Best Black Friday Email Campaigns for Your Inspiration

black friday best emails

Uh-oh, it’s beginning to look a lot like the season of cold weather, roast turkey, and anxious marketing department employees! Let’s dive into Black Friday email marketing — keep reading to learn about best practices and look at our selection of best campaigns.

Should you run a Black Friday campaign?

Black Friday is the first Friday after Thanksgiving which marks the beginning of the Christmas sales season. In the US, it’s the biggest sales day — in 2021, Americans spent $8.9 billion on Black Friday online shopping alone. The annual NRF survey also confirms that during Thanksgiving Weekend, the largest number of shoppers is expected on Black Friday.

Potential shoppers on Thanksgiving weekend survey results
Source: National Retail Federation

The thing is, November is the time people start buying Christmas gifts — that’s why sales surge during this period. And if you want to boost your sales, a good email marketing campaign can draw more attention to your deals and exclusive offers.

13 Black Friday emails that caught our eye

We’ve been in email marketing for a long time, and we’ve seen many Black Friday campaigns. Some of them were good, others were so-so. To learn what makes a good Black Friday campaign that gets you sales and happy customers, read our extensive guide on the matter. But if you just need a little inspo, take a look at our selection of the best Black Friday emails — and learn why we loved them.

Orangewood: An outstanding offer

Why do people shop on Black Friday sales in the first place? Here’s what Finder has to say about it.

Black Friday shopping motivation in Americans in 2021 from Finder
Source: Finder

According to their 2021 survey of American consumers, 58% of people are ready to shop during Black Friday if the price is lucrative enough, with 50%, 90%, and 70% discounts in the top-3 of most common answers. The takeaway is, only big enough discounts attract customers — if you can’t drop prices by 90%, offer something else. For example, here’s a Black Friday email from Orangewood, a store that sells acoustic guitars, ukuleles, and accessories.

Black Friday email from Orangewood
Source: MailCharts

Orangewood offered free accessory kits for those who purchase guitars and redeem the promo code. It’s not just the “buy 1 get 1 free” model. Imagine how useful this is for aspiring guitarists who don’t know which extra items they need. That’s a great replacement for straight up discounts that give customers more value.

Chubbies: Schworts for your food coma

When it comes to Black Friday emails, it’s easy to underestimate the power of a copy that is more complex than “here’s the code, get 50% off everything”. It’s necessary to give all the information about your offer — but if you do more than that, you can increase loyalty, email engagement, and brand recognition. For example, this Black Friday campaign by Chubbies is on the more creative side. This men’s apparel brand that sells “proper length men’s shorts”, flannels, and other casual and athleisure clothes, launched a new “product” for the occasion:

Black Friday email from Chubbies
Source: Mailjet

One fun thing about this email is that it suggests the solution to the oddly specific problem — having eaten too much during Thanksgiving and needing a pair of comfortable pants. Not that this problem doesn’t exist but it’s so random it catches subscribers off-guard and creates a comic effect, along with a cringey new term, visual choices, and a Spaceballs reference. This approach to Black Friday email copies won’t suit all brands. However, if done well and in line with the brand’s values, personality, and target audience, such creative campaigns work wonders.

Bottle Rocket: Happy capitalism day!

Bottle Rocket is a small hot sauce business that focuses on fresh local ingredients, small batches, and all things natural and delicious. Their brand personality can be described as the one with attitude. They’re not afraid to call their Facebook page subscribers “hotties” or post food photography with suggestive captions like “i would f that pizza”.

This Black Friday campaign is well-aligned with their social media image:

Black Friday email from Bottle Rocket
Source: Really Good Emails

The subject line is “all sauces are $6.90 each today”, as simple as it may be. We like this email because it’s laconic but still effective and it’s almost painfully self-aware — and we love a brand that doesn’t take itself seriously. This Black Friday email is a good example of how you can express your brand in marketing emails — the all-lowercase text and the informal delivery matches the tone of their social media posts.

