November 27, 2020 marks the beginning of the chaos known as Black Friday, followed by its cousin, Cyber Monday. You and thousands of email marketers will be ramping up their campaigns and volume to take advantage of this yearly phenomenon.

Black Friday 2019 saw 93.2 million buyers make a purchase online. With COVID-19 keeping people at home, 2020 is sure to set records for e-commerce traffic and sales. ISPs and mailbox providers like Comcast and Gmail also know this is coming and they are preparing too.

They, on behalf of their subscribers, want to weed out the spam from the wanted, the good from the bad, and the legitimate from the scams. Below are some best practices and strategies to help navigate those shark filled waters.

Email marketer’s guide to strategy and successful inbox delivery

  1. Start Early
  • According to RetailMeNot, last year 61% of retailers started promoting holiday deals as early as September and most shoppers start looking for deals in October.
  • Start closing the deal a week early by hinting with more specifics to come and to be “on the lookout” for your next mailing coming early on Black Friday, then send one additional mailing to non-purchasers later on Black Friday with a countdown timer, etc.
  • Sending a series of emails hinting at and building up to your Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers will help assure your message is seen, but be careful not to overdo it…
  1. Keep it relevant and fresh
  • Sending more than usual is OK (within reason), but keep your audience’s interest level by sending highly relevant and valuable content to avoid unsubscribes and spam complaints.
  1. Stand Out In The Crowd
  • Use subject lines that: 
    • Reference Black Friday or Cyber Monday
    • Show your discount percentage
    • Create urgency with deadlines or limited edition items
    • Consider emojis to stand out ?‍, ?, etc., but don’t overdo it
  • Use a pre-header (the little text below or next to the subject line) that further entices your subscribers to open your email
  1. Be unique in your content and offers
  • Use exclusives only you offer – These may be your items, but they could be giveaways, added free content or a matching charity offer, etc.
  • Use personalization in your subjects and in the content
  • Use GIFs, countdown timers and things to shop for within your email
  1. Make sure your emails are formatted for mobile devices
  • Smartphones and tablets accounted for over 65% of all e-commerce on Black Friday last year.
  1. Finish late
  • Extend your offers by sending campaigns after Black Friday and Cyber Monday by targeting anyone that did not purchase or open your previous offers with “last chance” subjects, content and additional discount offers.
  1. Expand your audience, but do it wisely
  • If you plan on sending to an audience that is greater than 50% of your normal list size (25% if your list is very large), you need to do that incrementally.
  • Start now by increasing volume by gradually expanding on your current engaged segments. If you normally send to subscribers that have opened in the past 30 days, start by expanding that to those that opened in the past 45 days, then 60 days, etc.
  • Be careful not to increase volume by more than 10-12 percent of your normal list size each time you increase.
  1. Less is more
  • If possible, send to your list in smaller chunks over a few hours.  ISPs are more likely to inbox a smaller amount of email received at one time rather than one large mailing all at once.
  1. Segment your list and create different content (dynamically or manually) for different type subscribers
  • Past Holiday Shoppers
  • Frequent Buyers
  • Infrequent Buyers
  • Opener and clickers that have purchased
  1. Send to your most engaged subscribers first to assure delivery
  • This can be done through segmentation or by using a feature like Maropost’s “Priority Send”.
  1. Send based on your subscriber’s time zone
  • Utilize proper time zones with features like Maropost’s “Time Zone Optimization”
  1. Send to your contacts based on when they normally open your emails or when they normally buy from you
  • This can be done through segmentation or by using features like Maropost’s “Send-Time Optimization” and “Conversion-Time Optimization”.
  1. Monitor the results of your emails along the way
  • Check for bounces and complaints – if higher than normal, you may want to pause your campaign(s) and rethink your sending strategy or slow things down.
black friday & cyber monday email marketing stats

How our Email Marketing Automation platform helps you to succeed during the holidays

Our team of Deliverability Managers have over 50 years combined deliverability experience so we have seen just about everything.

Are you a Maropost customer? Your own dedicated Deliverability Manger assigned to your account can help you navigate through the peaks and valleys to help your email reach the inbox.

Your dedicated Deliverability Manager and the entire Deliverability team here at Maropost know that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the biggest mailing days of the year for you. That is why we take extra measures on our end to assure you have a smooth and successful experience with your holiday campaigns.

Each year we see at least a 200% increase in volume over the holidays and especially around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. To help assure smooth sailing for our clients, behind the scenes each year we scale up and adjust our own infrastructure well in advance of Black Friday to meet the increased volume and extra campaigns going out.

We also take care to analyze each of our client’s accounts doing a comprehensive review based on a checklist of over 15 items affecting deliverability, checking things such as reputation, active to inactive subscriber ratios, ISP filtering, complaints and blacklists.

Each Deliverability Manager will then work with their assigned accounts based on each of their specific needs over the holidays.

Finally, our team of dedicated Operations Analysts will keep a close eye on everything behind the scenes, all day, every day, fine tuning things by adjusting the various settings needed at each individual ISP and mailbox provider that is receiving your mail (things like speed, throttling and rate limits) just in case there are any surprises that may arise.

Please let us know how we can help YOU!

John Bollinger


John Bollinger

Senior Director of Deliverability, Compliance and Email Operations

John Bollinger is an Email Deliverability expert with over 15 years of experience, working in email deliverability since before “deliverability” was even a term used in email marketing. Since 2004 he has been helping email marketers on the art and science of how to reach the inbox. He is the author of numerous online articles on email deliverability and has worked for a direct email marketer, multiple email service providers and an MTA provider as well as consulting on his own. He is currently the Senior Director of Global Deliverability, Compliance and Email Operations at Maropost, a leading Email Service Provider. He is passionate about email deliverability and helping his clients reach the inbox through consulting on strategy, best practices, IP warm-up procedures, list management and reporting on and analyzing email campaign key performance indicators. He is an active member and participant in industry groups including the Email Sender & Provider Coalition (ESPC) and the Mobile Malware and Message Anti-Abuse Working Group (M³AAWG). He and his wife live in Eugene, Oregon, and he is a passionate football and basketball fan and season ticket holder of the University of Oregon Ducks.

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