Every year, sales are starting sooner, the discounts are getting higher, and small brands are eagerly looking for ways to get through while making a profit.
Yes, it’s officially time to gear up for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
And not to stress you out or anything, but do you have a plan for your email marketing campaigns?
Despite the flooded inboxes, email is still the most successful channel to drive Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BF/CM) sales. It’s not an option for the holiday season, it’s a necessity.
Brands often fall into the trap of waiting until the last minute to plan for BF/CM (or they don’t have the time to properly strategize their campaigns), making the season very stressful.
But don’t worry—that’s why I’m here, and so is Lisa Oberst (our director of email marketing). I asked Lisa about her favorite Black Friday and Cyber Monday email campaigns and tips—and the most common challenges she sees from brands regularly—to put together this guide.
I also asked several other ecommerce industry experts, which has led to this ginormous article with 30 email marketing tips and Black Friday email examples.
Why did we do this? Well, here’s what Lisa said: “We work with a lot of stores. With a menu of creative ideas, it's much easier to come up with your own fun plan to go beyond the bare essentials. This will help brands pick options and adapt them to their store.”
Breakdown of our Black Friday email campaign tips:
- Collect data—and do it early
- Grow your marketing lists in advance
- Create a pre-Black Friday list with engaged customers
- Remember shoppers from last year—even the unengaged ones
- Start nurturing customers, now
- Pre-promote your promotion before inboxes get flooded
- Release your promotions at least seven days before
- Use a one-of-a-kind, branded design
- Send abandoned cart emails with cross-device cart regeneration
- Do something special for your VIP customers
- Go ahead and email every day
- Build trust by following through with your promises
- Use email to drive people to less saturated channels
- Keep yourself out of spam folders by following best practices
- Highlight the exclusivity of your promotion
- Convey a sense of urgency
- Don’t forget about your gift cards
- Filter out customers who have purchased
- Make your return policy clear
- Update your current pop-ups and email flows
- Use dynamic banners to personalize every campaign
- Be human—plain and simple
- Offer discounts on bundles to increase AOV
- Be clear about your shipping timelines and costs
- Not every promotion has to be discount-related
- Prepare to have extra support hands-on-deck
- Highlight products that are relevant to the season
- Test, test, test!
- Have a plan for immediately after
- Take a different approach this year to focus on the greater good
Collect data—and do it early
Every online store is fighting equally for the attention of consumers during BF/CM, so inboxes get flooded and consumer attention gets divided. One way to stand out is by personalizing your content, and to do this you need customer data—we recommend zero-party and first-party data.
But the key is to collect this data early on, and not just a couple of weeks before BF/CM. If you start collecting customer data now, you’ll have more insights to work with when the holiday season actually approaches, giving you confidence that your campaigns will be effective.
This is what Derric Haynie, the Chief Ecommerce Technologist at Ecommerce Tech, suggests brands focus on:
“A lot of companies are doing more revenue in November than 2-3 months combined. If ever you need to have conversion rate at its highest, it's during BFCM. Personalization tools are more powerful at scale because the more data you have, the better they recommend,” he explained.
Noting how deep personalization during BF/CM is not something a single human can manage, Derric says ecommerce stores must add personalization into their BF/CM campaigns through tools that can merchandise products dynamically.
“Personalization tools are good at nearly every stage of business… They universally increase conversion rate and average order value. Not having one is already a mistake, not having one for BF/CM is lighting money on fire.”- Derric Haynie
To get inspiration, check out how Tomlinson’s Feed uses a pop-up to learn if a customer is a dog person or cat person. With this info, they can recommend only relevant products via email after the customer opts-in.
Key takeaway: Collect customer data to personalize your campaigns and stand out, drive higher engagement, and increase conversions. A few tools that can help you do this are Klaviyo, Octane AI, and Justuno.
Grow your marketing lists in advance
Haven’t seen a ton of email list growth lately? Is your engagement starting to get cold? In every business, it’s natural to see customers come and go, and the average eight-week retention rate for most industries is actually below 20%, according to Mixpanel.
