How To Create A Killer Black Friday Email Strategy

While the sun may still be shining outside (or not), Q4 and Black Friday are rapidly approaching. The Black Friday and Cyber Monday period is one enormous opportunity for e-commerce merchants everywhere. That’s why it’s important to ramp up every tool in your metaphorical retail armoury to make the most of BFCM 2023. 

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Email marketing is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. With email return on investment as high as $36 for every $1 spent, it’s the most impactful way of reaching your audience during the winter sales period. 

While that’s all well and good, how exactly can you craft a winning strategy that will lead to bumper conversions this November? In this blog, we’ll explore exactly what makes a killer email strategy, and help you on your way to Black Friday success. 

To Pre-Buzz or Not To Pre-Buzz?

One of the biggest buzz terms (literally) around Black Friday is the ‘pre-buzz’. Do you want to drum up excitement before Black Friday or not? It’s a question that isn’t as straightforward as it seems. 

Of course you’d like to get your customers excited, but an email telling them to wait two weeks for a Black Friday sale could easily backfire, with two weeks of significantly fewer sales as they all hold off on their usual purchases. 

Pre-buzz can also be a waste of time and resources; an uninspiring message telling customers to “get ready” has no transactional value, with no clear call to action. 

Transactional is the keyword here, and our rule of thumb: all pre-buzz activity should have a transactional purpose, directly correlating to extra value for your business. 

There are two ways to do this. First, ‘VIP’ or exclusive offers for your most engaged customers. Create an email to be sent to your most loyal customers, using a segment in your email platform consisting of repeat buyers and those engaged in the last 30 days. The email could include an exclusive offer code, or a link to a hidden landing page featuring a sneak peak of your Black Friday deals, with a selection of early access offers. 

Second, sign up offers to build your email contact list. Here you won’t only be encouraging conversions, but you’ll also substantially boost your list, earning more data for your future email campaigns and automations. These offers can take the form of a discount, or free gifts that create added value for customers. A free gift can make customers feel like they’re getting more than a percentage discount, even if it costs you, the merchant, less. 

In both of these cases you’ll drum up excitement AND generate additional sales. 

Sign Up Forms 

Black Friday is not only an opportunity for increased sales, it’s also an exercise in data collection. Data is your currency, a currency that converts to cash when used properly. 

The more people you have in your contact list, the more people you can send Black Friday emails to. And the best way to collect more contacts is through pop-up sign up forms on your online store. 

Sign up forms can be your friend both before and during Black Friday. As you drum up excitement ahead of the sale, a sign up offer can substantially boost your subscriber list.

"Fancy an extra 15% off this Black Friday? Sign up to be the first to gain access to our sale."

With a sign up form featuring a message like that, you’ll build an engaged audience on the edge of their seats ready for the sale to launch. They’ll be hot on the button when the sale does start. 

During Black Friday, you can reposition this form as an “extra” or “exclusive” additional offer on top of your regular Black Friday deals. 

“Sign up to unlock an extra 10% Black Friday discount!” 

As deal-hungry shoppers browse the web, an offer like this will stop them in their tracks and you’ll get their email addresses; data to grow your list and to put to use well beyond Black Friday itself. 

Free Gifts

Tired of offering percentage discounts to your customers? Free gifts could be an effective and valuable alternative.

There’s a lot more to giving away a gift than meets the eye. The purposes for which are rooted firmly in behavioural psychology. Renowned advertising executive Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman of Ogilvy UK, has long championed the principle of the ‘free gift’ or ‘extra free’. 

Rory’s research found that customers often feel that there’s more value in receiving an extra gift versus a percentage reduction in price. They feel as though they’re getting something for FREE (a word which must always be in capitals) - a feeling that’s more impactful and motivating in the buying process. 

Tie a free gift into your sign up form before your sale begins. Give away a piece of branded merchandise, or a low cost sample from one of your product collections set to be featured in the upcoming sale. You’ll get their email address and your customers will feel like they’ve received special treatment, all helpful for building loyalty well beyond Black Friday.