Cards Against Humanity: Dear horrible friends…

Cards Against Humanity is an adult board game that gained popularity thanks to obscene humor and satire. The game is a bit of an acquired taste — so is their brand. For example, this Black Friday email is borderline aggressive:

Black Friday Email from Cards Against Humanity
Source: Really Good Emails

Well, maybe calling your subscribers “horrible friends” won’t work for every business — but it feels natural for a brand like Cards Against Humanity to use this language. But it’s not the reason why we like this email. 

The best part is the CTA. We’re used to the idea that emails are supposed to give something valuable to customers, which implies that CTAs should describe what your customer will get for clicking the button. But Cards Against Humanity completely rejected the idea of a valuable CTA and straight up suggested customers giving money for nothing. Even better, they claimed that giving them $5 is somehow a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s actually a smart joke that subverts the idea of Black Friday itself — no matter how great the deal is, you still spend money, so how is that profitable to anyone but corporations? At least this email is honest.

Finally, being a little scandalous and unconventional in your email campaigns can do good for you in the future. This email is mentioned in many articles like this one — it’s basically free promotion for your brand. Good job, Cards Against Humanity, we bought into it too.

Vans: Gifts for every wallet

The previous two campaigns are great — but you don’t have to be an anti-capitalist satirical comedian to make a good Black Friday email. For example, take a look at Vans. This popular skateboarding apparel brand came up with an awesome campaign without radical subversion:

Black Friday email from Vans
Source: MailCharts

You might think there’s nothing special about this email — but we like it for many reasons. Firstly, adding several links sorted by pricing is a great idea. Secondly, Vans frame Black Friday as a holiday similar to Christmas. Many apparel brands promote Black Friday as a rare opportunity and mostly use anxiety-inducing tactics. Vans showed that you can make a decent campaign for the season without keeping customers on edge. Instead, you can show them how much fun it is, give them a holiday playlist, a little game to play, and a selection of gifts for every wallet.

Veil: It ain’t over yet!

Veil’s Black Friday campaign is a great example of how you should write email copies for small businesses. This company makes a very niche product — a perfume for eliminating the smell of cannabis. How can you even promote something so specific? 

Take a look at this:

Black Friday email from Veil
Source: Really Good Emails

What we like about this email is that it doesn’t feel salesy. With its informal and emotional delivery, the use of slang words and plain text emojis this email doesn’t look branded — it gives you the feeling of your friend inviting you for a giveaway. This tactic is great for small and niche businesses like Veil. Instead of aggressively promoting something, create the “human face” for your company and treat your customers like friends when it comes to content marketing. Since you’re already working for a small niche, increasing the revenue by growing the customer base is harder. But there’s a way out. Emails like this will help you create a small but extremely loyal community of customers that will come back for your product again and again.

The Citizenry: Black Friday but make it non-profit

The Citizenry is a hand-crafted house decor brand inspired by different cultures around the globe. The company’s values include fair trade, sustainability, and good work ethic. 

It would be weird to write a typical Black Friday sales email for a business that cares about social justice. Here’s what they did instead:

Black Friday email from The Citizenry
Source: MailCharts

The Citizenry didn’t do anything new — non-profit or anticapitalist Black Fridays have been done before. For example, O My Bag have their own Black Friday fund and REI have been closing their shops during the busiest shopping season for years, having made it a non-negotiable part of the brand policy in October 2022. However, we still like this campaign, and here’s why.

When it comes to socially conscious businesses, it’s often hard to believe such companies — but The Citizenry do practice what they preach. And the Black Friday fund is one of many confirmations of their values. Another good thing is that they don’t just send money to a random charity organization — their goal is as specific as possible, they described it in great detail. It’s a very good tactic when you ask customers for a favor — they should know what they’re agreeing for. 

Sweaty Belly: Wheel of Fortune!

