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15 Best Black Friday & Cyber Monday Email Campaigns

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The Retailer's Guide to the Holiday Season

Don’t freak out.

I know it’s only April but we’ve spent the first quarter planning for 2015 and that included a review of what happened last year. I’m here to help you stock your email marketing toolkit with the best tools for the next holiday season.

Reviewing the emails I had received for Black Friday and Cyber Monday was, well… overwhelming. I received nearly 300 emails over the course of a week, so it took me a while to sort through and find my favourites. So without further ado, here are my 15 favourite email campaigns from the 2014 holiday season. Click here

1. Anthropologie

anthro-4framesI loved this email. The design was great, it really drew attention to the offer and come on, who doesn’t love a Christmas cracker, right? I do wish the CTA was a bit more prominent. And they know their demo is bird obsessed, we will always put a bird on it. I’ve also been noticing a lot of companies including additional incentives when you visit their retail store locations, a nice touch.

2. Modcloth (Cyber Monday)

Subject line: What’s on sale? Anything & everything.

ModCloth2In my eyes, Modcloth can do no wrong. Their emails are always relevant, always provide value and those dresses! Add in a glittery rainbow gif – I’m yours. It was refreshing from the shocking number of emails that lazily scratched out “Black Friday” from their emails and placed “Cyber Monday” on top of it. No, no, no. You are making all of your profits during this week, take the time to refresh your design and show your subscribers you care. Additionally, the subject line is clear and created a sense of urgency, there are a limited number of products and sizes available, fans know this and we drop everything whenever a Modcloth sale is on.

3. Herschel

Subject line: Cyber Monday | Only 4 Hours Left!

herschelI had attended a webinar recently that discussed how people are drawn to nature scenes and to include them in your email campaigns wherever they seem to fit. Herschel does a great job of featuring great scenery and tying it back to the purpose of the email “Don’t get left out in the cold.” without even featuring one of their products. Your eyes are drawn to the main image and then naturally flow down to the text and CTA. Nicely done.

4. J.Crew

Subject line: The biggest, best, most amazing, OMG, beyond anything, ever, sale event. Starts now.

J.CrewJ.Crew is known to have some amazing copywriters (remember this one?). They got playful with their copy and even feature the photographer’s pet mouse (his name is William) is perfect and really humanizes the email, it’s actually not coming from corporate email robot xyz. What I also love about this email is how they feature a map of your nearest store location at the bottom.

Related: Finding the One: Email Marketing and the Inbox

5. Clearly Contacts

Subject line: Cyber Monday: Last Chance on Free Ultra Thin Air Lenses With Any Purchase


The reason I liked this email is very simple. I was listening to another webinar a while back where they discussed the psychology of colours and that yellow is the best colour to use for your CTA. I’ve still got to test this out for myself, however, when I had received this email, my eyes were immediately drawn to the yellow and I found myself clicking and browsing. So maybe it is true after all?

6. Threadless

Subject line: $12 tees + Free shipping. A/S/L? Let’s Cyber!

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 5.30.56 PMThis one wins on subject line alone. We have a joke about how much we hate the word “cyber”. Maybe it’s a generational thing? But this subject line took everything I hate about the word “cyber” and won the internet with it. What I love about this is it proves that you can have a little fun with your emails, loosen up a bit and joke with your subscribers like you would with your friends, because guess what? You are friends.

7. Betsey Johnson

Subject line: Cyber Tuesday?! 33% Off Today Only!

BetseyJohnsonPeople are naturally drawn to human faces. Even better is when the eyes on those faces are looking towards your CTA. Similar to nature scenes, a bold face like Betsey’s catches your eye and her eyes draw you to the copy and CTA.

8. Frank & Oak

Subject line: Black Friday Event: 35 Shirts Under $35

frankandoakWhen a sale like Black Friday comes along, it’s tough to not look so “coupon-y”. Frank & Oak does a great job of staying on brand and featuring discounted offers in a clean and clear way. I really like the bold call out that takes up the entire fold with CTA and then building on that by starting to feature products included in the sale with an additional CTA beneath those.

9. Rue La La

Subject line: Ray-Ban, Burberry, & up to 80% off dresses. Oh yes we did.

RueLaLaThis email does a great job of embracing the scroll, don’t be afraid of it. Own it. Rue La La also does a great job of offering up product categories so people can quickly browse for what they want/need without feeling overwhelmed with all of the offers on the site.

Related: The Email Inbox is a Crowded Spot. Learn How to Own It!

10. Indigo

Subject line: Black Friday DEALS! 1000s of Items at Amazing Prices.

IndigoContinuing with the theme of categorizing shops/sections of your site, I had listened to a podcast this month about categories and how people like to be categorized, they feel more comfortable when they’re categorized. Think about it, from the moment you’re born, you’re categorized – boy or girl? Cat person or dog person? You feel a sense of pride and comfort when you fit into a category. Indigo does a great job of featuring popular products (Kobo here and the FitBit in another version of this email) and sections of their site (pillows and throws).

11. Modcloth – Black Friday (yes, another ModCloth email, I am obsessed)

Subject line: Black Friday starts now with 50% off 100s of new items!

ModclothWhat I love about this email isn’t quite what you see above, it’s actually what the email looks like before you download images (newsflash: 43% of email subscribers view your emails with images off). Check out Modcloth’s use of background colours, alt text and a good balance of copy and images:

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 6.01.59 PM

12. TOMS

Subject line: It’s tradition: enjoy 25% off

TOMSTOMS stays timely and on brand by giving thanks (remember, it is American Thanksgiving) to their subscribers for helping others in the One for One campaign with a discounted offer.

13. Nike

Subject line: Get Them Before They’re Gone

NikeBlackFridayLet’s discuss how crazy this email actually is. There isn’t an offer associated with it. Nike went and dropped new and exclusive products AT FULL PRICE. On Black Friday! Blowing my mind.

14. Loft

Subject line: 40% off everything + a bonus offer

LoftHere’s another great example of a company offering a little extra in-store (an additional 10% off, until 1PM to capitalize on the lunch hour) via their emails. The copy in this email is also very playful, fantastic copywriting.

15. Air Miles

Subject line: Ivana, your Insider Black Friday picks are here!

airmilesHere’s something you may not have known, you can earn Air Miles online when you shop via (you’re welcome) and Air Miles does a great job of timing their email before the rush of emails crowd your inbox (this was sent at 4AM), giving me the opportunity to see what kind of bonus miles I can earn and deciding where to shop because of it (I think I earned enough miles for a flight to New York on Black Friday – yikes).

Each of these emails has some great elements you can pick up and use for your holiday email campaigns, so take note of your favourites and figure out how you can incorporate these fantastic ideas to your campaigns.

My last bit of advice…

Be original.

Presented without comment, a snapshot of my inbox on Black Friday:

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 6.31.09 PM

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The Retailer's Guide to the Holiday Season

Related: Take Your Welcome Campaigns to the Next Level

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