Cyber Week delivered 570 emails into my inbox, and here's my postmortem

The first email that hinted on the upcoming deluge of shopping deals landed in my inbox on November 13 — exactly 10 days before Black Friday. A variation of "Why wait?! Shop Black Friday deals NOW!" early access emails soon followed. And this cacophony of special deals didn't end until two days after Giving Tuesday. 

So what did I learn after dissecting the throng of 570 promo emails that trampled their way into my crowded inbox from pre-Black Friday to post-Cyber Monday?

Visual representation of the mayhem


Apparently, there are 7 email marketing personality types that are wont to emerge during the Holy Week of shopping.

Read on to know more about their strategies — both the techniques that are worth testing and the ones that, eh, maybe you should not consider emulating.

1. THE NEXT NOSTRADAMUS

I call them as such because the opening lines of their emails have the same "I can predict the future" tone.

"Every person or company with an email list is going to say something about gratitude today." 

Wrong. Some didn't bother sending an email. (Who, me? *wink*) Some sent BAU emails as if Thanksgiving or Cyber Week isn't underway. 

"I’m sure you’re getting ready to fight the crowds and try to bag the best deals for the Holiday season." 

Uhm, no. Never have, never will. Cyber Monday aficionado over here!

"Your email inbox is undoubtedly cluttered with companies trying to sell you stuff you don't need." 

Wrong again. I filled my online shopping cart with necessities such as toiletries and winter accessories. Okay, I didn't need a new purse, but a woman can never have too many handbags. 

"I'm sure you are tired of Black Friday emails by now, so I'll keep it brief."

I'm an email geek who loves collecting emails. #whatchutalkinbout

But this is what copywriters say, isn't it? Make your readers feel that you get them? These opening lines are off the mark though — to me, at least.

Here's a more accurate email lede courtesy of Kim Krause Schwalm:

"Right now your email inbox is likely crammed full of "last chance!" and "down to the wire" emails warning you those great Cyber Monday deals are about to expire."

Ding! Ding Ding! 🔔

2. THE EMOJI LOVER

Salesforce reported that the combined Black Friday and Cyber Monday emails increased from 6.3 billion last year to 7.6 billion this year. I repeat. BILLIONS. So I won't diss the emoji users this time of year. You gotta do what you gotta do to stand out amid the flurry of emails.  

My only beef with this technique? Most emoji lovers used and abused the same emojis in their subject lines.

Predictably, the top emojis during the biggest shopping days of the year are associated with time, gift, and love. 

This is why Women of Email won the emoji wars in my book. They used a goat emoji because why not. (In their email, they prodded their subscribers to be the G.O.A.T. on Giving Tuesday. Clever!)

I gave them a pass for the overused heart emojis because I'd like to think that WoE were poking fun at the emoji lovers with no chill.

3. THE G.O.A.T.

Speaking of 🐐, here's another strategy to grab the attention of your subscribers during Cyber Week:

Hyperbole the heck out of your offer. 

Mirror, mirror on the firewall. Who has the greatest offer of them all? 

This screenshot makes me wonder though...

Does it still make for a good strategy if your competition is also screaming the fact that they have the Greatest Of All Time offer in town? 

You decide. 

But should you choose to be The G.O.A.T. next year, I recommend testing Chanti's subject line formula. Notice how she smartly used hyperbole to announce her G.O.A.T. offer AND its outcome. 

4. THE ONE WITH NO BLACK FRIDAY OFFER

For the record, I have mad respect for Val and Jessie. Great copywriters that they both are. And you know what they say, great minds think alike.

Just look at their subject lines.

Different, but same-same


Aaah, their attempt to differentiate their emails from the other Black Friday emails almost worked...

If only I was not subscribed to both their lists.

The irony is that Ben's email is a promo email, but his subject line trumps the other two, don't you think? 

Other members of the "no Black Friday offer" club are the email marketers who showed up in my inbox without a special deal but with an email full of gratitude. I only read a few of these emails because they started sounding the same. I get it. You're grateful for a lot of things including my existence in your list. You're welcome. 

You gotta hook your subscribers with something more interesting so that your Thank You email doesn't go unread. 

Like what Pete at Rock & Roll Copy did a day before Thanksgiving. 

His opening line:

"A few weeks ago I found myself up a mountain in Catalonia."

The rest of his email is a delightful storytelling about "two men, two mountaintops 🗻". (<— his subject line)

His closing line:

"Chanteuse Marie, thanks for letting me share this one with you."

His postscript:

"If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving in the US or elsewhere, have a great time! I’ll take this opportunity to say thanks again for your interest in my work."

Bravo! I always appreciate a nonboring Thank You email.

Sure, there's a sales pitch in the P.P.S. section of his email, but it’s not a Black Friday offer and it didn't sound in-your-face salesy at all. 

"Whenever you’re ready, here’s 3 ways I can help you better communicate your unique value to the right people..."

Abbey Woodcock also used the same whenever-you're-ready P.S. strategy on her pre-Thanksgiving email.

"No Black Friday sale here but whenever you’re ready, here are 4 ways I can help you grow your freelancing business..."