In the months leading up to BF/CM, prioritize growing your email list in addition to collecting customer data. But the key isn’t just to grow your list, you want a list of engaged subscribers who will be excited to hear from you during the pique holiday season.
When asked about this on Twitter, Kevin Indig (the Director of SEO at Shopify), suggested brands should get customers “excited and engaged with games, quizzes, prices, etc. Because once BF/CM is here, their attention will be pulled all over the place.”
To keep consumer attention focused on your brand, start collecting opt-ins through interactive and engaging content like targeted pop-ups, quizzes, loyalty programs, and spin-to-wins. This will give you a warm list to work with during BF/CM, and keep you top-of-mind for customers who are expecting to hear from you.
Check out these examples from Premama and AtmostFX, which take the approach of using an interactive gif pop-up, and pop-up with a CTA button asking customers about their pregnancy status.
Create a pre-Black Friday list with engaged customers
We all know exclusivity builds hype around BF/CM, and what better way to do that than by offering customers the chance to be on an exclusive list for the biggest Black Friday deals of the year?
Here’s our suggestion: send an email to your current subscribers to ask if they’re interested in subscribing to a list to hear about your promotions before anyone else. This will create early excitement for your current customers.
However, you can take this one step further and use it as a tactic to also increase your email marketing list before the holidays.
Build a landing page for your exclusive BF/CM campaign, and share it on social media to ask your followers if they’re interested in signing up. Also, highlight the exclusivity of your campaign, making sure your followers understand that signing up will give them early access to your promotions.
Boom! Now you’ve got a BF/CM teaser to bring your social media followers over to your email channel, where you can start nurturing relationships with them before the holidays.
Tip: Make sure you actually follow through with the promise you made for customers who signed up. If you said you’d share early sales access, do that. If you promised a gift or extra discount, actually offer that. You’ll break trust quickly with these customers if you don’t.
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Remember shoppers from last year—even the unengaged ones
Every year, you’re going to have a whole slew of shoppers that have never purchased from you before, and they may not purchase from you again.
Even if these customers haven’t made a purchase in a long time, there’s still an opportunity to retarget them and bring them back for this year’s campaigns.
Our director of email marketing, Lisa Oberst, explained to me that brands should segment these customers and create communication to drive interest for them to purchase again. It’s the perfect way to rebuild past relationships—and who knows, maybe these customers will stick around this time.
Start nurturing customers, now
In addition to growing your lists, you don’t want to forget about the customers you already have—that’s a recipe for killing customer retention. Leading up to the holidays, engage with your customers and nurture relationships with them.
Juliana Jackson, the Chief Growth Officer at Omniconvert, had some very real advice to share on this. She believes every ecommerce brand should prioritize nurturing existing customers, especially loyal ones who’ve made a purchase in the last two months. Here’s why:
“It's about to be a very surgical BF/CM. Be smart and keep your CAC low by creating nurturing sequences, put these people on personalized journeys, collect as much helpful data to improve their customer experience, don't sell to them, build them up until September, and pray to God you will make it this Q4 alive,” she said.
There are various ways to nurture customer relationships from now until BF/CM in your emails, including sharing social proof, educating customers on how to use your products, writing about your brand story, or adding trust builders like blog articles.
Here’s an example from Braxley Bands on how they shared their story in a fun and engaging way.
Pre-promote your promotion before inboxes get flooded
The Monday before Black Friday will be when customers start seeing the, “50% off starts now!” and “Our biggest sale ever!” email subject lines filling their inboxes.
So how can you stand out? “Pre-promote with a countdown sequence before the sale. Fulfill the client's needs so that the decision is already made before the offer goes live,” shared Angela LeBrun, founder of Outsmart and an award-winning marketer, creative, and leader for B2B and B2C businesses.
By pre-promoting your BF/CM sales before they go live, you’ll stay top-of-mind for customers when the season starts to get busy, helping them remember your amazing products first.
We’ve got a great example from a supplement brand, using email to tell customers to “mark their calendars.”
And according to Lisa Oberst, pre-promoting is also good to “remind customers of your values and give them ideas of how to shop with you. You can plant that seed early to give them time to decide why they'd want to shop from you, such as finding what gifts they can get for a family member or friend.)”
