Perfect your marketing when it matters: 15 Black Friday Cyber Monday email campaign examples + results
If you thought inflation would slow down the spending freight train that is Black Friday Cyber Monday, think again.
After some pre-season nail biting inspired by the dip in sales in 2021, BFCM 2022 exceeded everyone’s expectations.
According to Adobe Analytics, in 2022, Black Friday sales soared to a record $9.12B—up 2.2% from $8.92B in 2021. Cyber Monday, meanwhile, saw $11.3B in sales—up 5.8% compared to the previous year.
While inflation played a role in increasing those numbers, Adobe Analytics notes there were also more actual transactions, which suggests that high demand drove at least some of the season’s success. Much of this demand, however, was a response to steep discounts from retailers who assumed they’d need them after the BFCM slump of 2021.
Even this year, you may be ready to move forward with heavy discounting as a primary driver of your BFCM 2023 strategy. If your projections look solid and the economics of those discounts are sound, we’re happy you’re in such a great place.
But if you’re wondering how to round out your strategy, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start planning early.
Why “start earlier” isn’t cliché Black Friday Cyber Monday advice
“Start earlier” may sound like cliché advice for the Black Friday Cyber Monday planner, but it’s useful if you want to decrease your reliance on paid ads and discounts to carry you through the holiday season.
“The sooner we can get things to creative, and the more rounds of edits that they go through—it’s just going to make the campaigns better,” Edwards says.
In these early stages of planning, Edwards will nail down:
- Optimal campaign send times
- Planned campaign cadence
- Segmentation strategy
- Quantity of creative deliverables needed
To get a head start like Edwards, keep reading to learn when and how often you should send BFCM emails, how to write a strong BFCM email, and more.
3 key steps in building a solid Black Friday Cyber Monday strategy
Before your final quarter begins, let’s establish what good email segmentation looks like.
Your email subscribers aren’t like your children—you’re allowed to have favorites. You’re also expected to treat them differently, so don’t skip out on developing bespoke offers and messages based on the signals people send you.
If you’re able to start planning for Black Friday Cyber Monday in August, you can take steps to segment your overall email list into smaller groups of people most likely to buy during BFCM.
“Start your BFCM email marketing campaigns early with a pre-sale registration campaign, and entice your subscriber base to sign up to upgraded offers or early access to the sale,” suggests Wei Tan, co-founder of The Orchard Agency.
Why? “This gives you the added benefit of communicating to a smaller but highly active audience, boosting email deliverability and improving your sender reputation,” Tan explains.
When your email subscribers sign up for early access, they’re giving you permission to contact them before BFCM is on anyone’s radar. Consider the opt-in a signal that person A is more interested in your offer than person B, who subscribed to a general list a while back. The people on your A list are the ones to engage with the most when Black Friday Cyber Monday rolls around.
And if you haven’t yet experimented with SMS list building and segmentation, BFCM 2023 is your time to do it. Last year, Klaviyo-attributed SMS revenue during BFCM grew more than 200%, and SMS order count grew 190% between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. If you get started on SMS early enough to segment your list as effectively as you would with email, you could reap some rewards you didn’t see last year.
So how do you communicate best with highly interested people? Every brand is different, but here’s a high-level, step-by-step process to get you started:
Step 1: Determine your BFCM offers (first week of August) and test them
Black Friday Cyber Monday is known for steep discounts, but that doesn’t mean they’re your only option.
For example, BFCM 2022 saw a surge in buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) transactions. In their report, Adobe Analytics observed that “people are more likely to use BNPL when totals are higher.”
If you’re selling higher-priced items, you may want to consider offering BNPL alongside a smaller discount—the added perk may be enough to compete against other brands offering steeper discounts.
In addition to BNPL, consider these alternative offer options:
- Holiday product launch: If you can’t launch a whole new product, consider releasing a new color or size for an existing product to keep things fresh.
- Limited-edition bundle or collection: Create a sense of urgency by offering a limited-edition product bundle or collection around BFCM that will excite customers and raise your average order value—without negatively impacting your margins.
- Free gift with purchase: Move some stock by giving it away for free. People love a free gift, sometimes even more than a discount.
- Contest: Run some numbers—if you can’t afford a discount, maybe you can afford less than that in the form of a prize value.
- Partnership offer: This option requires some planning, but if you can team up with a brand that has a similar audience, you may open yourself up to a new pool of customers for Q4.
- Donation incentive: If it makes sense for your brand, offer a slightly smaller discount but match it with a charity donation. Communicate the impact your customers have had after BFCM is over.
Our recommendation: Choose a few offers that work for your business, and use Labor Day weekend to test them against each other. The tests will give you more information about your audience segments as you head into Q4.
Step 2: Determine your BFCM email cadence (first two weeks of September)
Next question: How often should you email your segments about Black Friday Cyber Monday?
The question is at least partially answered by segmentation itself. If you want to isolate folks who are most interested in VIP access to your BFCM offer, for example, send your opt-in email as early as mid-October.
