Best Black Friday subject lines, emails and subscriber sign-ups

The Best of Black Friday: Emails, Subject Lines and Subscriber Sign-ups

Black Friday is one of those events in the holiday season that applies to just about every brand and, for that reason, every email marketer. 

We see all kinds of Black Friday email marketing in our inboxes, taking mental notes for our own holiday messages. Also, more brands are finding clever ways to drive subscriber sign-ups using social media to increase their reach. 

The success of your Black Friday email campaign relies on various factors, including a focused goal, a stellar email subject line, and great email content. Let’s go through some Black Friday email designs, including last-minute subscriber sign-ups, great subject lines, and campaign examples.

How to use Black Friday to get last-minute subscriber sign-ups

One focused goal for your Black Friday campaign is to grow your email list subscriber base. 

We’ve talked about ways to encourage email list sign-ups via your social media channels. Check out how these three brands expertly used the days (and hours) leading up to their Black Friday campaigns to ensure everyone who wanted a piece of their ecommerce promotions could get on their list in time.

1. United by Blue

United by Blue (@unitedbyblue) strategically used an Instagram Story to drive both subscriber sign-ups and web traffic to their Black Friday sale using the “swipe up” functionality.

When you swipe up, you’re taken to their Black Friday landing page, which is optimized for mobile and has a simple pop-up subscriber form. Within seconds, Instagram visitors become new subscribers to your email list.

"Swipe Up" CTA in an Instagram Story to subscribe

United by Blue's pop-up subscriber form

2. Parachute

In marketing, the feeling of missing out (FOMO) can be a major factor in consumer psychology and decision-making. Even if someone isn’t a promoter of your brand, you can still motivate them to join your community by hinting that they’ll miss out on something if they don’t. FOMO may be the most eye-roll-inducing acronym ever, but it’s still real and influential in motivating people to subscribe.

Parachute (@parachutehome) executed this flawlessly with their sponsored Instagram Story. They kept their copy minimal, used a contextual image for anyone unfamiliar with their offering, and included their branding.

Parachute's swipe-up form in Instagram

3. Prose

Exclusivity is another well-known approach. You’re playing to people’s egos. It’s the thrill of knowing they’ll get early access to sale items before they’re sold out. Yes, lean into that sense of urgency – even without a countdown timer.

One of the main reasons Black Friday deals, Black Friday weekend, and Cyber Monday emails draw such a crowd is because inventory only lasts for a limited time. People want to buy their gifts before they’re out of stock. Offering early access to fully stocked product pages can be an effective way to drive sign-ups.

Prose (@prose) added a bit of mystique to capture attention and pique the innate desire to be on an exclusive list. Above all, be intentional with your copy. Don’t underestimate the allure of words and phrases like “unlock” and “early access” for prospective subscribers.

Black Friday email design from PRose featuring a lotion pump bottle

10 great Black Friday and holiday season subject lines

Once you’ve used social media to drive new subscriptions, it’s time to deliver a killer email copy. That starts with a great subject line.

We’ve noticed that Black Friday email subject lines tend to be either functional or quirky. It’s challenging to strike a perfect balance. On the one hand, you want subscribers to know the email’s content (that’s a common subject line best practice. And on the other, Black Friday is a major email marketing holiday where it’s even more important (and challenging) to stand out among who-knows-how-many other brands vying for readers’ attention.

These brands leaned into their voice for the subject line and let the promotion in their Black Friday campaign do the rest.

1. Tuesday Morning

Subject line: Gifts That Whoa Without A Lot of Dough

And to this email marketer, bravo! Readers instantly know this email contains good gift ideas that won’t break the bank. Nicely done, Tuesday.

2. Crate & Barrel

Subject line: Leftover turkey can wait. Black Friday can’t

It’s always good to remind your audience of the timeliness of any sale or promotion. They don’t last forever, and buyers can be phenomenal procrastinators. Caution them in a fun, on-voice way against the possibility of missing out if they don’t act soon.

3. Getaway

Subject line: Go Online to Get Offline

If putting your offer in the subject line isn’t practical, you can still motivate opens by piquing customer interest.

4. Disney Destinations

Subject line: Don’t miss the holidays at the DISNEYLAND® Resort!

People tend to shy away from using caps since it feels screamy. But using them strategically – as Disney did on its brand name – draws in readers. Plus, occasionally placing your brand name in a subject line can benefit subscribers who don’t pay close attention to sender names in the inbox.