5. THE LAUNCHER

Shout-out to Rachael Kay Albers (aka RKA ink) who introduced her new "Let's Do Launch" course last week. Also, she wins at Cyber Monday with this meme hands down.

(Side note: Would you look at that email opening line? It's far better than the ones I listed under The Next Nostradamus.)

I've also noticed that Rachael was not the only one who launched a course or a program during the busiest shopping season. 

And this made me go, hmmm...

Is this a smart launch strategy? Seriously asking for a friend.

On the one hand, people are in a buying mood. On the other hand, you're competing with tons of sellers.

In her email with the subject line "GTFO of my inbox 😡", Abbey Woodcock postulated:

"… instead of choosing you because you have the thing they need, they are forced to choose between you and all the other offers in their inbox… that they also may “need.” I’d rather they choose me because they’re ready for me.

Repeat that last sentence to yourself. I highlighted it in bold for a reason. If you only have one takeaway from this blog post, I wish it to be that bold quote.

And unless you have superfans who read Every. Single. Email. you send as soon as it hit their inboxes, won't the launch emails just get lost in the Cyber Week fray anyway? Let's not even mention your subscribers who are motivated to avoid their inboxes altogether. 

Joanna Wiebe launched the upgraded version of 10x Freelance Copywriter right after Cyber Monday. Val Geisler launched the brand spankin' new The Email Masters Incubator two days after the Cyber Week emails have finally died down. Strategic move or nah? I'm putting my money on DAMN GOOD STRATEGY.

UPDATE: RKA ink’s launch was a super success! She said, “There's a lot of ‘I want to get my shit ready for 2019’ energy at this time of year so I think that drove the launch DESPITE it being the season of 570 emails!!!!” So launch at your own risk next Cyber Week, dear readers. With the right strategy, you might just also survive the madness with record success.

6. THE JERRY MAGUIRES & THE NOT JERRY MAGUIRES

The day after Cyber Monday...

Jerry Maguire: Show me more moneeeeeeeey!

Not Jerry Maguire: It's Giving Tuesday, you turd!

No hate to those who pushed for more sales on this day. 

But much love to those who observed Giving Tuesday.

What's Giving Tuesday, you ask?

Gothamist.png

Apparently, not everybody got the memo.

Two of my favorite retailers renamed this day Cyber Tuesday and Cyber Monday 2.0.

Another online marketer even said:

"We’re still not sure what to call the day after Cyber Monday. Purple Tuesday, maybe? We’re open to suggestions."

😢

The good news? This year's #GivingTuesday campaigns raised 27% more for charities than in 2017

I'm not above making more money, but may I suggest taking a page out of the books of J. Crew and H&M who incorporated giving back to the community into their sales.

Here are the snippets from their emails:

J. Crew.png

Other Giving Tuesday emails are straight up donation emails like Obama's and WWF's.

Obama.png

Online marketers like Marie Forleo and Abbey Woodcock also emailed their suggestions for organizations to support.

But I gotta hand it to Greyhound — no matter how much I loathe riding their buses in the past. On Giving Tuesday, they didn't offer a discount, nor did they ask for donations.

Greyhound.png

I clicked on the CTA link, and I landed on a page where you can contact Greyhound to request for volunteers if your not-for-profit organization needs additional manpower. Faith in Greyhound restored!

7. THE LAST PERSON STANDING

According to Salesforce, "In a shift from the past, shoppers bought throughout the week, with sustained revenue growth of 15%. Black Friday took the top spot for online shopping with Cyber Monday at No. 2, but Cyber Week revenue took on a new and more balanced shape, not the precipitous spikes of past years."

Which explains these 4 kinds of persistent email marketers.

a. THE EXTENDER: They pummeled your inbox with last chance/final hours/last call emails only to show up again the next day to give you the news.

"Surprise! Cyber Sale Extended!"

"Bonus day!"

b. THE JUSTIN BIEBER: They’re really sorry for the technical issues. 

"Oops! Our order page is now working"

"Sorry our payment system broke - you've got one last chance"

"We're sorry: 35% off is extended"

If there was indeed a glitch, I'll never know. But I choose to believe they're telling the truth because I'd like to keep my faith in humanity restored by Greyhound. Also, Business Insider mentioned that  IT issues cost $1.88 billion in sales on Cyber Monday last year. So the struggle must be real.

c. THE LIAR, LIAR PANTS ON FIRE: They sent you the following emails on Wednesday. 

"Cyber Monday ends tonight..."

"You have just 1 hour left on my Cyber Monday deal..."  

*face-palm*

I thought Monday ends on... Monday? Why not just declare it’s Cyber Week? It's a thing now.

d. TEAM CYBER WEEK: They dgaf about one-day sales. They pump out offers that last through almost a week after Black Friday. 

"Black Friday is over, but the deals continue..."

"Cyber Week continues..."

"Don’t tell Tony... We forgot to turn off our Black Friday deals!"

That last one is my favorite. At least Team Tony Robbins got jokes!

But if we're talking entertainment and humor, I'd award the BEST EMAIL trophy to The New York Public Library.

Their email is also a great reminder that in the middle of all the consumerism, the best things in life are free year-round. 

Thanks for reading.