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Emma Robinson
Posted 02 December 2021

Black Friday 2021: The best in class examples from retailers

Topics: Best practice

We’ve made it. Black Friday is done for another year, and peak season is now well underway. 

2020 was a difficult year to forecast from, with the biggest ever Black Friday spending ever ($14bn), and the most online sales ($9bn) recorded in the retail event’s history. 

In our recent Fashion Forward report, exploring spending trends for the next 12 months, we found that 56% of 3000 US fashion consumers we surveyed planned to spend the same or more on Black Friday this year. So early signs suggested that consumers were still planning to make the most of the sales and promotions, but with supply chain challenges, promotions extending throughout November, and other factors in play, it was still hard to confidently predict how Black Friday 2021 was going to measure up.  

What are the numbers saying?

  • On Black Friday, $8.9bn was spent in the US online (this figure is down from last year, but not by much)
  • There was 47% more in-store foot traffic than last year, but was still down 28% from 2019 (New York Times)
  • Black Friday spending in the UK is expected to come in at around £9.2bn, which is 15% more than 2020

How did our 2021 stack up?

This year, we actually experienced our biggest and best Black Friday, with some amazing highlights, including…

  • Over 600m personalized customer touchpoints sent
  • Over 99% email deliverability rate
  • 50% increase in number of orders per participating client

We hope that you also had a smooth and successful Black Friday that smashed the goals you set out for and that you’re primed and ready for peak season. If you’re looking at a long list of newly acquired customers this week wondering about the best next move, why not check out our quick-fire post-Black Friday retention checklist. It’s packed with tips on how to retain and delight newcomers and re-engaged contacts. 

It’s amazing how quickly those BF emails move down your inbox, and before you know it, you’re prepping for 2022, and trying to scroll back to see what was on-trend, popular, or interesting last year. So before launching headfirst into the festive period, we wanted to take a look through some of the standout Black Friday examples we spotted in our inboxes this year. 

Best of Black Friday 2021 

Spinning the wheel 

Gamifying your Black Friday deals is a great way to intrigue and engage shoppers. Sweaty Betty used a ‘Spin to win’ game offering a handful of different promotions. As you can see at the bottom of the email, they also encouraged repeat purchase by offering an additional chance to win when you redeemed your prize or visited in-store. 

Planning ahead

Sent the day before Black Friday, Adanola included a calendar to inform their customers of which offers they’re running and when. This acts as a great teaser (especially with the ‘mystery’ promotions), but also helps consumers avoid being overwhelmed, as they have an idea of when they need to engage depending on what’s most important to them. 

Building anticipation

Joseph Joseph took a very visual approach when building anticipation for Black Friday. They used a gif that spans a black background briefly exposing their products underneath to tease the products included in their Black Friday sale. 

This example wins points for originality, playing with the colour element of Black Friday in a very visual way. It’s also rather mesmerising, and sure to grab attention. 

FOMO

Like many retailers who are extending Black Friday promotions to the entire week (or even month), Hunter extended their promotions out into a ‘cyber week’, and promoted it with an email that really dialled up the FOMO (fear of missing out, for the acronym-uninitiated). 

By adding a banner to their email that communicated exactly how many people were shopping right now, they tapped into the psychology around being left behind, last to know, late to the party, and missing out on something great.    

Early access examples 

Many retailers leveraged early access to Black Friday sales as a way to encourage app downloads, boost their subscribers, or to acquire additional contact information. For example, Aurelia London offered VIP access to their Black Friday sale to anyone who signed up for text alerts, all represented visually as a text exchange. 

Similarly, Tobias & the Bear offered early access to their sale via their app, keeping their communication very simple and single-purpose.

Cutting through the noise 

How do you stand out in an inbox stuffed full of promotions, offers, and time-sensitive messages? Here are a couple of very different examples that caught our eye. 

Suit Direct used a tongue in cheek subject line to acknowledge their placement in a sea of Black Friday emails, and differentiate themselves as offering a ‘better’ deal than the ones above or below them in the inbox. 

Daisy Jewellery took a very different approach, and this is a trend that we actually saw a handful of retailers experimenting with this year. In amongst the pain-stakingly designed, highly visual emails, many of which feel optimized for mass appeal, this plain text communication, sent from one of their designers, feels like a 1:1 ‘human’ touchpoint. 

A sense of urgency

As we saw with our earlier FOMO example from Hunter, this PSA (public service announcement for the acronym-uninitiated) subject line from Astrid & Miyu highlights items that are selling out, and need to be snapped up asap.  

With all the countdowns, notifications, and codes, Black Friday shoppers are often compelled to hold out to the last moment for additional discounts to get the very best deal. Notifying interested parties about stock levels can be a very effective way to instil urgency and prompt action from your shoppers. 

So your Black Friday was a roaring success. Now what?

Congratulations! Now that you’ve successfully captured a raft of new customers, the next challenge is to retain them, encourage repeat purchases, and continue to engage and delight them during peak season and beyond. As activity continues to ramp up for the holidays, no one has the time to implement a complex, resource-intensive retention strategy, so we spoke to our retail experts and put together a quick-fire post-Black Friday retention checklist with tips on how to retain your newly acquired customers. 

If you felt like things could have gone better or smoother 

We hope your Black Friday was as successful as possible, right the way through to Cyber Monday. But if the examples above feel completely out of reach, if your tech let you down a little, or you couldn’t make the impact that you hoped for, we’re here and we’d love to chat. 

Speak to one of our team 

We will continue to explore emerging Black Friday themes on the blog, including a follow-up to our Black Friday for Good post, and examples of great post-purchase campaigns. Make sure to check back for more Black Friday content and trend analysis over the coming weeks.  

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