· 4 min read
Spencer Burke, SVP of growth at customer engagement platform Braze, told us that the company saw “record message volumes” this Black Friday, down to the number of messages sent per second. Activity was up across mediums ranging from brand emails to push notifications and texts, in part because the timeframe for deals just keeps getting longer.
“It’s not just Black Friday and Cyber Monday anymore; it’s a whole week,” Burke said.. And in some cases, it’s even longer than that: The Ordinary held a month-long “Slowvember” sale and brands like Sephora are still promoting Cyber Week deals.
Typically, around three-quarters of people actually like getting discounts via email, Julianne Hudson, SVP of marketing science at VMLY&R Commerce, told us. That could explain why so many brands were eager to reach out this year. So why the discontent among many of the recipients?
It’s less about the volume and “more about the deals themselves,” she said. “They aren’t as good as historic Black Friday deals where you’re getting 80% or 90% off.”
As a result, she said consumers are being more selective about which emails they choose to engage with. As some post about using Black Friday as an “unsubscribe day,” here are some ways marketers can try to keep people engaged and avoid the virtual trash can.
Keep it salesy, stupid (KISS): “It’s a little bit of, go big, or don’t bother when it comes to offers,” Hudson said. And when advertising a bigger sales, use the subject line to let people know, she said.
That may resonate more with consumers this year, especially considering the rate that shoppers report having financial concerns. Since shoppers “are sort of trained to wait for Black Friday deals,” she said, brands shouldn’t inundate people with non-offers. One example of what not to do? Hudson cited Target as a cautionary tale after the retailer was called out on TikTok for advertising a Black Friday discount on a TV that was priced the same before the shopping holiday.
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Make it personal: According to Hudson, Black Friday emails that are personalized get opened 15% more than emails without personalization.
Brands may opt to use people’s purchase history to make product recommendations, distinguish between returning and new customers, and follow up with people to let them know a deal on an item in their cart is about to expire to drive engagement through personalization, Burke said.
Based on his work at Braze and his own experience as a customer, he said that “broken experiences”—like getting reminders for items already ordered—can have an “adverse effect” on a customer relationship.
Don’t overindulge: Sending an influx of emails may also stand to stress out consumers who are concerned about cybersecurity amid phishing scams and other email bad actors, Hudson said, which is another reason why brands may be more discerning about what they send and to whom. It’s not just a matter of security, but of retaining trust with consumers: When Hudson has unsubscribed from a brand email list and then found out she’s on multiple other lists, she was left with “a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth towards that brand,” she said..
“If [email offers] start to feel self-serving, then you see behind the curtain a little bit and you go, ‘Oh, that brand doesn’t really care about me,’” she said. “That brand just wants me to click on this. They just want my money.’”
Think outside the (in)box: With people now used to getting urgently marketed brand offers before and after Black Friday that are later extended, Burke said it may change consumers’ sense of urgency about clicking Buy next year. “Brands that are really on top of things will adjust their messaging” to account for that shift, he said.
Of course there’s also the option to go the way of Patagonia, which opts out of Black Friday altogether. “There’s not many ways to [stand out on Black Friday],” Burke said, “and that’s one that’s notable.”