Our resources are some of the most highly regarded in ecommerce. They are utilised by brands, platforms and agencies around the world to navigate the complex world of modern commerce, enhancing knowledge and guiding strategy.

Case Studies







6 Tactics to Improve Your Black Friday Email Strategy

Join Sarah Hanney, Digital Marketing Manager in Swanky’s Growth Accelerator Team, as she shares six top tips for nailing your Black Friday email strategy in 2021.

Written By
Sarah Hanney

With the BFCM (Black Friday Cyber Monday) weekend on the horizon, ecommerce retailers across the land are busy refining their marketing campaigns to ensure maximum return on investment.

One particular area of focus for merchants is their Black Friday email strategy. If not optimised for success, you could be leaving some serious money on the table, not to mention all that valuable customer data you risk missing out on.

If you’re not sure where to start with your BFCM emails, or you’ve hit a stumbling block along the way, help is on hand. Here are my top tips to improve your Black Friday email strategy and boost the metrics that matter most.


#1 Don’t be afraid to forgo Black Friday – but make sure your customers know why

BFCM doesn’t work for every brand, and that’s OK. It might not fit with your ethics as a brand, or you might already be offering your products at the best possible price all year round.

Even if you’re not joining in with the mega sales that are typically associated with the retail bonanza, your customers will expect to hear from you over the Black Friday weekend. Don’t leave them out in the cold this November. Be sure to communicate with them in plenty of time, using your emails to explain why you’re not offering discounts – and, importantly, why this is good for them. Being honest and open like this is something consumers appreciate.

Patagonia’s Buy Less, Demand More campaign is a great example of “anti-Black Friday” messaging. The eco-conscious outdoor clothing retailer centred their 2020 BFCM campaign around their long-standing commitment to the environment, the worsening environmental crisis, and what customers can do to help. They clearly explained why they were making a stand against Black Friday and why this was a good thing for shoppers.

If you’re looking for some sustainable Black Friday ideas, check out our recent blog post packed full of green initiatives to adopt on your ecommerce store.


#2 Know who (and who not) to email

If you haven’t already, segment your email list according to customer behaviour and engagement. This means you can tailor your content accordingly and gives you the best chance of reaching the right shoppers during the busiest time of the year.

Klaviyo advises that the most valuable segments to target during a BFCM campaign are:

Engaged segment – Customers in this group want to hear from you and will be interested in any promotions you’re running. A good way to identify engaged customers is to look at when they last interacted with an email you sent them. For instance, if you send daily emails, your engaged segment will be anyone who clicked on your email in the last 30 days. If you send weekly/monthly emails it’ll be anyone who clicked on your email in the last 90 days. And of course, be sure to include anyone who recently signed up to your mailing list in this segment.

VIP segment – This includes high-value customers who have purchased recently, frequently (e.g. more than three purchases in the last 16 weeks), or at a high value over a longer period of time.

Last year’s BFCM purchasers – Shoppers in this segment will be expecting to see something from you drop into their inbox in the run up to Black Friday.

Window shoppers – These are users who’ve been browsing your site but are yet to make a purchase. You could target them with specific discounts or promotions to help push them towards making their first purchase.

There are also some segments that you shouldn’t contact when it comes to your BFCM email marketing strategy. Avoid sending emails to:

Unengaged segment – The criteria for this segment will vary depending on your unique strategy, but sending to unengaged customers could negatively impact your deliverability.

Never active – People in this category will have received over 20 emails from you and never opened or clicked anything. Again, it’s best to leave them out of your strategy, as a BFCM email is highly unlikely to generate any sales and could negatively impact deliverability.


#3 Offer VIP access

Offer exclusive early access to your BFCM deals to people on your email list. This is a surefire way to make your subscribers feel special, whilst capturing early revenue to kickstart your sales.

Teasing people with early access to amazing deals is a great way to grow your email list before BFCM too, which can then be leveraged throughout the holiday season and beyond. Play-up exclusivity by ensuring they know this early access is only for subscribers, and not for the general public. Create a sense of urgency by suggesting they shop early in case they miss out on the best deals.


#4 Create a sense of urgency and scarcity

Talking of urgency, communicating time limits to shoppers can be a really effective email marketing tactic, creating a sense of excitement and boosting engagement. One report showed that emails conveying a sense of urgency had at least 14% higher open rates and twice as high transaction rates than average marketing emails1!

