Top 10 Black Friday Email Tactics (+Subject Lines & Examples)

Written by: Chris Donald

Published on: 17-09-2021

Chris is Managing Partner at InboxArmy and has more than 25 years of experience in email marketing

Black Friday is one of the most important holidays of the year for businesses – especially eCommerce businesses.

Shoppers are looking for enticing sales, and are willing to spend more money than they would otherwise.

But if you really want to reap the rewards of Black Friday email marketing, then you’ll need to do it right.

Most articles on Black Friday emails discuss frivolous Black Friday tactics. They tell you things like “include gifs in your emails” as if that seriously moves the needle.

We decided to create a Black Friday email marketing guide that shares tactics and techniques that actually matter and help you maximize Black Friday revenue.

In this guide, we’ll discuss:

  • The most important emotions to tap into to convince customers to buy (hint: urgency, FOMO, etc.)
  • The most important email marketing tactics to deploy in order to maximize conversions.
  • The key subject line tactics that boost open rates.

And we’ll share examples of emails – from our clients and top businesses – that illustrate each tactic.

So read on to learn how to create effective, revenue-boosting Black Friday emails.

Black Friday Email Campaign Tactics

Your subscribers will be bombarded with Black Friday emails from every company under the sun. Use the following tactics to ensure they spend their money with yours:

1.) Plan and Promote Early

Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. And it’s one of your business’s best revenue-generating opportunities.

Proper planning is the key to optimizing your earnings.

Don’t procrastinate. Plan your Black Friday sale and email campaigns at least 3 months in advance so you’ll have all your ducks in a row.

More importantly, don’t wait until Black Friday or the day before to inform customers about your sales.

You’ll be vying for space and attention in their crowded inbox. So make sure they know what you’re offering by sending emails ahead of time.

Start sending reminder emails as early as late October to build anticipation.

You’re more likely to get attention by sending out emails on weekends since people are home and have more time to read emails and browse online. Consider sending out one email every weekend leading up to Black Friday.

You might also consider offering early access campaigns.

2.) Put Subscribers In The Right Frame Of Mind

The two most important factors for convincing people to buy your products on Black Friday are:

  • An enticing sale/offer.
  • Putting shoppers in the right frame of mind.

Putting shoppers in the right frame of mind means putting them in an emotional state that makes them need your product.

The goal is to connect to the pain point or goal your product helps resolve and get shoppers thinking about how great life will be once they have your product.

To do so, you must use images and copy.

Use images that show your product being used and/or in a context that creates positive associations.

Doing so gets recipients thinking about using your product(s), the benefits of your product(s), and what life will be like once they’ve purchased your product(s).

We created the email below for our client Boie. While it isn’t a Black Friday email, it illustrates this concept perfectly. The images show Boie’s body scrubber being used as it’s supposed to, which helps recipients visualize using the product themselves and puts them in the right frame of mind.


Boi Product Images

Your copy should work with images to tap into your customer’s emotional states by:

  • Describing your customers’ pain points using words and phrases they use.
  • Painting a picture of how great things will be after they buy and use your product.

3.) Share The Fundamentals

The primary goal of your Black Friday email campaigns is to communicate the fundamental information about your sale.

As we’ve stated, the sale itself will do most of the heavy lifting. So it’s critical that customers understand the basics of what you’re offering.

Your email must include:

  • The discount amount
  • The date of the sale
  • The parameters of the sale (what products it applies to; how much customers must spend to unlock the sale; etc.)
  • Any other important information they’ll need (i.e. discount code; directions)
  • Any bonuses (i.e. free shipping; free set-up; return policy; etc.)

We created the email below for our client BOIE. The central focus of the email is clear – communicating the necessary Black Friday sale information.

The email provides:

  • The sale date: The Black Friday sale is ongoing.
  • The sale amount: 25%
  • The applicable products: All purchases.
  • The discount code: GIFTCLEAN

Boie extension

4.) Include Product Suggestions To Give Them Ideas

It’s always a good idea to include product suggestions in your Black Friday emails.

Product suggestions help reduce friction. Shoppers won’t have to spend time searching your website for great products because you’re putting the products right in their faces.

Product suggestions also get subscribers thinking about your products and put them in the right frame of mind. The more you can help subscribers visualize how awesome life will be once they have your products, the more you’ll be able to convert them.

If your sale only applies to certain products in your store, then you’ll definitely want to include product suggestions or applicable product categories in your email. Don’t force shoppers to search and guess – make it as easy on them as possible.

Consider sharing your bestsellers. Or use subscriber data to share micro-targeted products they’re likely to be interested in.

