The Highest Converting Subject Lines For Black Friday Campaigns

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Karolina Petraškienė
Content Marketing Manager
Reading Time: 6 minutes

With the arrival of cooler temperatures and the rustle of leaves underfoot, Autumn is finally upon us and it’s time to start thinking about the holiday season. This means, of course, that it’s time to focus on your Black Friday campaigns too.

2020 has been far from a typical year, and this promises to be an atypical holiday season as well. While we don’t know for sure how consumers will shop this winter, we’ve got a pretty good idea that online sales will be significantly higher than in 2019, and the competition will be fierce.

That’s why we analyzed the best incentives as well as the highest converting subject lines for Black Friday campaigns and are now ready to share our insights with you.

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1. Percentage Discounts Remain Classic for Black Friday Campaigns

Perhaps the easiest way to make your store more attractive to your customer is to save them money with a discount. We all want more for less.

Long before Black Friday even shows up, customers are on the hunt for the best deals of the season, and ecommerce merchants respond in kind.

During the Black Friday/Cyber Monday period in 2019 (Nov. 25–Dec. 2), the percent sign (%) made it into nearly 33% of all campaign subject lines (of campaigns sent to more than 5,000 subscribers in English-speaking countries).

According to 2019 data, the most popular discounts that retailers offer in their email campaigns are the following: 30% discount (16%), 50% discount (14%), 25% discount (13%), 20% discount (13%), and 40% discount (9%).

Discounts come as a standard during the holiday season, so it would be smart to give customers what they’re expecting. Modkat opted for a pared-down holiday campaign, making sure their added-value was clear: 20% off sitewide.

Our Tip for the 2020 Holidays: Get the word out about what you’ll be offering in November. Put a banner on your site, send out a few teaser campaigns, and make sure your customer is excited for your sales this holiday season. However, as discounts are prevalent in holiday promotions, it would be wise to combine the trusty discount with another added-value this year.

Best subject lines for Black Friday campaigns with discounts

(Data is taken from Black Friday 2019 subject line analysis from 7000+ campaigns sent to databases of more than 5,000 subscribers)

Subject lineOpen rateIndustry
Black Friday Warning: $9.99 Deals Selling Out Quick!50%Jewelry & Accessories
Last Chance to Save Up To 50% OFF49%Sports & Recreation
December Newsletter & 25% OFF Coupons45%Food & Beverage
Get our amazing deals now! – 25% OFF44%Fashion & Apparel
Last Chance to Save Up To 50% OFF49%Sports & Recreation
Early Black Friday Access – Up to 79% Off37%Fashion & Apparel
Save up to 40%! Black Friday Sale Now Live!40%Fashion & Apparel
How About 40% OFF?38%Fashion & Apparel
Reminder: Black Friday 40% OFF! is closing 🔥35%Fashion & Apparel
Shop SMALL & Save 30% 💕💕25%Health & Beauty
Surprise! 25% Off Sitewide22%Health & Beauty
⚡️ 25% Off EVERYTHING ⚡️ The Biggest Sale We’ve Ever Had22%Fashion & Apparel

Looking for more subject lines? Then you’ll want to get our free ebook: 515 High-Converting Subject Lines.

2. A Little Something Special Makes Difference

Everyone loves a free gift, and everyone gets into the gifting spirit when they’re getting a little something for themselves too! Urban Decay offered a cheeky campaign last year that offered not only free shipping but also a special free gift with a certain spending threshold.

A spending threshold is wise, because it encourages your customers to increase their average order value (AOV) to qualify for the gift.

Sometimes a little something extra special to treat your customers or add on to their gift can be a great way to make it more attractive to shop at your store over your competition. It can be something as simple as free samples added at checkout (but advertised at the cart) or more widespread, such as a BOGO (buy one get one) sale.

Hot Topic was one of many that offered a BOGO sale during Gray November 2019.

Our Tip for the 2020 Holidays: Offer a free gift with a spending threshold to encourage a higher AOV. This helps make the freebie worth your while and helps your customers feel appreciated. Also, don’t forget to mention your gift in the subject lines or preheaders — this can help you increase open rates.

Best subject lines for Black Friday campaigns with gifting

Subject lineOpen rateIndustry
The Perfect Ski Gift – Free Shipping on The Man Behind the Maps!27%Books, Music & Video
We made an Oops! 👀 Cyber Monday BOGO 50% Off!17%Fashion & Apparel
It’s Cyber Monday! Get a free Premium Travel Case32%Computer & Electronics
Few hours left for BOGO!? 👀17%Health & Beauty
BOGO – Buy One, Get One 🎁 Cyber Monday Deal16%Fashion & Apparel

3. Free or Upgraded Shipping is the New Normal

Everyone loves free shipping — and during the holiday season, free and upgraded shipping will be a must-have for many customers.

