How to Prep Your Email List for Black Friday

Ready to conquer BFCM? The stakes are always high for online stores during the holidays, and peak season is beginning earlier and lasting longer than ever. According to a Shopify report, early bird shopping – online sales that occurred during the first week of November – increased by 16% last year. It’s a clear sign that your BFCM planning should kick off now!

In fact, businesses who had a successful BFCM or holiday sale planned more extensively and started their planning earlier. Half of the surveyed merchants started their planning 1-2 months before Black Friday, while large to medium-sized businesses ($1M+) started planning 3-4 months in advance.

The biggest prep work is getting your email list ready

Your email list is the key to a successful BFCM marketing plan. The ability to tailor personalized messages, coupled with targeted segmentation and automation, will allow you to establish meaningful connections with customers throughout important shopping dates. Remember, only 2% of website visitors convert during their first visit so you’ll want to lean on your existing audience, plus a stellar sign up form to capture those not ready to buy yet. Here’s how to get your email list ready:

1. Review Historical Data: Compile top performing email campaigns to review your highest-converting sales and promotions.

2. Research the Competition: Look into the types of sales and promotions your competitors have run throughout the year, and during last BFCM. Expert tip: Visit milled.com, an email campaign database to search for your competitors campaigns from last year.

3. Leverage Email Automation: Review the most impactful automated flows to ensure your customers receive timely and relevant emails. This includes the welcome email flow, abandoned cart reminders, and post-purchase follow-ups.

4. Build your List: Now is the time to build your list and warm them up for the big sale season. Considering that 1-5% of your list will convert into customers, it benefits your brand to build a larger list now to win the numbers game later. Here are a few great ways to build your list:

  • Pre-select the ’email sign up’ option for customers during checkout
  • Create a few standout sign up forms. You should aim to have 1 popup and 1 teaser that floats in the corner of your website.
  • Create a landing page dedicated to collecting emails, i.e. www.yourwebsite.com/signup. You can use that url in your social media profiles, personal email signatures, and more.
  • Increase your sign up rate by offering a discount on first orders. Researchers on Klaviyo’s data science team found, on average, signup forms with discounts had 90% higher subscription rates.
  • You’ll also want to consider what information to collect on your sign up forms. I typically recommend just an email address and first name. While you can experiment with your sign up conversion rate, the fewer form fields make it easier to subscribe, but more form fields often translate to higher-quality sign-ups.

5. Segment your list: Personalization is key to connecting with your subscribers. Segment your email list based on past behavior, preferences, and interests. This targeted approach allows you to send relevant offers and content, increasing the chances of conversions.

6. Start sending more emails: From the moment a subscriber joins your list, they should be getting a steady flow of emails from your brand. If not, you run the risk of low open rates, unsubscribes and spam complaints, all of which leads to poor deliverability. Instead, send consistent emails to build brand recognition and loyalty, and win favor when competition overloads their Inbox. As you ramp up your email marketing, A/B test different email elements, like subject lines, content, and calls-to-action to optimize your emails for better performance.

Together, this email prep work will set you up for a successful Black Friday and beyond.



  • Alli,

    I may be getting ahead of myself but I want to touch base, and introduce myself. I will be launching a Women’s denim line and I could use any and all help imaginable.



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I'm Alli Clough

I’m a web designer, email nerd, and numbers girl. I design and manage online stores for 1m+ brands from a sunny home office. After 18 years in the biz, I’ve tried and tested a lot of tools and strategies, and have the numbers to back up some big decisions you might be hung up on.

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