It also helps warm up a customer’s inbox, increase open rates, and deliverability. “If you haven't been sending consistently high value content, September is the time to start so you have an engaged list to send to come November,” said Lisa.
Release your promotions at least seven days before
Every year, promotions for BF/CM seem to start earlier and earlier, especially by big-box retailers like Walmart, making it difficult for small brands and local boutiques to shine.
Shayna Turbovsky, a digital marketing expert, shared with me that brands shouldn't wait too late to release their promotions. "My top tip would be to not wait to release your deals on BF/CM. Every year, big-box brands are starting their savings event earlier and earlier. Email your deals at least seven days prior, so that way shoppers can plan to spend their money with you—and not your competitor," she said.
To stay competitive, surprise and delight customers by starting your campaigns early. This approach worked well for one of our supplement brands last year—they simply surprised customers with great deals starting a week before Black Friday. Here’s an example of their email banner.
Use a one-of-a-kind, branded design
The copy of your subject lines and email content is important, but so is your email design. In fact, Lauren Schade, one of our amazing designers here at Fuel Made, suggests brands focus on creating well-designed emails to build trust during BF/CM.
“Branding is really the only way to show your audience who you are and what you represent. A great design can build confidence and trust in an instant, and it gives you the chance to create an emotional connection with the viewer to ultimately drive more conversions,” she said.
Additionally, a good design is what helps readers coherently scan your email content and pull out the most important information.
Do you want your shoppers to focus on your BF/CM discount code? Your design will emphasize it. Are you hoping shoppers will read your shipping policy? Use your design to highlight it.
Having an expert designer on your team who understands your audience will make your emails much more impactful. So use fun colors, different fonts, and visuals to add excitement to your emails.
Check out this example that Lauren created for Braxley Bands, which uses simple copy that’s complemented by an engaging design.
Feeling inspired by Braxley Bands? We can help you make epic campaigns like this, and improve your email and SMS flows. Contact us to learn about our services!
Send abandoned cart emails with cross-device cart regeneration
Mobile shopping is becoming bigger every year. In fact, 69% of purchases made on Shopify stores in 2019 were via mobile, and mobile sales, in general, were up 21% year-over-year (Spendmenot).
And here’s a really fun fact: Over 50% of cart abandonment emails are opened on a different device than the customer was originally using when adding the item to their cart, according to Rejoiner’s internal cart abandonment stats.
AKA, more customers are browsing products and adding them to their carts from their phones, but many will still switch to their computers to finish the purchase later.
You have an opportunity to make this experience easier for customers by sending abandoned cart flows with session regeneration. This means restoring a customer’s session on any device they’re using.
So, if the customer puts items in their cart via mobile then the abandoned cart email should automatically populate the same items in their cart when they open it on any other device.
It sounds so simple, yet many brands don’t actually use cart regeneration. And my question for you is, “Why wouldn’t you want to make the online shopping experience as easy as possible for customers to convert?”
Do something special for your VIP customers
Do you have a plan for your most loyal customers—the ones who’ve made multiple purchases at your store? Spend extra time nurturing these customers because there’s a higher chance they’ll purchase from you during BF/CM.
Two ways you can provide value to these customers are to offer them early sales access or a limited time offer (like a free gift). If you’re offering them early sales access, we recommend starting one week before Black Friday.
To see an example, check out the email Braxley Bands sent to their loyal customers last year. Using the plain text approach to make the email feel personal, we created this pre-Black Friday early sale that offered a free watch band and included a little contest to add to the hype.
Key Takeaway: Offering an early promotion to your VIP customers works well to drive some additional revenue before the actual holiday, which can help with your inventory demands at the same time by spreading out the purchases.
Go ahead and email every day
Over-emailing doesn’t exist!
OK—don’t quote me on that. It totally does, but you can probably email your customers a lot more than you currently are.
Not every email has to be related to your deals, either. There are multiple ways to provide value to your customers beyond promoting sales.
