Black Friday Email Strategies

A variety of email strategies are planned for capturing higher share of wallet on Black Friday/Cyber Monday – the biggest shopping days of the year. I’ll update you all on results we see with our clients, but would love to hear from you on how your strategy fared this year. Here’s a quick overview of what we’re seeing planned – maybe some of these ideas will help you make some last-minute improvement to your own strategy.

  • A number of retailers are doubling down on Monday and Tuesday by sending extra sale notices this week, so those days are going to be high traffic days for the email backbone. Pace out your own mailings as much as possible and expect delays in delivery as the ISPs manage the volume. Keep an eye on your own program so you can course correct as needed.
  • We always see that a campaign approach works better than one-off messages. Keep a consistent theme to the week and stay focused on the key buying offers. Remember, the inbox is getting much more crowded, so you have less time to make an impact.
  • Friday morning may also be a good time for reminder emails. We’ve worked on a couple of programs that include a Saturday “Didn’t find what you wanted” follow-up note to encourage offline shoppers to just stay online. The notion of Cyber Monday (a big online shopping day when folks get back to work) seems to be less prevalent this year, but may be worth including in your plan. If subscribers have a lot of email in the inbox when they come back after a long weekend, a Monday afternoon email might counter any “select all and delete” mailbox management done by consumers early in the day.
  • Help your messages breakthrough by spending extra time on your subject lines. There will be lots of sales, and lots of cross channel promotions. What is unique about yours? Remember that the best subject lines are specific – clarity always trumps clever. So keep to the facts — “No one beats our prices” or “A gift for you with a gift for them.”
  • Create urgency by having online sales times that reflect your customers’ habits — e.g.: moms shop online early and late and need time-saving quick cart-building links. We have a number of clients testing a 24-hour sale on Friday or Saturday, and the email program all week is promoting that window of opportunity.
  • Think multi-channel, but consider using separate email messages for offline promotions. That lets you use distinct subject lines. Maybe Friday is a day when your stores will see more traffic, but Sunday and Monday (or Thursday) are high online days. Consider tactics like giving buyers an incentive to research online, then go to the store to buy. If available, emphasize the ease of shopping online, then picking up at a local store. Be sure to include trackable coupons that can be printed.
  • As always, respect the permission grant given to you. Sending more email than promised gets noticed and can be a huge turn off for subscribers. Be sure to balance your need to promote now with the very real long term need to sustain and nurture an active file.

Oh, and one more thought for all us non-retailers. Often the best thing to do when the elephants stampede is just get out of the way. If you don’t have to send email during these high-traffic retail days, don’t. You’ll get better response by waiting a week or two and dodging the highest traffic days. Also, remember that your subject lines and contact strategy have to work a lot harder this time of year, too — not just due to holiday shopping messages, but it’s end of quarter and end of year — there are more B2B messages, too.

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