How Can Merchants Use Email Marketing to Boost Sales over the Shopping Holiday period

The month of November officials signals the beginning of the shopping holiday period. 

People not only gear up for Christmas shopping, but also for two of the biggest shopping days of the year: Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Black Friday, in particular, represents a massive day for sales

With over $90 billion in sales expected to be made over the 4-day Black Friday weekend, this is certainly an opportunity you don’t want to miss. 

And to take full advantage of the sales frenzy, you’ll want to be utilizing email marketing, especially when email is expected to be responsible for 1 in 5 sales over the shopping holiday.

So to help you maximize your sales this year, this post will go into the challenges you’ll face and how you should optimize your email marketing strategy for Black Friday

Don’t wait until Black Friday to start email marketing

Your biggest challenge with email marketing during the Black Friday sales period is capturing the attention of your subscribers. 

At no other time of the year will people’s inboxes be as crowded as during Black Friday. 

This means that if you simply wait until Friday morning to launch your email marketing campaign, you’ve already missed out. Merchants increasingly start sending their Black Friday emails out a week, 2 weeks and even a month in advance. 

If you hold back and wait, you’re letting your competitors gain a massive head start. Sending emails out early instead has several advantages.

Firstly, it increases the number of people who open your email and see your Black Friday deals.

Unless you’re receiving phenomenal open rates well above the average for retailers, every time you send an email, most of your subscribers don’t open it. This happens for a number of reasons. But often, it’s just because people receive so many emails, they simply miss yours. By sending multiple emails, you’re increasing the chances that people will notice and open at least one of them. Don’t forget to add a sense of urgency for your email (this includes a countdown timer, number of items left…)

Build anticipation among your customers

Secondly, by announcing your sale early, you’re able to build anticipation among your customers. A good example of this is this email from Apple.

Apple’s Black Friday tease

Here all that Apple has done is teased its sale. 

By doing so, Apple is able to generate anticipation and excitement among its customers as they wait to see exactly what their offers are. 

Of course, Apple didn’t just stop with this email. Shortly afterward, and before Black Friday, they sent a follow-up email outlining their exact offers.

Apple sends email outlines their deals on Black Friday

Sending an email outlining your Black Friday deals before the big day brings us to the third point: getting your emails out early lets you capture a greater share of customers’ wallets. 

Along with sending an outline email, also keep in mind to make your delivery convenient for your customers. That means, besides Black Friday deals, you should also offer your customers free shipping service. Setting up shipping information for your online store isn’t hard, so give your customers the most convenience when purchasing from you!

Few shoppers wake up on Black Friday (or stay awake until midnight) without knowing what they’re going to buy. Instead, they’ve got a plan of exactly where they’re going to spend their money. 

People decide where to spend their money by looking at what merchants offer them. So, to increase the chances that they spend your store, you need to be advertising your offers at least a week in advance.

Use original subject lines

When it comes to email marketing, it doesn’t matter how well designed your emails are. If people aren’t opening them, they’re completely ineffective. 

One of the most important factors for improving your open rate is your subject line. Not only is it the main thing subscribers see in their inboxes before they open your email, but for a third of people it’s the determining factor behind whether they open your email or not. 

So without a decent subject line, people won’t notice of open your Black Friday emails. Hence, they never reach full potential.

When it comes to writing decent subject lines, there are a few things you should avoid:

  • Don’t overuse CAPS AND PUNCTUATION!?!!?!
  • Don’t make your subject line too long otherwise, your message will be cut short by email inboxes
  • Avoid any spelling or grammar mistakes or anything else that makes you look unprofessional

In terms of what you should do, here are some of the best practices:

  • Personalize your subject lines if possible. This can be as simple as including your subscriber’s name. 
  • Be clear about what’s in your email. Being too ambiguous, or worse deceptive, isn’t recommended. In fact, it’s against CAN-SPAM regulations

If you’re stuck for ideas, you can always check out these Black Friday subject line examples for some inspiration.

Automate abandoned cart emails

If there’s one type of automated emails every ecommerce store should have set up, it’s abandoned cart reminders. Failing to do so means you’re effectively ignoring the two thirds of shoppers who will add items to their carts but never checkout

But by sending an automatic reminder, you’re able to recover a large portion of these otherwise lost sales. Half of all abandoned cart emails are opened and a third of the clicks result in a purchase.

So automating abandoned cart emails isn’t a tip exclusively reserved for the holiday sales period. But during events like Black Friday, they’re more important than ever. 

This is because as people rush to find the best deals. They’ll be adding items to carts across a variety of different sites at the same time. Increasing the chances of them forgetting about a particular purchase simply just in the chaos of the shopping spree.

Example of an abandoned cart email

Send multiple emails on Black Friday

Generally it isn’t recommended that you email your customers everyday. 

Even emailing them every second day is still too high of an email marketing frequency. Doing so will at best cause your subscribers to become disengaged from your emails. And at worst, unsubscribe from your emails altogether. 

Black Friday, however, is probably the one day of the year where you can get away with sending multiple emails on the same day. This method helps you increase the chances of people noticing at least one of them. Then, who knows they will take advantage of your sale offer?

And while it’s true that this logic holds for other times of the year. People’s expectations during Black Friday are different. Most people realize that they’ll receive plenty of emails during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend, so their tolerance for multiple emails is higher. (Just don’t send an email every hour though).

Segment your email list

One thing that’ll help you to avoid sending too many emails while still approaching the right people is email list segmentation. 

In its most basic form, email segmentation is simply the act of dividing your email list up into segments. This lets you send email newsletters only to those on your list who the message is relevant for. 

In terms of your Black Friday and even broader holiday shopping period emails, there are a few ways you can segment your list to send effective emails.

Whether they have already opened your email campaign

When it comes to sending multiple emails on Black Friday, there’s one easy way to reduce the chances of annoying people. That’s to only send follow up emails to those who didn’t already open your Black Friday sale emails

This means those who have opened and read your email aren’t being resent the same message, while you have another chance to reach those who haven’t learned about your sale yet. 

Segmenting based on email campaign engagement is one of the most basic forms of segmentation so virtually all email marketing software will allow you to do this.

Reward your loyal and high-value customers

You should definitely try to nurture your loyal and high-value customers to keep them coming back to your store. This doesn’t just apply for Black Friday nor just for email marketing. 

An easy way to nurture these customers this time of year though is to give them a sneak peek of your Black Friday offer. Just like with Apple’s teaser email above, this also helps build excitement and anticipation for your sale. 

Segmenting by metrics like average order value or purchase frequency will however require an eCommerce focused email solution like SmartrMail

Last year’s shoppers

Every November your store will see a number of new people purchasing from you for the first time. Even with your best efforts to keep them engaged, many will inevitably disappear as quickly as they came. 

Sending what is essentially just a reactivation campaign with a Black Friday twist is going to be your best chance at getting these people to come back to your store. Even if it’s just to take advantage of your Black Friday sale again.

Final thoughts

Shopping holidays like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc. make it easy for merchants to increase their sales. 

But to truly boost your sales to the next level, you’ll need to put in the effort into your email marketing. However by implementing the above suggestions, you’ll well and truly be on your way to making this your best shopping holiday period yet!

About the author:
Aaron Wiseman is a marketing co-ordinator at SmartrMail, the easiest way to send emails that delight your customers and get more sales. SmartrMail integrates deeply with your Shopify, BigCommerce, Neto or WooCommerce store.

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