15 real Black Friday Cyber Monday email campaign examples and results
If anything needs a shift in perspective, it’s Black Friday Cyber Monday. In 2021, total sales during Cyber Week (Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday) fell 1.4%, while Black Friday sales fell 1.3%, compared to 2020. Thanksgiving Day sales stayed flat, according to Adobe Analytics.
That doesn’t mean Q4 spending was down, though. From November 1-29, 2021, people spent 11.9% more than they did in 2020. Throughout October and November, consumers spread out their holiday spending and took advantage of early deals.
This year, people could be holiday shopping even earlier to take advantage of Amazon’s announced “Prime Fall Deal Event,” rumored to take place in October.
Consumers aren’t waiting for Black Friday Cyber Monday to shop because supply chain issues and rising inflation are making them afraid to wait. BFCM may still be when end-of-year sales peak, but it’s time to start thinking many plot points ahead of the story’s climax if you want to see a happy ending.
If you’re looking for the full scoop on how to prepare for BFCM—and how to use owned marketing channels to have your best Q4 yet—you’ve come to the right place. We’re happy to help when it comes to creating SMS and email marketing content that converts.
Why “start earlier” isn’t cliché Black Friday Cyber Monday advice
“Start earlier” may sound like cliche advice for the Black Friday Cyber Monday planner, but it’s useful if you want to stop relying on paid ads to carry you through the holiday season.
Your paid advertising strategy from 2020 is obsolete. Since then, data privacy changes have wiped out audience targeting on social media, customer acquisition costs have increased, and return on ad spend has decreased. As a result, more ecommerce marketers and retailers are investing in building and segmenting their email list and SMS lists to reach people who are more likely to buy from their brand.
In this case, early BFCM planning means analyzing your owned lists so you can segment them for targeted, effective Q4 holiday promotion. This is where a successful Black Friday Cyber Monday starts—by realizing that the days of blasting your whole email list with the same messages are over.
Keep reading to find out how to put this principle to practice for your Black Friday Cyber Monday season. Here’s what you’ll learn:
- When you should send Black Friday Cyber Monday emails
- How often you should send Black Friday Cyber Monday promotional emails
- How to create a Black Friday Cyber Monday content calendar
- How to announce Black Friday Cyber Monday sales
- How to write a good Black Friday Cyber Monday email
Black Friday Cyber Monday email campaign planning
Before we dive into step-by-step planning, let’s establish what good email segmentation looks like before your final quarter begins.
If you’re able to start planning for Black Friday Cyber Monday in August, you can take steps to prime your email list for Q4. Wei Tan, co-founder of The Orchard Agency, says you can start preparing your email and SMS lists for BFCM segmentation in a few ways.
“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,” he suggests. “This gives you the added benefit of communicating to a smaller but highly active audience, boosting email deliverability and improving your sender reputation.”
When your email and SMS 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 someone is more interested in your brand than someone who subscribed to a general list a while back—these are the people you’ll want to engage with the most when Black Friday Cyber Monday rolls around.
Even more important, however, are your existing customers. According to Klaviyo data from BFCM 2021, the same group of consumers is spending 16% more on purchases with online stores they’ve shopped at previously.
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 offer (last week of August)
Black Friday Cyber Monday is known for steep discounts, but that doesn’t mean they’re your only option. Last year, the average BFCM discount was 24%, which was 2-4% down from previous years.
Depending on the current state of your financials, you may want to offer something other than a margin-killing discount, like a:
- Holiday product launch
- Limited-edition bundle or collection
- Free gift with purchase
- Partnership offer
- Donation incentive
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)
It’s a question as old as time itself: How often should I email my segments about Black Friday Cyber Monday?
Knowing what we know about BFCM 2021—that consumers spread out their holiday spending throughout November—it’s safe to say you can start emailing your audience earlier and in stages before the big weekend. Here’s a sample cadence you might want to adapt for your business:
- October, last week: season kick-off email to highlight discounted overstock
- November, first week: gift guide email
- November, second week: free shipping weekend email
- November, third week: bundle promotion or escalating discount with cart value + VIP early access
- Black Friday to Cyber Monday: Black Friday Cyber Monday announcements
- Tuesday: extended final sale
- December, second week: last chance for guaranteed holiday delivery
A note on timing: For those 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.
