Last year, Black Friday generated a whopping $6.2 billion in online sales and Cyber Monday broke records as the largest day ever for online shopping. There’s no question Black Friday weekend is an extremely important time for marketers. So what can you do to optimize your Black Friday email campaign strategy?

In this post, we’ll go over 9 often-overlooked strategies and tactics to make sure your 2019 Black Friday email campaign is a record-breaker.

1. Don’t wait for Black Friday

Black Friday is moving online, and consumers are buying over a longer period of time. While Cyber Monday in 2018 was the biggest day with $7.9 billion in sales, Adobe found consumers spent over $1 billion per day between November 1-26.

Build momentum by announcing a pre-sale or an early access event. This is a great way to let your email subscribers know that they are in the loop for something exclusive. Be creative with your strategy with unique offerings on the days leading up to Black Friday. Consider hosting multiple sales, or following Amazon’s tactic of putting specific items on sale for 24 hours only.

2. Make sure your Black Friday campaign doesn’t land in spam

Did you know that on average 21% of legitimate marketing emails go to spam? Just because your email service provider says 98% of your emails were “delivered” doesn’t mean they went to the inbox.

In order for your Black Friday and holiday email campaigns to have full impact, your entire email list needs to see them in their inbox. If your domain reputation is in bad shape, a large percentage of your emails may be landing in the spam folder. Remember, a 79 % inboxing rate is the average. We’ve seen cases where a domain reputation is so poor that even internal emails within a company were being filtered to spam.

With a smart strategy, it’s possible to clean up your domain reputation, and Black Friday can be a great opportunity to do it.

The primary symptom of a poor domain reputation is usually below average engagement, and the solution is to increase your overall engagement. If you suspect you may have a problem with emails going to spam, this article outlines the steps you’ll want to take to improve your inboxing rate and clean up your domain reputation.

Consider using the Black Friday shopping season as a chance to run a last-ditch reactivation campaign. If your subscribers don’t even open your highest performing and deepest discounted deals of the year, you probably should remove them from your email list.

3. Personalize your product offerings

Your subscriber’s inboxes will be full of Black Friday and holiday sales offers through November. One of the best ways to stand out is to personalize product and content offerings based on each individual’s preferences using dynamic content.

Dynamic content is code inserted into your email that changes based on the user’s demographic information, purchase history or website history, etc. For example, with dynamic content, you could show men’s medium jackets to a person who’s shown an interest in that size/fit on your website instead of sending a generic email.

The company Personalize, which makes a third party tool that allows marketers to create dynamic content based on predicted user interests found that personalized emails increased click rates by up to 57%. Check to see if your marketing automation platform supports dynamic content. If it does, take the extra time to put it to work.

4. Personalize your delivery times

Black Friday weekend is a peak time for marketers and everyone will be sending emails at this time. Even if your email does make it into the Inbox, the next challenge is to get your subscriber to see your email among the avalanche of marketing emails they’ll receive during the holiday season.

So when should you send your emails to maximize engagement? It really depends on your audience. A study by Omnisend claims 4 pm is the best time to send Black Friday emails, but if you look into the data on email send times, you’ll find it’s often contradicting.

People read emails at different times depending on their unique schedules and the top time to mail your list will depend on the makeup of the individuals in your audience.

To get the best chance of reaching your customers, consider using send time personalization. Send time personalization allows you to reach each customer at the predicted best time for them based on their previous engagement history.

5. Craft a winning Black Friday subject line

Small changes to your subject line or offer can have big effects. For example, in a study on win-back campaigns by Return Path, it was found that subject lines featuring a “dollars off” discount had twice the open rate as subject lines with “percent off.”

Drafting a winning subject line is more of an art than a science. What works for one company may not work for another because each company has a different audience and a different relationship with their subscribers. That said, a little bit of scientific method can help you understand what works for your brand.

If you’re not already, use the month before your Black Friday email campaign to test a few different hypotheses and see what works best for your brand. Make sure the variables you are testing are clear and specific.

