Journal

Your BFCM Email Marketing Strategy (Timing, Cadence, and Copy)

15 Oct
2021

If you’re an eCommerce merchant, the holidays should be your bread and butter.

This is especially true given how much online shopping is booming right now.

Fact: 2021 holiday spending is projected to spike to a staggering $1.093 trillion, with eCommerce representing 20% of those sales.

And there’s no better opportunity to drive revenue and reactivate customers than a holiday spending spree.

But we get it: putting together your holiday email campaigns is daunting with so much at stake. 

That said, you literally can’t afford to sleep on your planning.

Don’t sweat it! We’ve put together this quick and comprehensive holiday marketing guide to do the heavy lifting. In this post, you’ll learn:

  • The key steps to preparing and optimizing email promotions during the holidays
  • How top-tier brands totally nail their holiday messaging to drive sales (with actual Black Friday and Cyber Monday email campaign examples)
  • Best practices increase clicks and conversions from your holiday campaigns

And with that, let’s dive in!

4 Must-Dos for Planning Your Holiday Email Marketing Campaigns 

To kick things off, let’s look at what you will need to do in terms of planning.

1. Fine-tune your audience targeting to maximize engagement

The importance of holiday marketing segmentation can’t be overstated.

You can’t afford to send generic, one-size-fits-all messages during the holidays. Likewise, different segments of your audience need to be treated differently when it comes to messaging, message frequency, and calls-to-action.

For starters, consider targeting the following segments as you map out your Black Friday and Cyber Monday email campaigns:

Segment #1: current customers

If someone’s purchased from you in the past, they’re prime candidates to do so again during the holidays. That said, not all current customers are the same. For example, you might split your current customer segments into VIPs and loyal buyers, seasonal purchasers and gifter-buyers, and unengaged past customers. Metrics such as average order value and purchasing frequency can clue you in on how to segment appropriately.

Segment #2: current prospects (think: leads and newsletter subscribers)

This is your opportunity to convert opt-ins to loyal fans. Here you can get more aggressive with your campaigns in terms of messages and frequency as the highest # of emails address people on the fence about your brand.

Segment #3: top of the funnel leads

The holidays are the perfect time to target deal-hunters and first-time buyers waiting for a discount before they make a purchase. As a result, it’s crucial to treat new leads differently from existing customers. Frame your Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals as a warm welcome and the best possible introduction to your brand in terms of price.

2. Set specific goals for your Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaigns

Goal-setting and email marketing go hand in hand.

After all, how do you know if your holiday campaign efforts actually paid off if you aren’t tracking your performance and setting goals? 

And “drive sales” or “get new customers” aren’t goals by themselves: you need to get specific! Below are some sample goals and questions to ask yourself as you assess during the planning phase of your holiday campaigns.

  • Revenue goals: What is your $ revenue target? How many items do you want to sell? Will your average order value increase over last year?
  • Customer goals: How many new customers will you reach? What is the average cost of acquiring new customers for Black Friday and Cyber Monday? What % of repeat buyers will you reach?
  • Inventory goals: What are your best-selling products? Which products do you plan to sell out? What inventory are you looking to clear (think: aged and overstocked products)? 

Ideally, you should be able to put your goals into context. For example, how did your Black Friday and Cyber Monday email campaigns perform in 2020? You can use your numbers from last year as a baseline (or let 2021 be your baseline if this is your first rodeo).

3. Create an on-site experience that hypes up your holiday marketing

Although the holidays are indeed the best time of year for eCommerce brands to drive sales, those purchases are far from guaranteed. Keep in mind that you’re competing with countless other merchants for your customers’ attention.

Anything you can do to make your holiday offers shine is a huge plus. Here are some ideas to make your Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing feel like a meaningful experience to your customers instead of “just another sale:

Update your homepage and landing page(s) to reflect the holidays.

From marketing copy to countdown timers, it should be crystal clear to customers that land on your site that they have promotions to look forward to. Dedicating a specific page to your upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals is fair game, too.

Create holiday-specific popups and opt-ins

Piggybacking on the tip above, you can use the holidays as a selling point to drive more opt-ins. Steep discounts and holiday exclusives are the perfect incentives for new subscribers.

Hype up Black Friday and Cyber Monday in your existing email campaigns 

As noted earlier, don’t neglect your current customers and subscribers already on your email list. Whether you mention Black Friday as part of your newsletter or sending a series that specifically builds anticipation toward your Cyber Monday offers, don’t forget to keep customers in the loop.

4. Implement holiday-specific email flows to event-based marketing to reach more customers

Here at Sendlane, we’re all about automation and behavior-based email targeting.

Because every customer is unique, it’s crucial to set up automations that make sense based on the individual customer journey. 

Simply sending generic Black Friday or Cyber Monday campaigns that promote offers or deals isn’t going to cut it. In addition to campaigns, consider how you can implement automations and behavior-based segments that target customers based on past interactions. 

For example, you can use automations in Sendlane to follow up with customers who’ve visited a specific product page or abandoned their shopping cart with a Black Friday email. This does double duty of making a valuable touchpoint with a would-be lost customer while also building interest in your holiday campaigns.


There is no “right” way to engage customers during the holidays. That said, the process often requires multiple touchpoints and a variety of holiday-specific campaign emails. Below is a breakdown of a holiday email flow for an eCommerce (that you can replicate yourself in Sendlane).


As noted in our guide to eCommerce holiday marketing, merchants should consider customizing the following emails and flows to be holiday-specific:

  • Welcome emails
  • Abandoned cart automations
  • Retargeting automations (including SMS and retargeting ads)
  • Post-purchase follow up
  • Product recommendations funnel

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday Email Campaign Examples

Beyond planning the big-picture goals and steps of your holiday campaigns, consider the actual emails that you’ll be sending to subscribers.

