Black Friday Email Subject Lines: Best Practices to Boost Open Rates

Make a strong first impression and create urgency by using eye-catching subject lines that increase urgency to encourage shoppers to buy.

Updated: July 10, 2023
Black Friday Email Subject Lines: Best Practices to Boost Open Rates

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The holiday shopping season is almost upon us, which means it is time to start planning your digital marketing strategy for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Sending out emails to your marketing list is an important component of any holiday sale weekend campaign. 

But how do you craft messages that get them opened — and what is the best way to catch the attention of your target buyers?

Here are our best tips for better Black Friday email subject lines.

    #1. Choose the Right Words

    The first step in boosting your open rates is to choose the right words for your email subject lines. 

    What does this mean?

    To really gain attention from your audience, selecting words that are direct and offer immediate information is important.

    That means using enticing words like sale and special offer to get to the point. 

    After all, most people are looking for some sort of discount when they’re searching for holiday deals.

    You can also use terms like markdown or closeout to really convey that there are deep savings to be had when making a purchase with your brand.

    While this alone won’t be enough to capture the attention of your audience and help increase Black Friday sales, it is a great start.

    #2. Build Urgency

    It is also very important to build urgency with your email subject line for Black Friday. 

    Ultimately, these sales are meant to only last a few hours or through the weekend.

    However, this doesn’t mean you have to tell them to act fast or that they’ll miss out.

    The terms Black Friday and Cyber Monday lead themselves to naturally create a sense of urgency — these days only come once a year, right?

    Towards the end of your sales time period, you can also send out a last-chance email that lets your list know that this really is the final opportunity they have to save on a purchase.

    #3. Use Exclusivity as a Draw

    The fear of missing out (FOMO) is real when it comes to Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping. 

    Using exclusivity as a draw is a great way to catch the attention of your existing customers.

    There are several ways you can do this. You could start by using a VIP message a couple of days before Black Friday to explain that the offer is only available to a select few people.

    (They don’t need to know that everyone on your list is getting the same offer.)

    Then you could follow up with other Black Friday email subject lines that create further urgency, such as a suggestion that deals won’t last long or that there is a limited supply.

    #4. Add an Actual Price or Discount Percentage

    Another way to catch the attention of holiday shoppers is to add an actual price or discount percentage to your Black Friday email subject lines.

    People like to see numbers, so it doesn’t matter what you put here as long as it matches a specific discount you’re offering.

    For example, something like $50 off or 40% would be enough to at least spur most shoppers into taking a look at what you have available.

    Of course, if you’re only offering a small discount or something that doesn’t have a set value (like free shipping) then you might want to skip this tactic. 

    However, if you’re going deep with those sale offers, this is an excellent way to increase interest.

    #5. Free Shipping Offers

    Another great tactic for Black Friday email subject lines is to offer free shipping just for orders placed during the promotion.

    While free shipping is something that is common with big corporate retailers, many smaller brands work on profit margins too small to really offer this all the time. 

    That said, offering free shipping for Black Friday or Cyber Monday shoppers can be a great way to compete with those bigger brands.

    If this is something you’re thinking about adding to your email marketing for the holiday season, be sure to run the numbers first. 

    Maybe you have to give less of a price discount to counter the cost of shipping the order, which is probable with the expected increase in shipping rates for the 2023 holiday season.

    #6. Choose Your Own Discount

    People really like options, especially when it comes to something like the opportunity to choose their own discount.

    Maybe someone would prefer a coupon for 40% off versus $10 off. It really depends on the volume they’re buying and the total order value.

    Larger orders are generally going to go for the percentage, while single items are like choosing a set dollar amount.

    In your Black Friday email subject lines, present both offers. 

    This gives them a good idea that there are deals to be had, but that they don’t have to choose one until they’re ready to check out.

    In fact, this is a great tactic to use for any sale offer or promotion throughout other important shopping seasons of the year.

    #7. Include the Words Black Friday and Cyber Monday

    As we previously mentioned, the words Black Friday and Cyber Monday innately lend themselves to two elements: a discount and a limited time to take advantage.

    Most people get a lot of emails during the Thanksgiving weekend from retailers. 

    Most will just skim subject lines until they see words like Black Friday and Cyber Monday — which is why you should find a way to include them in your messaging.

    And remember that this doesn’t just pertain to the message you send on the shopping days themselves. 

    Some major retailers start sending out Black Friday previews in October as a way to catch the attention of consumers.

    #8. Use Active Words Where You Can

    Another tip for creating the best Black Friday email subject lines is to use active words where you can.

    Terms such as buy, save, earn, get, shop, and other similar ones often get a better response than messages that don’t include them.

    Remember, you want the customer to understand immediately what value they’ll receive from your special offer, and using the right choice in active terminology is a great way to convey this on a psychological level.

    You can even opt to pair these words with other tips we’ve included here, such as choosing their own discount or getting free shipping.

    You can count on our professional writers to create the best copy for your campaign emails and content. Get to know their work in WriterAccess’ free trial!

    #9. Dare to Be Different

    Let’s face it. 

    Your email list is going to get a lot of emails in the few days around Black Friday. It’s also going to get a ton of messages during that day, too. 

    Instead of sending another message that people will ignore, use creative language and emojis to stand out from the crowd.

    Any opportunity you have to catch their eye with playful wording or a little humor is certainly a good idea. 

    Plus, emojis work to break up the endless list of messages in their inbox with a colorful and fun miniature image.

    If you’re really planning to do something out of the normal with your Black Friday email subject lines, however, just make sure it is somewhat on brand. 

    Your customers are already comfortable with your messaging as a company. If you go pretty far off script, you might see a little pushback from your existing clientele.

    #10. Remember Thanksgiving

    As an eCommerce brand, it is easy to get so caught up in plans for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

    Instead, throw your audience a bit off by not mentioning either of them.

    Send a Thanksgiving message the day before. Show appreciation and gratitude for your customers and the overall blessings of the year. 

    Then, casually mention your weekend shopping deals in the body of the email.

    Standing out from the competition as a brand is super important and this is one easy way to make that happen during the official start of the holiday retail season.

    BONUS: Subject Lines to Test for Black Friday Sales

    If you still aren’t sure where to start with crafting the best Cyber Monday and Black Friday email subject lines, we can help.

    Here are a few samples for you to try out with your audience or edit to suit your needs.

    • BLACK FRIDAY ALERT! Save $[XX] Now on [PRODUCT] Before They’re Gone
    • CYBER MONDAY DEAL PREVIEW – Choose Between $[X] Off OR [XX]%
    • VIPs ONLY! Black Friday Deals This Good That You’ll Want to Buy Two

    Wrap-Up: Choosing the Best Black Friday Email Subject Lines

    Amping up your holiday shopping season sales start with email marketing. 

    With these tips, you should be able to improve your Cyber Monday and Black Friday email subject lines for a better response this year.

    While we’re on the topic, if you’re looking to perfect your email marketing process throughout the year, we can help. Check out our Rock Content guide for more information!


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