How to promote Black Friday: What holiday shoppers really want

What’s your marketing strategy for Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Check out our infographic featuring new research. Find out what consumers prefer when it’s time to promote your holiday deals.

Woman decorates for the holidays



‘Tis the season for holiday promotions. Inboxes, mailboxes, social media feeds, and TV screens are filling up with marketing messages as brands look to capitalize on the busiest time of the year for many retailers.

So, are you giving those shoppers what they want and expect? How important is email marketing when it comes to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the broader holiday shopping season?

We conducted an international email engagement survey that included questions on consumer preferences for Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM). Let’s find out how those insights can inform your holiday marketing strategy.

Consumer opinions on Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing

Our survey included consumers of all ages from the U.S., UK, France, Germany, and Spain. We’ve compiled key results into an infographic you can check out below.

Here are some important takeaways on how to promote Black Friday:

  • More than two-thirds of consumers (68.9%) prefer the email inbox for Black Friday promotions.

  • Consumers are eager to learn about BFCM deals:

    • 35.5% want to know about Black Friday promotions as soon as possible.

    • Another 21.2% are open to Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions as early as a month before they start.

  • A significant majority of consumers (80.4%) consider transactional messages to be important during the holiday season.

Infographic with stats on Black Friday consumer preferences

What marketing channels do holiday shoppers prefer?

We’re not going to lie – it’s pretty cool to see email top the list of preferred channels for Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions. Nearly 70% of more than 2,000 consumers selected the email inbox as one of the places they want to hear about holiday deals.

This means email marketing should be an indispensable part of your strategy for the holidays. However, it certainly does not mean email is the only channel that matters.

Our survey question allowed respondents to select every channel that applied to them. It’s clear that many consumers like getting emails as well as text messages about Black Friday deals. 18% of respondents who selected Email also selected Text messaging. Conversely, 65.6% of those who chose Text messaging also chose Email as a preferred BFCM marketing channel. This goes to show how well email and SMS can work together.

68.9% of consumers in the U.S., UK, and the largest EU nations say email is a preferred channel for promotional messages about Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

The inbox is a place where consumers have grown to expect to get marketing messages from brands. Black Friday and Cyber Monday email marketing campaigns deliver a rich experience with branding and eye-catching visuals that aren’t possible with basic SMS texts.

So, if consumers want and expect emails from brands during holiday shopping, you’ve got to make sure you get the most out of your email marketing strategy. That includes maximizing email performance with engaging content and design. But you also need to make sure those engaging emails actually make it to the inbox, which means following deliverability best practices – from prepping your email list before the holiday season to embracing the benefits of the Gmail Promotions tab to highlight the deals you’re offering.

Promotion tab on a mobile phone screen

Consumers are looking for promotions in their inboxes this time of year, it’s a good time to think about how you’re taking advantage of the Gmail Promotions tab.

These days, we use email much less often for personal communications. On the other hand, lots of personal conversations take place with texting. So, consumers may not view texts as a familiar way to receive promotions. But that’s changing...

MMS (Multimedia Messaging Services) and RCS (Rich Communication Services) are bringing a much more engaging experience to consumers. As cutting-edge brands make these methods part of their marketing strategy, consumers are bound to respond positively.

In some cases, RCS holiday campaigns could provide an experience that’s just as engaging as a highly interactive email. These kinds of campaigns are also more conversational than the typical marketing email. Recipients can ask questions and get immediate answers. Check out the RCS example below from Sinch.

Know your customers’ preferences

With so many ways for brands and consumers to connect, it’s likely that your customers are open to hearing from you on a variety of communication channels. Are you letting them choose?

The best holiday communication strategy is one that reaches your customers wherever they are, on whatever channel they want. That’s why many brands are moving towards an omnichannel experience that guides people along a complete customer journey.

Your customers’ communication preferences will differ from person to person. The more options you can offer, the better. It’s also smart to consider different demographics. Here are a few examples from our survey that can help you decide how to promote Black Friday deals:

  • At 36.7%, consumers in France were more likely than other regions to select Text messaging as a preferred channel for BFCM promotions.

  • At 21.7%, consumers in Spain were twice as likely to select Push/In-app notifications than average.

  • Those who identify as women were around 5% more likely than men to select Text messaging.

  • The younger the age group, the more likely a respondent was to select Social media as a preferred channel for learning about Black Friday promotions.

Make mobile marketing a priority

Our phones connect us to just about everything. That’s why an undeniable trend in retail is the rise of shopping on mobile devices. Whether it’s a push notification from an application, a text, or an email, all these messages show up as notifications on smartphones.