In the Black Friday email we created for mattress retailer Purple, we included product categories to get recipients thinking about which type of mattress they wanted.

Purple Black Friday

5.) Use Urgency/FOMO

Black Friday presents an opportunity for shoppers to get the products they want most at a significant discount.

But the opportunity won’t last forever… and shoppers know that.

This is why your emails should tap into their sense of urgency and their fear of missing out on great deals.

These emotions are already running through shoppers’ minds. Your goal is to intensify their fear by making it more overt. When shoppers feel strong anxiety about the prospect of missing out on a deal, they’re more likely to act.

Your subject lines, email copy, and images should include elements that tap into shoppers’ sense of urgency, like:

  • Countdown timers
  • Product stock counter (tracking how much stock is left)
  • Copy reminding them of when the sale ends.
  • “Only two2 days left!”
  • “Sale ends tomorrow!”
  • “Last chance!”
  • Copy informing them of the scarcity of supplies.
  • “Supplies are running out fast!”
  • “Get it while supplies last!”
  • “Selling out quickly!”
  • The Active language provokes immediate action.
  • “Act now!”
  • “Act fast!”
  • “Get yours today!”
  • Let them know that this is the biggest sale of the year (only if validate).
  • “Our biggest sale of the year!”
  • “Lowest prices of the year!”

This email we created for our health supplement client Vitamedica demonstrated compelling effective use of urgency in a holiday email (though it’s for Cyber Monday, which is essentially the same holiday).

It uses a countdown timer and copy (“Last Chance” and “Sale ends at 9pm PST”) to bring the recipients attention to the approaching deadline and create urgency.

Vitamedica Cyber Monday

6.) Reduce Friction w/ Objection Handling

Even if shoppers really want your product and are enticed by your Black Friday sale, they still might withhold from buying.

There are a host of objections that cause customers to pause, procrastinate, and abandon sales.

Many shoppers have come to expect free shipping on Black Friday. If you offer free shipping, then make it known in your emails. Otherwise, shoppers might withhold.

Some shoppers are worried that they will be stuck with a product they don’t like after they buy it. Or that the product might break quickly. Do you offer a return policy? A warranty plan? Make sure your email informs customers of these policies and their guidelines.

Your job is to figure out what common objections your customers face with regard to your products and address them in your emails.

The easiest way to find out is to interview your existing customers and shoppers who abandon their carts. Identify the most common reasons for abandonment and address them in your promotional emails.

Some objection handlers require prominent placement. Since free shipping is so important to many Black Friday shoppers, you may want to mention it in your Subject Line and display it prominently in your email.

Other objection handlers can be addressed in less obtrusive ways so your emails can avoid clutter, focus on promoting the sale, and tap into subscribers emotions.

Quip’s Black Friday email handles objections by sharing their free shipping, return, and warranty policies at the bottom of the email.

Quip Black Friday

7.) Extend Through The Weekend

Many shoppers want to take advantage of your deals, but they get distracted by life or other attractive shopping opportunities.

This is why you should extend your Black Friday sale through the weekend to give shoppers more time to make a decision.

This isn’t just a theory. We’ve done this with many of our clients and increased their Black Friday revenue significantly.

The key to doing this right is to make the extension a surprise. Don’t tell shoppers you’re extending the sale right away so you can still capitalize on the urgency created by the 11:59 pm Friday deadline.

Then send an email Saturday morning informing them that the sale is extended. And send another email on Sunday telling them that time is once again running out.

These emails don’t need to be complex. Just inform them that the sale is extended and tell them how to take advantage – as we did with Boie.

Boie Extension

8.) Send 2 Emails/Day On Black Friday Weekend

Lots of businesses send Black Friday emails in the morning to inform customers early and give them the most time to make a purchase.

This is sound logic, but it also leaves a problem unresolved.

While some subscribers will make a purchase right away, others will put it off for later while they consider other offers or until they have some free time.

Many of those subscribers won’t return to make a purchase for one simple reason – they forgot.

Maybe they get lost in the events of their personal lives. Maybe they get distracted by other sales. Maybe they lose themselves in their favourite tv shows. Regardless, it’s your job to remind them of your awesome sale.

9.) Create Special Cart Abandonment Automations

To maximize earnings, you should create special, Black-Friday-specific cart abandonment automation.

Your regular CA automation won’t be as effective because they don’t emphasize the Black Friday sale or utilize the other tactics listed above as effectively.

You can create more effective CA emails by:

  • Mentioning the Black Friday sale.
  • Displaying the price after the sale is applied.
  • Adding urgency by showing when the sale ends (either via a countdown timer or copy sharing the deadline).
  • Informing recipients of free shipping or other objection handlers, if applicable.
  • Adding other extras like a shipping calendar or eta.

