10 tips for creating a high-converting Black Friday email marketing strategy
There’s no question Shopify stores need to bring their A-game to Black Friday.
Nearly 70% of Seguno merchants responding to a survey said Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM), along with the corresponding holiday shopping season, are extremely or very important to sales.
Nothing quite matches the power of email marketing in spurring sales. Consumers want them — 68% say email is their favorite channel for receiving BFCM sales promotions.
Buckle up if you want to get serious about your Shopify store’s Black Friday email marketing strategy. We’ve assembled 10 tips to help you maximize revenue.
1. Understand your audience
Any marketing email that converts means that it resonates.
So let’s imagine three stores. All sell handbags but cater to their audiences differently.
The first finds that incentives drive purchases. The second highlights product features — handcrafted bags are made with locally sourced and eco-friendly materials — to connect. The third sees spikes when notifying subscribers of low inventory levels.
The point is that high-performing emails result from understanding your target audience and what motivates them. Who are they? What do they care about? What are their pain points?
Use your target audience's and customers' preferences and behaviors to inform your content. For example, the fact that Clove slides in a few references to support makes clear that its audience values customer service.
If the target audience picture is fuzzy, you could:
- Send a survey or conduct customer interviews
- Identify trends by studying website traffic, email metrics, and other internal data
- Lean on social listening by monitoring what people say about your brand
- Analyze customer service feedback
2. Plan your Black Friday email campaign in advance
Of the “Big 5” shopping period (Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday), Black Friday has been the most popular online shopping day since 2019.
That spells sheer competition in our book. Failing to plan will cost you.
A Black Friday email campaign can take many shapes. Here’s one example of a multi-email campaign:
Note the common theme and look that runs across each of the Hedley & Bennett emails above. By design, campaign emails should feel like they’re related to each other.
We don’t advocate multiple emails in one day. But we think it’s smart to accelerate your cadence. Don’t worry about your email list shrinking with greater frequency. Most consumers (54%) are no more likely to unsubscribe during BFCM than during the rest of the year.
3. Craft compelling subject lines
The email subject line is the first thing your subscribers see outside the “from” address, highly influencing your email open rate. A study found 33% of recipients open emails because of the subject line.
We analyzed BFCM emails sent in 2022 by Seguno merchants and found:
- Subject lines of seven words or less performed the best
- Subject lines with the word “discount” outperformed those that didn’t
- Subject lines with the $ symbol did better than those with %
Consider the deluge of emails hitting inboxes on Black Friday and the surrounding days. You want to stand out, so something like “Black Friday sale!” won’t cut it. Try a more specific subject line — like “Black Friday $15 discount on jeans.”
We’ve rounded up the best Black Friday email subject lines to give you a head start and trigger ideas for your brand.
Browse our guide for more tips on writing compelling email subject lines.
4. Design eye-catching BFCM emails
Once subscribers open your email, what do they see?
Give your Black Friday email marketing strategy a leg up by ensuring images and content work together. Katherine Riemen, services lead at Seguno, says she has seen beautiful, high-quality emails with all the visual “works” perform just as well as a plain-text founder’s note.
“Do you need a super flashy, image-driven email design?” she posed on a Winning With Shopify podcast episode about design. “No, it doesn't have to be super involved. What makes an email design work is ultimately how it connects with your audience.”
Some tips if you want visuals to do the talking:
- Rely on a user-friendly app that doesn’t require design expertise to create stunning visuals (Seguno integrates with the best: Canva)
- Experiment with using a GIF for the hero image
- Balance the ratio of visuals and text
- Don’t place all information into one image; not all email browsers load images properly
Some tips for grabbing attention with a scaled-back message:
- Get to your point quickly with a handful of short paragraphs; you want easy-to-read text that doesn’t scare away subscribers
- Lean on bullets or numbered lists for a skimmable email
- Don’t forget the call to action (CTA) to direct subscribers somewhere
- Humanize a founder’s message with a signature
Design emails that convert with our 50-minute online course, chunked into lessons of 12 minutes or less.
5. Embrace personalization
Shoppers want brands to send personalized communications. One study found that 67% of consumers are likelier to buy from brands that send personalized BFCM promotions.
Personalized emails aren’t for the masses but for a particular customer segment. They aim to create a one-to-one marketing feel and go beyond the practice of including a subscriber’s first name.
Personalization takes understanding your audience to the next level. Use the data you’ve got — purchase history, demographics, zero-party information that the subscriber supplied you — to craft relevant emails that address needs and preferences.