Lillie Sun leads growth at Three Ships, and she’s dabbled with email and SMS a lot in the past couple of years, testing new ways to approach customers in meaningful ways. Having gone through the busy BF/CM season before, Lillie suggests sending an email every day during the period you’re running offers, but making each email a little bit different. Some value-add email ideas she shared include the following:
- Write gift guides
- Answer FAQs
- Share reviews and social proof
- Share secret tips
- Show what products work well together
Sending emails like these will give you a reason to email your customers every day, helping you stand out in customers’ inboxes and nurture long-lasting relationships.
This is the exact approach Satechi took during last year’s campaign, sharing their top deals and organizing them by shopper type to make gift buying easy. They even create a bit of urgency by recommending the customer use these deals to get their gift shopping done early.
Build trust by following through with your promises
Have you ever fallen prey to a brand that lied about its sale? Did they tell you a promotion was ending but then extended it to the next day with even deeper discounts?
Dear brands, don’t do this.
Not only is it frustrating for consumers who made a purchase with your 20% discount when they could have gotten 30% the following day, but it also breaks trust with shoppers and can ruin your future sales campaigns.
How? Well, by doing this during every sale, customers will start to expect that your sales will always be extended. They won’t purchase on your big sale day because, in their minds, they have another whole day before they have to actually purchase (and who knows, your discounts could increase!).
… See where I’m going here?
So, if you decide to not actually extend your sale for the first time, you’ve lost an opportunity to get purchases from tons of shoppers who thought they had an extra day.
This is why Amanda Natividad, Marketing Architect at Sparktoro, suggests brands honor their word: “Follow through with what you say you're going to do. Is the sale 48 hours only? Cool, honor it. The whole, ‘Surprise! We extended our sale an extra day’ is annoying, and it trains your customers to distrust your sales.”
Key takeaway: Be honest about when your sale ends.
Here’s a great example from Braxley Bands, which makes their promise clear: the sale is NOT extending. Shop now or forever hold your peace.
Use email to drive people toward less saturated channels
It’s true, inboxes will be flooded during BF/CM. But you know what channels won’t be? Your SMS, Facebook Messenger, and app.
This is why Zlatko Bijelic (founder of Tako Agency) suggests to “Send an email to all customers asking for their phone number, so you can send them an SMS rather than email since they are going to get blasted by other companies via email.”
Doing this a couple of months ahead of BF/CM is good timing to collect those opt-ins. And again, you don’t have to focus just on SMS either. Collect opt-ins for Facebook Messenger to send Sponsored Messages, and get customers to download your app so you can send push notifications about your promotions.
As a bonus, do something exclusive for customers that opt-in to SMS, Messenger, or download your app. This gives them a better reason to engage with you on those other channels too.
Note: The goal here isn’t to forget about email entirely—it’s still a top-performing channel to drive sales, after all. Collecting opt-ins for your other owned channels is a way to complement your email promotions.
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Keep yourself out of spam folders by following best practices
Believe it or not, there’s a shocking number of ways your emails can land in customers’ spam folders—and you may have been doing some of these things often.
For example, some colored text is a trigger for spam. In an article from Ultramail 24, the author shares “Black remains the most legible color on your screen. Red emphasis is highly connotated with tricky marketing schemes and spam email and also other colors like green or blue should be avoided at all costs.”
Other spam triggers consist of:
- Poor email HTML code
- Adding attachments
- Capitalizing all your words in the subject line
- Using words like “free” and “trial”
- Making it difficult to unsubscribe
Check out the entire article to see how you can improve your emails to stay out of spam folders, which is definitely not where you want to be during the biggest sale of the year.
Highlight the exclusivity of your promotion
To some customers, your sale might just appear like, well, any old regular sale. Emphasizing the exclusivity of your offers makes customers act fast because they don’t know when they’ll get another opportunity.
Common subject lines you’ll see around BF/CM include the following:
- Black Friday Sale Starts now. Get 15% Off Storewide!
- Save up to 50% with our Black Friday sale!
- 20% off everything for Black Friday!
- Cyber Monday deals — up to 50% off!
- It’s finally here! 25% off everything!
You’ve seen them and I’ve seen them—probably hundreds of times, too. So how will your subject lines stand out among the others who are saying the same thing? Take the approach of exclusivity this year.
