6 tips to maximize your email marketing strategy this Black Friday

Black Friday is a bonanza of marketing activity where huge value is up for grabs – but brands also run the risk of being lost in the noise. Zoe Pedersen of Reflect Digital tells us how to be on the winning side.

With email users reaching over 4 billion in 2020 and expected to hit 4.6 billion in 2025, it’s still one of the best ways to maintain a connection with customers and subscribers.

So how do you maximize the potential of email this Black Friday?

1. Plan ahead

While you can send a generic “20% off” offer to your database, focusing on planning can help you create personalized messages and deliver plans that will resonate more and increase conversions.

Take the time to review your database. Brush up on your personas and be sure to create offers that meet their needs. Scan the database multiple times, using the weeks leading up to Black Friday to re-engage users.

And don’t overlook Halloween; this is a great opportunity to test personalized customer journeys and subject lines.

2. Decide who your offers are for

The best email marketing rule to follow is to segment your best customers first. Give them early or exclusive offers and tailor something to that loyal base. Retention should always be a priority KPI for your Black Friday campaign.

Target your old customers (it’s easier to sell to existing customers, after all); also goal based on past purchases by reminding people that it might be time to restock. Other targeting options include focusing on complementary purchases (watch your cross-pollinated products) and activity: building customer loyalty with VIP offers that will make your repeat customers feel valued. If you have the right customer information, you can also segment parents and spouses and use last year’s information to improve recommendations. Also consider creating a Black Friday shopping guide in preparation for birthday and Christmas shopping.

And remember that many of your customers are likely to buy gifts rather than just for themselves.

3. Sweat the subject lines

An unopened email is a missed opportunity. Especially around Black Friday, emails need to stand out as things tend to get crowded. Play with ideas and plan ahead. Consider humor and pain points as drivers for your subject lines.

Good examples include JetBlue’s “You’re Missing Points”; Groupon’s “Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)”; “Get more space in the kitchen with these easy solutions” from Ikea; “Stop Wasting Money on Ink” from HP; and “Learn a language with just five minutes a day” from Duolingo.

4. Create anticipation

Black Friday is a noisy playground for brands. Accelerating ahead of time can help build anticipation and let customers know about your sales plans. Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a great tactic here; giving customers a preview can help build anticipation ahead of launch.

Be transparent about your offer and offer deadlines. If you’re willing to extend your sale, make that clear so that as the day approaches, you can encourage a longer buying time to maximize earning potential.

And remember that deadlines don’t all have to be time-based. You can craft them based on quantity (“only 10 left”). Asos does it well with “quick sale” and “almost gone” banners.

5. Maximize Abandoned Cart Email

With so many purchases made around Black Friday, it’s easy to forget that bargain hunting often leads to abandoned carts. Try to limit them in advance by reviewing your customer journeys before launching your offers. Consider:

  • Social proof (using testimonials, reviews and multiple payment options to build trust)

  • Your payment gateway (is it easy for users to pay; can they use Apple Pay or Klarna?)

  • Navigation and search (is it easy for users to find and compare products?)

  • Returns and FAQs (is it easy to find more information?)

Once your customer experience (CX) is taken care of, consider your CRM’s abandoned cart email settings. As a general rule, these delays can be up to 48 hours; shorten these triggers to less than an hour. During Black Friday, notifications are urgent.

Don’t forget to follow up with a post-purchase review email to help build your credibility for next year.

6. Design with difference

Emails should be responsive; don’t substitute responsiveness for crazy creativity. Emails should feature the things subscribers are interested in – the offers. They should be mobile-first with clear, visual hierarchy and messaging. Don’t try to overdo it, but make it easy for users to click to buy.

Consider the “Z-pattern” strategy, playing on eye movement patterns; by reading from left to right, we tend to get ahead when interacting with content. Or the “pyramid model,” which grabs readers’ attention at the top of the email before focusing on a call-to-action, product feature, or other primary goal.

And don’t forget to include added values, such as free purchases; a return policy; satisfaction guaranteed; 24/7 live chat/customer support – or whatever matters to your customers.

If you’re looking to accelerate your email marketing strategy ahead of Black Friday, contact our team at Reflect Digital to find out how they can help you get ready and stand out in time for the biggest sales of the year.

Zoe Pedersen is Chief Strategy Officer at Reflect Digital, part of the Lab Group.

William L. Hart