Harvey Nichols created a simple but effective Black Friday cart abandonment email.

Harvey Nichols CA

10.) Optimize Your Emails For Mobile

33% of Black Friday/Cyber Monday purchases in 2018 happened on a mobile device, according to Adobe’s Holiday Shopping Trends Report. That share has likely only grown since.

So in order to maximize revenue, you’ll need to optimize your Black Friday emails for mobile devices.

The primary concern with mobile optimization is ensuring that your emails render properly on mobile devices so subscribers see the full email with everything in place.

While there are many ways to optimize for mobile, we’ll discuss what we see as the 3 most important ways:

1.) Use Mobile-Responsive Templates
Mobile-responsive templates are the best way to optimize email for mobile. These templates automatically adapt to the size of the screen they’re displayed on.

Without responsive templates, your emails may be subject to a host of rendering issues that’ll ruin your email display and turn subscribers away. No matter how good your offer is, if subscribers can’t properly view your email, they won’t buy.

2.) Provide “View In Browser” Links
As we discussed earlier, putting shoppers in the right frame of mind is one of the 2 most important factors for convincing shoppers to buy your products.

Images are crucial to capturing a recipient’s attention and putting them in the right frame of mind. Especially product images.

Many mobile devices and email clients block email images from displaying. This can also cause rendering issues, as email elements will then be shuffled around the missing image and displayed incorrectly.

One workaround is to provide a “View In Browser” link. These links enable subscribers to view the email in their web browser where they’ll be able to see the full email as it was intended to be seen.

3.) Test Your Emails
Even with a team of coding professionals and experts in 40+ ESPs, we still experience rendering issues all the time.

But by the time they get to subscribers’ inboxes, every email renders perfectly.

Why? Because we test our emails before we hit send.

And you should do the same. Holiday emails are too important to take chances with. And mistakes can lead to unacceptable amounts of lost revenue.

Many ESPs have testing tools integrated into their software. If not, you can use testing tools like Litmus to test your emails.

These tools will show you how your emails will render across a variety of email clients and devices. They’ll help you spot any issues so you can fix them before launching a campaign.

Black Friday Email Subject Lines

The Open Rate of your Black Friday emails will depend largely on how good your subject lines are.

Good subject lines need to:
Capture your subscribers’ attention.
Communicate the important info about your sale.
Convince subscribers to open (by tapping into their emotions).

We’ve put together a list of the most effective subject line tactics, and included examples of great subject lines (many of which have been taken from real Black Friday emails). Use these tactics to help you create subject lines of your own.

While there are many other subject line tactics, we’ve chosen to focus on tactics that tap into the most influential emotions and motivations related to Black Friday: urgency, exclusivity, and opportunity.

You don’t need to stick to just one tactic. Feel free to mix and match as you see fit.

When creating your Black Friday emails, come up with at least 10 subject lines using each of the tactics above (for a total of 70) for each email.

Then you can combine your favourite parts of different subject lines and use whichever you like best.

But still, keep it simple. You don’t want to overwhelm or confuse subscribers. And there’s no need to cram every tactic into your subject lines.

Subject Line Best Practices

Before we get to the subject line tactics, let’s review a few best practices to help guide you as you create your own subject lines.

1.) Put The Most Important Info At The Beginning
We’ve already discussed the importance of optimizing for mobile and how to ensure your emails render properly. But mobile optimization also applies to subject lines.

Mobile devices display fewer subject line characters than other devices. After a certain number of characters, the subject line gets cut off.

And while different mobile devices display different amounts of characters, the cut off is generally around 25-30 characters.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to keep your subject lines to 30 characters or below. Just be sure to put the most important info (the sale amount; urgency keywords; etc.) at the beginning.

Example: Black Friday 20% Off Sale: Get Your Favorite Shoes At The Lowest Price

2.) Get Straight To The Point
According to an analysis of emails sent using their platform, Omnisend found that the best performing subject lines were short and to the point.

Cutesy, creative subject lines can work. But you’ll be taking a risk. And Black Friday shoppers don’t really care about your writing skills – they’re looking for great deals.

The point is: if you have a creative subject line idea that effectively communicates the necessary info about your sale, use it. If not, don’t rack your brain trying to be a poet. Keep it simple.

Examples: Black Friday 30% Off Sitewide

3.) Use Active Words
The goal of the subject line, like the rest of the email, is to get subscribers to take action.

Active words engage readers better and are more effective at getting them to take action.

Just as important, active words are shorter, and using them keeps your character count lower.


