Best Examples of Black Friday Emails To Inspire Your Own

Best Examples of Black Friday Emails To Inspire Your Own
06 October, 2023 • ... • 6666 views
Kate Shokurova
by Kate Shokurova

Time to go black! 🖤 Black Friday is approaching — the best time of the year for shopping, sales, and advertising campaigns of all sorts across all possible marketing channels. We have analyzed the best Black Friday email examples and practices and are ready to share them with you. Read this article to make your campaigns shine and convert. Prepare for lots of bulleted lists, grab your coffee, and let’s go!

Why develop Black Friday email campaigns

Black Friday follows Thanksgiving Day and is one of the key periods for a business to make money. With the right approach, you can get a month’s revenue in a few days, promote your brand, and expand your customer base. According to Adobe, in 2022, consumers spent $210 billion vs. $205 billion in 2021. Moreover, Black Friday alone brought $9.12 billion, second only to Cyber Monday.

Revenue by key date chart showing from least to most revenue Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Eve, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday
Source: Adobe

Not surprisingly, last year’s Black Friday saw an online spending increase of about 2.3% YoY to around $9 billion. Historically, Black Friday has meant miles of traffic jams, crowds, and even fights for products. Thanks to modern e-commerce technologies, shopping can be done in a couple of clicks.

Black Friday marketing campaigns also became longer.

Here’s a very insightful article on — the discount aggregator site — about how Black Friday has changed its usual format and has turned from a sharp short-term event to a more prolonged one. There are even brands with Black Friday marketing campaigns that start in October and stretch over a month!

A Black Friday email with the text Black Friday starts early and deals
For example, EMMIOL sent this email on October 30th, 2022. Source: Milled

Most likely, this tendency will continue this year which makes email marketing a great option for such extended e-commerce sales.

Here’s why email marketing is a great sales channel for Black Friday:

  • It allows you to tell about your campaign in detail in several comparatively big messages.
  • You can create compelling visuals to further engage your customers.
  • It’s very cost-effective compared to SMM and other marketing channels.
  • It complements your omnichannel strategy.
  • You can use marketing automation so that technology runs the campaigns for you.

How to create good Black Friday emails

Let’s imagine you have already analyzed your stock and know what products you can give discounts for. You need to figure out how to tell about them in your holiday marketing emails to make them both beautiful and catchy.

Now picture this. You open your inbox at the end of November and there are endless Black Friday deals on templates with black backgrounds (OK, there are tons of white, red, and gold also). What will you remember? Anything that’s different from the rest and holds some value. But to offer something valuable, you have to know your audience.

Analyze your audience

You know how important it is to build an email list. The importance of every email address increases dramatically in anticipation of the biggest sale of the year. By the way, we have a comprehensive guide on building email lists, be sure to check it out. And don’t forget to also clean up your lists, because it’s not quantity, but the quality that matters.

Then think about what you want to say to your audience. How can you surprise and attract customers, convince them to make a purchase?

You don’t need to be a copywriting genius to write compelling copy. The most compelling and effective marketing copy comes from the audience, not the marketer. Here are some ways to get insights:

  • Review mining — browse through customer reviews to look into people’s heads and get ideas for your products and features that you couldn’t come up with on your own.
  • Qualitative surveys — gain detailed and descriptive information about the opinions, beliefs, and values of a target audience.
  • Interviews — find out your customers’ pain points, what solutions they’re looking for, and how you do compared to your competitors.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What did you do last year that really worked?
  • What holiday deals were the most effective for your brand?
  • What product did your customers purchase the most?
  • What did your competitors do?
  • How can you segment your audience according to the findings?
  • What can you do to make your customers’ experience better? What new technology, platform, or strategy to use?

Craft an attention-grabbing subject line

The task is to come up with a subject line that will definitely make the recipient read the message. This will help:

  • Specify the discount percentage, or better yet, indicate the pricing change in dollars
  • Specify the categories of products with discounts
  • Offer the maximum discount to the first customers
  • Add information about additional free services or gifts
  • Add keywords like “Sale”, “Now”, “Free” (don’t overdo it though, and don’t look spammy to email services)
  • Add a catchy phrase that resonates with your brand
  • Add emojis
  • Make it super short and intriguing.

What do the best Black Friday email subject lines look like? Here are some examples:

  • A Better Black Friday Deal
  • Black Friday Sale Live Now
  • It’s here! Shop 30% off for Black Friday.
  • A note about tomorrow…
  • Why Wait? Fill Your 🛒 Now for Black Friday!
  • Enjoy Black Friday Now
  • Starts NOW: Exclusive VIP Stack Friday Offer 🌟
  • Beat the Black Friday rush.
  • VIP Black Friday Sneak Peek Inside!
  • Free. Bundle. Gift.
  • Biggest holiday deals end tonight
  • Flash Sale! Sweaters now $24.99
  • SURPRISE‼️ Who says Black Friday has to be in November⁉️

Choose an appropriate template

Create a separate set of custom templates for Black Friday emails to make your campaigns look special on a special day. You might want to go with a different structure, design, or color scheme to convey the e-commerce holiday spirit.

