Unlocking Black Friday Success: Content and Deliverability Best Practices

9 minute read

Team Adestra


Black Friday is one of the biggest sales events of the year, so that means creating a winning strategy and implementation plan is key. In the U.S., Black Friday is a key part of the holiday season, and in the rest of the world, it offers a big chance to boost sales leading up to Christmas.

Black Friday in Numbers

Here are some quick stats to prove the power of Black Friday:

  • 43% of people use Black Friday for their holiday gift shopping
  • Black Friday spurs $9.2 billion in online sales in the U.S.
  • 56% of gift buyers also buy something for themselves
  • 50% more sales are made on Black Friday than Cyber Monday


Don’t Forget About Deliverability

One thing that might go by the wayside during the holiday season is a focus on deliverability. However, doing so could lead to major sending issues later in the year. Black Friday and the surrounding weeks see an increase in email traffic both legitimate and not, which leads to increased competition for inbox placement and visibility, and increased bounces and delivery delays. Follow these tips and fundamentals to stay in the inbox even during this high sending time:

  • Make it easy to unsubscribe

When recipients cannot easily unsubscribe, they may mark the email as spam instead, and this will affect your sending reputation.

  • Practice list hygiene

Maintain a list of subscribers that haven’t previously unsubscribed, complained, bounced or become inactive.

  • Utilize segmentation

Rather than sending mass emails to your entire subscriber list, segment and make every send relevant to the recipients. Look at different segmentation categories like Demographic, Behavioral, Psychographic, Geographic, and Lifecycle Stage.

  • Be transparent

Always disclose what the email address will be used for in any sign-up process, as not doing so will lead to complaints.

  • Send to active recipients

High open and click rates are good for your reputation. Increase engagement rates by sending to those who have read in the last 30 to 60 days.

  • Watch your metrics

Monitor your delivery rates, bounce rates, and complaint rates to make sure you are maintaining good ranges for all three. 98%+ is an ideal rage for delivery rates, 1-3% for bounce rates, and 1-2% for complaint rates.

  • Use Google Postmaster Tools

Google provides a free portal for senders to see how Gmail sees their reputation.


Planning Your Black Friday Campaigns

Creating a full strategy for the Black Friday season is the key to success. A bit of goal setting and preparation will allow you to launch Black Friday campaigns that will spur engagement and increase sales!

Set Your Goals

First, make sure to set SMART email marketing goals. And we don’t just mean intelligent goals, we mean Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound goals. You also need to ensure you set your goals based upon your defined audience. For example, what is the goal of the campaign? Who is your audience? What metrics are you trying to improve upon?

Speaking of metrics, pinpoint specific metrics that you will be using to measure the campaign’s performance. Some metrics you could consider are:

  • Open Rate
  • Click-Through Rate
  • Conversion Rate
  • List Growth Rate
  • Email ROI

Finally, put together a clear strategy and track your progress throughout the campaign. As you track your progress, be reactive and make changes if needed.

Your Campaign Checklist

Focus on these milestones when planning your campaign timeline:

  • Offers

Will you be offering a standard discount (20, 30, 40 %), tiered offer, loyalty points, free delivery, etc.?

  • Templates/designs/visuals

How will you visualize the offers? Are you creating them in-house or using an agency?

  • Copy

Will you be using internal copywriters or an agency? Will you employ a hard or soft sell? What type of urgency will you be using?

  • Segmentation

How do you define your audience? Will you be focusing on particular demographics/ engagement/ spend value?

  • Personalization

What data do you have that can be leveraged and pulled into email content?

  • Deployment plan

How many emails will be included in this journey? When is the best time to send?

  • Testing

Have you tested to make sure your email is rendering properly in mobile vs. desktop? Within different inbox providers?

  • Approvals/ QA process

Do you need to run this by finance or any other departments to get sign-off?

Campaign Creation

The first step in your campaign creation should reviewing your previous years’ campaign if you did run one. Identify if there were any best performing subject lines, what CTA’s worked best, any specific design elements that drew more interaction. Anything that you can determine that did or did not work will help shape what you create this year!

There are a few Black Friday specific trends you can consider.

  • Early Access Campaigns

These are “sneak peek” or “pre-sale” initiatives that can ramp up excitement for the event, and create a feeling of exclusivity.

  • Subtle Subject Lines

Your recipients will already know it’s Black Friday, you won’t need to shout it at them.

