Black Friday: an Email Marketing Strategy in 8 Steps
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The key to making the most of 24 November (and the long legacy that lingers on until Cyber Monday) is to prepare in good time, creating a sense of expectation and guiding the recipients towards Day X. Here are eight tips to get the most out of the four days of discounted shopping.
Black Friday is the ultimate discount shopping day. It’s a tradition that celebrates the last Friday of November, just after Thanksgiving, during which retailers offer exceptional discounts, often on their entire catalogue.
This year Black Friday will fall on 24 November, and the forecasts indicate that the numbers will be even higher than those recorded in 2016 (a record year) in terms of the companies involved and the sales of products and services.
From distant origins to current success
Created in the USA in the 1920s by the chain store Macy’s, which introduced a day of huge discounts to get Christmas spending started, Black Friday only became more widespread in the 1980s, and then eventually went on to reach Europe as a whole.
While Black Friday chalked up record sales of $ 3.34 billion in the United States in 2016. The opportunities for retailers and consumers are not just limited to one day, however. According to “tradition”, the discounts and offers are extended to the following Monday, which has come to be known as Cyber Monday. Black Friday’s long trail originated precisely because of its success, which led companies to extend the commercial holiday.
Email & Black Friday: a dedicated strategy
Email can make more of a difference in the revenue generated by Black Friday than any other channel. This celebration does not just affect retailers and e-commerce, but rather all businesses that can and want to take advantage of a unique opportunity to bring their public closer to them. And why not see turnovers reach the seasonal peak before Christmas?
The key to making the most of Black Friday is preparing in good time, creating a sense of expectation and guiding the recipients towards Day X. Here are eight strategic tips for getting the most out of the Black Friday – Cyber Monday pairing.
1. Gather your contacts
The weeks before Black Friday are a great opportunity for database building. The promise of staying up to date on super discounts is a great way to tempt people to sign up to your newsletter. To collect more contacts, diversify the entry points where people can subscribe to your communications:
- Dedicated pop-ups on your website
- Links in the company signature
- An iPad module with Jade
- Facebook page, with the Facebook App
2. Prepare the ground with teasers
People’s inboxes are chaotic under normal circumstances, so just imagine how it must be during Black Friday. The lead up to this occasion needs to be prepared in advance, informing the recipients and building up anticipation.
Here’s our advice, which should be modularised to suit to your business type and the frequency of your mail-outs: one month before, start to insert teaser messages about Black Friday into your generic promotional emails. As the date approaches, intensify the specific communications, always remembering to maintain a well-defined visual awareness.
3. Try a drip campaign
Choose a stylistic line with a story, then reiterate it. Drip campaigns are email campaigns (which can be automatic or not) that are characterised by a message and a repeated and recognisable visual identity.
Since your goal is to create a growing expectations before Black Friday, it’s a good idea to differentiate communications relating to it from others that don’t, which can get in the way. Once you have chosen the graphics, refer back to them in the same way (in the header, for example) and make variations on the theme by playing on the copy, calls-to-action, the products proposed or the lower part of the message.
Mail-out: 2 days before
Subject: Prepare your Black Friday wish list
Mail-out: Friday (Black Friday)
Subject: 30% DISCOUNTS! Black Friday has arrived!
Shipping: Monday (Cyber Monday)
Subject: Cyber Monday has arrived! 30% DISCOUNTS
4. Start the countdown
Black Friday discounts do not last forever, so why not play on the urgency of time passing? A countdown timer that indicates the moment when the opportunities will have been missed adds dynamism and interactivity to emails, while at the same time drawing attention to the message.
Countdowns are powerful tools for visual storytelling that help to clearly imprint the brand identity in the reader’s mind and guide them towards the desired action, in this case, clicking on the discounts before it’s too late.
Remember: it is best to use timers in emails sparingly. Abuse of such a powerful tool inevitably lessens its effectiveness. Ergo: carefully select the right times to use it, reserving it for moments of true urgency – like Black Friday!
5. Focus on creativity
It is no secret that an image can often communicate more than a thousand words. On Black Friday, emphasise how exceptional the moment is with graphics that do not go unnoticed, effectively pointing out the central message: the discount.
Give preference to content that is engaging and rich in creativity, with high impact images, videos or animated GIFs, without shying away from colours and imagination. Be daring and move away from the usual tone of your brand, while taking care to remain recognisable to your public at all times, however.
6. Personalise the message
According to the UK Direct Marketing Association (DMA),84% of consumers finds almost half of the emails they receive irrelevant or uninteresting. The key to success is knowing how to hit the recipient with a message that is personal, relevant and really interesting.
So, there’s a ban on “flat” messages that are the same for everyone. Here are some best practices to grab the attention of each recipient:
- Use the personal data in your possession (name, gender, geographical indication) to customise both emails and landing pages.
- Configure dynamic content to vary the images and products proposed according to the profile and preferences of each recipient.
- Include images, titles, and descriptions of previously purchased products, requesting a review if they haven’t already made one.
7. Set up a cart recovery workflow
According to research by Business Intelligence, e-commerce sites lose 4 trillion dollars every year in products that are selected and then abandoned. What’s more, it estimates that 63% of those losses could be avoided thanks to a cart recovery email.
This is especially true during Black Friday, as its very high economic potential makes concluding as may purchases as possible even more urgent. Take advantage of this opportunity to structure an automatic cart recovery workflow (if you don’t already have one), which uses both emails and SMS to bring potential customers back to the path towards their purchase.
8. Extend the offers to the Christmas period
Black Friday serves as an excellent way for launching sales in the pre-Christmas period with great style. In fact, for many people, discounts at the end of November are a great opportunity for getting ahead with their Christmas gifts. Since the Christmas pressure will only increase in the coming weeks, why not think of a medium term strategy that will maximise the benefit for both aims?
You can create a gift guide that uses Black Friday as an initial accelerator, which can then live on independently during the Christmas period (learn how to optimise Christmas campaigns in this post). Another idea is to extend the discounts well beyond Black Friday and Cyber Monday, to the whole month of December, as Stocksy does in the email below.
From theory to practice
Now all you have do is convert your ideas, concepts and inspirations to fine-tune your strategy for the Black Friday – Cyber Monday double whammy.
If you do not have a platform, try MailUp for 30 days for free, and try out the potential of the email channel from now until 24 November.