- How emails are performing and how Apple’s MPP affects this
- How consumers are reacting to Black Friday
- Best practices
- How to stand out in a technical way
- How to improve email design
It’s that time of year; the holiday season is approaching, and your inbox will likely get much busier. For marketers and businesses, capturing your audience's attention can be challenging when everyone else tries to achieve the same thing.
Each year, it feels like Black Friday comes earlier and earlier, and with this comes more volume and a bigger window for emails to land in your inbox. According to Dotdigital, last year, it was estimated that 212.5 million emails were sent out on Black Friday alone.
So, how do you stand out amongst the competition and prevent your emails from being lost in the sea of offers?
How Emails are Performing and How Apple’s MPP Affects This
The world of email marketing is a dynamic mix of technology, psychology, design, and strategy, where pinpointing the right formula to resonate with your audience is like hitting a moving target. The benchmarks that measure the success of email campaigns are constantly changing due to the audience’s behaviour patterns.
The average global email send rate has increased by 21%, according to Dotdigital’s Global Benchmark Report. More and more businesses are ramping up their email strategies, making it more challenging than ever to get your emails seen.
However, according to Dotdigital’s report, open rates have actually increased by nearly 60%. But, at the same time, the click-to-open rates have dropped by 45.75%. This means marketers need to focus most of their focus on creating attention-capturing content that'll help boost engagement.
If you’ve noticed your emails are bouncing more than they typically do, it could be for several reasons, such as:
- Your subject line is perceived as spam by mailbox providers
- The receiver inbox is too full
- The email address doesn’t exist
There has been a new technology released by Apple back in late 2021, which could also be adding to low open rates. Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) prevents you from seeing if and when your audience has opened your email. It works by having a bot automatically open the email for the user as soon as it arrives in their inbox. It also hides the recipient's IP address, which means you can’t determine the user’s location.
In September 2022, a year after its launch, 62.3% of Apple user’s emails were opened with MPP. Which meant marketers were unable to regulate customer engagement rates.
Clicks, however, have been more steady despite the remarkable increase in sends and opens. Usually, it would be expected to see a parallel rise in click-to-open rates, but it actually had a steep decline.
Dotdigital did some digging into why this is happening, and research has shown that brands are still segmenting audiences based on opens post-MPP. Because of this, it’s created an unrealistic view of which customers are legitimately engaged. The data shows that sends are going up, but this is really down to the fact that opens equals engagement, even though it’s MPP.
Brands need to use clicks to build segments of recently engaged customers so their segments are more accurate and not just throwing their CTR (click-through-rate and CTOR (click-through-open-rate) results off.
You could also track alternative metrics to Open Rate, such as:
- Conversion rate: The percentage of recipients that take necessary action in your email, like downloading a resource or buying a product.
- Overall ROI: The ratio between your revenue and email marketing costs.
- Mailing list growth rate: The number of users added as your subscribers versus those who unsubscribed.
- Click rate: The percentage of people who click a specific link in your email.
How Consumers Are Reacting to Black Friday
According to the BigCommerce Global Consumer Trends Report, it’s said that consumers are now shopping multiple times a week online. A surprising 55% of respondents have said they shop at least once a week online, if not more.
If users shop this much online before the sales, it shows a reasonably large market to aim for. Users know when the holiday sales are upcoming, meaning they may wait to purchase a product to see if it’ll be discounted.
But is Black Friday worth the wait for consumers anymore?
Once a highly-anticipated shopping event, Black Friday has now evolved into a multi-week affair, raising questions about its effectiveness. The sense of urgency is diluted, and consumers may be growing desensitised to deals.
This presents a challenge for brands, as the holiday season is a crucial time for sales. More work needs to be done to unlock the revenue potential of Black Friday.
For consumers, the abundance of deals can be overwhelming. It's difficult to determine the best time to purchase, with discounts starting weeks before Black Friday. Shoppers risk losing out on higher discounts if they buy early but risk items going out of stock if they wait too long.
Retailers face a similar predicament. Launching sales too early may leave shoppers underwhelmed on Black Friday, but waiting too long could result in losing customers to competitors who begin discounting earlier. As Black Friday continues to evolve, finding the right balance to maximise its potential is crucial.