Rather than using the same subject lines as everyone else, try using “The lowest price ever on____” (to share a specific product the customer previously showed interest in) or “Our biggest discounts of the year!”
These are especially good for brands that don’t actually have sales often, so you’re driving interest right away by letting your customers know sales like these are exclusive.
Convey a sense of urgency
Urgency and FOMO—two things that drive us, whether we want them to or not.
During BF/CM, include a sense of urgency in your promotions, especially on your email channel. Here’s why: an Experian report found that promotional emails using urgency had at least 14% higher click-to-open rates, 59% higher transaction-to-click rates, and twice as high transaction rates.
Adding urgency to your campaigns makes your products more competitive because it tells shoppers there are other customers actively purchasing and limiting your stock.
Here are three ways to create FOMO and urgency in your emails:
- Show when items are low stock. Add this to your browse abandonment and cart abandonment flows. Show customers that items they’re interested in are going quickly, so they know to act now if they want the product.
- Share promotion deadlines. If you’re an honest company, you’ll tell customers when your promotions are ending (and actually follow through with that promise). By saying “Our 30% promotions ends on Tuesday,” you’re telling customers the exact timeline they have to make a purchase, so they have time to browse and think about what they want.
- Use countdown timers. Countdown clocks make everything feel more urgent. It’s the same as anxiously watching the clock near the end of a basketball game, and you’re hoping your favorite team will score a few more last-minute points. Or, counting down the minutes while you’re sitting at your desk, patiently waiting for an exciting virtual event to start. Yes, countdown timers make everything exciting. Similar to your promotion deadline, use them to add urgency to your BF/CM campaigns, so customers feel the urgency of your deadlines.
Tip: Announcing low stock items and deadlines should go in the body of your emails, but you should also add them to your subject lines to get customers to open your emails in the first place.
Don’t forget about your gift cards
For some shoppers, gift cards are a better option when buying for someone else. Maybe the shipping dates aren’t as soon as they need, or maybe they’ve already bought their niece the wrong size three holidays in a row and don’t want to risk getting it wrong again.
Look, whatever the reason, there are shoppers that prefer gift cards. Don’t forget to include them in your BF/CM promotions so people are aware that you offer them.
Or… use gift cards as part of your promotion
There’s a smart way brands can use gift cards in their BF/CM promotions if they don’t want to do discounts this year. Here’s a great example from Ministry of Supply, which offers customers a $50 gift card whenever they make a purchase of $150 or more.
Not only does this drive repeat purchases for customers who come back to use their gift card in the future, but it’s a great way to get immediate purchases during BF/CM for customers who want to meet the $150 minimum to get the gift card. Win-win!
Filter out customers who have purchased
How would you feel if on Black Friday you made a purchase but received emails every day over the weekend about the promotions you just used? Now, to add to the fuel, you’re receiving all of these promotional emails before your original purchase has even arrived.
Sounds a bit… annoying, right?
That’s the point Juliana Jackson of Omniconvert is making. Juliana explains that doing this causes more unsubscribes, overwhelmed customers who are wondering about their order, and significantly de-humanizes your brand by making it appear that it’s all about making money.
Her advice is to filter out any customers who’ve purchased from any additional promotions or retargeting campaigns.
“Instead, based on your shipping times, create a nurturing flow with emails or communication related only to their order,” she said. “Once they receive it, had time to experience the products, and after you measure their happiness with you and your products, you can go ahead and drop those 20% off campaigns that y'all love so much.”
Make your return policy clear
BF/CM may be the biggest sales period of the year, but it’s also a time where there are more returns than usual. And that’s okay.
It’s only natural that you’ll see more returns during a time where you have a significant increase in sales, and for that reason your return policy needs to be clear to customers.
Customers need to understand:
- How long they have to return something
- How they return it
- What they are allowed to return
- What charges they will get for returning something
- How you will refund them for their return
While you likely have an entire page on your website dedicated to your return policy, you can also share key information about returns in your email campaigns. This makes customers feel more comfortable purchasing from you because they’re aware right away about your return process.
Pro tip: Extend your return deadlines past the holidays, so gift recipients can return items in January. Yes, this is an entire month past BF/CM, but keep in mind many shoppers use the deals during BF/CM to get their holiday shopping done.
