If you want this year to be your best sales season ever, it’s crucial to make the most of Black Friday.
Having great deals is of course essential if you’re to have a blockbuster sales day. But so is getting the word out. People need to know about your offers in order to take advantage of them.
Email marketing is still the most effective method of notifying customers about your deals, so make sure you do the right keyword research before continuing. High converting emails don’t just happen, though. You need to implement an intelligent and strategic approach to Black Friday email marketing, and we’ve laid out those steps below.
Grow Your Email List
You can’t let people know about your Black Friday deals unless you have an engaged email subscriber list. The more people you have on that list, the more revenue you’re likely to generate.
It’s essential you’re growing your list in the run-up to the holiday season, says the team at Elastic Email. “Use urgency and genuinely intriguing offerings around the holiday to convince your visitors to subscribe to your email list and receive exclusive deals.” You can achieve this by changing the opt-in forms on your site to reflect the deals and offers you’ll be sending over that period.
Now is also a good time to blow the cobwebs off your old email lists. The Good’s Jon MacDonald recommends cleaning your list before sending out emails en masse. “Open rates for delivered emails sent to high-deliverability lists are considerably better than open rates for delivered emails sent to low-deliverability lists. The quality of your mailing list will never be better than the deliverability of that list. Careful grooming and cleaning is crucial.”
SmartrMail’s Trent Vu notes that you don’t have to delete subscribers to clean your list. “Simply segment your active and inactive subscribers, based on those who have engaged with your previous email campaigns. Send 2-3 emails per week to active customers, but inactive customers should only continue to receive a maximum of 1 per week.”
When you send to everyone, you risk being labeled as spam, warns Vu. This can seriously damage the deliverability of your emails, even to customers who regularly engage with your brand.
Email Early, Email Often
One email isn’t enough when it comes to Black Friday sales, warns marketing consultant Bill Widmer. People get so many emails around Black Friday, that if you send just one customers are likely to miss it or forget about it.
Instead, Widmer recommends sending a minimum of two or three emails on Black Friday alone to make sure your brand is visible. Send an announcement email that lets customers know the sale is live. Follow up with and email that pushes a specific deal. Finish with a reminder email one or two hours before the sale ends.
The team at Campaign Monitor recommends spreading out your Black Friday emails over the preceding weeks before hitting subscribers with several on the big day. The idea is to generate as much interest as possible before building a sense of urgency. That means retailers should think about sending their first email at the beginning of November.
When you’re trying to create a buzz, don’t give everything away at once, says Will Blunt, multi-brand entrepreneur at Sidekick Digital and The Dog Book Company. Tease your product or offer through your emails to get customers excited about the prospect of a big discount. “If you effectively build anticipation before Black Friday hits, your audience will be ready and willing to buy your product as soon as the bell rings.”
But why wait? If you’re already building anticipation, you take advantage of a new trend that has emerged over the past few years, writes marketing professional Kyle Henderick. This is the trend of pre-Black Friday sales.
Rather than saving all of your sales and discounts for Black Friday, offer time-sensitive discounts on select products or services before Thanksgiving. The effectiveness of these early sales is growing, says Henderick. “In 2016, Black Friday emails sent on the Tuesday before only led to a 2.5 percent conversion rate, while in 2017, they resulted in a whopping 9 percent conversion rate. Shoppers are becoming ever-more anxious to spend.”
Make Sure Your Emails Are Seen
As stated, you’re not going to be alone in sending emails on or before Black Friday. In fact, customers are going to get bombarded. That means standing out from the crowd is essential.
One way to buck the trend is to use animated images to grab people’s attention, writes marketing consultant Daniel Bussius. When most emails are just text and static images, animation can really stand out. Specifically, an animated countdown timer is highly visible and increases the sense of urgency.
Make your offer unmissable, advises Liz Willits at AWeber. The most important information should be at the beginning of your email. This is doubly important on Black Friday. “To make it easy for your subscriber to see your special offer at a glance, include it in the headline of your email.”