Black Friday Email Best Practices
An email that stands out from the rest includes many touchpoints, such as mastering your subject line, having captivating design elements, and segmenting your audience smartly to timing your sends flawlessly. Here are some of our best practices:
Organisations using email personalisation generate 17% more revenue through their campaigns than the average marketer, according to Instapage.
Typically, you would grab the user's attention by addressing their name, but we want to go beyond that. Try to leverage content that changes based on the recipient's preferences, purchase history, location, or browsing behaviour. Provide tailored product recommendations or deals that are most relevant to them.
Include elements like scratch-off discounts, clickable carousels showcasing products, or interactive quizzes that lead to personalised deals. Interactive content captures attention and keeps recipients engaged.
Interactive email content increases the click-to-open rate by 73% and adding videos to your email content can boost click rates up to 300%, according to CampaignMonitor.
Video and Animation
Include embedded videos or GIFs that talk about your Black Friday deals. Videos are a quick way to communicate your message and to grab your audience’s attention.
Create a sense of exclusivity for your most loyal customers and subscribers by offering them special deals. By making them feel important, they’re more likely to spend money with you and not just feel like every other Black Friday customer.
Create a gripping story around your Black Friday offers. Talk about the product, share your brand’s values or how the deals are perfect for this holiday season.
Include content such as photos, reviews or testimonials from previous customers. By using user-generated content, it adds a human touch and helps build authenticity.
According to Meetanshi, 62% of consumers agree they are more likely to click on ads, social posts, emails, or websites that feature real customers rather than images solely created for advertising by the brand.
Create urgency for your audience with countdown timers that show you how long you have left to grab the Black Friday deals. By doing this, you’re encouraging immediate action.
Target recipients who haven't engaged with your emails in a while with a unique re-engagement email. Offer them an exclusive deal as an incentive to reconnect.
Innovative Subject Lines
Create subject lines that intrigue and resonate with your audience. Use wordplay, humour, or thought-provoking questions to spike curiosity.
Be sure your emails look great on various devices and email clients. Test extensively to make sure your design remains intact and responsive.
Post-Interaction Follow Up
Send follow-up emails based on the recipient's actions. For example, if someone clicks on a product but doesn't purchase it, send a follow-up email with more details about that product.
How to Stand Out in a Technical Way
There are several ways you can strengthen your email marketing efforts; in this section, we dive into the more technical ways to stand out:
1. Make a Strong List
Step one is to verify your email list. This is critical to ensure emails are sent to authentically engaged individuals rather than wasting your budget on nonexistent or misspelt addresses. Use tools like double opt-in to confirm email addresses and decrease bounce rates while increasing your sender reputation.
Be aware that many customers may join your list temporarily to receive a discount code and then unsubscribe later. Therefore, list hygiene is crucial for success during this time of year. Don't just see it as an act of maintenance – it's a mission-critical step to ensure that your emails are seen and effective.
2. Get Your Emails in Inboxes, Not Spam Folders
One practical approach is to segment your marketing by message type, which is a best practice year-round. During the holidays, however, it can be particularly helpful. By separating your transactional and promotional emails on different IP addresses and subdomains, you can isolate the reputations of these two channels. This way, if your marketing emails start landing in spam folders, your transactional messages won't be affected, and vice versa.
Additionally, it's crucial to personalise your email lists and tailor your content based on your user data. You can better target your messaging by customising your sending according to your users' behaviour when interacting with your site and products.
3. Pick Your From Address Carefully
Black Friday is a time for increased legitimate email traffic and a surge in phishing scams. To combat this, it's crucial to establish trust through your From address. Doing so helps build brand recognition and allows recipients to filter out suspicious emails more easily.
Phishing scammers often mimic actual brands, but you can spot these fake emails by checking for unusual From addresses, such as using .con instead of .com or numbers in place of letters.
Regarding sender names, there are two primary schools of thought. First, use a straightforward sender name, such as your company name. The second is to use an actual person’s name to personalise your message.
By combining the two, you will see something like this:
“Jenny from Company”
Research shows that by using a real person’s name as the sender, it gives the email a more human feel and can increase your open and click-through rates.
