The big retail holiday weekend—which really begins in the days before Black Friday and stretches through Cyber Monday—is now well behind us. As a team of email strategists, we’ve made it our goal at DEG to sign up for as many different email programs as we can to monitor trends and pull inspiration.

Related: Four data insights to drive your holiday marketing strategies.

Here are a few themes that stood out to us during Black Friday 2017:

  • Discounts were big again this year, but we noticed that the discounts were not necessarily deeper on Cyber Monday as compared to Black Friday.
  • Free shipping offers were not nearly as prevalent as they have been in years past. We could chalk this up to the cost of shipping going up this year, but we also know that free shipping is a key factor in making the decision to purchase online. In fact, according to this research published by eMarketer, a lack of free shipping was the number one reason consumers didn’t make a purchase last week.
  • Personally, I also noticed a lot more emails from travel companies this year. Perhaps it’s because experiences make great gifts, but I do not remember getting as many as I did this year in years past.
  • It’s no longer just “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.” Black Friday Week and Cyber Week were popular events in my inbox both weeks. Sales were extended and email volume was up for at least the week leading up to Thanksgiving and all of Cyber Week.

Black Friday Week and Cyber Week were popular events, with sales extended and email volume up for at least the week leading up to Thanksgiving and all of Cyber Week.

After spending the last couple weeks reviewing our inboxes, here are some of our favorite emails from Black Friday 2017.

Brett Terp, Marketing Automation Strategist

I got a great email from Backcountry for a holiday gift guide curated by its experts. I always love the imagery they use in email and the layout they provide. Plus, adding the personal touch of the experts’ picture and a little bit about them made it feel authentic.

Cara Olson, Director of Relationship Marketing

Target sent an email in advanced of the holidays and it was a great use of personalized product recommendations. Several team members received the email with the same subject line and HOME section, but the rest of the content varied based on our purchase propensity and whether we were Red Card holders.

Subject line: Open if you like saving big on home.

Jenni Schaub, Senior Web Content Strategist

This email from Food52—sent on Saturday, November 25—is a great example of highlighting one key product with great content. Not only does it show the product in both available colors, but the content provides seasonal examples of how it can be used, and has a very direct CTA. I also love the secondary callout at the bottom to say everything else is on sale, too, without cluttering the email with a bunch of additional content.

Add a secondary callout at the bottom of the email announcing other sales without cluttering the email with a bunch of additional content.

I also love this one from Carbon 38 as well, which offers up the gift “atelier” in the subject line. The messaging is positioned to the person shopping for gifts vs. shopping for themselves. The minimalistic content shows a flat lay of top products with text overlaid, then direct links with lifestyle images to the top-selling products from the flat lay. This is also fantastic branding from Carbon 38, as the language maintains the classic chic style of the brand.

Jenn Horner, Senior Relationship Marketing Strategist

Uber began sending an email every Sunday during the holiday season with tips for getting through the holidays—proving that almost any brand can deliver on value-add content if they want.

Uber has started sending an email every Sunday during the holiday season. These emails contain tips for getting through the holidays—proving that almost any brand can deliver on value-add content if they want.

The designs feature a flag at the top indicating where readers are in the series, along with a special banner at the bottom reminding readers that there will be another email every Sunday.

Subject line: Flying to the feast? ️

Updating triggered email series to reflect the holiday season is always a good idea. This abandoned shopping cart email, sent by Shutterfly 24 hours after abandoning holiday cards, is a great example. The template has a holiday theme, there is a sense of urgency, clear instructions for contacting customer service, an image of the product I abandoned, and the all-important offer to encourage the purchase. The CTA was even on theme.

Subject Line: Finish your project + save 40%

Updating triggered email series to reflect the holiday season is always a good idea.

And finally, a few subject lines we appreciated:

  • Chubbies 11/22:
  • Omaze on 11/28: Giving Tuesday > Taco Tuesday.
  • Moosejaw on 11/30: Don’t miss out on your free [̲̅$̲̅(̲̅100)̲̅$̲̅]

See other great Black Friday 2017 emails that we missed? Let us know in the comment section.

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