Getting the attention of your subscribers in a crowded inbox is a challenge at the best of times, and when it comes to Black Friday, the competition is even more fierce.
To make sure that you get the most out of Black Friday 2021, we’ve put together this short guide to provide both marketing led and technically led advice.
It covers four steps to help you achieve great Black Friday deliverability:
- Building your send volumes safely
- Re-engaging lapsed segments
- Protecting your most engaged subscribers
- Sending at the right time
- Getting a head start on your competition
First thing’s first: the science part.
Email providers like Gmail and Hotmail monitor email traffic looking for consistent sending volumes and engagement from subscribers.
When they identify spikes in emails going to addresses that don’t normally receive or engage with the emails, they might view the activity as potentially spammy, as it mirrors the behaviour of spammers and fraudsters. This leads to email providers potentially blocking the delivery of all emails from that sender.
MailCharts have a great chart showing the increase in email volume specifically about Black Friday over the weekend.
If you get blocked on Black Friday this will have a serious impact on your sales.
Apple Mail Privacy changes and Black Friday 2021
With Apple’s upcoming privacy updates, open rates are likely to be unpredictable, rendering them unreliable as a measure of engagement.
It is currently unclear how this might affect performance over Black Friday, but to start preparing now read our blog on re-thinking email engagement and segmentation.
Build up your sending volume slowly and early
Black Friday is a prime period where email volumes will skyrocket, both from increased broadcast emails, but also automated email confirmations.
Sudden and large increases in email sends will raise suspicions and may result in some providers marking emails as spam.
This is why it is recommended that you warm-up your email lists with smaller batches to start with before increasing the volume.
Consider how frequently you send email now and whether there is a benefit to sending more.
Be mindful that your contacts are going to be bombarded by nearly every brand they subscribe to at this time so it's a balance between getting their attention and scaring them off.
Here are some things to consider to safely increase the email volumes:
- How much will your daily send volumes increase by?
- How much does increasing your volumes affect deliverability and campaign performance? Compare the previous occasions when sends have increased in volume to set benchmarks of what happens when you increase volumes by different amounts.
- What are you doing that will increase the volumes? Will this be through contacting older contacts that are not included in your day to day segments? Or through increased frequency to existing contacts?
You should always ramp up your send volumes over the course of several sends.
A good rule of thumb is to avoid sending more than double your average.
So, working backwards from your expected peak over Black Friday, you should look to slowly increase your send volumes so it doesn’t become such a notable spike, potentially triggering spam filters.
Mailbox providers will be more receptive to your messages because they’ve seen you send more volume over the last few weeks. Your Cyber Weekend volume won’t be a surprise, so they will be more likely to let the volume in.
- If you are increasing the frequency of your sends, slowly add in one extra campaign a week until you reach your desired sending frequency.
- If you are increasing the segment size of your audience, re-engage lapsed contacts first and to slowly build up the volumes in the weeks prior to Black Friday.
Re-engage your lapsed segments
On Black Friday, it can be tempting to target unengaged subscribers, so that your emails reach a broader audience in the hope that these subscribers are on the lookout for a good deal.
This approach can have a detrimental effect on getting emails into the inbox of even your most engaged subscribers, and could harm your ability to deliver messages for several weeks.
- Launching a specific re-engagement campaign around Black Friday.
Target your lapsed audience using a broadcast campaign in early November with content specifically instructing the subscriber to open the email to get Black Friday deals.
For example, use the personalised subject line:
Hey Paul, do you want to be first to hear about our Black Friday deals?
As open rates will no longer be a reliable indicator of engagement, you should aim to include a strong CTA encouraging recipients to click through instead, as clicks show a high level of contact engagement.
If you don’t currently have a re-engagement campaign setup please refer to our guide for advice and speak to your CSM for advice.
Protect your most engaged subscribers
Your most engaged subscribers are key to your Black Friday success - this customer segment will drive the most revenue for you, so making sure that they receive your campaigns is very important.
- Sending engaged subscribers your Black Friday campaigns first, then sending to those who are less engaged a separate campaign at least one hour later.
- Staggering your sends to less engaged contacts in batches of 20% of the segment size, and adding a wait of 30 minutes between each batch.
Use a snooze button
Not all subscribers want to take part in Black Friday and some can react negatively to seeing Black Friday campaigns.
As a result these contacts may mark emails as spam or unsubscribe.
Rather than risk losing contacts, consider using a snooze button in your emails to allow these contacts to opt-out of Black Friday communications allowing you to keep them subscribed in the long term.
- Use a snooze button
- Speaking to your CSM, or your provider if you’re not using Ometria, if you don’t already use a snooze button.
Send at the right time
Historically, research has shown that opens and clicks on Black Friday spike at 10am and 4pm.
2020 trends: In 2020, Ometria observed that almost 60% of clicks occurred between 6-10am on Black Friday and a further 13.5% between 5-7pm.
Ensuring that you are top of the inbox when the subscriber is most likely to engage with your campaign, is vital.
- Sending your primary campaign between 6am and 10am to match the morning peak
- Sending your secondary campaign between 12pm and 4pm to cover lunchtime and be in the inbox for the evening peak
Get a head start on your competition
With so many retailers vying for their subscribers’ attention on Black Friday, starting the sales early ahead of the Black Friday weekend is a tactic we’ve seen increasing in the last couple of years.
2020 trends: In 2020 some senders started 4-6 weeks before Black Friday. However, starting too early can damage performance over Black Friday itself with early starters seeing engagement decline after 3 weeks of Black Friday sends*.
- Taking a staggered approach to your sale, sending out new sale picks on a daily basis starting on Monday 15th November.
How can we help you?
Your Customer Success Manager is here to help you.
If you need assistance with putting any of this into practice, please get in touch.