But you can always take ready-made templates prepared for you by email marketing services and platforms and use them as a starting point. The thing is, templates save time when you’re short on it. They are easy to edit and display beautifully across all email platforms and adapt to mobile devices. For example, you can try our free Black Friday templates right in your Selzy account and edit them in our email builder.

This is an example of our Black Friday templates:

A Selzy email template for Black Friday

You can also use services like Stripo that allow you to design beautiful templates and import them into Selzy:

A Black Friday email template from Stripo
An example of Black Friday email templates. Source: Stripo

Promote your best deals

If your e-commerce business is having a massive holiday sale, stating the percentage off is a no-brainer. But sometimes your customers need a little push. And although you may want them to purchase every single product on sale, focus on your bestsellers or most lucrative deals. Another great option is using technology to your advantage. Thanks to segmentation and automation, you can send precise product recommendations and provide each person with a personalized shopping experience.

For example, this email’s recipient probably purchased men’s shoes before, and that is why men’s styles are shown first, and the recommended product in a yellow frame is men’s as well.

A Black Friday email with shoe models recommended for purchase
Source: MailCharts

Keep your content short and on point

OK, now that you’ve got a template to work with, let’s fill it. The main idea: be short and clear. People know you’re having a sale, so cut to the chase, tell them what it’s about, promote your best deals.

According to Litmus, subscribers spend an average of 13.4 seconds reading emails. They have this time to determine whether a message holds something interesting or not. It means that you have little time to get them to do what you want. Don’t overload your marketing message with a lot of text. That’s your brand website’s job. There, you can tell in detail about everything you want to offer.

Some tips on making your Black Friday email on point:

  • Be clear about the subject of the message and the preheader by directly announcing the discounts. You are not alone in competing for customer attention. The winner is the one who formulates the most relevant proposal.
  • In the body of the email, include product photos, pricing, and descriptions. And don’t forget to add a button or several once with links to your e-commerce website or landing page with discounts.
  • Place the most important information in the first screen area and highlight the most visually significant parts of the message.
  • Tell that the offer is limited: the sale period will end quickly, and the goods may “disappear” even before the end of the promotion.
A Black Friday email with subscriber-exclusive deals
Source: MailCharts

Moleskine sent a minimalist email stressing the exclusivity to motivate customers to make a purchase. The email has an effective copy and a big button leading to the page with deals.

Make sure your emails stand out

Many companies change their email design during the Black Friday period to emphasize the importance of holiday deals. But you need not only to be different from your regular mailings but from the rest of the companies. Typical Black Friday emails usually follow a total black-and-white design. OK, everybody knows it’s BLACK Friday, we get it. Why not change it?

Here’s what you can add to your message to stand out from the holiday inbox clutter:

  • Whatever colors you want, preferably vivid
  • GIFs
  • Countdown timers
  • Interactive product carousels
  • Videos
  • Partner promotions with bloggers, celebrities, or other brands
A Black Friday email with a 60% off sign in pink integrated into the Black Friday sign
Designmodo weaves in (like literally) a vibrant 60% off message into their black-and-white design. Source: Really Good Emails
A Black Friday email with colorful elements and the main information stated on top on a black background
Electric Objects inverts typical templates, transforming black into the main attraction. Source: Really Good Emails

A couple of points deserve special attention:

Put your best graphics forward

Don’t send Black Friday emails with the corporate design that you use in all other mailings. Sure, identity is essential for recognition, but a few times a year, allow yourself to deviate from the standards. It will look original and memorable enhancing the customers’ experience.

Remember, the point of seasonal e-commerce campaigns is that they are… seasonal. Using vivid colors and fonts, combined with a cool proposition, will help increase your click-through rate and conversions to purchase.

A Black Friday email with bright elements and photos on a black background
Foot Cardigan’s emails are on the bright side at normal times but they went over their head with the Black Friday campaign by using super-trendy neon colors and gradients. Source: MailCharts

Add GIFs

GIFs are great for turning people’s heads because they are dynamic and simple, and get more attention than static illustrations. They make content come to life before our eyes.

