Your Ultimate Checklist for Black Friday Prep

It’s been a good year for online selling, and this year, the holidays are going to push the numbers even higher. Black Friday is the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. Is your business ready for it?

With so many brands promoting online sales and trying to make up for poor earnings during the pandemic, it’s crucial to have a strong connection with your email subscribers. Getting right into customers’ inboxes will help you cut through the noise. However, a poorly executed marketing campaign could backfire, which is definitely not something you want for the holiday season! 

Here’s my holiday email marketing guide to prep your email campaigns for Black Friday — and get ready to run your best holiday campaigns ever!

Prune Your List

Black Friday email campaigns tend to suffer from poor open rates. It’s no surprise: more than 95 million emails go out every day from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday! However, when it comes to clickthrough rate, Black Friday email marketing campaigns tend perform very well — a whopping 8.8% conversion rate compared to just 4.9 percent for everyday campaigns.

In other words, if you can get your subscribers to open your holiday emails, you’ve got a great chance of convincing them to click. That’s why it’s important to give your list a thorough health check prior to the holidays: you want to be sure your campaigns will have maximum deliverability and a good reputation with your marketing provider. So, take the time NOW to remove any inactive subscribers and dead email addresses. (Check out my list management tips here.)

Choose Your Selling Strategy

As you might expect, many Black Friday and Cyber Monday email campaigns never get opened. There are simply too many. And while you might expect that people will open emails promising insane discounts, that’s not entirely true. According to Yes Marketing, emails with subject lines promoting “X% OFF” performed worse than others. They do have higher conversion rates once opened. For the best of both worlds, know which promotions should be sent when, and keep in mind that emails not overtly pitching an offer have higher open and click through rates. 

This brings us to an important point…

Get Your Authentic Content Ready

As the holidays approach, everyone expects to be inundated with marketing emails. If they’re already engaged with your brand, they’re probably looking to see what specials you’ll run for Black Friday. However, people are looking to maximize their value, which is why focusing on the discounts is the wrong approach. Instead, give your followers an opportunity to connect and engage with your content. 

Here are some fun ideas to shake things up and boost people’s shopping — uhhh, I mean holiday — spirit.

  • Behind-the-scenes photos of your team getting ready for the holiday.
  • Photos of your team in holiday garb. (Better yet, run a UGC campaign on social media and highlight your VIP customers.)
  • Holiday tips relevant to your target audience. For example, if you’re selling makeup, focus on winter look ideas. 

These types of valuable content are ideal for keeping customers engaged. At that point, you can promote your Black Friday specials in a way that resonates with them. 

Create a Mobile-Friendly Email Design

If you haven’t yet embraced responsive design in your email marketing, now is the time! The evidence couldn’t be clearer that consumers are shopping on their phones — and have them close at hand when they venture out into brick-and-mortar stores. On Black Friday, people are paying more attention to their emails. A marketing email that isn’t mobile-friendly will be simply be ignored or deleted. It’s that simple.

Here are some simple ways to make your emails more mobile-friendly:

  • Use a single-column layout. Grid-like “newsletter” layouts just don’t look good on mobile devices. Keeping everything in a single column highlights the key content — which in this case, might be your Black Friday sale — and encourages recipients to scroll down. Make good use of your real estate with highly targeted messaging.
  • Keep your subject lines short and non-spammy. Long subject lines are truncated in most email apps. If you take a few words to get to the hook, you might lose readers. Keep in mind that the same words we tend to use during holiday selling, e.g. “exclusive discount,” “50% OFF,” “unbelievable sale,” tend to trigger spam filters. Be creative and enticing to drive up your open rate.
  • Take advantage of the preheader. Most email apps show “snippets,” or previews of what the email contains. While desktop emails might be more likely to open an email as they scroll their inbox, mobile users use the snippets to decide what to do with an email. Rather than stuffing your preheader text with generic content, tease your amazing Black Friday specials. 

If you already have a mobile-friendly design, try switching up the theme for Black Friday. Keep it recognizable yet distinctive enough that people will feel like there’s something new and exciting for them. Remember to place the focus on your targeted messages and calls-to-action rather than filling your campaigns with lots of words. 

Link Your Email Marketing to Your CRM

If you haven’t yet, now is the time to start sending targeted messages based on your customers’ activity. Three words: abandoned cart recovery. From Black Friday to Cyber Monday, people get into “shopping mode” and start loading up their digital carts. Then, they check their bank accounts and gasp. Objections arise. They end up abandoning their carts. 

Retarget these people through well-timed emails and give them a reason to return. Perhaps the items in their cart are under a steep Black Friday discount. Perhaps the products are selling out fast. Many people will complete the purchase if you give them a nudge. Take the time now to test your CRM integration and retargeting drip sequences. That way, you can boost your sales through email marketing. 

Don’t Forget Cyber Monday!

Cyber Monday started years ago when most people shopped at brick-and-mortar stores on Black Friday (shocker, I know), and it’s almost laughable at this point. After all, most people are buying online — especially during a pandemic! Still, Cyber Monday is a great way to squeeze out more sales. Be sure that you include a Cyber Monday email in your holiday campaign. 

Wrapping Up

Black Friday is approaching quickly, so take the time now to get your email marketing in tip-top shape. There is little margin for error. Your email campaigns should be sleek, strategic, and highly engaging. Consumers are making snap decisions about where to shop, so don’t give them any reason to delete your email! As a rule of thumb, lead with authentic, enticing content rather than sales-y subject lines. And make absolutely sure that your emails are mobile-friendly — people will be shopping from their phones this holiday season!


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