The time period from the start of the week of Black Friday through Cyber Monday is the critical beating heart of the holiday season for business-to-consumer brands. Here are three key takeaways for retail and ecommerce marketers:
1. Seize the Opportunity to Get in Front of Eager Buyers
Most of your email subscribers are eager to hear from you during Black Friday week. That’s because they know this time period is synonymous with great deals. Year after year, data from Oracle Digital Experience Agency clients indicates that email marketing revenue and revenue per email peak during the week of Black Friday.
These are days when you want to have a clear and simple messaging strategy, and these are days when you want to be present in your subscriber’s inboxes. We have clients who send multiple emails on Black Friday and Cyber Monday and see great results.
Don’t assume that two or even three emails in a single day is too many? Let your subscribers indicate to you how many emails are “too much” by testing and watching your engagement and revenue per email data carefully. Segmenting your audience by engagement level is a particularly effective strategy to get more emails in front of the right subscribers, while avoiding overloading less interested subscribers.
2. Expand Your Email Audience…Carefully
In addition to getting in front of your engaged subscribers more, marketers should be trying to get in front of subscribers who have shown interest in the past but not recently. The biggest opportunity here is to identify your subscribers who are seasonal shoppers, having engaged with your emails or purchased last holiday season or even the one before that.
We’re saying “engaged with your emails or purchased” because Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) has made it much more difficult for marketers to determine which subscribers are engaged and which are not. That’s because MPP creates auto-generated opens that obscure subscribers’ real open activity.
Last year, many of Oracle Digital Experience Agency clients were very cautious about expanding their audiences going into the holiday season because of MPP’s effects on their engagement data. This year, even though the effects were stronger because we passed MPP’s 2-year anniversary, many of our clients felt comfortable expanding their holiday audiences. For example, during the week of Black Friday, our clients increased email volume by 7% year-over-year, as you can see in the infographic below.
The key is to continuously monitor engagement and your deliverability to ensure that your audience expansion doesn’t negatively impact your results, as audience expansion routinely leads to lower inbox placement. As noted in the infographic, Oracle Responsys users’ inbox placement remained well above the deliverability rate of other digital marketing platforms, indicating that they expanded their audience with minimal impact on their sender reputation.
3. Maximize Your Envelope Content’s Impact
With many more emails arriving in your subscribers’ inboxes during this high-stakes week, crafting impactful envelope content is more important than ever.
Start by looking at your subject lines. Front-loading your subject lines with key information is one tactic that can improve results. Another is leaving out words that don’t perform well.
For example, we’ve found across our clients that subject lines that include the words “Black Friday” don’t perform particularly well on Black Friday itself. However, including “Black Friday” in your subject lines does really well on the Sunday and Monday of Black Friday week. Its effectiveness then diminishes over the course of the week.
We’ve found the same holds true for using “Cyber” in subject lines on Cyber Monday—although on a much more compressed timeline. Using “Cyber” works best on the Saturday and Sunday right before Cyber Monday.
In both cases, we think today’s subscribers assume that any promotional campaign sent on Black Friday is about Black Friday, and any promotional campaign sent on Cyber Monday is about Cyber Monday.
That said, if you’re looking to clearly brand these campaigns, consider adding “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” to the end of your sender name as a sender name extension, as these brands did.
If your brand name is short, you likely aren’t using all of the 20 characters or so that most inboxes display of your sender name. That presents an opportunity to further brand these messages, whether you’re trying to differentiate your automated emails from your broadcast emails, or your Black Friday campaign from your other promotional campaigns.
We hope these three Black Friday Week insights help you increase your holiday email marketing performance. We also hope you apply these insights to your campaigns during other peak seasons for your brand, as well as test, experiment, and delve into your analytics to see what works best for your brand and your audience.
Need help with your digital marketing campaigns? Oracle Digital Experience Agency has hundreds of marketing and communication experts ready to help Oracle customers create stronger connections with their customers and employees—even if they’re not using an Oracle platform as the foundation of that experience. Our award-winning specialists can handle everything from creative and strategy to content planning and project management. For example, our full-service email marketing clients generate 24% higher open rates, 30% higher click rates, and 9% lower unsubscribe rates than Oracle Responsys customers who aren’t.
Want to better understand your email marketing risks and opportunities, take advantage of our free Email Program Assessment. Our experts will check your deliverability, review your email creative, audit your signup process, do a partial competitive analysis, and more. If interested in this free assessment, reach out to us at OracleAgency_US@Oracle.com.
Chad S. White is the Head of Research at Oracle Digital Experience Agency and the author of four editions of Email Marketing Rules and nearly 4,000 posts about digital and email marketing. A former journalist, he’s been featured in more than 100 publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Advertising Age. Chad was named the ANA's 2018 Email Marketer Thought Leader of the Year. Follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Mastodon.