If done wisely and tastefully, GIFs:

  • Attract attention.
  • Showcase the product.
  • Enliven the copy.
  • Illustrate the idea.
  • Are a great alternative to video.
  • Simply look beautiful.
A GIF of a calendar with November 21st being circled in red
Frank and Oak gives readers the option to schedule their savings with this minimalistic animated calendar. Source: Emaildesign.Befree.
A Black Friday email with a banner GIF of blacked-out watches and white particles moving around them
A subtle and mesmerizing GIF of a new limited edition product grabs the attention. Source: Really Good Emails

1-2 animated elements per email are enough, you don’t want to overload your subscribers, so make your emails weigh a ton, and attract the attention of spam filters. Run a few tests, make sure your GIFs display OK before sending.

Pay attention to your CTAs

CTA or call-to-action is an element that motivates a user to take a certain action: go to the website, buy, sign up, subscribe, leave a request. There are different kinds of CTAs: buttons, links, images.

Whatever the kind, the main rule of CTA design in emails is to make them as clear and visible as possible for an easier shopping experience:

  • Use bright or at least contrasting colors.
  • Surround them with a lot of white space.
  • Get down to business right away, place the main CTA on the first screen.
  • Don’t dilute your main CTA’s impact with a lot of other buttons. It will confuse subscribers and they may end up not knowing what to do next.
An email with a white button with Shop Now CTA text
Nice CTA placement by GlassesUSA. Source: MailCharts

Read more about CTA placement and looks (and lots of other stuff) in our article about email design.

Use urgency in your emails

“What?” and “How?” are very important, but your customers are also interested in “When?”.

It might look overused, but the content or subject lines like “Don’t miss this chance!” or “Buy now!” (or even “BUY NOW!”) make people do things. Creating urgency is a psychological trick. It attracts attention by creating the FOMO effect (fear of missing out). This mechanic helps to stimulate demand and increase sales even at times that are unfavorable for the business.

There are several ways you can create the urgency effect:

  • Tell that some products are limited in quantity.
  • Offer big discounts but make them available to the first 10 customers only.
  • Give 50% off for the entire stock but only for 24 hours on a specific day.
An email with Tomorrow is too late text on the banner
An example of copy creating a sense of urgency. Source: Really Good Emails

Timers deserve special attention — they are a simple but powerful e-commerce technology that stimulates people to make a purchase. Looking at a timer, a person feels like time is running out. To avoid missing the opportunity, they click on the “buy” button, and the results can be impressive. Adestra describes a case study of how adding a timer to an email got it a 171% higher click-to-open rate and a 400% higher conversion rate.

A Black Friday email with a timer
Tick-tick-ticking away… Source: Really Good Emails
This one has it all 😲 Source: Really Good Emails
A Black Friday email promoting a 12-hours-only sale with flashing lights and a big 35% off text

With urgency, it’s important not to overdo it. If all of your emails are “urgent”, then none of them really are. But major sales like Black Friday are perfect for it.

Don’t be afraid to use some humor

Humor can be an effective marketing tool that melts the ice between a company and its customers. A simple joke or a pun is a versatile thing:

  • It sets an email apart from messages that only try to sell something.
  • It increases sharing.
  • It creates a unique experience.
  • It gets you closer to your subscribers, creating a dialogue that takes on a friendly, partner-like tone.
  • It makes a brand more memorable.
An email with Brr-iliant deals text on the banner and jumping penguins on the bottom
This cute pun and lil’ guys jumping for your attention are just adorable 😄 Source: Really Good Emails
A Black Friday email with the text The perfect gift for loved ones with mouths (including yourself).
Quip’s funny proposal is irresistible. Do your loved ones and partners have mouths? Source: Really Good Emails

Personalize it

Even though Black Friday is a massive sale, you can still offer customers something special. Take into account the interests and preferences of each person and make them personal offers.

Call them by their names, provide discounts on products that they are interested in the most. Or try out other personalization techniques to enhance the customer experience.

A marketing email promoting personalized jewelry
The idea of personalized jewelry isn’t something special per se but it’s a nice touch. Source: MailCharts

Optimize for mobile

Almost 45% of total revenue during the 2022 holiday season was brought from mobile devices. Plus, according to a 2021 Litmus study, mobile is the most popular environment for reading emails. It means that mobile versions of emails are a prerequisite for high conversions.

Email service providers like Selzy usually have responsive options in their email constructors that allow you not only to adapt your messages for mobile devices but to create separate versions for the purpose.

Here is one of the good mobile optimization examples:

Two versions of the same email, the mobile version has a one-column layout for product recommendations whereas the desktop version has a two-column layout.
Source: MailCharts

Black Friday email marketing ideas and strategies

Let’s go over some of the ideas that can make your campaigns perform even better.

Make a chain of emails

On the eve of discount sales, inboxes will be filled with a variety of product offers from e-commerce businesses. If you send just one Black Friday email, your offer may go unnoticed.

