Black Friday 2017 review: How marketers stood out in the inbox swarm

Black Friday email review

Published November 28, 2017

It’s one of the biggest shopping events of the year, for customers and retailers alike. Offers come out thick and fast, offering discounts and freebies on a wide range of products – but in the digital age where companies, brands and retailers are fighting their way into your inbox by offering similar time-sensitive discounts, they can often become one big blur. So, the question is: how do you make your email stand out from the crowd? Our Email Marketing Manager, Dale Foster, shares his learnings from Black Friday 2017.

Subject Lines

Let’s start with the first thing that your customer sees: the subject line.

With the subject lines, I found that my inbox was jam-packed with “Black Friday this and Black Friday that”. As a result, there didn’t seem to be too many that stood out and therefore I found myself naturally drawn to the brands I was most interested in – but is this counter-productive for a Black Friday email?

With the crucial point of ‘standing out’ in mind, I felt that the emails I received that used targeted emails in their simplest form – a personalised subject line – were few and far between. Simply adding FIRSTNAME to your subject line can portray a more personalised approach, and therefore grab attention in those vital few seconds ahead of inbox competitors!

It is important to convey as much information in those precious few words of a subject line as possible. But when you are stumped by a character limit, utilising your pre-header can give you that edge. You can use the pre-header text to show more information or the specifics of your offer (example below)

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Or even extra offers!

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An interesting and effective use of subject lines that I came across outlined the amount that was on offer, then cleverly used the pre-header text to identify the closing date of the offer to create a sense of urgency. So, before I even opened the email I knew the amount of discount being offered as well as when the discount expired; mentioning the time restriction is a method of suggesting urgency and exclusivity.

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So, you’ve made the cut and your customer has opened your email. Now you need to engage them even further into your email and drive click throughs.

The common theme amongst the emails that I received was time-sensitivity; the sense that the offers were only available for a very limited period of time, even though the deals often run throughout the following week. As you can see by the examples, large font has been used with very little text and frequently the discount appears in bold.

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It is important to remember that recipients are already aware of it being Black Friday; they know the time of year, they’ve read the subject line and they will have received countless amounts of emails about the same event, so the content and styling doesn’t necessarily need to have ‘Black Friday’ as the focal point. As a recipient that has opened the email, all I want to know is what discount I am being offered and the quickest and easiest route to the website to make the purchase, so having the discount hero in the email and/or a clear Call to Action button should be the priority.
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Animations – GIFs

Lots of the emails that I received used eye-catching GIFs fairly successfully, which was a great way of grabbing my attention.

The important thing when using animations is to make sure the message does not get lost. Some of the most popular GIFs included animated lettering to make ‘Black Friday’ stand out or the entire hero image would appear as a flashy GIF.

The two examples below demonstrate how to use GIFs while retaining a clear message. (click image to play the GIF)

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REMEMBER, as seen in the ASOS email it is important to ensure that the essential information – in this case the amount of discount on offer – is displayed on the first slide of your GIF in order to make allowances for email clients that cannot render GIFs, as they will be able to view the first slide.

(click image to play the GIF)

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Hopefully this blog will give you some tips to make your emails stand out in inboxes that will no doubt be swarmed with Black Friday emails again next year. From my own experience, I would stress the importance of subject lines and using the pre-header text to provide as much information as possible. I previously mentioned I was drawn more towards the emails based on companies, brands or retailers I was most interested in, but perhaps personalising the subject line with my first name and using more targeted language such as ‘you’ or ‘your’ would have proved more effective. Whilst the styling of the emails is hugely important in providing clarity and directing customers towards your websites (which is ultimately the whole point of these emails), if you cannot stand out in the inbox then all your time and hard work will not reap the rewards that it deserves!

Dale is our Email Marketing Manager and an expert in bespoke email construction and deployment. If you’re looking to improve the performance of your emails, get in touch.

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