Lisa, our in-house email expert, says “By extending return deadlines, you alleviate risks for your customers and make it easier for them to take the dive. They'll know that if they missed the mark when buying for their loved-one, they can always return the gift and try again.”
Bonus: Providing clarity about your return policy before customers even purchase will reduce the number of support inquiries your team gets related to returns.
Update your current pop-ups and email flows
It’s a bit of a tedious task, but all of your current pop-ups and email flows (abandoned cart, browse abandonment, etc) will need to change before BF/CM, especially if they contradict your BF/CM offers.
For example, if you have an abandoned cart flow offering a 10% discount but are already offering customers 20% off for Black Friday, you don’t want to send your regular abandoned cart flows. Don’t forget to turn them off (temporarily)!
Also, if you match your pop-ups to your holiday email messaging, they’ll do a better job of attracting customers’ attention, like in the example below from Public Rec.
Use dynamic banners to personalize every campaign
If you’re looking to personalize your campaigns, dynamic content is where it’s at. These are parts of your email that change based on user behavior or data you have about your subscribers.
See why collecting zero-party and first-party data is important now?
Dynamic content is, hands-down, the best way to make your emails relevant to each customer—without taking up too much of your time.
Our friends Aaron Orendorff and Mandi Moshay from Common Thread Collective really recommend this for BF/CM. In a tweet, Mandi went into detail about this, sharing the following message: “I audit email programs all the time and almost daily I recommend using dynamic content to hide or display content banners. So few brands use this tactic to add personalization without increasing the resources required for production.”
With dynamic content, you can add variables to different parts of your email, like the subject line, banner, or footer. Variables could include the customer’s name, location, gender, size, loyalty program status—basically anything you capture from customers and add as a variable.
Be human—plain and simple
If there’s one thing BF/CM time does well, it’s making brands feel unhuman to shoppers.
With all of the noise, the promotions, and the businesses eagerly trying to grab customers’ attention to make a purchase, the holiday shadows parts of the brand that really stand out to customers.
You know, like their community? Their mission?
These parts are important to customers, too, so don’t forget to add a bit of humanization to your campaigns this year.
How? Here are few ways to focus on nurturing relationships during BF/CM and be human:
- Call attention to your brand’s mission in your campaigns
- Talk about any charities you promote
- Send a message directly from the founder
- Send “just because” emails, which could be about thanking your customers, giving subscribers an update on anything personal to the founder or the brand, or sharing where you want to company to go in the near future
Taking a more human approach is something Lisa Oberst has done with many brands in the past. In her opinion, “Being human means thinking of your audience as individuals and taking the time to make sure you send them something they'll care about. That's where segmentation and personalization come in. It might sound creepy that you know what they've been browsing, but if you use that information well, it can be very valuable for your customer who wants to learn about one product category but not another.”
She suggests trying to include a well-written, plain-text note from your team as part of your campaign because these emails resonate strongly, showing there’s a human on the other side of the brand.
“The hot topics these days are about privacy and giving control back to the consumer. Letting your audience realize that you're humans too, and being attentive to their needs, will make you stand out as a respectful business they want to interact with.”- Lisa Oberst
Offer discounts on bundles to increase AOV
Most brands take the approach of offering discounts on single products during BF/CM, and while this does get you a lot of sales, it doesn’t always leave a great mark on your bottom line.
So here’s what you should do: don’t put amazing sales on your best products just for the sake of doing it for the holidays. Instead, be a bit more strategic with your offering, and one idea to try is putting sales on bundled items to drive up your average order value (AOV)—and not lose money with huge discounts on small orders.
Just ask Charley T, a Facebook Top 100 Advertising Expert, who suggests discounting your most profitable bundles:
“Develop non-paid media strategies months in advance and research what upsell bundles to market. Discounting standard products to pull sales forward hurts the bottom line in the future, but offering special bundles at a discount gives you higher AOV, pulls LTV forward, and develops good customers,” he said.
Basically, use the months before BF/CM to figure out what products you should bundle together and which bundles are most profitable. Highlight these bundles in your campaigns, offering a discount on the bundles and not just single items.