There are plenty of variables to keep in mind, from imagery and email copy to offers and calls-to-action. The good news is that you have plenty of creative freedom in the pursuit of clicks and conversions from your subscribers.

Below, we’ve broken down some notable Black Friday and Cyber Monday emails that you can draw inspiration from.

Black Friday email examples (and what they do well)

This example from frank body gets right to the point with its bright color scheme and striking subject line (“💥 20% OFF ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING💥”). With an emphasis on discounts and price cuts, this email really drives home the point that you don’t need to be subtle when it comes to Black Friday sales.


This message from Gymshark highlights how to create a sense of urgency using countdown timers. Additionally, the subject line (“This Just In! An early look at an early Black Friday 👀”) creates a sense of anticipation and showcases how to build towards the big day.


This email from Vinyl Me, Please is minimalist but works brilliantly. You don’t need to totally rack your brain during Black Friday: big savings and bold headlines can often do the talking.


This Black Friday email from Alex and Ani does a brilliant job of cluing in subscribers on their deals while also creating a sense of urgency (“12 Hours ONLY!”). The use of numbers and dates is also an added bonus to spell out exactly what’s at stake and how long subscribers have to take action.

Cyber Monday email examples (and what they do well)

This message from Baggu continues the trend of minimalist, straightforward emails that put big sales front-and-center. The mention of “no code required” and free shipping are subtle but significant for highlighting a headache-free shopping experience.


This Cyber Monday email example from 100% pure shows how brands can “beat” competing Cyber Monday deals by getting in on the action a few days early.


This message from MeUndies combines smart use of discounts with email copy that emphasizes urgency (“ENDS TONIGHT”) and value (“Our Biggest Sitewide Sale of the Year”).


And finally, this email from P&Co is simple but effective. Putting a discount code upfront and above the fold gives browsers something they can easily remember when bouncing between other offer emails.


6 Best Practices for Black Friday and Cyber Monday Emails

To wrap things up, let’s review some of the most important best practices for your holiday emails and campaigns at large.

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1. Don’t be shy about ramping up your email campaigns

Although “less is more” is often sound advice, it doesn’t ring true when marketing during the holidays.

As noted by HubSpot, 39% of consumers turned to emails from their favorite retailers for the deets on deals and promotions.

Meanwhile, recent research notes 9% of eCommerce sales in 2020 came from Black Friday emails (and nearly 11% from Cyber Monday). That’s 20% of all eCommerce sales over the course of a long weekend.

The takeaway? When in doubt, be a bit more aggressive with your campaigns and don’t second-guess additional messages.

2. Plan your holiday campaigns early and start testing ASAP

Food for thought: 38% of consumers begin their holiday shopping before the end of October.

The sooner you can start testing and making decisions regarding the specifics of your campaigns, the better. Some key metrics to review and tests to run include those related to:

  • Subject lines
  • Segmentation
  • Offer types
  • Timing
  • Frequency

This is where a tool like Sendlane really shines. Features like multivariate testing assess what’s working and what’s not in terms of your messages, giving you a boost of confidence with every send. 


3. Emphasize dates and times to create a sense of urgency

As highlighted by many of our Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaign examples, urgency and the need to act ASAP is a huge motivator for consumers during the holidays.

And so dates, times, and numbers should be used throughout your campaigns. This means:

  • Using time-centric email copy (“12 Hours Left!”)
  • Implementing countdown timers to catch your subscribers’ eyes and drive them to act
  • Specifically referencing the dates of Black Friday for 2021 (November 26th) and Cyber Monday (November 29th) so there’s no confusion over when your sales begin (or end)

4. Make your campaigns as holiday-centric as possible

In short, differentiate your holiday emails from your typical campaigns. For example, you might experiment with color schemes or mention the holidays in your subject lines when possible. Just make sure your Black Friday and Cyber Monday messages don’t look like just another email.

5. Consider coupling your holiday email marketing campaigns with SMS

Remember how we mentioned that consumers are absolutely flooded with holiday offers?

That’s why running an SMS campaign alongside your holiday marketing campaigns is a solid idea. Getting into your customers’ text messages can help you stand out from the crowd in situations where your message might have been overlooked in their inbox.

Likewise, SMS campaigns are perhaps best for existing and engaged customers that have engaged with your texts in the past. They’re perfect for extended deals and exclusive promos like this one from Liquid I.V.. 


6. Track your holiday campaign performance closely and use the right tools

The more analytics and performance data you can track, the better.

That’s because everything you learn this year will help you optimize your Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaigns in the future.

This is yet again where a tool like Sendlane is a game-changer. Our campaign reporting makes it a cinch to track all of your campaign data in one place. From top-performing subject lines and best-selling products to whether you’re reaching your holiday marketing goals, we spell out the numbers in easy-to-read reports.

And on that note, Sendlane can serve as the ultimate control center for your holiday email campaigns. We have everything you need to maximize your campaign performance and drive more sales between our creation tools, scheduling solutions, automation, and analytics.


Are your Black Friday and Cyber Monday email marketing campaigns ready to roll out?

Listen: the best time to start planning your holiday campaigns was yesterday.

That said, the tips and best practices highlighted in this guide can jumpstart your Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing ASAP.

And, of course, so can the features built into Sendlane. Our platform’s emphasis on workflows, automation, and drag-and-drop functionality means that any eCommerce merchant can hit their holiday targets with ease. If you haven’t already, make sure to take a Sendlane for a spin yourself.

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