Promotional vs. emotional email marketing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM)
Hey Shopify owners, you know what’s on the horizon: the most critical time of year for most of you.
Holiday promotional marketing will soon barge in, with some trampling over Halloween promotions. At its noisiest height — the Black Friday-Cyber Monday (BFCM) timeframe — you should be doing what you can to stand out.
There’s lots of money to be made. Between 2020 and 2021, Shopify store sales rose 23% for the BFCM period. The average cart price was $100.70.
We don’t know if sales will mirror last year’s or increase. But if you want to grab a more significant share of the pie in 2022, then email marketing should be a major tool in your BFCM holiday promotion execution.
We’re looking at two angles for your email marketing and examples that bring them to life. Stick around until the end, as we’re pointing you to extra resources for BFCM success.
Promotional vs. emotional email marketing for the holidays
Perhaps you feel locked into sending email newsletters that look like those of the big-box stores. Well, their strategy may not suit your brand. So what approach should you take?
It’s easiest to think of BFCM email marketing newsletters as fitting into one of two camps: promotional or emotional.
Incentives or discounts serve as the driving force behind promotional emails. They are typically straightforward, like “30% off” or “Buy one, get one free.”
Let's say you have a lot of stock leftover from the year, and your shop has good margins. Running deep discounts with a promotional strategy makes perfect sense.
BFCM is known for promotional emails; overall, it’s a popular approach among larger retailers. Even smaller shops follow suit. In light of consumers cutting costs because of inflation, promotional emails that pass along savings might be more receptive this year.
However, recognize that huge discounts are not a good match for Shopify merchants with little wiggle room to absorb them. Or, the concept of large discounts doesn’t jive with all brands.
The emotional-leaning email concentrates on the company’s or product’s value, or the problem a product solves.
(Tidbit: 53% of shoppers place greater importance on finding the right product versus the lowest price.)
While a message may contain a discount or incentive, it’s dominated instead by an emotional pull. For instance, think messaging along the lines of, “New limited edition just arrived.”
Emotional emails can be highly effective for Shopify merchants that sell luxury products, handmade items, artwork, or anything with very slim margins.
Let's say I make handmade artwork (because I do). I'm not discounting the art itself. I don't want to devalue it or pull into question the cost of the work. Instead, I'll emphasize that it’s a one-of-a-kind gift. For the holidays, I'll include free shipping and gift wrapping to help motivate people.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday email examples
Below are some excellent examples to show how brands employ these two styles. You’ll see that the message types aren’t always mutually exclusive — you can tap into both schools of thought in the same email. But typically, an email newsletter favors one strategy over the other.
Any marketing email, whether for BFCM or not, follows a basic structure. How are you maximizing each of your elements?
Promotional email examples
Baggu gives the most screen time to the discount. I really like this type of discounting, whereby the more money a shopper spends, the bigger the deal.
Tiered discounting doesn’t just reward high spenders. The innate nature of thresholds benefits merchants by protecting margins. Tiered discounting also helps raise a shop’s average order value (AOV).
The example below from June qualifies as a promotional message because it incorporates a 15% discount plus bundling, another technique for driving higher AOV.
It’s a smart message for a few reasons:
- Right out the gate, June notifies customers that availability is limited because of high demand, creating a sense of urgency. Any Shopify merchant facing supply chain issues and shortages would be wise to be similarly transparent.
- Imagery works two ideas concurrently: this is what I can buy my ___ or give to myself. The bow helps shoppers visualize the product as a gift. Holiday-ish food baking inside communicates the product could be useful for preparing the season’s meals.
Emotional email examples
Novica has a different take on tiered discounting that leans emotional.
First, they showcase the people behind their items by crossing out “cyber” in the headline and replacing it with “artisan.” Beautiful photos of the smiling artists reinforce that profits go to a real person. It goes further by including background information about them and product shots.
Below, Tinker departs entirely from the idea of a discount. Instead, they announce a limited edition product will drop on Black Friday.
The emotional element comes from stirring up curiosity. Subscribers might even bookmark the email message. Tinker builds anticipation by teasing the product with a darkened product shot. The effect makes everyone feel like they’re getting VIP access.
This approach will not work for every Shopify merchant. But it could be a home run for brands with high-value items and cult-like followings.
Last, I’d argue that Everlane strays into emotional territory despite the 20%-40% discount callout at the top. They reserve a large section of the newsletter for showcasing their partnership with Feed America.
It’s a great example of cause marketing, whereby you demonstrate your alliance with a non-profit organization. The guiding rule is that you’re genuine and transparent about how you support the charity.
I like that Everlane included the logo for Feeding America — a nice linkage to the non-profit’s brand recognition and associated trust. I bet that the logo plus details around donations spurred some people to buy.
Resources to make your Black Friday and Cyber Monday profitable
We want 2022 to be the best BFCM yet for your shop. Get on the right path by viewing your marketing emails through a promotional or emotional framework. The creation process will be much smoother.
Try a mix of both techniques. Focus some messages on promotions; target others at awakening emotions. Per the examples above, let a little of one approach infiltrate the other to get the best of both worlds.
For more Black Friday and Cyber Monday email inspiration, check out:
- Our lookbook of newsletters and campaigns
- Ideas for email subject lines and text copy
- Shopify’s post detailing ideas for promotions and some mathematical logistics
And for a deeper dive into BFCM strategies, take our course. It’s composed of bite-sized lessons — eight minutes or less — to make for easy learning that gets you creating quickly.
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