Black Friday Marketing Best Practices


To find out customer behavior and the best email and mobile marking strategies for Black Friday/Cyber Monday in order to help in the preparation for virtualized recommendations intended for brands to strategize around these sales events. Source credibility is limited to white papers, case studies, industry analysis/reporting (in an effort to avoid blogs).

Early Findings

Given the scope of the requested project, and the many different paths that it covers for capturing email and mobile marketing best practices in the retail, travel, and tech subscription industries, we focused on identifying highly credible, relevant data (white papers and credible studies) regarding consumer behavior and email/mobile promotions for this hour of research. We can pursue the other features of the project in additional research.

Consumer Behavior

  • Cyber Monday consumer spending has shown a steady increase: 2014 ($2.6B), 2015 ($3.1B), 2016 ($3.7B), 2017 ($4.7B), and 2018 ($6B).
  • The Amazon mobile app was the most downloaded app during the Cyber 5 weekend, according to a detailed report by Internet Retailer.
  • 2019 Black Friday spending will surpass $12B this year.

Email/Mobile Communications Strategies

  • According to an Ipsos November 2019 white paper, digital advances enabled Black Friday retailers to develop more apps featuring real-time countdowns to launch, stock counts, and buzz/anticipation creation. Some apps also let customers know about wish-list products in inventory and bargain releases.
  • Please note the November 2018 Ipsos Black Friday report is available here.
  • A report by Tinuiti, notes that email is most effective for the holiday shopping crowd when reaching early shoppers and top-spenders. They also note that social media is best used for the under-35 consumer.
  • While not quite a white paper, Shopify put forth a very detailed article that featured information that might be useful. For instance, “Ursa Major of VT sent a ‘free shipping plus a free bar of soap’ offer at 7 p.m. the day after Black Friday to convert subscribers who didn’t open an email on the day of the sale.”
  • Ethan Giffin, founder & CEO of Groove Commerce, suggests pushing email deals early to get the best gains.

Additional White Papers/Studies:

  • McKinsey has also developed an analysis of lessons learned "from the record-breaking 2018 holiday season." This report is specifically geared towards informing 2019 strategies.

Proposed next steps:

You need to be the project owner to select a next step.
1. The research team can continue this research by providing details on the retail, travel, and tech subscription industries’ email and mobile promotional best practices (for email and mobile marketing campaigns) for Black Friday/Cyber Monday being sure to include available impact on sales data, if available. The project will focus on each industry’s details (as available): (a) promotional strategies (new and historically effective), (b) send time/schedule optimization (when and why), and (c) customer insights (behavioral and surveys as related to email marketing and mobile promotions) (d) Award winning content (e) Real-time content (f) Personalized content (g) Cross channel (email -> mobile) coordinated experience [To be clear each report will seek to identify a-g for retail, travel, and then tech subscription industries for email/mobile campaigns.] 2. To further help with the preparation of virtualized recommendations for Black Friday/Cyber Monday promotions the team can, as requested, investigate customer behavior around the sales events regarding purchase volume, frequency, planning, and any other quantifiable results available regarding customer behavior. Please note: The team recommends a 5-year date span for research (slightly expanding the standard 2-yr limit to stay within applicable email/mobile campaign best practices but also capture relevant historical effectiveness, as well). Please provide feedback if a different date limit is preferred.
The research team notes that there was limited data available on the exact topics, especially in the form of white papers and legitimate case studies specifically addressing email and mobile marketing campaigns. To get around this and still help prepare the strategy recommendations, the team could conduct a press search (limited sponsored, self-promoting blogs) of Black Friday/Cyber Monday expert opinions on email and/or mobile marketing strategies.