“One of the best segments you can build is your VIP audience,” says Gillian Carlucci, senior customer education specialist at Klaviyo. “You want to communicate with them often and in a personal way.”
One “great example,” Carlucci says: “sending early-access product drops to people who purchased something similar 3 months ago, with a message reminding them of the great purchase they made last season.”
With that in mind, here’s a sample cadence you might want to adapt for your business:
- October, week 3: email and SMS BFCM VIP early access opt-in
- October, last week: season kick-off email to highlight discounted overstock
- November, week 1: gift guide email
- November, week 2: free shipping weekend email
- November, week 3: VIP early access to bundle promotion or escalating discount
- Black Friday to Cyber Monday: Black Friday Cyber Monday announcements
- Tuesday: extended final sale
- December, week 2: last chance for guaranteed holiday delivery
A note on timing: For the weeks before Black Friday Cyber Monday, we recommend emailing your most engaged email lists on Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays (more on this segment below). Email your VIPs between Tuesday and Thursday before Black Friday. Email every day between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Then, in December, email between Monday to Wednesday—depending on your supply chain and when you can guarantee holiday delivery.
Build out this cadence in your content calendar and you’ll be set.
Step 3: Assign segments to emails and SMS messages (first two weeks of September)
Steps 2 and 3 go hand in hand: You may have a robust SMS list, for example, and want to develop messaging specifically for this segment. Or you may want to segment your VIP list even further into super-loyal customers who have purchased 5+ times or subscribed to your product for more than a year.
You know your list better than anyone else, but one rule is universal across all businesses: Never treat your whole email list the same.
“The one thing I never recommend is blasting folks you haven’t spoken to in years over BFCM,” says Loretta Doria, director of strategy, Ragnarok. “BFCM does present some opportunity to win back more recently churned customers, but I’d still recommend keeping your segments tight so that you don’t end up in a deliverability ditch.”
What does a “tight” segment look like? For Black Friday Cyber Monday, focus on the following 3 segments:
If you’re emailing a few times per week, your engaged list is people who have opened or clicked on an email within the last 30-60 days. If you’re only emailing a few times a month, you may want to expand this list to 90-120 days.
You may define your VIPs based on dollar value, number of purchases, or subscription length, depending on your business model. Every brand defines their VIP list differently, but these are basically your most loyal customers.
These are people who converted on Black Friday Cyber Monday emails in previous years.
Best practices for running a Black Friday Cyber Monday email campaign
Now that you know the basics of planning for Black Friday Cyber Monday, you’re ready for some tips, tricks, and strategies to boost conversion and engagement.
For a more detailed breakdown of BFCM best practices, read our guide on the BFCM tactics consumers love and loathe. In the meantime, here’s a list of quick do’s and don’ts so you don’t have to learn the hard way:
What to do for Black Friday Cyber Monday
- DO clean your list before the holiday. Let go of people who haven’t opened or clicked on an email in a long time. This is especially important around BFCM, when your email deliverability needs to be in tip-top shape if you want your messages to reach your subscribers’ inboxes.
- DO segment your sends. This might mean sending early promo access to VIP customers, previous BFCM purchasers, and SMS subscribers; sending custom gift guides to browse abandoners based on what they viewed but didn’t buy; or suppressing current BFCM purchasers from receiving post-BFCM promotions.
- DO personalize your content. What keeps your customers loyal? Why do they buy from you? Build a special deal for them on top of early access, and you’ll build even more loyalty that can extend after the holiday season.
- DO be transparent about shipping. Get ahead of consumer anxiety by communicating when people need to order so they get their deliveries on time for the holidays.
- DO consider discount alternatives. If you’ve segmented your audience according to interest level, you may reach a set of people who are open to discount alternatives like BNPL options, a holiday product launch, a limited-edition bundle, a free gift with purchase, a contest, a partnership offer, or a donation incentive.
What not to do for Black Friday Cyber Monday
- DON’T overdo your email subject lines. If you’re not offering a steep discount, don’t promise one in your subject line. Go easy on the emojis. And be careful with capital letters—our subject line research shows subject lines that contain a word with all caps or language like “important” or “attention” earn higher open rates, but the key is to only cap one word.
- DON’T send too many times in one day. People may want to hear from you about once or twice a day over Cyber Weekend and a few times per week during the holiday season, but emailing more than this is a great way to send your unsubscribe rates skyrocketing.
- DON’T blast your entire subscriber list. You’ll see higher conversions and lower unsubscribe rates when you segment your audience based on interest signals, such as clicking or opening an email within 30-60 days, browsing a product landing page, adding an item to a cart, or buying a product.
- DON’T set false expectations. There’s a fine line between enticement and manipulation. If your customers need to spend $300 to get a 15% discount, state it clearly. The truth will come out at check-out, and people will walk away with a bad taste in their mouth.
15 Black Friday Cyber Monday email campaign examples to inspire your 2023 campaign
So what do our Black Friday Cyber Monday principles look like in practice? We’ve sifted through our own inboxes to give you 15 types of Black Friday Cyber Monday emails you may want to adapt this year for your own brand.
