Megan from MailerLite

Megan14 min readTips and resourcesOctober 22, 2019

Black Friday and Cyber Monday email marketing checklist

Black Friday and Cyber Monday email marketing checklist

Let the craziness begin, it’s almost that time of the year again! On November 29th, the year’s most chaotic sales weekend will officially kick-off. This worldwide phenomenon is for many businesses an important one revenue-wise.

To maximize your sales, you want to promote your offer on as many marketing channels as possible. Email marketing is essential, as it gets your promotion directly in front of your customer’s eyes. But, you’ll need a good strategy to compete with the chaos.

So get ready! Optimize your servers, boost your website speed, double-check your checkout process, update your inventory and prepare your deals. Done? Great, now it’s time for your email marketing strategy. Here’s our Black Friday and Cyber Monday email marketing checklist.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday is the right time to drop your prices and generate boatloads of extra income.

Last year, the Adobe Analytics and Practical Ecommerce report showed that Cyber Monday generated the most online sales in the U.S.for a single day event—ever. Together, companies generated $7.9 billion in revenue (19.3% increase compared to 2017). Big chains like Amazon, Target and Walmart were among the online sellers that did noticeably well (so make sure to take notes on their campaigns). 

Black Friday came in second, generating a total of $6.22 billion in retail e-commerce sales. The numbers speak for itself. Now let’s see how you can maximize your email marketing campaigns.

To gain the most traction around your campaign, you can start early and finish a bit after the weekend.

The number of emails you send depends on your strategy. RetailMeNot reported that 60% of the people surveyed start shopping a few weeks before Black Friday. This is an important stat to keep in mind when preparing your campaign.

Here’s an example of a typical campaign series
  1. Teaser email sent a week prior to Black Friday
  2. Countdown email sent 3 days before Black Friday
  3. Main offer sent on Black Friday itself, in the morning
  4. Reminder sent during the day on Friday
  5. Cyber Monday preview sent on Sunday
  6. Cyber Monday main offer email sent on Monday morning
  7. Final email sent on Tuesday (if you want to prolong your campaign)

It’s normal to send more emails than you regularly would before and during the sales fiesta—just make sure every email is valuable so people don’t unsubscribe.

Last year, theBalm cosmetics sent a “Mark your calendar” Black Friday email on November 16th, a week before the festivities were due.

theBalm cosmetics Black Friday newsletter

Since many online shops will jump on the Black Friday bandwagon, it can be a challenge to stand out in the inbox. To make things easier, you can extend your campaign. Not many companies will still send emails after the 2nd of December. Plus, readers that missed the boat or weren’t in time will thank you.

And for next year, you can also start really early. Skechers is one of the companies that organized a Cyber Monday sale in the middle of July in 2018.

SKECHERS Cyber Monday email

So how do you create an effective Black Friday and Cyber Monday newsletter? Put the spotlight on your offer and follow these best practices.

Create subject lines that will break through the crazy holiday clutter

Admittedly, a good open rate during Black Friday weekend is 50% skill and 50% luck. You can’t foresee how many similar emails the recipient will receive, though there are some common practices.

Research has proven that readers do pay attention to discount percentages and offers in our inboxes. It’s worth promoting your offer in the subject line (people expect this anyway).

Most subject lines include:

  • The word Black Friday or Cyber Monday 
  • A discount percentage
  • Words like free, save, discount, off, now and deal
  • Urgency (“Black Friday sale starts NOW” or “Cyber Monday ends in 4 hours”)

Any combination of the words “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” and your discount percentage with a % is most likely your best bet. You can play around with emojis too. Lightning, black-colored emojis, electronics, people running, clocks, loudspeakers and fireworks are most used.

Subject lines from our inboxes

🏴 BLACK FRIDAY S-A-L-E 🏴 These deals are going F-A-S-T 🏃

Spend Thanksgiving & Black Friday with Us!

Black Friday Sale, Final Hours!

300+ Books Starting at $4.95: Our Biggest Treat Yourself Sale Ever!