According to Adobe Analytics, 55% of online sales during the 2022 Thanksgiving weekend and 51% of sales during Cyber Week happened on mobile. What’s more? TechCrunch reported that data from Salesforce suggests 78% of Black Friday sales traffic came from mobile in 2022. Those kinds of numbers could easily grow in 2023. Exploring a multi-channel approach improves your chances of breaking through the noise during the bustling holiday shopping season.

For email marketers, it’s extremely important to have responsive email marketing campaigns that adapt to various screen sizes. Our Inbox Insights 2023 report found that responsive emails top the list of the biggest design and development challenges. Get some advice from our own Megan Boshuyzen on taking a mobile-first approach to email development.

The Sinch Mailjet platform is an excellent tool for designing mobile-friendly emails. Check out a demo for our Email Editor, or find out how to use MJML, a responsive email framework that’s easy to learn.

When’s the right time to start promoting BFCM deals?

It’s common to hear people complain about how it’s too early for holiday items to show up on store shelves and holiday advertisements to start airing. But our survey reveals that, for many consumers, the sooner Black Friday promotions arrive the better.

As soon as possible: That’s when more than one-third of shoppers say they want to start hearing about BFCM deals. Another 21.2% of survey respondents want to know about Black Friday deals as early as a month in advance.

Only 5.8% of consumers want to wait until the day before a sale to hear about a big holiday promotion. This suggests that most shoppers are trying to make plans to get their shopping done on time and get a great deal that fits into their holiday budgets.

Our findings coincide with research from the National Retail Federation (NRF), which reports that 46% of U.S. consumers started holiday shopping before November in 2022. New NRF research indicates 39% of holiday shoppers plan to start even earlier in 2023 than they did last year.

35.5% of consumers want to know about Black Friday promotions as soon as possible. 21.2% want to hear about deals a month ahead of time.

Here’s how to apply this finding to your email marketing strategy: There’s a good chance that your most engaged subscribers are also the people who want to know about your holiday deals ASAP. You can segment these contacts and send campaigns to them earlier and more often.

If you’re planning out a marketing calendar for next year, keep the date that falls one month before Black Friday in mind. That would be about a week before Halloween (October 24th in 2023). This could be the perfect time for a “Deal Reveal Day” that gives your customers a preview of what’s to come.

Transactional messages and the holiday shopping experience

Let’s not forget that email serves purposes beyond delivering promotions and marketing messages. Transactional emails are an extremely important part of the customer experience, especially during holiday shopping.

The consumers we surveyed definitely agree. Results show more than 80% of people view transactional messages during the holidays as either somewhat or very important. It’s no secret why that’s the case. Getting packages delivered on time is definitely necessary when Christmas, Hannukah, and Kwanza are right around the corner. Plus, people need a way to keep track of everything they’ve ordered as well as how much they’re spending.

Order confirmations are digital receipts that contain information shoppers may need. Shipping updates keep customers informed about potential delays and allow them to make backup plans if needed.

Holiday email deliverability is yet another key consideration. If transactional emails go missing or land in spam, your customers will get frustrated and lose trust in your brand. Transactional messages are vital to the customer experience. That’s one reason why 40% of senders who prioritize deliverability told Sinch Mailgun that Improved customer satisfaction was the biggest benefit of achieving inbox placement.

Chart listing the benefits of prioritizing email deliverability

Of course, email isn’t the only channel that works well for transactional messages. Nearly everyone with a smartphone has received a transactional SMS at this point. Transactional text messages arrive quickly and have high open rates. Offering your customers the option of transactional messages via email and SMS is a good first step towards a more diverse communication strategy.

Reliable transactional messages support the customer experience. 80.4% of consumers say they are either somewhat or very important during the holidays.

Get more email marketing advice for the holidays

Our gift to you this holiday season is a collection of other articles and advice to help you achieve success. Here are some resources for you to explore:

And if you need a little light reading to relieve the stress of holiday marketing, we’ve got just the thing to jingle your bells. Discover how email could have saved Christmas in some classic holiday films.

Want to get even more insights into how your customers engage with emails? Watch for more eye-opening survey results from Sinch Mailjet when we release “The path to email engagement 2024”, coming soon.

Sinch Mailjet

Send your holiday email campaigns with Mailjet

Create and send the best holiday email campaigns with Mailjet. Use one of our predefined holiday email templates or design your own with our drag-and-drop Email Editor and send them straight to the inbox.

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