5. Phrasee

Subject line: We’re all about that baste 🦃

And we’re all about puns with flavor. Don’t shy away from having a little fun with your readers, especially when the season calls for it.

6. Betterment

Subject line: Seamless pivots for this Thanksgiving’s awkward chitchat

Okay, this one isn’t specific to Black Friday, but it gets an honorable mention anyway. Keeping a subject line #relatable (but still clear about the email’s content inside) boosts opens.

7. OffCourt

Subject line: NOT another Black Friday email.

Now that is a bold claim to make, especially when your message is joining the crowd of Black Friday emails in your customer’s inbox. OffCourt leans into being unique and considerate of their reader’s time by not sending out yet another promotional email with specific time-limited deals. Rather, they encourage their subscribers to bring in new users by giving everyone a blanket discount code for new leads.

8. Axiology

Subject line: It’s here!

Axiology keeps it short and simple. Its minimal statement ropes you in, but it also makes you ask: what exactly is here? You’ll just have to open their message to find out.

9. Uniqlo

Subject line: Black Friday looks everyone's talking about 👀

Uniqlo uses an emoji at the end of their subject line to encourage readers to open the email. Don’t you want to click through to see what looks Uniqlo is talking about?

10. Seafoam

Subject line: Blue weekend!

Seafoam Surf, a surf bikini brand, leans into its counter-culture roots and anti-consumption stance by offering its creative alternative to Black Friday. It gives its readers 20% off and donates 10% of every purchase to protect the ocean.

5 great Black Friday email examples

And now, drumroll, please, for some of the best Black Friday email campaigns we’ve seen. Whether it’s using a GIF or just some well-designed content, check out these examples of Black Friday email templates and why we think they work.

1. Munchkin

Black Friday is already information overload for subscribers. The more direct you can keep your offer, the easier it will be to remember.

These two Munchkin emails below strike a healthy image-to-text balance, and don’t get carried away with the copy. As marketers, it can be really easy to accidentally over-sell. In Munchkin’s case, they started out with two promotions and then whittled it down to one on everything they offer. The three additional details – free shipping, no minimum, and no code – allowed this email to be kept brief and easily memorable. This is the start of the path to conversion.

Munchkin's Black Friday email

Munchkin's Cyber Monday email

2. Getaway

It’s a small thing, but still good to point out. Getaway communicated its offer in two ways: one that works better for people who retain information by reading, and a graphic version for those who are visual.

There’s definitely a marketing strategy win – repeat yourself without coming off as repetitive. You want to be able to convey your message to each reader in whichever way they best understand (sentence form vs. visual).

Also, try to have your promotion somewhere in your email as text (not on an image), so screen reader users can understand it and take advantage as well.

Getaway Black Friday email example

3. Empathy Wines

Not every brand has a Black Friday promotion, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still use the chance to connect with your audience.

Empathy Wines’s email used Black Friday to reinforce its company ethos, encouraging readers to simply be good Samaritans in some way rather than buying cases of wine. Plus, they end the email with an assurance of an entire year’s worth of exclusive (there’s that magic word again) offers. They also take the opportunity to grow their text message subscriber list.

Empathy Wine's Black Friday email

4. Everlane

This goes to show that a nearly plain-text email can have just as meaningful of an impact as a heavily designed one. If anything, it makes this one stand out from the other emails even more. The most important part of the offer doubles as the emphasized CTA button. Plus, the header still has branding.

Whether or not this email was planned, it feels authentic. Maybe they always knew they were going to extend the sale, or maybe they really were caught by surprise and had to throw together an impromptu email. Either way, it was nicely executed.

Everlane's Cyber Monday email

5. Tinker

Tinker leans into the mystery of Black Friday deals and builds excitement among their loyal customers with this eye-catching design. Something good is coming, they guarantee – but they just can’t share what it is yet. Wouldn’t you get excited by an email like this? Talk about a way to launch a product amid Black Friday madness.

Black Friday email example from Tinker. Black background white text


Wrapping up

Have these Black Friday email campaigns inspired you for your next email marketing campaign? Let us help you with the next steps.

Before you send, check your email content, test your deliverability, and preview every email. After all, what’s the point of a well-crafted email if you get caught in a spam filter? 

Check out our Campaign Precheck tool to streamline your email testing workflow and see how the Mailgun Optimize deliverability suite can help you score those open rates.

Your ROI will thank you.

This post was updated on October 7th, 2022. It first published in December of 2019.

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