With bigger retailer giants like Amazon offering free shipping year-round, it’s become a standard in the ecommerce world. Having to pay for shipping today has a bigger negative impact on customers than it did a few years ago.

But offering free shipping year-round isn’t sustainable for some. If you can’t offer it all the time, rope it into your promotions for the holiday season. If free shipping is something you frequently offer, take it a step further: offer free upgraded shipping.

As mentioned, last-minute shopping happens, and there’s always one gift that slips through the cracks. Offering a last-minute free upgraded shipping option to your customers who reach a certain spending threshold can help them make shopping with your brand a priority.

Old Navy offered free shipping plus free extended returns for any order higher than the relatively low purchase-threshold of $25. On top of that, another great way to add convenience is by offering extended store hours. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, this might be a great way to make it attractive and convenient for your shoppers.

Our Tip for the 2020 Holidays: Go the extra mile this holiday season. If you don’t normally offer free shipping, this is your chance to promote it to your customers. If you want to add that extra special bit of convenience to your busy last-minute shoppers, offer free expedited shipping with expected shipping times and ‘last-day to order’ information posted clearly on your site.

Best subject lines for Black Friday campaigns with free shipping in focus

Subject lineOpen rateIndustry
50% OFF or Free Shipping (YOUR CHOICE) ☺️22%Fashion & Apparel
SHIPPING INTERNATIONALLY? GET YOUR ORDER IN TODAY!20%Fashion & Apparel
A Special Offer For Supporters – Free Shipping on The Man Behind the Maps!38%Books, Music & Video
Black Friday | Free Shipping Start Now!19%Garden & Home Improvement
★ FREE SHIPPING! Black Friday Drops Now ★19%Fashion & Apparel
40% Off & Free Shipping For One Day Only19%Fashion & Apparel
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Bonus: Check out a few extra subject lines that demonstrated great results in 2019

Subject lineOpen rateIndustry
Early Black Friday Sale Starts NOW!46%Computer & Electronics
Black Friday Sale – Huge Savings While Stocks Last!41%Computer & Electronics
Black Friday Deals EXTENDED Through Sunday!40%Computer & Electronics
Expires at Midnight – Exclusive Thanksgiving Offer!40%Computer & Electronics
📣 Target Hot Black Friday Deals & More36%Garden & Home Improvement
‼️FLASH SALE ‼️ Save on your order…20%Fashion & Apparel
💣 💥 BLACK FRIDAY Big Brand Sale 🔛 👀19%Fashion & Apparel
✨ 🛍️ BLACK FRIDAY DEALS! 🛍️17%Fashion & Apparel

Looking for more subject lines? Then you’ll want to get our free ebook: 515 High-Converting Subject Lines.

Main Insights from our Black Friday Subject Lines Analysis

As already mentioned, we carried out some research on last Black Friday’s subject lines. Here are some of the most interesting insights that we gained from our Black Friday subject lines analysis of 2019.

  1. None of our top subject lines have personalization (the customer’s name). So it apparently isn’t a necessity for a good open rate.
  2. The most often used words are “Black Friday,” “deals,” “%,” and “off.”
  3. The most frequent discounts were ones with a percent sign (%), in particular, 30%, 50%, and 25%.
  4. The highest-converting subject lines were short and to the point.
  5. In most subject lines, retailers used active words and a call-to-action inside: “buy,” “get,” “shop,” “save,” etc.
  6. Better-performing subject lines contained scarcity and time reference: “now,” “while they last,” “until midnight,” “today,” etc.
  7. A lot of retailers used emojis in their subject lines. It helped them to stand out in crowded inboxes.

Wrap Up

Adding value to your Black Friday campaigns doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes a few simple actions can really set your ecommerce brand apart from the noise.

No matter what you offer to your holiday customers this year, focus on convenience, remove the roadblocks from your customers’ paths, and make sure you write bright and actionable subject lines. You’ll find that your customers will thank you with more purchases and higher order values!

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Karolina Petraškienė

Karolina is a writer, content marketer, and email enthusiast at Omnisend. When she's not curating articles, you can find her in the woods challenging herself in hiking boots or off-roading her bike.


Further Reading:

Black Friday Emails: 2019 Statistics and Forecast for 2020
5 Ways to Use SMS with Your Holiday Promotions in 2020
holiday workflows blog cover
6 Ways to Optimize Your Holiday Workflows in 2020

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2 Comments

  1. All seems interesting but I always think you have to take analysis like this with a massive chunk of salt. There are simply too many variables to make a fair and statistically significant result from it. Different words will work better for different brands, for example a high end store would not do well using deals/offer/free etc whereas a lower end store would. So all of the stores in the analysis would need to be similar stores to eliminate this variable. That is just one out of possibly thousands of variables, such as when did the store last do a sale, how many emails do they normally send, what was the subject line of the last email etc etc.
    Because of this I’m not sure you can really make a sensible judgment from this kind of analysis. You may be better off looking at your own results, who your customers are and what they expect.

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