Tips for Email Success on Black Friday Weekend

For many businesses, the weekend of Black Friday has the potential for a big surge in revenue and exposure.  But did you know you could also damage your brand’s sender reputation with your holiday sending approach? Here are some tips to help your brand’s emails have the best chance to be seen at the busiest time of the year for marketing emails.

Plan Ahead

In 2018, Email sending platforms sent billions of emails on Black Friday alone.  During the holiday weekend that includes Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday, your brand will be competing both for placement in the primary inbox and for your contact’s attention.  To be sure your messages have the best chance of reaching the eyes and minds of your contacts, you’ll need to plan ahead.

Don’t send to disengaged contacts on Black Friday weekend

You might think that the great sale you are having is the perfect reason to include your whole database when choosing the recipients to be notified of the potential savings.  However this notion is counterintuitive to both your brand’s goals for email and does not align with email deliverability best practices.

Inbox providers will deem the quality of a sender based on their past engagement results with bulk email sends.  If your brand has a high number of positive engagement signals – opens, clicks, forwards and replies, compared to the total volume of mail sent over a given period, your mail is more likely to be rewarded with placement in the primary inbox.  But if too many negative engagement signals – bounces, unsubscribes and spam complaints are received, mail can be diverted away from the primary inbox and land in spam. Or it could be rejected altogether through a bounce.

Including contacts who have not recently opened your brand’s marketing messages in your holiday sends will put you at a disadvantage.  If you’d like to engage some contacts who haven’t been opening, be sure to run a re-engagement campaign well in advance of the holiday season.  Contacts who reconfirm that they would like to hear from you will be more likely to be looking for the deals you plan to send out. Be sure to balance your re-engagement campaigns alongside healthy sends to highly engaged contacts to be sure your sender reputation is not adversely impacted leading up to the big weekend. Pro tip:  Try re-engaging these sleepy contacts by enticing them with a sneak peak of the holiday promotion they could be missing out on if they don’t reconfirm their subscription.

Offer your best subscribers something special in advance

Consider rewarding evangelists of your brand with a sale or promotion that’s not offered to everyone.  Exclusively is a powerful driver of behavior, and this is the perfect time of year to reward your most loyal customers and subscribers.  Try sending a teaser email more than a week in advance of the holiday weekend to your loyal contact group to give them a sneak peak of the special deals only they will be privy to.  This not only creates excitement, but these contacts will be more likely to be looking for your holiday promotional offer in their inbox as the weekend arrives.

Monitor Engagement Results Closely

Monitoring your brand’s success with email engagement should always be a best practice, but it’s even more important in the weeks leading up to the holiday sending season.  Prior to Black Friday weekend, be sure to look for high rates of opens and clicks, as this is an indication that your brand’s mail is making it to the primary inbox to be seen and actioned on.  If you notice declining open or click rates, adjust your strategy accordingly. If you detect a rise in unsubscribes, hard bounces or spam complaint rates, be sure to address that without delay as well.   Pro tip:  Try sending 1-2 emails that include a preview of what you will be offering as a promotion a few weeks before the holiday weekend.  If contacts don’t open those messages, suppress them from the sends scheduled for Black Friday weekend so your messages have more opportunity to be seen by the contacts that have recently opened.

Keep Your Messaging Simple and Friendly

If you are lucky enough to gain the attention of your subscribers on a holiday weekend with an open, you may only have mere seconds to convince them to take an action like making a purchase. Keep your message clear and simple, and stay true to your brand’s voice.  Many brands will use black as their background color for Black Friday emails, so consider using a brighter color or palate that is true to your brand to stand out from the rest. Be sure not to overload your holiday weekend messaging with too much text or imagery – this is the time of year when short and sweet emails work best.  Pro Tip:  A/B test your subject lines to entice the reader to open with the winning variation.

Don’t Stick to Only Email—Use All of Your Channels

Your customers and prospects will all have preferences for how they prefer to engage with your brand.  Don’t let email be the only channel used to promote your holiday weekend messaging. Segment your database by engagement channel, and deliver your messaging to contacts in the ways they prefer to receive it.  Don’t neglect your social channels – instead use them to your advantage! If you have a subset of subscribers that don’t normally engage with you by email but frequently interact with your social content, don’t be fooled into thinking that they will suddenly change their behavior during a period where their inbox is stuffed full of competing messages.  Keep in mind that just because a contact is engaged with you in one channel does not always mean they want to receive email from your brand. By engaging your contacts using their preferred channels, you not only continue to build a trusted relationship, but also have greater chances of meeting your holiday weekend goals.

Jess Swazey
Team Lead, Deliverability Success | HubSpot
EEC Education & Events Subcommittee Member

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