You can also increase the promotion when the customer spends more
If bundling isn’t your thing, no problem-o. What we did instead with Victare was offer increased promotions if customers spent more money—another way to increase AOV.
Instead of offering the standard discount on all of your products, you can increase your discounts with order minimums, giving customers a reason to purchase bigger ticket items or more products in general.
Be clear about your shipping timelines and costs
Customers should know about your shipping policy before they get to the checkout page. And email is a great way to share it.
Being upfront about your shipping costs is a better overall customer experience because shoppers won’t get a shocking extra cost added right before they check out, which helps to reduce your cart abandonment rate.
Additionally, telling customers about your shipping timelines, especially if they’re longer than the norm, is a better approach to avoid disappointment. There’s nothing worse than a customer expecting their package to arrive in one week when it doesn’t show up for three.
Include this information in your emails so customers don’t have to go searching for it themselves—or find out at the last minute.
Take the same approach Satechi took during BF/CM, and include an email in your campaign that tells customers when the order deadline is to make sure they receive their products before the holidays.
Just imagine all of the support inquiries you’re saving yourself from when you communicate these details to customers!
Not every promotion has to be discount-related
Over the years, big-box retailers created the expectation that BF/CM is for major discounts on expensive products. However, this business model doesn’t work for everyone, and there are plenty of ways to give customers a valuable Black Friday shopping experience without running deep discounts on your items.
Using your email channel, you can offer customers different benefits than a 50% off coupon code. For example, we’ve seen brands use these ideas successfully in previous years:
- Offer free shipping on all orders. This is especially good for brands that never have free shipping.
- Offer discounts on subscriptions, not just single products. If you’re selling consumable products, then customer retention is especially important. Rather than sharing deals on single products, promote your subscription to drive up your retention while still giving customers something valuable.
- Offer freebies with fully priced items. Got a bunch of hair scrunchies left over in stock? A moisturizer you know customers will love? A signature product you wish more customers would try? These are the perfect items to offer as a freebie during BF/CM whenever customers make a purchase.
- Offer bonus loyalty points. This is a good campaign idea to get more customers to sign up and engage with your loyalty program, and as they make purchases during BF/CM they’ll likely rack up enough points for a discount on their next purchase.
See? Not everything has to be about discounts. Below is an example of an email banner from a supplement brand, which used the free shipping example to provide value for customers during the holiday.
Prepare to have extra support hands-on-deck
Here’s the hard truth: bad customer service severely impacts your reputation, your customer retention, and your profits.
Don’t believe me? These stats should do the trick:
- 90% of Americans say customer service is a deciding factor in whether they’ll do business with a company, according to Microsoft.
- Microsoft also found that poor customer service will cause 58% of American consumers to find a different company to purchase from.
- 89% of consumers say they’re more likely to make a repeat purchase from a business in the future if they had a positive customer service experience, according to Salesforce Research.
Around BF/CM, expect your support channels to fire off more than usual with customers asking about products, sizing, shipping times, and return policies, just to name a few common questions.
And according to Lavender Nguyen, an ecommerce freelance writer, “Customer service is also a marketing channel, and if you do it well, you differentiate yourself.” In her opinion, good customer service is how you build up brand loyalty, increase referrals, and possibly get tagged on social media when shoppers share their positive experiences.
Whether you offer customer support through live chat or email, be prepared during the holidays with more team members than on a regular day.
“Problems with orders, shipping, and returns happen. Think about how you can handle them during the holiday sales. Implement it well, and customers will come back again and again,” explained Lavender.
Key takeaway: Be kind and helpful, treat your customers well, and respond quickly. As a bonus, provide extra value by giving those customers discounts, freebies, or even write a hand-letter to add to their package apologizing for whatever issue they had.
Highlight products that are relevant to the season
Remember, BF/CM is the week of U.S. Thanksgiving and right before the winter holidays, so use these holidays to highlight products in your promotional emails.
You can share styles specific to these dates, like in the example below that we worked on with Ministry of Supply. Or, show off any holiday-themed items you have in stock.
Yes, customers are still interested in buying ugly Christmas sweaters in November—they need to be prepared, after all!
