The Best of 2018 Black Friday & Cyber Monday Emails

Email marketers love Black Friday/Cyber Monday. It’s the biggest promotional week of the year! Following the 2018 season, I’m giving my opinion on the winners and the misses among emails that landed in my inboxes.

Some brands sent multiple emails per day. Some sent the first email I’ve noticed since joining their lit list. Most messages focused around anywhere from 20-50% discounts.  Some changed their offer throughout the week, while others ran a 5-7 day promotion.

Here are my top picks or Holiday Emails for November 2018.

Top Creative Honors:  J. Peterman Company and

J. Peterman has been known for their eccentric, creative flair since being incorporated into the television show, Seinfeld.  J. Peterman’s campaign stood out this year, because they created their own special day, one or two day ahead of many other promotions.

The email read: “Take up to 79% off SITEWIDE. Free shipping with code GIFT. It’s Red Wednesday and EVERYTHING is on sale.”

The message effectively tied red to savings. The contents made me want to click to see what items were marked down 79%. sent an email that won my attention last weekend by using a scratch off ticket with hopes of really big deals. Clicking to see how much you win in savings is not a new idea. The execution on this one, was very nicely done.

The subject line stood out in my inbox.

Subject Line: Wait. What? Up to 99% off my stay coupon + Up to 60% off!

That’s a pretty big savings, so I opened. But the email got better from there, using a scratch off ticket image.

When I clicked the glittery gold ticket...I was taken to a page where I literally scratched of the savings with my finger on the touch screen.  It was a cleverly designed message. Unfortunately I didn’t win much and double unfortunately, I’ve already scratched the ticket and it can only be used once, so I can’t show it to you.

Top Personalization Honors: The Wayfair family of brands.

Wayfair and Joss & Main sent me many emails at multiple addresses. Why did they win for personalization? If their email featured 20% off of 5 categories on their site, the category at the top of the email was the category I browsed last on their site. If I was looking for floor lamps, I saw floor lamps first. If I shopped rugs, I saw rugs first. Coincidence? I’m sure it was not. Not every email was tailored to my interests, but just enough were to mix up the range of offers and keep it a little personal.

Other Campaigns Worth Recognizing:  U-Lace, Draper James, The Ski Company

U-Lace effectively used images from customers wearing their no-tie laces in emails. They offered nice gift incentives to increase your order size and earn special bonus gifts as you spent more.

Draper James, Reese Witherspoon’s apparel company usually sends emails from a no reply company address and uses photos of models in the message. So when a Thanksgiving email came from the address, Reese Witherspoon, and featured a greeting with a holiday photo from her inside, it stood out.  Then the email was nicely followed up with a text-based email from the same address.

The Ski Company sent an email that wasn’t quite in league with the others for design or creativity. I chose the regional store’s message for their offer strategy.  The email simply offered a price match for the entire holiday season. It also included a video which explained a long term benefit for buying from their store versus another retailer.  Too often local stores try to anticipate what a national chain will do and aim to create a rival offer.  The simple price match and value proposition was fitting for a local business and showed sometimes less can be more.

What was the big miss for Black Friday/Cyber Monday?

For me it was Amazon. Yes, Amazon was seriously lacking in my inbox.  In years past, Amazon sent me multiple emails per day.

This year I didn’t recall receiving more than one. I checked all my accounts, I checked my spam folder, my promotions folder. I looked everywhere.

I received 1 email a day from Amazon and the subject lines were so lackluster, I had overlooked them. Lines like Black Friday is Here, or Cyber Monday Deals Week is here were to me, ho-hum.

Amazon perhaps knows better than anyone brand what I’ve bought and browsed over the years, but I did not notice an personalization. Their marketing got  buried among the glittering offers I received.

Happy Holidays

May you find what you’re looking for this holiday season and more. There’s plenty of marketing and shopping to be done in the days until Christmas.

Enjoy and be Merry and remember in the end…while the marketing and the shopping is fun for many of us, the true meaning of Christmas is what this time of year is really all about!

Bonus – Take a look at my favorite emails from years back in this post from the 2014 season and see how far we’ve come.