Watch this short video clip for more details on how to build out this cadence in your content calendar:
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, you’ll want to focus on the following 3 segments:
- Engaged list: 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.
- VIP list: 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.
- Previous BFCM purchasers: These are people who converted on Black Friday Cyber Monday emails in previous years.
Watch this short video clip for more details on how to think about these segments:
Black Friday Cyber Monday email campaign best practices
Now that you know the basics of planning for Black Friday Cyber Monday, we’ll give you some tips, tricks, and strategies to boost conversion and engagement. We’ll also tell you what not to do so you don’t have to learn the hard way.
Do these things for Black Friday Cyber Monday
Your BFCM communication needs to focus on building trust, not eroding it. Here are some of the things you can do to side-step the holiday promo email fatigue:
Clean your list before the holiday
Before you can segment your lists, you’ll want to clean them. That means letting go of people who haven’t opened or clicked on an email in a long time—especially around BFCM, when your email deliverability needs to be in tip-top shape if you want your messages to reach your subscribers’ inboxes.
A general rule of thumb is to aim for a 20% open rate to consider a segment “engaged.” If you’re seeing consistent 20% open rates on your 90-day engaged list, consider opening up your engaged list to 120 days. But if you’re seeing less than 20% open rates on your 90-day engaged list, narrow your focus to 60 days engaged or less.
Watch this video for more details on email deliverability standards when preparing for BFCM:
Segment your sends
After you’ve cleaned your lists, you’re ready to segment them further. Here are 6 suggestions for how to best segment for BFCM:
- VIP customers → Send early promo access
- SMS opt-ins → Send early promo access
- Browse abandonment → Send a custom gift guide based on what they viewed
- Browse abandonment → Send a custom gift guide based on what they didn’t buy
- Previous BFCM purchasers → Send early promo access
- Current BFCM purchasers → Suppress this list for post-BFCM promotion
Personalize your content
When you’ve segmented your lists, take a moment to assign characteristics to those lists.
One way to look at your list is by product interest. If you have a sizable browse abandonment list for a certain product, build a custom gift guide for the category and use it to build hype for a BFCM promo.
Another way to build personalized content is to know your customers. 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.
Be transparent about shipping
Shipping delays plagued the 2020-21 holiday seasons—and people haven’t forgotten. Get ahead of consumer anxiety by setting clear expectations about when people need to order so they get their deliveries on time for the holidays.
Here’s a great example from BrüMate—in their email footer, they include clear shipping cut-off dates for ground, express, and two-day shipping.
Consider discount alternatives
We mentioned earlier that even though Black Friday Cyber Monday is known for steep discounts, they’re not your only option if they don’t make sense for your margins. If you’ve segmented your audience according to interest level, you may reach a set of people who are open to discount alternatives like:
- 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 AOV—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.
What not to do for Black Friday Cyber Monday
Marketing strategies are as much about what you don’t do as what you do. Stay away from these BFCM tactics, and you’ll already be ahead of many brands for Q4.
Don’t overdo your email subject lines
Your subject lines are a low-key promise to your audience: “Open this email, and here’s what you’ll find.” Yes, you want to write a catchy subject line to entice people to open your email…but never at the expense of misleading recipients who will dismiss your brand if they feel manipulated.
If you’re not offering a steep discount, don’t promise one in your subject line. Go easy on the emojis. And you can dispense with the all caps—our subject line research shows that campaigns without fully capitalized subject lines perform about 12% better than ones with all caps.
Don’t send too many times in one day
In 2021, Klaviyo customers alone sent 7B emails and 54M SMS messages over BFCM weekend—so you can assume your audience will be flooded with promotions in November.
Look back at our suggested email cadence for Black Friday Cyber Monday. People may want to hear from you about once 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
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: you’ll see higher conversions and lower unsubscribe rates when you segment your audience based on interest signals. Interest signals include:
- Clicking or opening an email within 30-60 days
- Browsing a product page
- Putting an item in a cart
- Buying a product
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.