Simply sending two completely different subject lines in a split test will show you what worked, but it won’t show you what will work the next time. To do that, you need to have a clear understanding of WHY one subject line outperformed the other.

6. Optimize for mobile

Mobile devices are being used more for online shopping every year. During the 2018 Black Friday/Cyber Monday season, 1 in 3 purchases happened on a mobile device. The trend is moving upward, and that number is likely to be even higher this year.

79% of consumers say they delete emails that don’t render well. From Adestra: “Mobile email viewers are an unforgiving bunch. If your message renders funny, or not at all, they trash it.”

Make sure to test your email in multiple formats to make sure it renders AND reads well on mobile. Mobile screens are narrow, a few lines of text on a desktop can become an intimidating screen-filling block on a cellphone.

Run through your mobile purchase funnel from the top-down, (website as well ideally). Is it seamless? Consumers have plenty of alternatives if they hit a speed bump in your purchasing process. Don’t let that be you.

7. Send a reminder email

Using a series of emails over the Holiday can be a great way to increase conversion, but you may want to limit the audience for some of your emails to your most active audience. Once your Black Friday sale goes live, remind your subscribers. A quick message saying, “Hey, our Black Friday sale is up and running. Head on over to…” will encourage them to go to your site.

Near the end of your campaign, send another email to let them know that stocks are running low, the sale period is almost over and they might lose their chance to buy at a lower price, etc.

If you’ve dealt with poor inboxing consider limiting the number of reminder emails you send and focus on customers who’ve shown interest in your brand recently.

8. Create urgency with dynamic content

The Diamond Store, an online jewelry store based in the UK, was looking for a way to add urgency and increase the conversions on their Black Friday email campaign. Partnering with Adestra, they added a dynamic counter to the bottom of their 24-hour sale email that showed exactly how much time customers had left to make a purchase

The email campaign with the counter had an astounding 400% higher conversion rate compared to similar campaigns the company had run in the past. Remember, when given the choice to defer taking action, most people will. Unfortunately, as you’ll see in our next Black Friday email campaign tip, they usually don’t ever return.

9. Optimize your abandoned cart emails

Did you know that almost 3 out of 4 (74.5% in the US) people who visit your website and put an item in their cart over Black Friday weekend will leave without completing the purchase? That’s a huge amount of revenue left on the table.

As we’re entering the Holiday season, make sure you have a well tested and effective abandoned cart email series in place. Also, try more than once. Omnisend found that a series of three cart recovery emails resulted in 131% more orders compared to only sending one abandoned cart email.

Consider offering an incentive to first-time customers as well. A small discount, free shipping or maybe a freebie bonus item may be all it takes to push someone over the fence and potentially turn them into a repeat customer.

Putting it all together

To wrap up, make sure your Black Friday email campaign this year is a record-breaker by putting the following action items into practice:

  1. Start early

  2. Healthy sender reputation = Inbox

  3. Personalize your product offerings

  4. Personalize your delivery times

  5. Test to find your winning subject line formula

  6. Optimize emails for mobile

  7. Send a reminder email

  8. Create urgency

  9. Optimize your cart recovery series

Want more best practices and tips that will help accelerate your email marketing program? Join our Everything Email Newsletter to stay in the loop.

Ivan LaBianca

Written by Ivan LaBianca

Ivan is the Chief Revenue Officer of Seventh Sense, an optimization system that leverages artificial intelligence to drive better results with email marketing. In his role, Ivan oversees all revenue operations which includes sales, marketing, and customer success. Prior to Seventh Sense, Ivan was an independent marketing consultant and has supported organizations such as The Conservation Fund, 2Stone and Beyond Microgreens. Ivan started his career as a photojournalist, which brought him to countries such as Haiti, India, Nepal, Tunisia, Libya, and others. His photos have been widely published including by outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Amnesty International, NPR, CNN, MSNBC, and National Geographic Online.