The pre-BFCM, get ready email
Why it’s good: Little Beast shows that they care about their subscribers’ wallets. They let their audience know that a sale is coming tomorrow, so if they had plans to purchase something, to wait one more day.
The password-protected loyalty email
Why it’s good: Early access with a password creates urgency to act on an offer exclusive to Couture Club’s most loyal customers.
Results: 325% increase in BFCM email revenue
The free worldwide shipping perk
Why it’s good: An early 30% discount with free worldwide shipping? That’s an offer no international customer can ignore. If you have a lot of customers from out of the country, take a page out of the Onsen playbook and throw in free international shipping on top of a discount—just make sure you’re clear about shipping times while you’re at it.
The urgent mystery collection
Why it’s good: The Art of Play adds urgency to their 20% off Black Friday offer by throwing in a same-day-only mystery collection of curated decks by company founders. The brand communicates that people will receive the cream of the crop if they act fast.
The average-spend-per-customer promotion
Why it’s good: Splash Wines‘ customers receive a $4.99/bottle promotion based on their average previous spend and matched to their existing habits. Talk about personalization—this is a great way to ensure shoppers get the right deal for them.
Results: 177% increase in Cyber Weekend sales driven by email
The create-your-own Black Friday email
Why it’s good: Deodorant brand Fussy stands out by creating their own Green Week, marrying Black Friday with sustainability. Sure, subscribers get a discount, but they also get to learn about Fussy’s sustainability efforts while they’re at it—all as a way to “help [Fussy] turn Black Friday green.”
The self-aware Black Friday email
Why it’s good: You can’t get more straightforward than Bottle Rocket’s Black Friday email. With the email subject line, “all sauces are $6.90 each today”, Bottle Rocket needs almost no email copy as they ask recipients to “just read the email subject line” and “press this button for sauce.” You can’t get more real than “happy capitalism day,” either.
The exclusive daily drop for loyal customers
Why it’s good: Personalized product drops and messaging engages customers who have shopped Beyond Yoga’s loungewear collections, coaxing previous customers into a spend mindset.
Results: 274% increase in Beyond Yoga’s campaign revenue from October-November 2020
The “this is not a Black Friday email” email
Why it’s good: OffCourt takes advantage of Black Friday fatigue by promising recipients not to send BFCM emails. Instead, they use the micro-moment to launch a referral program, which requires only “minimal click-work” to pass off a 20% discount to a friend in exchange for free product. It sounds suspiciously close to a Black Friday deal…but it’s not, OK?!
The no-code Cyber Monday email
Why it’s good: Discount codes—who needs them? Not BAGGU, which decided to give their customers all the choice in the world by setting their entire store to 20% off. If someone sees something they like on the website, they can shop with confidence knowing they’re taking advantage of the sale, which may be enough to compensate for the “low” discount number offered in the CTA button.
The discount, and so much more, email
Why it’s good: Baboon to the Moon provides value beyond a Black Friday discount. They include a link to the sale, yes, but then also include links to unrelated content that their subscribers could find entertaining. The brand gets points for a minimalist, text-only design which speaks to their hipster audience.
The unhinged Black Friday promotion
Why it’s good: Peak Design finds an unhinged way to collect some early Black Friday data by enticing their audience to watch a film trailer for a “bizarre 17-minute-long action film that will leave you questioning your existence.” Well, if you clicked, Peak Design knew—and they followed up with this equally unhinged “Black Friday is CANCELLED” email that offers “30% off every dang product [they] make.” The whole campaign, including the film, is nonsensical enough to be remembered for years to come.
The no-discount product launch to loyalty members
Why it’s good: Minimal, clear text from Represent thanks the customer and lets them know loyalty points may be redeemed for a new product—all instead of a discount.
The holiday gift guide
Why it’s good: Gift guides based on customer profiles are great—but sometimes gift guides based on price are better. This one from Baboon to the Moon is the perfect target for those Kris Kringles with a price limit.
Learn from the best Black Friday email campaigns
All year long, marketers hope to persuade shoppers to take out their wallets and make a purchase. But BFCM is the perfect opportunity to make the most of a moment where consumers’ credit cards are already in hand.
Take note of the brands that have succeeded in the past, and consider how you can apply these tactics to your own email campaigns to make this year your best BFCM yet.
Black Friday email examples FAQs
When to send Black Friday/Cyber Monday emails?
Start sending pre-Black Friday Cyber Monday emails 4 weeks before the event to segment your audience. Email your VIP customers between Tuesday and Thursday before Black Friday. Email every day between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
What should be included in Black Friday Cyber Monday email content?
Your Black Friday Cyber Monday email content should include a clear and enticing offer, either in the form of a discount or discount alternative: buy-now-pay-later options, a holiday product launch, a limited-edition bundle or collection, a free gift with purchase, a contest, or a donation incentive.
How to write Black Friday Cyber Monday email subject lines?
To write effective Black Friday Cyber Monday email subject lines, create a sense of urgency and highlight exclusive deals. Use concise language that entices people to open the email, like, “Our gift to you: 30% off all our bestsellers”.