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2020 Black Friday & Cyber Monday: Tips and Best Practices for Landing in the Inbox This Year

Strategic best practices to follow that will help guarantee a successful Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and holiday season for your email campaigns

Fun fact: this year, marketers will find it harder to get into their family Thanksgiving dinner than into their subscribers’ inbox (thanks to the CDC’s recommendations for continued social distancing through the holiday season). Still, there are some very important and strategic best practices to follow that will help guarantee successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday email communications. With or without stuffing involved.

Start early

Due to the pandemic and varying orders issued across states and throughout the world, many stores have decided to mitigate the spike in crowds at their brick and mortar locations the Friday after Thanksgiving by offering significant (and changing) discounts throughout the month and weeks leading up to Black Friday.

At the same time, others are taking this approach in hopes that the additional promotions will help to make up for not opening doors on Black Friday.

Either way, since today is November the 16th, it practically means: START NOW!

Black Friday, as an overarching promotion, is transitioning to a more digital effort for 2020, and email is the perfect channel to create a 1:1 targeted connection with your subscribers to engage and convert. With that being said, I highly suggest that you start promoting and communicating Black Friday messaging in your email templates as early as the first week of November – and even extending it through the first week of December, taking advantage of the unique environment we’re in.

The way to customers’ inbox goes through ENGAGEMENT

Regardless of your plans, strategy, and promotions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, getting your emails into your subscriber’s inboxes will be crucial for success. Guaranteeing inbox deliverability comes down to sender reputation, and while each ISP has its own unique algorithm in how they determine which messages make their way to the coveted inbox vs. spam and junk folders – one thing reigns supreme and takes precedent above all: engagement.

The more your subscriber engages and how recently they engaged with your email campaigns, the more likely your campaigns will be seen, opened, and clicked on by customers because they landed in the inbox.

How can you get your subscribers to engage – especially during the crowded inbox period between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, though?

  • Use strong subject lines that stand out in a sea of promotions in the customer’s inbox. Think teasers, relevancy, personalization, and targeted content that creates a 1:1 relationship
  • Use CTA buttons that are in the 1st person, use strong action words that are relevant to the content and message of your overall email template. Think: How can I make “Shop Now” stronger, more relevant, and impossible not to click on?
  • Integrate real-time animated, live content such as countdown timers and image reveal to create a more engaging experience that increases the urgency

Know your targets

While we all are hoping to recoup lost revenue due to COVID, attempting to do so by increasing target group sizes and disregarding sender best practices can pose serious dangers to your email program this holiday season.

It’s important to show the ISPs that you know your subscribers by suppressing lapsed and non-engagers because it’s these subscribers that pose the biggest threat during the period between Black Friday and Cyber Monday as well as the week between Christmas and New Year’s, especially since this is when ISPs tend to watch sending habits of email marketers more closely.

Spam trap hits are typically higher during holidays, too, because marketers are looking to expand reach. But this also equates to blacklistings, increased spam, and bulk sending and, therefore, less opens and clicks. As a recommendation and best practice, continue to suppress anyone who hasn’t opened or clicked through on your emails within a specific period.

If you’re considering expanding on this amount of time just for the holidays, try testing date ranges early so that you’re able to recoup any possible impact it may have on your IP now – while there’s still time before the holidays.

Check on your triggered campaigns

This is a perfect time of year to let key triggered campaigns work double-time. So, make sure you’ve optimized them for the holidays. That includes updating templates with holiday themes, testing all links so that they drive traffic to relevant content pages of your site, and testing between mobile and desktop rendering for user experience.

This time of year, customers are shopping in larger numbers because they’re not only shopping for themselves but for others – and while they are, they’re price comparing. So, it’s imperative that your abandoned cart emails are in working order and optimized. Additionally, product recommendation emails can be crucial during the holidays – but the data may be skewed as it’s been based on self-purchase vs. gift purchase. Consider a specific Black Friday product recommendation strategy or wish-list strategy for a triggered email that can increase engagement and revenue during the holiday season.

Black Friday & Cyber Monday Takeaways

The key to a successful Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and holiday season for your email program will come down to email engagement and staying consistent with email best practices.

The increase in online traffic and the move to online promotions due to the pandemic (and stores attempting to avoid the Black Friday crowds this year) is a huge opportunity for brands to use strategy targeting and email campaigns compared to years past.

**Optimove Clients: Use your Optimove data and custom attribute to develop highly engaging and personalized templates, smarter target groups, and we have no doubt that this year’s holiday program will be a huge success!

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Dana Shirlen

Dana Shirlen leads Optimove’s internal email marketing agency as Director of Email Marketing. Dana has over 15 years managing the email marketing strategies of many recognizable global B2C and B2B brands. As the Director of Email Marketing, Dana is bridging the gap for Optimove’s customers in providing a data-driven marketing plan and timely implementation grounded in best practices, targeted content and visually engaging design. Prior to her role at Optimove, Dana managed the CRM and email marketing strategies for enterprise clients at Tinuiti. Dana holds a BS from Ohio University, with a major in Advertising Management and concentrations in both marketing and creative writing.