All Out for Black Friday! Up to 85% Off + FREE…

BLACK FRIDAY 👉 New deals added 👈 Shop NOW!

Last chance! Up to 80% OFF 📣

🏁Black Friday Sale: Ready, Set, Save! 🏁




⏰ Tick. Tock. Cyber Monday Sale Ends Soon: Save Up To 65% Off

Last call : Cyber Monday is ending soon.

🏁 Get Ready, Get Set...Book! Our Cyber Monday Sale Starts Now >> Rooms Up To 65% Off

Alternatively, you can try something completely different, like Casper’s “Every Friday is Black Friday when your eyes are closed. Because you’re napping” or Forever 21’s “WARNING: you're gonna want everything.” These subject lines ditched all the Black Friday rules and first mentioned their discount offer in the email itself. Bold, but refreshing!

Choose uniqueness over shocking discounts

Black Friday weekend is essentially all about major discounts. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you can give your email campaign a more unique aspect. For example, support a humanitarian cause with each sale. Lower your discounts and give the difference to a good cause. A win-win!

Another idea is to create an exclusive collection just for Black Friday. This way, the urgency to buy comes with the fact that the edition is limited, not because the prices have sunk so much. Modernica sets a good example with this email below:

Modernica Black Friday email

Make sure your Black Friday newsletter is mobile-friendly

The only thing that can kill your conversions is when people aren’t able to read your newsletter properly. Make sure your email is responsive and looks good on all devices.

PracticalEcommerce reported that in 2018, the percentage of online shoppers using mobile devices during the 5-day period increased to 54.3%, compared to 18.9% in 2017. That’s a major increase! 

When you create your newsletter using an email tool, you shouldn’t have any problems with the responsiveness. Most email software, like MailerLite, automatically make sure your email is displayed correctly.

Plan out your imagery and how you will use colors

Black Friday and Cyber Monday emails are something special. Your regular newsletters probably have a design concept that you stick to. However, for these emails, it’s totally okay (and even encouraged) to switch it up a little. 

For a Black Friday email, you can exchange your regular newsletter colors and create an almost or all-black email. The color combination black, white and one or two colors to accentuate works well.

As for the imagery, these emails are known to focus on the product or discount that’s being promoted. You’ll often see the discount percentage in a huge font, so it’s the first thing a reader sees. Make your offer the center of attention and pick images that let your deal shine!

Herschel Supply Co. promotion email
Wayfair Black Friday email
Quick tip for a good e-commerce template

Apart from the colors, you also want to pay attention to the layout itself. If you’re not sure how to get started, you can visit our e-commerce template gallery for inspiration or pick one of the pre-built e-commerce templates when creating a new campaign in MailerLite.

Use GIFS to grab attention

Recipients love to receive interactive emails. Flashy imagery and subtle movements have proven to draw the eye’s attention, which you can use to your advantage. For your next Cyber Monday email or Black Friday campaign, try to see what elements in your newsletter can be highlighted. Maybe a certain product, a discount percentage or the CTA? By turning an image into a GIF you can increase clicks and improve email engagement.

Carharrt Black Friday email
HelloFresh Black Friday email

Convey urgency by using a countdown timer

Countdowns can be used for your pop-up, landing page and emails. They do a great job of expressing urgency.

MailerLite customers can easily drag & drop a countdown timer block in their email. Then, all you need to do is set the day and time and the timer will automatically start counting down. We love countdown timers because they make your email interactive and add urgency to your offer. Click here to read more benefits and ways to embed a countdown timer in your Black Friday or Cyber Monday newsletter.

Forever21 Black Friday email

Send personalized coupon codes using dynamic email content

Have you heard about dynamic email content? It’s kind of like magic. For almost all content blocks in your newsletter, you’re able to select which recipient group(s) will see the content. 

If you want to send personalized content and send different coupon codes to different recipient groups, you can! For example, you could have a different code for customers that have never made a purchase at your shop.