Don’t forget everyone is probably going to be using this tactic, warns Seray Keskin at Sleeknote. Just putting your offer in your email subject line doesn’t necessarily make it stand out. She points to clothes brand Chubbies as a great example. Rather than lead with their deals in the email subject line, they told subscribers Black Friday was canceled. You had to open the email to find out why.
A good tactic is to think about what your competitors are doing with their emails around this time of year and do the opposite, says InCharged founder Jessica Gonzalez. One year, she and her team created a “Not a Black Friday sale” email, which generated more views and replies than any other email they had sent previously.
Run Targeted Ads Based on Your Email Lists
Even the best promotional emails need a little extra boost. Imagine a recipient reads your email first thing in the morning while in bed, makes a mental note to check that email again later, but then gets busy at work and forgets all about it.
That’s not a missed opportunity. You can still re-engage that recipient with a gentle nudge elsewhere online.
With Facebook’s ad platform, for example, you can upload your email list and then display ads to any accounts associated with those emails. Jason Granger, CEO of Infinity Marketing Group in Colorado, has an excellent step-by-step tutorial at DigitalMarketer.com for doing this.
Granger reports that his email lists usually see a match rate of around 80 percent. In other words, four in five email list subscribers also use that same email to log into Facebook. So, he’s able to reach most of his email recipients again with an advertisement on social media.
“People typically browse their feed in the mornings, at lunch and in the evening while in front of the TV,” Granger writes. “It is a go-to for scrolling while they’re waiting for something to happen (think parents at soccer practice or waiting for the train) and when they have some free time. Since your audience saw your email earlier in the day or week, they’ll be more likely to remember you when they see your Facebook ad pop up in their feed.”
During busy shopping seasons, those little reminders can make a big difference. “Customers are hit with a lot of information in the days leading up to Black Friday, so to ensure they remember your message, they need to see it more than once,” says Sarah Maloy, director of marketing for Adaptly.
You can deploy this same tactic on Google’s ad network, too. Marketer Jeff Sauer has his own great tutorial for doing this. He notes that you can also segment your list to remove existing customers, then only reach recipients who aren’t customers with a targeted ad campaign.
And finally, you can use your email list to expand the reach of your ad campaign. Facebook lets you do this with its Lookalike Audience feature. Lookalike Audiences are what they sound like — Facebook users who have characteristics in common with a segment of your email list.
Imagine you have a CrossFit gym in Nashville, already have an email list, and you’d like to sell more of your top-tier memberships. Suppose your data suggests these memberships are most popular among 25 to 34 year olds. You could segment off the 25 to 34 year olds in your email list, upload that list to Facebook’s Create a Lookalike Audience tool, and target ads to people in Nashville who are in that age range and are interested in CrossFit.
Check out Campaign Monitor’s tutorial for creating Lookalike Audiences if you want to see how this is done step by step.
Don’t Limit Yourself to Promotional Emails
So far, we’ve only discussed promotional emails. But that’s not the only way you can use email marketing to boost sales on Black Friday.
Cart abandonment rates are higher during Black Friday than at any other time of the year, writes Beka Rice at Jilt. That makes having a cart abandonment email campaign essential. Leveraging the scarcity of the deals is key here, she says. So is getting the timings of these emails right.
“We generally recommend sending three cart abandonment emails: 60 minutes, one day, and two days post-abandonment. If you’re promoting a one-day Black Friday sale, you don’t have multiple days. Reduce your timeframe so your emails go out at 60 minutes, two hours, and four hours.”
Welcome emails can also be successful, says Whitney Blankenship at Omnisend. This may seem a bit counterintuitive when customers are already getting bombarded with so many emails offering deals, but it’s actually a way for brands to double-down on a consumer’s desire to save, she explains.
Because customers know that almost every store will be offering some kind of deal, many will arrive through a Google search. Have a pop-up discount offer available for first-time users, which they can access in exchange for signing up to your store’s email list. The discount code will arrive in their automated welcome email.
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