New year, new beginnings, and that means new plans and strategies for every brand’s email marketing communications. To say that email marketing is one of the most cost-effective marketing tools that delivers excellent return on investment (ROI) is the understatement of the year. According to Adestra’s 2017 Email Marketing Census in partnership with Econsultancy, 73% of marketers rate email marketing as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ in terms of ROI. In addition to this, the DMA and Demand Metric found that email marketing has an average of 122% ROI (four times higher than other marketing tools such as social media, paid search or direct mail).

Therefore, the findings ascertained from Radicati Group’s Email Statistics Report 2017-2021 are not surprising. According to this technology market research firm, 269 billion marketing emails were sent and received every day in 2017. In fact, this report also indicates that this figure is expected to grow, reaching 319.6 billion by the end of 2021.

One period that is definitely fuelling brands’ desire for more email communications is the Black Friday weekend. A sales period close to Christmas where retailers alone sent almost three billion emails to their subscribers promoting time-sensitive offers in 2017. In fact, subscribers received an average of 18 emails a day around Black Friday, with conversion rates higher than normal – around 4.3%.

However, not all that glitters is gold. As these figures are quite impressive, retailers and almost any other industry seem to think that they need to develop a Black Friday strategy based on volume. Due to the huge competition to stand out of the inbox, brands are sending more and more emails around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This trend of inundating their subscribers with promotional messages that may or may not be of interest to them results in a decrease in effectiveness. In fact, in research carried out by Hubspot, the company found that 78% of consumers decided to unsubscribe because brands were sending too many emails.

Being aware of this situation, more and more marketers are now moving away from the usual Black Friday and Cyber Monday strategies. Whether your email strategy around this period did not perform as expected or you want to provide your subscribers with a winning customer experience, there are some alternative email strategies you can implement.

  1. Send an anti-Black Friday email to your subscribers

This is not the first time that we see brands developing this type of campaigns. Increasingly, brands want to set themselves apart from the endless email campaigns that retailers, charities, and brands from other industries send around Black Friday.

Therefore, more frequently we see brands like Momentist sending emails informing their subscribers about the decision to not do any Black Friday sales (but Cyber Monday instead), and to take the day off to go out and experience the world with their friends and family instead. A clear anti-Black Friday statement that strengthens the brand’s personality.


  1. Create your own Black-Friday or Cyber Week any other day

With the ‘message-overload,’ your subscribers will be dealing with in their inboxes, you may want to create a sale in a different period. If you believe that a sale would be profitable, and you’d rather escape from Black Friday’s clutter, try hosting your own sale event just like LOFT did with their Cyber Spring. Be aware that shoppers expect Black Friday emails, but they may not be expecting your sale, and you may not have the same level of awareness. That said, your emails will not have to clash with too many competitors in your subscribers’ inboxes.  So, if you are developing your strategy for 2018, think where alternative sales events could be introduced.

The Loft Cyber Monday

  1. Donate to a charity instead

Black Friday doesn’t have to be about sales and discounts. If you do not want to avoid Black Friday altogether, but differentiate yourself from your competitors, try promoting a charity. If there is any charity or non-profit organisation that you think really needs your and your subscribers’ support, tell your customers. This may help set your brand apart from your competitors, as well as reinforce your mission and personality. Don’t’ forget, if your subscribers know that they are supporting a charity, this may well encourage them to engage more and, ultimately, buy your products.

FatFace donations

  1. Avoid doing any sales

The main problem with running loads of sales is that it becomes your business model, and your subscribers will be expecting and waiting for you to do a sale in order to buy from you. In other words, you are training customers to hold off until sale time. Increasingly, brands are now sending emails explaining why they do not offer promotions or discounts. This was the case of Everlane, which sent an email to their subscribers explaining that their prices are already 50% of that of most retailers all year round as they do not mark-up products excessively.

Following the crowd, or trying something different – perhaps it’s time to experiment with your email marketing messages. Offering alternative scenarios can make a refreshing change for subscribers; however, of course, keep a close eye on your metrics, especially conversion rates.

Henry Smith

Henry Smith


Henry Smith, MD at Adestra