Black Friday Email Strategies

The results of many a strategy session over the past few months will play out in the next 10 days as retailers launch their Black Friday email plans. Maybe some of these ideas will help you make some last-minute improvement to your own strategy:

– A number of retailers are doubling down on Monday and Tuesday by sending extra sale notices this week, so those days are going to be high-traffic days for the email backbone. Pace out your own mailings as much as possible and expect delays in delivery as the ISPs manage the volume. Keep an eye on your own program so you can course correct as needed.

– We always see that a campaign approach works better than one-off messages. Keep a consistent theme to the week and stay focused on the key buying offers. Remember, the inbox is getting much more crowded, so you have less time to make an impact.

– Friday morning may also be a good time for reminder emails. We’ve worked on a couple of programs that include a Saturday “Didn’t find what you wanted” follow up notes to encourage offline shoppers to just stay online. The notion of Cyber Monday (a big online shopping day when folks get back to work) seems to be less prevalent this year, but may be worth including in your plan. If subscribers have a lot of email in the inbox when they come back after a long weekend, a Monday afternoon email might counter any “select all and delete” mailbox management done by consumers early in the day.

– Help your messages breakthrough by spending extra time on your subject lines. There will be lots of sales, and lots of cross channel promotions. What is unique about yours? Remember that the best subject lines are specific—clarity always trumps clever. So keep to the facts—”No one beats our prices” or “A gift for you with a gift for them.”

– Create urgency by having online sales times that reflect your customers’ habits—e.g., moms shop online early and late and need time-saving quick cart-building links. We have a number of clients testing a 24-hour sale on Friday or Saturday, and the email program all week is promoting that window of opportunity.

– Even if you are not a retailer, consider that there is more competition in the inbox this week and through the end of the year. Consider metering back and focus on making fewer messages more compelling. Try adjusting cadence too—like three days in a row for a particular message and theme (make sure the offer warrants the cadence) or focusing on a particularly frequency, like “Tuesday Tips.”

– As always, respect the permission grant given to you. Sending more email than promised gets noticed and can be a huge turn off for subscribers. Be sure to balance your need to promote now with the very real long-term need to sustain and nurture an active file.

—Stephanie Miller of Return Path