Each year the holiday shopping frenzy seems to start earlier that ever before. It’s “Christmas creep,” but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The exaggerated timeline gives companies an opportunity to invent their own approach to holiday email marketing, getting creative with how and when they offer promotions. From Black Friday in July to Cyber Week to extended Cyber Week, we feel like we’ve seen it all. And with Thanksgiving just a few days away, it’s time to check out how companies are approaching 2018’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday email design. How are you going to grab readers’ attention? Let’s take a tour of this year’s trends to get inspired:
#1. Give shoppers a heads-up
Whether you’re starting your sale earlier or sticking to a more traditional timeline, you can give readers a heads-up about what’s coming. It’s a way to drum up excitement and maybe get a better turnout for your promotion. We spotted a few brands doing just that.
Frank & Oak
Subject: Mark your calendar for Black Friday 🗓
Frank and Oak actually gives readers the option to schedule their savings with calendar shortcuts. It’s an unusual idea, and a clever one. Plus, this email is beautifully designed with well-formatted text (super legible, large, left-adjusted, with great contrast!) and a stunningly simple black-and-white design. And check out the animation, too—
Subject: Get ready for Black Friday.
Like Frank and Oak, Sonos is letting readers know that deals are coming. Instead of an add-to-calendar CTA, Sonos asks readers to make a list and explore its gift guide. A tap on the CTA button takes readers to a gift guide landing page where they can check out items and possibly buy early.
#2. Count it down
All these holiday events are a great opportunity to add a countdown timer to your email design. It only takes a few steps, we promise! Here’s what we do:
- Open the BEE editor to build and design our email message.
- Add a countdown timer via a generator! A number of online platforms (listed below) also offer easy-to-use countdown timers to add to any email campaign:
And speaking of Nifty Images, they used their own timer 2x in this countdown email—
Subject: Black Friday is almost here, are you ready?
Here are the GIFs in motion. Black Friday:
And Cyber Monday:
Subject: FIRST LOOK: Check out your Black Friday sneak peek!
It’s not the most beautifully designed email, but Staples makes good use of its own timer-in-action in this Black Friday sneak peek email:
Timers add a sense of urgency, and we’re always in favor of a little in-email motion to show the value you place on good design—and in delighting your readers!
#3. Start early
We know you’ve seen them: pre-Thanksgiving, early Black Friday, early-early Cyber Monday promotion emails. The sales before the sales are rolling in by the dozens! Some extend through the holidays, while others are their own singular, pre-holiday events. Let’s see how brands are getting the party started early.
Subject: Sneak peek! Get 60% off this Staub cocotte—you’ve got 24 hours.
And here’s the hero GIF:
Pretty, right? In this Black Friday “preview,” Food52 chooses a single product to feature and discounts it steeply for 24 hours. It will be interesting to see how this sale performs vs. ones later in the week. Design-wise, this email does a great job of using motion to snag readers’ attention, and it breaks into a two-column layout to display a numbered list of benefits (sort of like a photo collage with text). We love it!
Subject: Article’s Black Friday Sale has begun 🏴.
Four days before Black Friday and furniture company Article is announcing the sale starts now. And what a beautiful way to do it. This animated email is simple, sleek, and stylish, just like the brand’s furniture. Of course, if we were designing the email in BEE, we’d suggest positioning live text and a bulletproof CTA button on top of the image instead of baking them all into one.
Subject: We’re stuffffffed
This email from Huckberry was so chock full of deals, we had to trim it. You get the idea from the first few modules. What follows is a continuation of the z-pattern single column modular design that you can see here—a good option for long, product feature emails. We like the hero image here and the color scheme. It stands out from other Huckberry emails and therefore seems special—exactly what you want to communicate if you’re a brand vying for attention this holiday season. The black copy is live text, too (but show us some bulletproof buttons, Huckberry!) All in all, this “early access” email does the trick.
#4. Opt out?
For the past few years, REI has closed on Black Friday. While many brands are able to resist the pressure to open on Thanksgiving, REI seems to be one of the only ones to remain closed on Friday as well. And evidently, the move has been good for the brand.
We’re including REI’s #OptOutside campaign in our roundup for inspiration on breaking the mold. And we found another email that takes a different approach to Black Friday, too. Check ’em out…
Subject: This Black Friday: Rethink Your Routine #OptOutside
We love this combo of a beautiful, illustrative hero image with photography to follow. The opener really grabs your attention, while the single column modular design makes the rest of the content easy to browse.
Subject: 10 Tips for a Green Black Friday
While this is a promotional email from Pact, it certainly has a different vibe from most of the others we’ve spotted. And chances are, its readers—who are likely environmentally-conscious folks—appreciate that. Both REI and Pact provide great examples of the importance of knowing your audience, then tailoring the content and design to resonate with them.
#5. Extend throughout the week
Cyber Week is a thing now. And it starts on November 26th. That means if you want to cash in on consumers’ shopping behavior beyond the weekend, you’ve got to be ready with a great campaign. One message isn’t enough! For inspiration on how to extend your own cyber week emails, check out these handy guides:
- Email drip campaigns: inspiring design tips
- How Fitbit dominates email stream design
- 6 brands tackle product demos in email
- How to get the most out of your email templates
Feeling inspired to get those opens and clicks? Check out a free trial of BEE Pro to design stunning emails in our easy to use drag-and-drop editor. Create the perfect CTA buttons, arrange live text over images, build custom photo collages, and much more. Happy Turkey Day, and happy designing!