A movie starts with its trailer, right? Same with a big email campaign — you need to announce it first and then reveal the details. Basically, there are 3 stages:

  1. Announcement — 7-10 days before Black Friday. Describe what promotions and discounts you have but be careful. Subtly hint, but don’t reveal all the cards at once.
  2. Notification at the start of the promotion — on Black Friday or just before your sale starts. Now describe all the conditions: what products are on sale, what are the discounts, how long the promotion will last, etc. The clearer the offer, the better your customers’ shopping experience.
  3. Last chance notification — send this message to those who have not bought anything yet. If they didn’t shop for themselves, try a different approach. Showcase that your star product can be a great gift to their partner, friend, or family member.

Below is the 3-part Black Friday email campaign by Bose. Swipe to see all emails:

A Black Friday email with a scratch-off sticker that says Scratch off and unveil how big you can save this year.
Email #1. It announces the sale and fuels your interest with a scratch-off trick.
A Black Friday savings email with “Huge savings. 5-star ratings” text and a product recommendation.
Email #2. The sale is on! 🎉
A Black Friday email stating Only a few hours left to save big.
Email #3. You can still make it! Source: Really Good Emails

You can expand on this scheme with something like this:

  • Sales announcement (start date, conditions) — 7-10 days in advance.
  • Notification at the start of the event — a few hours before the start.
  • A selection of interesting offers during Black Friday — after the start of the sale.
  • Alert about the end of sales — 3-4 hours before the end of the discount period.
  • Exclusive offer for subscribers (additional discount with a promotional code or offering products that don’t participate in the general sale) — a couple of hours before the end of the sale.
  • “Last Chance” (unannounced offer for latecomers) — immediately after the end of the discounts.
  • Announcement of Cyber ​​Monday — a couple of hours after the end of Black Friday.

Sounds complicated? Email automation will be your trusted partner and and will make your life easier. Create templates, choose lists, and set actions and reactions. For example, don’t send the last chance email to people who already bought something.

Explore different mechanics

There are several email mechanics you can explore to run your Black Friday promotion:

  • Weekly promotion. Use automation to set up an email chain that reminds users about the promotion during the week and gives a promotional code to those who did not have time to make a purchase.
  • Daily promotion. This option is suitable if you’ve managed to collect a separate list of subscribers with the help of a landing page and you need to send them a message with a separate deal.
  • The best products. This is a simple chain where you send all users 2-3 bestseller collections one after another.

Arrange a private sale for regular customers

Your loyal customers are your main asset and biggest partner. They generate significant revenue and often provide extra advertising. The more often they shop, the more your business grows. So why not single them out into a separate segment? Reward your loyal customers, show them that you care with a closed sale like this one:

An Early VIP deal email for Black Friday
Source: MailCharts

Create matching Black Friday and Cyber Monday email campaigns

Cyber Monday is a couple of days after Black Friday so these two events are very closely interconnected and are often perceived as one. Why not capitalize on it and make Black Friday and Cyber Monday email campaigns look alike for further brand promotion?

Both Casper emails showcase gift boxes with bows and have a similar color scheme: light peach, red, orange, and deep blue.
A Black Friday and Cyber Monday email by Casper. Source: Really Good Emails

Don’t do Black Friday

Say what? Yeah, you can do just that. If you don’t have the resources to arrange a super-deal for your customers, you can still be a part of the Black Friday hubbub by playing on the subject to your advantage. REI Co-op doesn’t promote anything directly but you’ll remember them:

This Black Friday email states that the stores will be closed and invites the brand’s subscribers to join them in hanging outside with the optoutside hashtag.
Source: Really Good Emails

Ready for Black Friday?

So, here are the final thoughts:

  • Black Friday is an important day of big discounts all over the world and one of the most important events for marketers.
  • It’s changing its nature and becoming a more prolonged event. Emails are a great way to fit into this new reality.
  • To make your campaigns perform their best, analyze your audience’s needs, craft a concise copy, use graphics to distinguish them from the rest, add a sense of urgency, and don’t be afraid to use some humor.
  • One message is not enough. Send 3-5 emails at different stages of the Black Friday sale.
  • Try various mechanics, send exclusive offers, create matching Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaigns. Choose Selzy or another ESP as your partner and let the automation technology work its magic.
  • If you have nothing to offer on Black Friday, don’t obsess over it, get creative.

When everything’s said and done… Don’t relax yet. You have Cyber Monday ahead of you.

This article was originally published in October 2021 and was updated in October 2023 to make it more relevant and comprehensive.

06 October, 2023
Article by
Kate Shokurova
Out and about, exploring the world and its marvels. A writer and editor with 10+ years of experience, I also dabbled in all kinds of marketing and am happy to use this experience to make quality content, useful for the readers and effective for brands. I feel really passionate about helping people understand about marketing and design through easily digestible materials. Outside of working hours, I enjoy hiking, dancing, watching movies and reading books.
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