For example, discount a complementary product for customers who purchased from a specific collection. Or, send a tailored email to subscribers who marked interest in boys’ clothing when filling an email popup form field.
6. Create a sense of urgency
No Black Friday email strategy is complete without infusing urgency. Because, after all, the consumer definition of BFCM is snatching up deals before they’re gone.
Now is the time to play on FOMO, the fear of missing out. Here are a few tactics to motivate subscribers to act fast:
- Shortened sales. Hello, flash sales! Experiment with limited-time offers that run 24 or 48 hours. Emphasize that time is short with a countdown timer. You can also do the same with pre-sale access for VIP customers.
- Limited quantities. Let subscribers know about products that are short on stock. Feature the remaining amount for reinforcement. And once they run out, invite shoppers to sign up for back-in-stock alerts.
- Abandoned checkout emails. Tweak your abandoned checkout series by including a unique discount code, with a short expiration of two to four hours, in the first message.
7. Showcase irresistible offers
All Black Friday shoppers are on the hunt for savings.
This year, nearly 70% of shoppers say price is most important in holiday purchase decisions. Price trumps quality (56%) and convenience (41%). So expect to be ignored if you’re not bringing a deal to the table. Black Friday calls for bold promotional pricing strategies.
Decide on Shopify discount configurations with the best chance of boosting your Black Friday email strategy without damaging the bottom line. Clearly outline the promotion — what it applies to, valid dates and times, etc. — in your email marketing.
Ecommerce marketing guru Nik Sharma recommends employing bundles for Black Friday, which Shopify merchants can enable with the Shopify Bundles app.
“I like to go high AOV [average order value], high discount, and high margin,” he wrote in a September 2022 newsletter. “High AOV bundles that are 2-3x your normal AOV. 30-50% discount, justified by the high AOV + high margin.”
Protect margins by using unique discount codes. Seguno email users can create them in Shopify; non-Seguno users or those needing unique codes for other channels can access the Bulk Discount Code Bot.
8. Include a clear CTA
We see it happen too often: A Shopify merchant designs a beautiful email but doesn’t include a link for taking the next step.
Always include a CTA (or more than one, but don’t go overboard) and incorporate these best practices:
- Place your primary CTA “above the fold” so subscribers don’t have to scroll to find it
- Employ action-oriented language such as “Shop now” rather than something generic like “Click here”
- Use a contrasting color for the button so that it stands out
- Add white space around the CTA for further prominence
9. Leverage social proof
Imagine that Black Friday is a crowded stage, full of brands trying to win over shoppers. A fantastic way to draw the spotlight is with user-generated content (UGC).
Social proof — reviews, customer testimonials, etc. — adds credibility to your brand by showing real people trust in your product.
Consider this: A survey that questioned moms about holiday shopping shows that 71% read reviews when deciding on purchases. Sounds like reason enough to weave UGC into your Black Friday email marketing strategy.
So sprinkle it into your BFCM newsletters or reserve one message for UGC. It could convince a tentative shopper to make the purchase.
10. Optimize for deliverability
Your Black Friday email strategy could go down the tubes if your email deliverability is shaky.
Landing in the junk/spam folder won’t do much good. You need emails to arrive in the inbox or Gmail’s promotional tab.
So, how can you optimize for inbox delivery? Follow these best practices to improve email deliverability and avoid spam filters:
- Clean your email list. Rid your list of subscribers that haven’t interacted with your emails in a long time. If you’ve got a portion that never opens your newsletters or their addresses always bounce, it could harm your sender reputation and negatively impact email deliverability.
- Only send to those who give explicit permission. You don’t have the authority to send marketing emails to anyone who didn’t consent, which is why buying email lists is a big no-no.
- Keep your content relevant. Consistency — from staying on brand to ensuring your email subject line matches the content — matters. Irregularity is confusing and can make subscribers question your brand and if they want your correspondence.
- Be concise. Don’t overpack your email newsletters. Most subscribers lack the patience to read through it, for one. More importantly, Gmail “clips” emails by hiding part of the message at a certain point. The “unsubscribe” link is usually the first to go, which opens you up to more spam complaints. (Seguno helps avoid this fate with clipped email warnings.)
Get your Black Friday email strategy in order
You can’t afford to navigate the busiest shopping bonanza of the year without a plan.
Prepare your Black Friday email marketing strategy with our 10 tips — from honing into your audience’s needs and expectations to optimizing for deliverability — to set your shop up for success.
Start strategizing now to increase engagement rates and maximize Black Friday revenue.
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