Not sure how to communicate urgency without being too pushy? Consider these ideas a starting point:

  • Include a countdown timer in your emails, highlighting how much time is left before a sale ends. This is a powerful way of driving action.
  • Mention time limits in your email subject lines, with phrases like “ending soon”, “only 1 day left” and “sale ends today”. The aim is to create a sense of FOMO and thus inspire immediate action.
  • Incorporate colours that evoke a sense of urgency. Did you know that red, orange and royal blue are the most effective when it comes to this1?

Scarcity marketing can also help increase your conversions this BFCM. When customers think an item is low in stock, they’ll often perceive it as more valuable. With this in mind, how about including inventory updates in your email headlines, such as “only 5 left in stock”.

A word of caution though – you want to stay authentic to your brand tone and avoid sounding spammy or salesy. It’s a fine line to tread, but is something that’s important to get right.


#5 Capture attention

Think of all the brands fighting for shoppers’ attention in the run up to the BFCM weekend, eager to shout about their unbeatable discounts and limited time sales. It’s one of the most competitive times of year when it comes to marketing, so you need to pull out all the stops to stand out from your competitors.

Each element of your Black Friday emails needs to work together to create something that shoppers feel compelled to open and act upon. Here are a few tips to improve your inbox presence:

  • Use persuasive, attention-grabbing subject lines that are tailored to the individual recipient.
  • Make sure your sender name is immediately identifiable.
  • Pull out all the stops with your design – you want to immerse the recipient into your brand and create a memorable email they can’t help but follow-up on.
  • Get persuasive when it comes to your copy. Leverage action words, create a sense of FOMO and use clear calls to action.
  • Get personal! With so many options available to consumers, they need to feel understood and valued by your brand – this is key for differentiating your offering from the competition. Using personalisation tactics is important for connecting with shoppers, improving the customer experience and ultimately driving revenue.
  • Remember to A/B test your emails for optimal results!

For a great resource packed full of inspiration and examples, I’d recommend checking out Really Good Emails.


#6 Don’t stop at Black Friday

Over the BFCM weekend you’re likely to have attracted lots of new customers and generated a wealth of email data that you can draw upon to improve and personalise your future emails. But don’t just stop here. Take the opportunity to convert your BFCM customers and browsers into loyal shoppers that keep coming back for more. After all, it costs a lot less to retain existing customers than acquire new ones.

A well-executed post-purchase email flow can do wonders for retention. Here a few examples that you might want to consider implementing:

Welcome flow – Make sure you’ve got a welcome flow set up that introduces your brand and encourages recipients to explore your product range further. Use what you know about your customers to tailor these to each shopper’s specific needs for even better results.

Cross-sell flow – Recommend complimentary products to your customers, based on items that they bought during the BFCM weekend. Make sure you’re delivering value in every email with relevant, timely messaging. Cross-sell emails are great for driving repeat purchases and fostering long-term, profitable relationships with your customers.

SMS opt-in – Send an email blast that encourages subscribers to opt-in to SMS messages directly through the email. Make your SMS service more appealing by leveraging an incentive. For example, you could offer exclusive deals or early access to new products to help drive sign-ups.

Christmas promotion – Entice subscribers with a personalised email about upcoming sales during the festive season.



There you have it, my six top tips for improving your Black Friday email strategy. These tried and tested tactics will ensure that you’re reaching the right people with effective emails that inspire action and drive sales – both during the BFCM weekend and beyond!


Your email marketing experts

Our in-house specialists know just what it takes to create email marketing campaigns that generate sales and cultivate loyalty – and not just in the lead up to Black Friday, but all year round.

Get in touch with our team today to find out exactly how we can unlock your ecommerce potential with a data-led email marketing strategy.


For reference:


Talk ecommerce with us

Ready to grow your ecommerce business? Let’s talk.


Join the Swanky Community

Want to receive regular updates and inspiration to help your business stay ahead of the game? Subscribe to our newsletter and join the community of ecommerce leaders successfully navigating the world of online retail.

What are the Benefits
  • Be at the forefront of industry trends

    We develop and implement ecommerce tactics for industry-leading brands on a daily basis. Be the first to hear exclusive insights and learnings.

  • Get a monthly dose of inspiration

    Receive our newsletter straight to your inbox, packed full of useful marketing tips and growth strategies for your online store.

  • Join a community of fellow leaders

    Get to know like-minded entrepreneurs in the digital transformation space. Share experiences and learnings from your ecommerce journey.