Email Best Practices

How do you make Black Friday emails that really stand out?

Black Friday has become a very competitive fight for wallet share over the years, especially when it comes to the inbox. How can you stand out?

Hermes and a Goddess shopping in front of a sofa



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.

Tips and design ideas for Black Friday and Cyber Monday email marketing. Check out these Black Friday email examples and try our free email template.

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.

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”

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.


The ultimate guide to holiday email marketing

Check out our ultimate guide to holiday email marketing and win the battle of the inbox this holiday season.


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

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