In MailerLite, you would:

  • Create a group that includes every subscriber with a purchase count of 0
  • Add a content block and insert the voucher code
  • Click the eye icon on the upper right side and select that the block is only shown to the group

You can also reward loyal customers with an extra discount or give them early-bird access using dynamic blocks for the secret announcement.

Withings Black Friday VIP email

Incorporate social media in your emails

Make your marketing strategy come full circle by connecting all your marketing channels. When setting up your Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaigns, you probably also thought about your social media posts. Maybe you’ll host a giveaway on Instagram or create a special event on Facebook. 

Whatever it may be, it’s worth promoting this in your newsletter too by embedding the post. Our social blocks make this super easy to do. Drag the social block into your newsletter while you're in the newsletter editor and add the URL of the post or event. This works for Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Seal the deal with an abandoned cart campaign

With so many promotions happening simultaneously, customers often forget about their order or leaves your shop to browse other deals. No worries, you can automatically trigger an abandoned cart email to reengage them. A quick reminder a few hours later can urge the reader to complete their order before the promotion is over. These types of emails can win back 12-15% of your shoppers!

Are you a Shopify or WooCommerce user?

Then you can use the MailerLite abandoned cart feature to get customers to finish their order. Click here to read how this feature works.

Maximize your sales with recommended products

Did you know that Amazon generates 35% of its revenue from product recommendations? You can too!

Let’s say a customer buys a laptop on Black Friday. They might also need headphones or a laptop sleeve, and you’ll have a promo for these accessories on Cyber Monday! Wouldn’t it be great to highlight this to people that just bought a laptop? 

Customers who run their e-commerce with Shopify have the possibility within MailerLite to send product emails with recommendations based on previously bought products. Click here to read more about this cool feature.

Auto resend unopened campaigns and reach more subscribers

As much as we wish for this to happen, your email will likely not be read by 100% of your audience. This doesn’t mean that these readers are not interested. Maybe they didn’t see your email the first time because of all the other Black Friday campaigns. With auto resend, you get a second chance!

The feature automatically groups those recipients that received your first email but didn’t open it. It then sends the same email (or a variation, if you make edits) to this group. What you’ll normally see happening is that a lot of recipients will open your email the second time around. Auto resend is the easiest way to boost email visibility during these crazy times!

Lastly, don’t forget to A/B test if you can

Black Friday newsletters and Cyber Monday email campaigns are very time-sensitive, which is why it’s not always possible to A/B test your campaign during this time. However, we recommend using A/B testing when you have the time for it.

This feature tests 2 versions with a percentage of your list during a time-frame of your choice. After this time is up, it automatically sends the winning version to the remaining part of your subscriber list. 

By sending the best email to the majority of the people on your list, you increase the success of your Black Friday email campaign.

There you have it, everything you need to know about how to prepare effective Black Friday and Cyber Monday email campaigns. And don’t forget: Once you get those sales, make sure to nurture these relationships with emails afterward so you can turn your new customers into life-long friends.

To recap, here’s your checklist:

The Black Friday and Cyber Monday checklist
  1. Decide on the length and timing of your email campaign
  2. Use urgency, %, discounts and “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” in your subject line
  3. Go beyond crazy discounts to make your offer stand out
  4. Make your email responsive
  5. Decide on newsletters colors (going for an all-black theme or just accents?)
  6. Use GIFs to draw attention to important information
  7. Create urgency with a countdown timer
  8. Send personal offers using dynamic content blocks
  9. Make it multi-channel by embedding social media posts
  10. Seal the deal with an abandoned cart campaign
  11. Send product recommendations when people buy
  12. Increase the open rate with the auto resend feature
  13. A/B test your campaigns to maximize success

What are you planning for this year’s Black Friday or Cyber Monday email campaign?

Megan de Graaf

I’m Megan, Content Writer at MailerLite. You can find me in Berlin, NYC or somewhere escaping winter in Asia. I have helped many start-ups grow their online visibility. Blogging has always been my thing—from running artist fan pages as a teenager to now discovering upcoming talent on Sign This Kid.