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Black Friday is quickly approaching and you have so much to prepare. It is not only a choice of content and the products that you wish to promote. And failing to prepare can have an impact not only on your revenue but also on your deliverability. In this article, I will be mentioning some of the points that I find are of importance for your success during the Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) period.

Not trying to teach you how to do your work as you are, probably a lot more experienced than me on this matter. I am a deliverability specialist in the eCommerce industry and this is what I have learned over numerous Black Fridays.

Your marketing plan

There is a phrase I have learned and heard time and time again in regards to planning: “Fail to prepare, is preparing to fail!

And, at this time of the year you need to have “already” have an idea of what you want to achieve this year with Black Friday and Cyber Monday (your KPI’s) and most certainly you already have some very “smart” measures in place to guarantee that your have a successful program and plan for the period that is approaching. If not, you still have time! 🙂

Start “warming up”

During the period of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, your sending volume is expected to increase exponentially. You wish, with logic, to reach as many people as you can and promote your products so that you can increase sales and revenue. However, this increase should be done over time, and in regard to your database “less active” contacts, you should start to re-engage them before the major sends. Creating appealing re-engagement campaigns and teasers pointing to your promotional campaigns over Black Friday can help you keep your contacts interested and “eager” to see your promotions.

Know your database

By this time you already have a pretty good knowledge of your database. You know what contact A likes and what contact B is looking for. So, this is the time to start preparing the personalization (if you are not using it yet) so that you can target specific audiences with your campaigns. Blasting to a full database a product that is interesting to a tenth of the contacts you have can, and most probably will just, create noise. By noise I mean, more people ignoring your email, or placing or marking your emails as spam. And this “noise” can be the difference between your email ending in the inbox or the spam/junk folder.

Who are you sending to?

When Black Friday arrives, the temptation is to send to everyone: more emails = more probability of someone buying.

Nevertheless, this can also be the difference between you reaching “all” mailboxes or “partially reaching” the mailboxes of your contacts. And the difference is that if the contacts do not see the message, how are they going to buy it?

It is my opinion that you should have two “lots” of data (Yes, I am aware that your business model has different requirements and has different life cycles):

Active contacts - those that are opening and especially clicking your emails all year round. The contacts that are “faithful” to your brand and products. These are the contacts that, even not buying consistently, are interested in your products and browse your website or leave some products on a “wish list” when they receive an email.

Inactive contacts - those contacts that although open and click your emails, do not do it on a regular basis. For these contacts, it can be important for you to know how regularly they open your emails. And do your sends to them, based on that specific regularity. And do not forget to tease them with what is coming.

I do not buy a piece of furniture every month or spend £200 every month on some new trousers. So, please do not send me daily marketing emails that most probably I will junk it or send to spam. But I am still interested in your products, so maybe check which is the frequency I like to receive emails from you. Or tease me with a promotion or some information about what your promos will be on Black Friday.

Test… Test… Test…

I think we are all tired of this phrase. We listen to it every single day for the past 6 months, however, this is the best period for you to test your program. Do some A/B testing for your subject lines, for your desktop and mobile content, for your CTA’s. Test if the follow-up with an SMS works or it is better to follow up on your social platform. Do tests with your audiences on Facebook, Instagram, Google… But do not hesitate to Test! This can be the thin line between a good inbox, click rates, open rates, revenue, ROI, etc.

And test your technology too. Test your APIs, your automation, your personalization, your targeting, your segments. Test your links and images. And if you are planning campaigns over the evenings and weekends, test your scheduling too.

Choose the right time

We all know that over the period of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there will be more traffic on the mailboxes than in all highways on the planet. And, do you like to be “stuck in a traffic jam”? Therefore, avoid the peak times if and when you can. Sending at, for example, 10:48 or at 12:16 instead of the top of the hour or 30 minutes after the hour, might help your email.

If you cannot, just keep on sending at the usual times and hope all will be amazing. If you can, maybe start testing which are the best times to send. Maybe start looking into your data and see at which time your campaigns are more successful. And do not forget to program the sends considering all the time zones you are sending to.

Prioritize your sends

Of course, you wish to send it to all your contacts. I understand it and agree with you. What I have seen before is that what you wish to send first can and most certainly will define your success in reaching the inbox of your contacts. So, let's prioritize!

When you are planning your sends, always have into consideration what the providers “see”. If your campaigns have a good click rate, there is interaction with your website, they will be more willing to allow your emails to be inboxed. If they, on the other hand, see that your emails are not being opened and especially clicked, they will start thinking of “another APM message” and most certainly will inbox it accordingly.

So the priority should always be: first to your most engaged/active contacts (the ones I mentioned above, that open, click, browse the website when they receive your emails). Allow time for them to do what they like to do and, after that, send to your (let’s call them) less active users, Although they interact less with your campaigns, there are more chances for them to receive your marketing emails on the inbox and maybe click and buy. Please see how not to let a few unengaged contacts spoil your whole email launch list

Do not forget your Abandon baskets

If you are a buyer like me, you do not buy by impulse. I browse, save items, compare, and finally make a decision. Maybe because of my cultural background, I tend to decide very close to the end of the day, after I measure all the pros and cons of each product I am buying. But this also leads me to forget where I was (on which site did I see those amazing trainers?), which products I saw and most liked. So I am very happy to receive a “reminder” of where I left some of the products I have browsed. Here is where the Abandoned basket makes the difference. Make sure your abandoned basked program is up to date and is working properly. It might be that most of you are not like me, but you never know…

Your sending infrastructure

Which is the reputation of your IPs? Do you know which IPs you are sending from? Is it a shared or dedicated pool? What’s the difference?

To know more about the reputation of your IPs you can always look into the Sender Score tool from Validity. You can find it here. And if you do not know which IPs you are using, you can always contact your ESP and ask for the exact range you are sending from. In the case of the Emarsys SAP clients, we have both infra-structures: dedicated and shared IP pools. You can find more about this, on the DMA article Investigating email IP addresses: it's good to share... sometimes.

Now it is (probably) too late to change from a shared to a dedicated pool, however, knowing where you are sending from is good as it can prepare you for this marketing period.

Not all is easy and it involves some work in the background, however, by following these recommendations most probably you will be more prepared for a successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday period.

What’s Next?

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You can ask questions and provide suggestions for helpful email deliverability topics in the Q&A area Q&A – SAP Emarsys Email Deliverability.

And if you’d like to find out more SAP Emarsys, you can visit the community page: SAP Emarsys CX.