Test, test, test!
Test your subject lines, your content, your promotions, everything! A/B testing will maximize your profits because you’ll be sending the right content for customers to engage with.
But here’s the trick: don’t just test during the busiest holiday season. Instead, start testing before the holidays to learn…
When the best send times are for your audience. Please don’t listen to that random article that told you the best time to email is Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. Every audience is different, and you need to learn yours.
What your audience responds to. Sure, people will respond to a promotion. But what kind of promotion is actually best for your audience?
Spend time now testing your emails to figure out how you can make the most out of your campaigns when the holidays come.
And actually keep track of your metrics
I know BF/CM is a really busy time, but imagine how much easier next year will be when you have data to look back on from this year.
For example, you can see what promotions had a better response from customers, what products were purchased the most, and what days during your campaign had the most sales.
All of this information is gold! OK—slight exaggeration, but it can inform how you prepare for the next year. You’ll know what promotions to use, which items to keep a larger stock of, and when you can expect a high number of website traffic, sales, and support requests.
Trust me, you’ll thank me next year (if you remember).
Have a plan for immediately after
It’s the evening of Cyber Monday, you’re watching the last few purchasers trickle through, it’s been an exhausting month leading up to the past week of chaos, and you’re 100% ready for a glass of wine and maybe a bubble bath.
Now it’s Santa Claus time, and your customers are immediately shopping again and looking for your recommendations.
Sorry to disrupt your mental picture with the wine and bath after a busy BF/CM, but unfortunately the work doesn’t end for you after Cyber Monday. The winter holidays start right away, and after that it’s time to gear up for a successful Q1.
To save yourself the anxiety, it’s a good idea to make a plan now for what you’ll do after BF/CM to keep the momentum going during the December holidays and into the new year. “You want to turn as many first-time customers as possible into long term buyers by sharing helpful content, so build trust with your audience by sharing education and tips about the products they just bought,” explained Lisa.
Keep engaging with customers via email by sharing value-added content, such as
- Product tutorials
- Style guides
- Gift guides
- A personal message from the founder(s)
- The brand story or mission
- Any charities you’re involved with (and educate customers about it)
- Customer reviews, results, or social proof.
These are just a few ideas to get you started.
“The holidays can also be a good opportunity to share brand updates, a year-in-review, a note about how much you appreciate your audience's support, and what they mean to you.”- Lisa Oberst
Take a different approach this year to focus on the greater good
Every year on BF/CM, shoppers consume way more than any other time of the year. In fact, 30% of all retail sales occur between Black Friday and Christmas, according to Spendmenot.
But no one ever seems to talk about the negative impacts of BF/CM on the environment. Last year, Forbes wrote about this, sharing that “British Black Friday home deliveries this year will churn out 429,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions—the equivalent of 435 return flights from London to New York (or, apparently, the same weight as 61,308 elephants).”
And that’s just in Britain.
Instead, some companies this year are taking a different approach to BF/CM, choosing to sit out completely. The Swiss bag brand Freitag is one example, and instead they’re using the time to focus on the brand’s sustainability goals.
You know who else is following suit? Allbirds and Deciem, who’ve said they’re using the time to focus on marketing campaigns around rentals and resales.
So, don’t forget that BF/CM isn’t for every business, and you don’t have to go through with it just because big-box retailers made you feel like you have to.
There are other ways you can provide value for your customers during the holidays, and like the brands mentioned above, it can be focusing on your sustainable and ethical business practices, which will make your customers just as happy as any regular sale.
Excited for Black Friday/Cyber Monday? So are we!
Whether you're ready for the Black Friday weekend or not, if any of the 30 tips stood out to you today, our team of Klaviyo experts would be happy to turn these inspiring ideas into your brand’s reality.
Our in-house email strategists, designers, and copywriters work on campaigns like these every day, and we’ve helped brands see amazing results (hint, hint, check out this Braxley Bands case study that shows how we help recover 20% of abandoned carts).
Reach out to us if you want to learn more about our services and how we can help you make the most of your email marketing channel.
Good luck to all the email marketers out there, and have a great Black Friday season!
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