4. Nailing Your Subject Line
After the sender's name, the subject line of an email is crucial in determining whether or not recipients will open it. It can be fairly common for marketers to automatically use ALL CAPS, emojis and lots of exclamation points to try and stand out during Black Friday.
However, these strategies can easily trigger spam filters and may end up not being the most effective method.
Instead, we recommend being clear with your subject lines that mention deals, such as “Black Friday Sale: 20-25% Off.” These are more likely to be opened than subject lines that are too aggressive or pushy. You can still use keywords that consumers tend to click on without being overly forceful.
With the stakes being so high during this period, we highly recommend A/B testing a few subject line options to see which works best. Be sure to emphasise exclusivity and urgency or even experiment with a short and catchy subject line such as “25% Off Holiday Burritos”.
5. Find The Right Time
Finding the right time to send your emails can be overwhelming. This strategy analyses data from previous messages to determine the most effective delivery times.
However, adjusting your regular send time for optimal engagement during the holiday season is essential. To stand out, consider communicating with users on quieter days, like the week before or the Sunday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It's best to avoid heavy email days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Another way of finding the best time would be to use Google Analytics 4 to identify optimal sending times based on your specific audience's behaviour.
How to Improve Email Design
Successful email campaigns require many effective strategies. An email's look and feel capture attention and encourage the audience to take action. So, how can you elevate your email design to get the results you’re looking for? Here’s our top tips:
Choose Your Visuals Sensibly
Making your emails attractive is essential, so you must include high-quality images and graphics that complement your message. Avoid letting the visuals overpower your main message; you want the visuals and copy to complement each other, not work against one another.
Handy tip: Optimise images for faster loading and ensure they display correctly across various email clients and devices.
Be Sure Your Branding is Consistent
To strengthen your relationship with your subscribers, it's important to maintain consistency in your email designs. To reinforce your brand identity, use your brand’s colours, typography and logo in your content.
This type of consistency will help you create stronger connections with your customers and make it easier for them to instantly recognise who is speaking to them.
Check Your Design Works Well for Mobile
The majority of people these days check their emails via their phone, so it’s crucial for you to include responsive design. In order to optimise your emails for mobiles, check your font sizes for smaller screens and be sure that your buttons are easy to tap.
Good to know: According to Litmus, 34% of users use dark mode for opening emails as of August 2022.
It’s important to also test the email on different devices to be sure that everyone is getting the same experience. Finally, make sure that your images are compressed to keep the email file sizes small, as this will help with faster loading times that’ll prevent reader frustration.
Be Sure Your CTA’s Are Clear and Effective
Your call-to-action buttons play a very important role in your email’s success. It’s essential to pay close attention to the design and the messaging. Make sure they stand out and the message is clear.
Have a play with different colours, sizes and positions to see which performs best. By using persuasive language, you can motivate your audience to act without sounding too salesy.
Don’t Make The Design Overbearing
Emails need to be easy and clear to read, so be sure to avoid cluttered layouts. Keep it simple by removing unnecessary elements and look at using a single-column format. Use clear headings and colours that pair well together.
Take your audience on a journey by making sure your content is organised and understandable. This includes breaking content up into shorter, easy-to-digest chunks so that your users can quickly scan.
Handy tip: To make sure your readers attention is focused on the right elements of your email, add in adequate white space around the headings, paragraphs and other important elements. This keeps your user’s gaze focused on the right sections.
Thoughts From Our Partner Dotdigital
"The dynamic world of email marketing demands that brands constantly adapt to shifting behaviors and metrics. Apple's Mail Privacy Protection has shown us that it's time to reconsider the benchmarks we use to measure campaign success. Clicks and conversion rates are far more reliable indicators of customer engagement than open rates, as they reflect a user's genuine interest in your content.
To truly stand out amidst the competitive holiday season, focus on crafting captivating content and building segments based on accurate engagement data, rather than relying on old norms." Lauren Clements - Partner Marketing Manager at Dotdigital
Trying to get your emails to stand out on Black Friday is one of the more tedious tasks within email marketing. Achieving success boils down to fine-tuning your email strategy, testing what works in the run-up and making the content easy enough for your audience to digest.
If you’d like support reaching your target audience with the right content at the right time, get in touch with our specialist email marketing team today.