you.

  • Add interactive content and GIFs to stand out in the inbox.

  • Create an exclusive email deal for your customers.

With Mailjet's drag-and-drop Email Editor, you can easily build a stunning email from an existing gallery of templates, so you don't need to stress about getting it right. We've got a great template gallery for you to choose from.

Mailjet

Send your Black Friday emails with Sinch Mailjet

Create and send stunning Black Friday email campaigns with Mailjet. Use one of our predefined templates or design your own with our drag-and-drop editor and send them straight to the inbox.

Want to learn more about holiday email strategy? Check out Sinch Mailjet’s ultimate guide to holiday email marketing.

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