How to Create a Killer Black Friday Newsletter (It Works for Cyber Monday, Too!)

Estimated reading time: 14 minute(s)

‘Tis the season to spend. Here’s how to put your readers in the shopping spirit.

Every year around this time my email inbox starts filling up with newsletters—more newsletters than usual (because, like a good marketing copywriter, I subscribe to an absurd number of newsletters, and my inbox is stuffed with subject lines that read “Buy This!,” “Read This!,” and “Don’t Miss This!” on the daily).

This isn’t without cause. Studies show that, over the course of a year, more than 40% of email recipients will make at least one purchase based on a promotional email.

But as Thanksgiving approaches, the urgency and frequency of these newsletters amps up tenfold. This isn’t because Butterball wants me to buy their turkey, though I’m sure they do. It’s because Black Friday looms. Part ominous and part thrilling—the crowds, the deals!—Black Friday has been the biggest retail sales day of the year since 2005.

Black (and Blue) Friday

On a personal note, Black Friday is and always has been a big shopping day for the Cargill clan. Last year, I hunted down a set of 800-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets like an arctic fur trapper, sniffing out the deal in a pre-Thanksgiving newsletter and camping out in front of the Queens Boulevard Target hours before it opened on Black Friday.

I took an elbow to the ribs beelining it to the linen department and nearly lost one of my shoes en route. The elbow left a bruise that lasted until Christmas, but I got those sheets! And for $59.99! (I tell you all of this to illustrate your subscribers’ commitment to the cause.)

Four Newsletter Tips for Black Friday Sales Success

Regardless of whether or not you brave the Black Friday masses, it’s undeniable that newsletters play a role in determining if consumers shop, where they shop, and what they shop for. (This rings even more true for Cyber Monday, when consumers can simply click from your newsletter to the advertised item to their shopping cart. One-two-three clicks and the deal is done, no bruises required.)

Thus your Black Friday and Cyber Monday newsletters can be the difference between a banner sales day and a bummer sales day. To ensure the former, here are 4 simple marketing copywriting tips with a proven record of retail success.

1. It’s all about the subject line

A recent study showed that 69% of email recipients report email as Spam based on the subject line. To avoid this, highlight the most interesting thing about your email in the subject line, focusing on what would motivate you to open it. When crafting email subject lines, I follow what I think of as the SiSi rule (Yes!Yes! eñ Espanol, btw): Keep your Black Friday newsletter subject line:

  • Short
  • Interesting
  • Simple
  • Inspiring (Think call to action, here.)

To quote Duke Ellington, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.” Translation: Nobody will care what’s in your newsletter if your subject line doesn’t grab their attention.

2. Go super niche

Don’t blast your audience. Instead, hand-pick who receives your newsletter based on segmentation and the insights you’ve collected through progressive profiling. (If you haven’t collected insights, get on that right away.) This will allow you to create and curate content that speaks to subscribers’ specific needs, and rather than annoy them, the ads and content in your Black Friday newsletter will make them feel like you listen and respect their preferences. It will also, according to an Experian study, yield a 29 percent higher unique open rate and a 41 percent higher unique click rate than its impersonal counterparts.

3. Make it personal

Tip No. 2 is about personalizing your Black Friday newsletter for your subscriber. This tip—No. 3—is about a different kind of personalization; namely, the kind that tells subscribers about you—your company, its values, and the people that comprise its staff.

Newsletter content like “What We’re Reading Now,” “Our Favorite Holiday Traditions,” and “Here’s Maggie from our Accounting Department with Cyber Monday Shopping Tips” show who you and your team are. Notice the we, our, and personal noun in these story titles. They establish the relationship between newsletter sender and recipient as you and us, which invites subscribers to become part of the communal “us.”

4. Write snappy summaries

Do not, I repeat, do not simply hyperlink an article headline and move on. According to Convince and Convert, 84% of people 18-34 use an email preview pane to see what’s inside the messages they receive before opening them. Hyperlinking to your article provides no insight to your email’s content and provides absolutely zero incentive to click through. It’s the digital equivalent of saying, “I don’t care. Do you?”

Instead, craft a compelling teaser that summarizes each of the articles included in your newsletter. Tell your readers why you wrote it, why they’ll enjoy it, what it offers—a coupon code or subscriber discount, as will be the case with most Black Friday newsletter content—or all of the above.

For help crafting a killer Black Friday newsletter—or any marketing content you need—email the copywriting team at Marketsmiths. We’re bursting with ideas, and we know what, in addition to inexpensive Egyptian cotton sheets, motivates newsletter subscribers. Happy shopping!

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Amanda Cargill

Amanda Cargill is a Brooklyn-based writer, video producer, and marketing communications strategist specializing in food, travel, culture and lifestyle content in domestic, multicultural, and international markets.

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