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4 Ways Brands Can Prepare Their Email Marketing Program for BFCM

Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) are right around the corner, and many ecommerce brands are already planning for another uncertain year. Between inflation, increased marketing costs — especially paid ads — seasonal shipping costs surcharges and potential supply chain disruptions, finding every last opportunity to increase profits during the busiest time of the year is critical for brands.  

While email marketing continues to be a consistent high-performing channel, it doesn’t mean messages can’t be improved for a greater chance of conversion. Here are four data-backed ways to increase your email marketing performance this holiday season.

1. Focus on key automation. Behavior-based automation is an essential tool for ecommerce brands looking to increase their email marketing sales. Last year, automated emails accounted for 30% of email marketing orders while sending only 2% of the emails. Of these orders, three workflows — the welcome series, cart abandonment, and browse abandonment — generated 83% of all automated email orders.

The reason these messages convert so well is they target high-intent shoppers, something the holiday season is filled with. Brands neglecting to send these messages will miss out on converting new subscribers interested in making a purchase, online window shoppers browsing products and those who already carted products but need an extra push over the finish line.

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To make your automations more impactful, use workflow splits to send different messages based on their shopping cart total, purchase history or what they clicked on in the previous email.

2. Optimize your order confirmation message. Speaking of automated emails, order confirmations are a great way to increase repeat orders. Last year, these highly read emails converted nearly 2300% better than scheduled promotional campaigns.

To make them as effective as possible, include product recommendations, top-rated gifts, purchaser-only special offers, callouts to sign up for your SMS program and anything else that may be of value to your brand.

3. Plan for the Cyber Ten. BFCM has morphed from a short sprint around tentpole days to a two-month-long marathon. Within the marathon is a 10-day stretch, starting from the Sunday before Black Friday through Giving Tuesday, known as the Cyber Ten. This 10-day stretch is expected to make up more than 20% of the sales for the entire holiday shopping season.

Even though year-over-year (YoY) holiday ecommerce sales declined in 2021, brands sent 58% more emails and generated 37% more orders during the Cyber Ten. The same held true for SMS marketing, which saw a 39% YoY increase in promotional SMS and a 21% increase in automated SMS, resulting in a 9% and 23% increase in orders, respectively.    

Don’t delay. Start your Black Friday sales on the Sunday of Thanksgiving week. Otherwise you may find consumers flocking to your competitors to grab those early deals.

4. Optimize your email template: What good is sending an email if it’s not optimized for the holidays? Analyzing more than 200 million BFCM emails, here are some tips to send the perfect holiday email.

  • Keep your subject lines on the shorter side. Subject lines up to seven words have the highest open rates. If you need to say more, use preheader text. The phrases “chance to save” and “coupon” have better open rates than “free shipping” or “BOGO” when used in subject lines.
  • Create visual emails. Emails with 2 to 3 main CTAs and showcasing multiple products garner higher click rates compared to those with too few images or too much text.
  • Discount strategically. While the most popular seasonal discounts were 50% to 55%, those between 10% to 25% saw better click rates.
  • Bonus: Wish people a happy Thanksgiving. “Thanksgiving,” a less popular word to use in subject lines, has the highest open rates compared to the other BFCM days. Considering Thanksgiving Day is one of the biggest online shopping days of the year, increasing opens can translate to sales.

Making adjustments to your emails may be just what’s needed to help you increase your profits this holiday season — but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Remember, all channels work together. Each abandoned cart recovered or new subscriber converted via email means fewer paid retargeting costs. Because email is typically one of the lower-cost channels, brands that stand out will find ways to complement it with other channels like SMS marketing, further reducing paid retargeting costs.

Optimizing messages and allowing your marketing channels to work together can mean the difference between capturing a larger or smaller share of consumers’ wallets this holiday season.


Greg Zakowicz is a Senior Ecommerce Expert at Omnisend. With over 15 years of experience in email, mobile, and social media marketing, he’s helped over 100 DTC companies around the world, including numerous companies from the Internet Retailer Top 1000, to maximize sales through their email marketing and SMS programs. Zakowicz is a frequent speaker at ecommerce events, has been published and quoted in top media outlets, has been retained as an industry expert witness for trial, and is a one-time award-winner and two-time ecommerce podcast host.

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