  • Mobile Responsive Email

With over 60% of email being opened on phones, things like single column layout will be key.

  • Hyper-personalization

Use dynamic content to create emails that really appeal to your audience. You can focus on multiple areas of personalization like membership/subscription, product interest, purchase history, location, etc.

  • Dark Mode friendly email designs

Create content that is enjoyable to view in both light mode and dark mode.

  • Anti-Black Friday Campaigns

Good for brands with strong social causes.

  • Cyber Monday Campaigns

Although not as busy as Black Friday itself, Cyber Monday still accounts for a large amount in sales.

Cyber Monday ads

In focusing specifically on your email template, take a look at some of the more minute details. Consider accessibility and verify you’ve included alt text, aren’t using too small of a font size (no less than 10pts), and have correct text to image ratio (60% text, 40% images).

Also make sure you have clear and prominent CTAs, highly engaging visuals, and link directly to your products/services. With so many emails going out, and so little time to convince readers to open and then to click, it is vital to get right to the point. Make sure your offer is clear and immediately digestible, including discount amounts and clear CTAs.

Within the actual offer you are providing, make sure your offer is genuine. One of the biggest challenges email marketers face is that the customers of today expect even more than before. Our audiences are aware of Black Friday marketing techniques and strategies used. Prior to Black Friday, users will be adding items to wish lists, adding products to baskets, bookmarking their future purchases, and using comparison sites to find the best offers. Therefore, it is key to make sure that your offers and discounts are legitimate and genuine in order to maintain your brand reputation.

And here are a few last tips on how to make your email stand out:

  • Outstanding creatives 

Use a different template with a Black Friday theme. Try utilizing countdown timers, gifs, videos, kinetic elements, high resolution, and visually appealing imagery.

  • Segmentation 

Adjust the offer value and treat your VIPs differently, give them early access or increase the discount amount or percentage.

  • Innovation

Challenge your teams to do something you have never done before like offering a free gift, changing the email template, etc.

  • Be exclusive 

Promote new/limited time offers and products.

  • Copy/tone of voice

Use urgency to show limited time offers. Curate strong and compelling Subject Lines, and make sure your preheaders are aligned.

Provide a quick purchase for your customer – the fewer clicks the better.

  • Surprise

Add another offer on top of the sale – for example, if you purchase 5 items, you’ll entered into a sweepstakes to win a prize.


Prior to Black Friday, run some quick-win A/B testing to take stock of what your audience is responding to now. Try testing:

  • Send times
  • First Name personalization in the Subject Line
  • Subject Line copy
  • CTA copy
  • Copy length

There are also a few tests you can leverage during Black Friday, and these will also preemptively help in next year’s campaign planning:

  • Offer value
  • Amount of emails sent
  • Strong vs soft sales approach
  • Reminders’ value
  • Urgency
  • New Black Friday themed template
  • Innovative elements (Gifs, videos, countdown timers, kinetic elements, etc.)


Your deployment strategy is equally as important as your content strategy. As we’ve discussed, a poor deployment strategy can affect your sender reputation, and in turn your future campaigns, so you’ll want to consider:

  • Frequency of Sends

Ensure that you are not over-sending to your audience. You want to get the word out, but you do not want to overwhelm your audience and prompt complaints. You’ll also want to make sure you don’t start your campaign too late – there is a lot of competition and your customers may have decided to purchase elsewhere.

  • Send Volumes

Do not send much above your regular send volumes, as this will be dangerous to your sender reputation.

  • Segmentation

Segment your lists in advance and focus on engaged customer. Use your tried and true lists.

  • Send Time

This is where your A/B testing comes in handy. What is the best send time for your audience? Is your offer time sensitive?

  • Sender Profiles

Be transparent and stick to your messaging. Don’t try to get too flashy to get more clicks/opens.

  • Sender Reputation

Make sure you are following deliverability best practices and are monitoring your sender reputation before, during, and after your campaign. And keep in mind, if you are at all concerned about your reputation, you can reach out to your CSM and our consultants to help get you back on track.

Monitoring Performance

There is one thing email marketers may not be aware of with Black Friday campaigns – your email metrics will be lower than usual, and that is ok. Your audience will be receiving more emails than normal, and their attention will be spread thin. Just keep this in mind and continue to focus on your goals and strategy.

When monitoring, check email performance after 3 days to allow recipients enough time to engage. Look out for trends in areas like your subject lines, send times, CTA’s, copy, etc and adjust on the fly.


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