Which Segments to Target for Your Black Friday Email Marketing

Aaron Wiseman
Aaron Wiseman, SmartrMail
20 Nov 2020 7 min read

Merchants are gearing up for the biggest sales weekend of the year.

And along with merchants holding massive Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, you can also be certain they’ll be sending plenty of emails to their customers.

With good reason too.

Email marketing is responsible for driving approximately a quarter of all sales over the shopping weekend, according to Custora. Compared to less than 2% for social media.

Additionally, email is also responsible for 20% of store visits during Black Friday and customers who purchase through email spend 138% more compared to those who didn’t receive an email offer.

The problem, however, isn’t that merchants aren’t sending emails. It’s that they’re sending too many emails to their customers which only ends up annoying them.

How you should approach Black Friday email marketing

It can be tempting to save time by sending the same email out to all your customers again and again. But with so much competition from other merchants vying for attention in consumers’ inboxes, this strategy simply doesn’t cut it.

When there are so many emails being sent on Black Friday, it also only makes sense that email engagement will suffer. A Yes Marketing study found evidence for this finding that Black Friday results in lower open rates.

So while it’s the most important weekend of the year in terms of sales, it’s also one of the toughest weekends of the year to get customers to engage with your emails.

That’s why it’s vital that you get smart about your email marketing.

And the best way to do this is by sending the right message to the right customer. Which means segmenting your list.

What is segmentation?

First of all, let’s make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to what we’re talking about.

Email segmentation is simply when you divide your master email list up into smaller groups, or ‘segments’, that share a similar characteristic. This could be a segment of customers who purchased a particular product or a group of subscribers who are yet to make a purchase.

By doing this, you’re able to send more targeted emails to customers based on where they’re at in the customer lifecycle.

This ability to send the right message to the right customer is why segmented emails generate 760% more revenue than their unsegmented email blast counterparts.

Combine that with the increase in sales Black Friday brings and you have a powerful sales weapon.

Segments you should be targeting

Things are easier said than done, and segmentation is no different.

Not all segments are created equal and some will be much more powerful than others. Especially when it comes to a major sales event like Black Friday.

So instead of just telling you to segment your Black Friday email campaigns and leaving it at that, below is a list of which segments you should be targeting.

1) Your entire list

Okay, so this one’s not a segment per se, but when it comes to a major event like Black Friday you should send an email to your entire list letting them know about your sale.

Ideally this email should be sent a couple of weeks in advance and contain all the major details about your sale. Just like in the example below from Zagg.

However you’re going to want to send more than one email before and during Black Friday which is where the next segments come into play.

2) Customers likely interested in your Black Friday sale

After you’ve sent your initial Black Friday email, you’ll want to send another follow up approximately a week later to those who are going to be the most receptive to your Black Friday sale.

There are a few key segments you should be targeting with your follow up here:

Previous Black Friday shoppers

Even if they haven’t shopped with you again all year, your previous Black Friday shoppers from past year obviously enjoy picking up a Black Friday bargain. This means they’re not going to be annoyed by you sending an additional follow-up reminder.

To create this segment, you simply need to look at what dates you held your Black Friday sales in the past and then include anyone who placed an order during these periods.

VIP customers

Like customers who purchased from your store during previous Black Friday sales, your VIP customers are another segment who are going to want to hear more about your upcoming sale.

It’s up to you whether you define your VIP customers based on how many orders a customer has placed with your store or how much they’ve spent with you in total. Typically you want to aim to segment the top 20% of your customers here.

People signing up through your Black Friday popup

In the lead up to Black Friday you should change your popup to mention your Black Friday offer.

Not only does this mean that more people will learn about your sale, but people signing up through your popup are clearly interested in it as well. This makes this audience an excellent segment to target with your Black Friday reminder email.

What to send to these segments

By combining all of these three segments together all you have to do is create the one email to send them all.

Because they’re such an engaged audience, in addition to simply reminding them about your upcoming Black Friday sale, you might also want to reward them with a special extra offer. Like in the example below from The Elephant Press.

3) People yet to open your Black Friday emails

When Black Friday finally arrives, you’ll want to send one more email in the morning to your entire list announcing that your sale has begun.

The email below from Carhartt is a great example of how you can announce your sale has begun. For more inspiration, check out this collection of Black Friday emails here.

Because of the amount of competition and the sheer number of emails other retailers will be sending on Black Friday, chances are a fair few people are going to miss this email entirely from the time you first send it to when they check their inboxes.

That’s why Black Friday is perhaps the only day of the year you can get away with sending multiple emails.

However, you only want to keep sending emails to people who haven’t opened any of your Black Friday emails yet. As soon as they open one, don’t send them any more lest you risk annoying them.

SmartrMail’s ‘Send Boost’ feature lets you do this easily by automatically resending the email only to people who haven’t opened it yet.

If you want to go a step further, a good idea is to create a ‘last chance’ style campaign that you send later in the afternoon. Such as in the example below with the countdown timer, the idea is to create a sense of urgency and compel your customers into making a purchase before it's too late.

Of course, if people are still not opening your emails by this stage, you’ll want to also reflect this sense of urgency in your subject line to get them to open your email.


Despite how powerful email marketing is, sending the same message to your subscribers over and over isn’t going to drive sales. Especially when competition is as intense as it is during Black Friday.

Instead, focusing your efforts on the people who are going to be the most interested in your sale will drastically improve the performance of your emails. Both in terms of how your customers react to them and the number of sales they generate.

And with Black Friday coming up fast, now’s the time to start crafting your email campaigns.