7 Tips to Optimize your Black Friday and Cyber Monday Email Marketing

7 Tips to Optimize your Black Friday and Cyber Monday Email Marketing

If you are a seller lucky enough to have a sizable email list, with even some of the largest Amazon sellers among that group, you want to make sure that you are making the most of it at all times – especially on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Who doesn’t want a piece of that $36B sales pie, right?  Luckily, email is one of those marketing channels that you can finesse and optimize right up until you actually deploy.  So while your campaigns in marketing channels like display and paid social are probably already running and set, with email you still have a chance to get it right.  Here is our playbook with 7 tips to optimize your Black Friday and Cyber Monday Email marketing. 

1. Subject Line

While you may be looking at your email in a vacuum, remember that it is going to land in a very crowded inbox, full of other brands and retailers vying for the recipient’s attention, so differentiating your email is critical.  There are a number of ways to stand out with your subject line.  First, keep it short.  If your subject line is so long that it might be pared down with ellipses, it’s too long. Second, try to communicate urgency.  If your promotions end at a particular time, say so and try to fit in an “act now” or “time is running out”.  Lastly, use humor or allusion to pique interest.  Joke about this being the one sale email that they shouldn’t ignore or hook them with a phrase like “You won’t believe our discounts.”  

Pro-Tip: Do NOT use capitalization thinking that it will make your email stand out.  While capitalizing the first letter of individual words helps with readability, capitals in sequence are a major spam trigger.

2. Mobile Optimization

Depending on your customer base and list, you can expect anywhere from 50-70% of folks viewing your email to be doing so on a mobile device.  These days, most email platforms like MailChimp and Sendinblue offer tools to help you make sure your email is mobile friendly.  Take advantage of that and make sure that your call-to-actions, or what actions you want the recipient to take from your email, pass the “fat-finger” test and your graphics are easily readable.  

Pro-Tip: Mobile Optimization is a big opportunity with lots of low hanging fruit, but is often ignored.  In 2019, $2.9B of Black Friday Purchases were made on a mobile device, and of that, nearly $1B on Shopify sites alone. 

3. Use Graphics or Photography to Make your Email Pop

You want to make a statement visually that is both eye-catching and in keeping with your brand.  Keep the color palette simple and on-brand and keep in mind that color-contrast can be a powerful tool in both readability and how prominently your key message and call-to-actions are displayed.  Ensure product photos are of your best-sellers or hero items with the deepest discounts and communicate those discounts right on the photo with a badge or violator.  

Pro-Tip: Consider animated gifs to communicate key messages, discounts, or the end date of your promotion.  Most email platforms now support these files and they are an easy way to maximize the information you are communicating while keeping it digestible for the recipient. 

4. Special Offers or Promotions

This goes without saying when running promotions during the holidays, but consider offering incentives especially for your email recipients.  Folks love exclusivity and knowing they are among the lucky few getting a special deal or early access to a sale.  “Free” should also be one of your buzzwords for incentivizing – free gift with purchase, free shipping, or other add-ons.  Lastly, be sure to communicate urgency here as well- “Limited Time Only” or “While Supplies Last” have been used for decades, but are still around for one reason: they work. 

Pro-Tip: Offering additional discounts once customers reach a certain dollar threshold in purchase is a fantastic way to build your AOV (average order value) and increase sales overall.   

5. Be Transparent

Manage your customers’ expectations if you are anticipating or already experiencing delays in processing, fulfilling, or shipping orders. Consumers are at this point well aware of the ripples being caused by supply chain issues, but it’s better that they know what to expect upfront.  Be honest about delays and issues and you’re likely to foster understanding if not some empathy that you are at the mercy of the system just like they are.  Hiding issues or being less than forthright with customers, however, is just going to exacerbate the situation and lead to negative reviews. 

Pro-Tip: Unless it is in the fine print, email is probably not the place to communicate this information.  Consider messaging on individual product pages, in your cart experience, or even at checkout instead. 

6. Test and Optimize

All of the major email marketing platforms now offer tools for testing subject lines, A/B testing messaging, offers or imagery.  Take advantage of this and follow the data when reviewing results to inform your decisions going forward- don’t rely on your personal preferences, your gut, or a hunch. 

Pro-Tip: Once you have tested different imagery or offers in email and have a winner, make sure that it is reflected in other marketing channels or touch-points along the customer’s journey.  Ensuring a consistent experience is always a best-practice and the repetition of imagery and messaging can lift overall conversion rates. Make sure your email matches your homepage and your Instagram, etc.

7. Follow-Up

A great rule for email marketing is to NOT send it and forget it.  Run tests, analyze, learn from them, and apply those learnings wherever you can.  You should also actually follow up.  Once the results of your email campaign stabilize, consider sending the email again to customers who did not open with an alternative subject line.  If you are savvy when it comes to other digital channels, consider taking the list of openers or clickers and feeding them into a remarketing / retargeting campaign in AdWords. 

Pro-Tip: One of the most productive email communications you can send your customers is an “abandoned cart” email.  The degree of difficulty in setting up these communications depends on the platform your site is running on (Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce) and your email platform, but across all email marketing you will not find one individual communication that offers a better return for your efforts in terms of generating revenue.