Campaign Emails 

Once your sale gets underway, deciding how many emails to send, and which emails to send during Black Friday is perhaps the biggest question that leaves many merchants scratching their heads. 

Email marketing is a careful balancing act. Send too few emails and your audience becomes disengaged, losing interest in your brand. Send too many emails, and your audience may become annoyed and frustrated, disregarding your emails or even worse, moving them into spam. 

So depending upon the offers you’ll be providing, it's important to create a basic outline for the number of emails you’ll be sending and when. 

Here’s a robust structure to get you started:

  • Email 1 sent before the sale: “Black Friday Is Coming” with a sneak peak/VIP discount for subscribers.
  • Email 2 sent upon launch of the sale: Black Friday Sale On Now - this is your chance to drive excitement - get your audience motivated, and make it clear that the sale is a big deal they can’t miss out on.
  • Email 3 sent towards the end of the sale: Black Friday Sale Ends Soon - create a sense of urgency and haste - tell your audience to get a move on. 
  • Email 4 sent at the end of the sale: Cyber Monday - additional last chance offers to close out the period. 

Depending on your business, your product range, and how engaged your audience is, this structure may be all you need. Certainly if your audience is small (less than 1,000 profiles), or you’re just getting started with email marketing, then a simple structure like this is a good idea.

For some brands, like those who sell thousands of products to a sizable audience, regular emails with daily deals could also be effective. Ultimately though, be perceptive to your audience, closely follow the stats in your email platform and be ready to adjust your strategy if it’s lacking impact. 

Lastly, the dates of your emails should be determined by the dates you’ll be holding your sale, and evenly spread between them. This year most Black Friday sales will take place between the 17th and 20th November 2023. Never send multiple emails in one day, and try to keep them at least 24 hours apart. 

Automation Modifications 

Your email automations are a cornerstone of a wider email marketing strategy, one well beyond Black Friday. 

But that doesn’t mean your automations should be overlooked during the BFCM period. Welcome, abandoned cart, browse abandonment and post purchase emails all represent an opportunity during Black Friday. 

The design and copy of your automations should be updated to reflect your sale. Not only will they become consistent with the rest of your seasonal branding, but they’ll also drum up excitement for the sale, and provide a reminder for your most loyal customers. 

They can also represent an additional promotional opportunity. An extra ‘exclusive’ Black Friday discount in your abandoned cart could help tip the balance in conversions. 

Calendar Invites 

This tip is a simple one, but one with a potentially sizable impact. 

BFCM can be a confusing time for many consumers. It’s a far cry from the days when Black Friday was just one day - different brands have an array of differing sale periods.

So why not give your customers the chance to save the date, quite literally? 

All the leading web calendar tools offer you the ability to embed a calendar invite into an email or webpage. Simply copy the HTML code, and insert it into an embedded block within your email platform of choice. Here’s a guide from Google on how to do it within Google Calendar. 

Customers can then click and add the invite to their own calendar from your pre-buzz emails. That way, they won’t be able to miss when your sale starts.

Countdown Timers 

Last but not least, one more simple tip. There’s nothing that creates a sense of urgency than a ticking timer, counting down the days to the big event. 

CountdownMail is a super handy tool that allows you to embed timers into your emails with a few clicks. There are free and paid plans and we couldn’t recommend it enough. 

Your customers will be waiting in bated breath for the big launch. 

It’s Time To Get Black Friday Ready

Black Friday is a massive event for e-commerce merchants. With an enormous opportunity for making sales, it’s worth planning and preparing well in advance. 

Email is your most powerful tool for reaching out directly to your customers, engaging them, and motivating them towards a purchase, while simultaneously keeping them loyal.

Make your pre-buzz count, optimise your sign up forms, carefully consider your campaign emails, dress up your automations, and get your audience excited. Following these tips will keep you on track for Black Friday success. 

Need some more advice on your email marketing strategy for Black Friday and beyond? Get in touch with us, our Klaviyo experts are ready to help. 

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