  • Shop Now
  • Act Fast
  • Get Yours Today

The Direct Subject Line Tactic

The beauty of Black Friday subject lines is that they don’t have to be clever. The sale itself does most of the work.

Shoppers expect big sales on Black Friday, so they’ll already be interested in what you have to offer. So often your best bet is to just be direct and clear.

Your subject line should:

  • Inform them that the email is about the Black Friday sale
  • Tell them how much they can save
  • Tell them what products it applies to (if the sale only applies to certain products or if you want to highlight certain products that your subscribers are interested in).

Direct Subject Line Examples:

  • Our Black Friday Sale Starts Tomorrow. Save Up To 30%!
  • Save 20% + Free Shipping w/ Black Friday Sale
  • Your Favorite Shoes 30% Off Now!
  • Black Friday Weekend – 20% Off Everything!

The Urgency/Scarcity Subject Line Tactic

The Urgency Subject Line is the same as the urgency tactic mentioned earlier. The goal is to make subscribers’ FOMO overt and bring it to the forefront of their minds.

The keys to creating urgency with your subject line include:

  • Tell them when the sale is ending.
  • Tell them how much time is left in the sale.
  • Hint that supplies may run out soon.

Anyway, you can highlight the scarcity of the sale/opportunity works to create urgency that will compel subscribers to act.

Urgency/Scarcity Subject Line Examples:

  • Reminder: Black Friday 30% Off Sale Ends Today!
  • Last Chance: Save Up To 40%!
  • 4 Hours Left! 50% Off Black Friday Sale…
  • Black Friday Countdown Starts Now…
  • Get Our Incredible Deals Now!
  • Black Friday: 50% Off While Stocks Last

The Exclusivity Subject Line Tactic

The definition of exclusive is “restricted or limited to the person, group, or area concerned.” In other words, it’s defined by limitations.

The concept of exclusivity in marketing is related both to the fear of missing out as well as the ability to obtain something special, unique, or limited.

The fact that Black Friday sales only happen once a year makes them exclusive events that are available for a limited time. As such, shoppers feel a fear of missing out on these great deals.

You can bring this time-sensitive exclusivity to the forefront of their mind with your headline by reminding subscribers about the limited nature of Black Friday sales:

  • Our Hottest Deals Of The Year – Shop Now!
  • 50% Off All Watches! Supplies Running Out Fast!
  • Time Is Running Out To Get Our Lowest Prices Ever. Shop Now!

But you can also tap into exclusivity by describing how subscribers are getting something special that others won’t get:

  • Be The First To Shop Our Black Friday Deals!</li
  • Early Black Friday Access! Save 50% Today!</li
  • Skip The Line – Shop Our Black Friday Deals Today!

The Anticipation Subject Line Tactic

Anticipation subject lines work best for your Black Friday reminder emails. They’re used to build hype and anticipation for your upcoming sale.

The formula is simple: tease the upcoming Black Friday sale + tell them how long until it goes live.

Anticipation Subject Line Examples:

  • Get Ready! Black Friday Sale Starts Tomorrow!
  • Preview This Year’s Awesome Black Friday Deals!
  • Black Friday Sneak Peek…
  • 3 Days Until 40% Off Black Friday Sale!
  • Black Friday starts in 3…2…

The Bonus Subject Line Tactic

The bonus subject line tactic plays up the added bonuses of your Black Friday sale. It sweetens the pot by adding a little something extra.

What else are you giving shoppers besides just the discount? Free shipping? Buy one, get one deal? A special gift?

Be sure to let them know about it in the subject line to tantalize them even more.

Bonus Subject Line Examples

  • Black Friday: 50% Off + Free Shipping
  • 4 Hours Left On BOGO Black Friday Sale
  • FREE SHIPPING! Black Friday Starts Today!
  • Black Friday: 25% off + a free gift!
  • Black Friday – 10% off + free shipping & installation!

Prepare For Your Black Friday Windfall!

Now you have everything you need to create stellar email campaigns that maximize your Black Friday revenue.

Don’t wait. Plan your campaigns as soon as possible.

Start by creating a few Black Friday teaser emails that include the sale amount, date, applicable products (or product suggestions), and other relevant info (free shipping, etc.)

Then apply the other tips in this article to create awesome, revenue-generating Black Friday emails.

About Author

Chris sent his first email campaign in 1995. He’s worked directly with Fortune 500 companies, retail giants, nonprofits, SMBs and government agencies in all facets of their email marketing and marketing automation programs. He’s also a BIG baseball fan, loves a good steak, and is mildly obsessed with zombie movies. For more information follow him on linkedin

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