Sweaty Belly is a British women’s gym clothing and accessories brand. Here’s what their 2021 Black Friday email campaign looked like:

Black Friday email from Sweaty Belly
Source: MailCharts

This company launched a little Black Friday lottery on their website and used emails to draw more attention. They also suggested taking part in an offline scratch-off available at brick-and-mortar stores. Not only do we think that a little gambling as a Black Friday offer is a smart idea — we also like how it was promoted. Sweaty Belly made an excellent design choice with the spinning wheel and little hints that show what customers can win — both discounts on certain categories and free items. This tactic entices subscribers to go check on the website and play, maybe even more than once to get a better prize. Just an invite to the lottery with no clear description and simpler email design wouldn’t work as effectively. 

HUF: An email from Pinterest

Here goes another email from an apparel business — meet HUF, a streetwear apparel from the UK. If you want to know how to make a tasteful and stylish email for a clothing store, ask them — or take a look at their Black Friday campaign.

Black Friday email from HUF
Source: MailCharts

Using the black-white-golden color scheme for Black Friday email is a little obsolete, especially if you want to stand out. This email from HUF is an awesome example of how you can make a beautiful and festive Black Friday campaign without overused tropes. A simple, minimalist layout and button design go well with neat pictures and photographs in the same warm and earthy palette. HUF is a streetwear brand — but this email looks luxurious thanks to smart picture choices. It’s like looking at a Pinterest board — pure visual satisfaction.

Elementor: B2Black Friday

When it comes to Black Friday, people mostly associate it with crazy discounts on clothes and gadgets. Should B2B companies join the party? Ask Elementor, a free WordPress website builder with a number of advanced paid options. Here’s what they did for Black Friday:

Black Friday email from Elementor
Source: Moosend

What can you offer as a B2B service during the season? Elementor suggested a discount for their most expensive plan, targeting those customers who build websites for business purposes. A straightforward email copy, a stylish two-tone palette choice that puts a little twist on the baseline Black Friday campaign design, and a countdown for some sense of urgency — that’s a great success recipe. Good job, Elementor!

Weird Fish: Black Fry-day

You may or may not like puns — but you’re going to love this Black Friday email from the British apparel brand:

Black Friday email from Weird Fish
Source: GetResponse

We like this email for many reasons. First things first, it’s a great use of puns — the “Fry-day” bit wouldn’t work for a brand that hasn’t got “fish” in its name. Even better, the joke is extended to “sizzling hot deals”, continuing the culinary metaphor. 

Another good thing about this campaign is the email design. We like the cute little fish and the neon-on-black color choice. And this email is not just tasteful, it’s also functional — we appreciate links for clothes in different sizes, which is convenient for customers.

Forever21: Black Friday with a twist

We already mentioned that the black-white-golden color scheme is overused in Black Friday emails. But what if you absolutely have to stick to design cliches? Look at this email by Forever21.

Black Friday email from Forever21
Source: MailBakery

The takeaway is, if you have to use cliches, think of a unique delivery. For example, this Black Friday email uses a scratch-off visual that not only coincides with the lottery-like offer but also slightly subverts the design trope. Even better, it’s animated. GIFs in emails are a nice touch to the message because movement draws attention and tells a short story that adds an extra meaning to your content copy. 

Carhartt: A blinding offer

Here’s another example of a great use of GIFs in a Black Friday campaign from Carhartt, a popular streetwear brand.

Black Friday Email from Carhartt
Source: SmartMail

This neat, perfectly looped animation of raising blinds is a part of the email copy — when they raise, more text is revealed, and we like that integration. Another interesting detail is that this GIF creates a narrative — this email reveals that the sale has started, and, as the blinds raise, we get this information. Finally, like HUF, it’s an awesome example of a streetwear apparel brand that presents itself as a luxury brand — the minimalist design and the monochrome color palette is usually associated with high-end products.

Wrapping up

Black Friday is a great opportunity to boost your sales and remind subscribers about your business with an email campaign. Even an email as simple as a brief offer description with a discount code will work. But these emails we selected show how creative you can be with sales campaigns. Experiment with design and stay away from basic templates, write unusual content copies, don’t be afraid to be funny, goofy, or ironic if it fits in your brand, or talk to your customers as if they were your friends. And who knows, maybe next year your email will be in listicles like this one 😉

What was the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever bought on Black Friday sales?

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