For example, your existing customers have already seen your promotions. They’ll need fresh offers to get them excited to spend money with your brand over Black Friday Cyber Monday deals.
Don’t set false expectations
Never try to fool your customers. You’ll always end up being the fool instead.
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 end up walking away with a bad taste in their mouth.
Black Friday Cyber Monday dos and don’ts
|Clean your lists before the holiday||Overdo your subject lines|
|Segment your sends||Send too many times in one day|
|Personalize your content||Blast your entire subscriber list|
|Be transparent about shipping||Set false expectations|
|Consider discount alternatives|
Black Friday Cyber Monday email campaign examples
So what do our Black Friday Cyber Monday principles look like in practice? We’ve sifted through our customer showcase and 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 minimalist product launch to loyalty members
Why it’s good: Minimal, clear text thanks the customer and lets them know loyalty products may be redeemed for a new product—all instead of a discount.
Results: a click rate 3x industry averages (based on Klaviyo’s benchmark data) and £188K in revenue
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.
Results: 274% increase in Beyond Yoga’s campaign revenue from October-November 2020
The password-protected loyalty email
Image source: Klaviyo Couture Club case study
Why it’s good: Early access with a password creates urgency to act on an offer exclusive to the brand’s most loyal customers.
Results: 325% increase in email revenue during BFCM 2020
The average-spend-per-customer promotion
Why it’s good: Customers receive a $4.99/wine bottle promotion based on their average previous spend and matched to their existing habits.
Results: 177% increase in Cyber Weekend sales driven by email
The personal letter from the CEO
Why it’s good: A personal message from POPFLEX’s CEO sets expectations with customers about the expected increase in brand messages—which comes off as a sign of respect for inboxes.
Results: 150% more revenue in November 2020 than in December 2020
The charity donation incentive
Why it’s good: London Sock Co. incentivizes customers to get in on the good cheer by showing momentum with the number of socks they’ve already donated to charity.
Results: 180% increase in average order value during Black Friday
The eye-catching gif email
The subscription nudge for increased customer lifetime value
Why it’s good: Don’t underestimate what colors and design can do to make you stand out—especially when you’re using one of your products as a countdown to indicate urgency to act on the end of a sale closer to the end of BFCM.
Why it’s good: Olipop turns more loyal customers into subscription customers by offering their one-off VIPs a deal on repeat business. With a personal note acknowledging the email fatigue, Olipop demonstrates it understands what customers are thinking when reading the email.
The no-frills BOGO deal
Why it’s good: Three Ships dispenses with the fancy graphics to stand out from the BFCM emails that overdo it on product shots and bright colors. Here, they opt for a humble-brag opener about too many customers on their site as a way to announce a simple BOGO deal with a free gift add-on—all while being transparent about the $100 spend requirement.
The product launch as free gift
Why it’s good: House of Wise combines a new product launch with a free gift with purchase, using novelty as a way to avoid the steep discount.
Results: highest sales day in the company’s history since launch
The price discount transparency
Why it’s good: Dazzle Dry shows people exactly how much they’ll save on a purchase rather than only using a percentage. Sometimes an absolute number on savings is more meaningful than “25% off” because the customer may not know how much they’re saving—and decide it’s not worth the click.
The not-Black-Friday November promotion
Why it’s good: DECIEM understood the assignment—that Black Friday is out and November savings all month long are in. In keeping with 2021 trends, DECIEM leans into consumer habits and offers their list a deal they could take advantage of during the actual period in which people shop the most.
The simple bestseller feature
Why it’s good: People like what’s popular. Don’t underestimate the value of featuring your bestsellers in a clean, aesthetically appealing email. When you add some urgency about ordering so they’re stocked for the holidays, customers may just act on the reminder you’ve sent them.
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. It’s the perfect target for those Kris Kringles with a price limit.
The delivery date expectation up front
Why it’s good: We mentioned before that people have been burned by shipping delays in the past. Be transparent about when people need to order for on-time delivery, and you’ll not only add a sense of urgency but also build trust through transparency.
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 notice of the brands that have succeeded in the past, and consider how you can apply those tactics to your own email campaigns to make this year your best BFCM yet.