Black Friday Madness

Black Friday emails were a bit excessive this year. | Image generated with AI ∙ 2023-11-24 at 16:15

Was it just me or did your inbox get inundated with crap Black Friday emails this year?  Here are a few observations I made this year with some thoughts of how retailers could have made their marketing efforts more meaningful.

Make it a True Black Friday Sale

Apart from the use of more red and green colors with hints of golden glitter with some of the bolder text, a number of the emails I received were really no different than the regular weekly sales emails that they send out.  The prices didn't grab me as being any better than normal and the bundles they offered were the same as just about every other month.  

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving in the United States.  Black Friday sales start on that day and end on that day.  They don't start in October and continue through the month of November.  Retailers who were doing this really gave off a greedy vibe.

Cut Back on the Volume of Emails

There were some days when I had received between six and twelve emails from a single retailer about the Black Friday sale they had going on. What made it worse was I have, inadvertently, used two different email addresses with this retailer so I got the emails twice.  On top of that, one email address would get a dire warning that the sale is ending in x-hours. Sometimes including a countdown timer.  I get why; it's to illicit action on the, potential, customer to act.  Unfortunately, later that day - after the x-hours had well passed - I would get the same email delivered to the other email address.  Exact same email.  I understand the need to throttle the emails so you don't give the appearance of being a spammer but if you are giving some timeline for customers to take action by, be sure the deadline is the same.

In addition to the multiple emails a day, you really should not be sending your customers multiple emails every single day.  It is important to treat the subscribers to your email lists with a bit of decency and respect.  Just because sending emails can be an inexpensive marketing tool does not mean you need to abuse your subscribers. A quick way to get people to unsubscribe from your lists is to email them too much.

Sister Brands

If I have been a customer of Brand A who has a sister Brand B who I have never, ever, had any business with, why would you want to send me emails for Brand B?  Especially since the target market of Brand B is different than that of Brand A.  Blindly sending unsolicited commercial email to someone from a sister brand is a waste of your marketing spend.  Don't mix your mailing lists.

Rise of the Zombie

If you don't regularly email your customers or mailing list, you probably should not be emailing them your Black Friday sales email.  In the last two weeks have received numerous emails from retailers who I have not done business with in a considerable amount of time, if ever, and am pretty sure had unsubscribed from their mailing lists in the past. Alas, companies I have not heard from in a very long time came back from the dead with emails in the inbox.

There Have Been Good Ones

A couple of the retailers who sent me Black Friday emails sent me only one or two in the last week. They were retailers who regularly send emails to their email list and are not spammy in doing so. The good ones were the ones that would let me know about the sale and that their offices were going to be closed during the weekend to spend time with family. Great!  Generally speaking, a website can handle slightly elevated traffic for brief periods of time. And when you let your customer base know that you won't be responding to phone calls or emails over the weekend but will follow-up on Monday, it sets the expectation.  And it goes to show that this retailer upholds a set of values for their employees.

Another good one was a retailer who sent out an email ahead of time to bring traffic to their website and have customers add items to their cart but come back on Black Friday to see the sales prices. I didn't add anything to my cart with this retailer, but I hope that those customers that did have items in their cart for Black Friday sale got a separate email reminding them..

Time for Cleanup

Great thing about some email clients - like gmail - you can easily sort and filter messages to see who have been some of the abusers. Whether via messages in excess or the zombie emails, I'll be going through and doing some unsubscribing.  You may want to as well.


Updated 2023-11-26


Following a similar pattern that is commonly used at the end of sales during other parts of the year is the surprise, "don't tell our boss" extensions of Black Friday sales.  Black Friday sales, that started just before Halloween are now the extended through the Thanksgiving long weekend. I am now expecting the so-called Cyber Monday sales to extend as well. 


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