Twilio SendGrid processed over 4.2 billion emails on Black Friday in 2019 and over 4.3 billion emails on Cyber Monday. That’s a lot of email. Needless to say, we’ve seen our fair share of holiday marketing campaigns.

With the online shopping holidays quickly approaching, we dug deep into our inboxes to pull out some of our favorite Black Friday and Cyber Monday email marketing examples. Below you’ll find some clever campaigns that are bound to inspire you, as well as our commentary (because we know you want to hear our opinions).

GrubHub and Timing

This email came on Black Friday, but let’s be clear, the Black Friday push started well before the actual day, and the Cyber Monday messages ended a few days afterward. We’re seeing more and more companies announcing their upcoming sales, and then extending their discounts through the rest of the week after Cyber Monday.

This marketing email was nice to receive because it did a couple of things for me. It reminded me that you can gift GrubHub to other people, which is great because I don’t think I was aware of that. It also gave me a heads up that this particular deal is ending soon, and that it could be used for the holiday season.

Frontier and Brand

Frontier plays to their brand’s strengths by using the black bear to promote a Black Friday sale. Customers recognize Frontier planes’ animal-decorated tails, and this email ties together the marketing campaign with the brand nicely.

The content is subtle with the main focus of the email clear from the get-go: BOOK NOW and SAVEBIG. The screenshot doesn’t entirely do the image justice since the dollar signs and banner text actually flicker on and off, giving the basic email a fun feel.

I love the simplicity and on-brand nature of this email. It’s nothing fancy, but the clean design and powerful color use lead effectively to the BOOK NOW CTA. Plus, the black background coupled with the black bear makes for an eye-catching design that’s sure to keep customers from immediately clicking on to the next email.

Patagonia and Giving

It’s downright refreshing to see a brand focused on giving rather than getting. Patagonia strikes a wonderful chord here by focusing on the true meaning of the Thanksgiving season.

Yes, brands still need to make sales, and the holiday season is prime time for that—but customers vote with their wallets, and 64% of them buy on belief. Remind your customers what you stand for, and there’s a good chance they’ll choose you over your competitor when there’s a pricing tie.

The clean design and color combination make the flow from image to supporting copy to CTA seamless. Here, it’s all about the cause, and Patagonia’s products take a back seat—that’s a powerful play for a company during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but oh-so on-brand for a business like Patagonia.

REI and Shop Early


REI takes a similar approach to Patagonia with this gentle invitation to “rethink your routine.” REI wins some brownie points for staying closed on the biggest sales day of the year (kudos to them) but declares their stance in a way that comes off as inspiring rather than boastful.

Instead, there’s a subtle invitation here to shop early and take a Thanksgiving weekend break. This email is a positive influence and a great brand-builder.

The color scheme is simple and fun, and the solo CTA keeps the focus of the email direct: JOIN US.

Things to Consider for Your Next Email Marketing Campaign

Each of the examples above have different elements that are absolutely fantastic, and should be considered when you’re developing your next campaign:

  • Timing – For a consumer holiday like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, remember that the holiday isn’t the only time to send your email marketing campaign. Most of the companies I received emails from sent an announcement email, an email the day of, and a reminder email about their sales.
  • Leverage Engagement – If you send an email announcing a sale, and you see a segment of people engage with it, consider sending a follow-up email to those recipients if they didn’t complete a purchase. They’ve shown you that they’re interested, they could just need a little encouragement.
  • Create Better Content – As I’m sure you’re aware, sending a marketing email that’s just a sleek picture overlaid with the discount you’re providing is old news. Tell your recipients a story, or provide them with a little more information about the product you’d like them to buy.
  • Consider Leaving Out Images – Rather than spending your designer’s man-hours on creating yet another email header, maybe there’s an opportunity to pare down your message and get straight to the point.
  • Provide Great Examples – A lot of times, companies will leave out specific examples of the products that are on sale. Instead they’ll encourage you to visit the site and look for yourself. If your company sells a specific product or service though, include some examples of what customers can get on your site.  

Even though these emails were designed to drive engagement and revenue, not all email marketing campaigns need to be focused on ROI. For more email marketing examples, we recommend you check out Your Guide to Better Product Emails and 3 Ideas for Thank You Email Campaigns.

Warren Duff
Warren is the Sr. Content Marketing Manager at SendGrid, specializing in email and content best practices, he develops many of the new guides you see SendGrid release as well as other pieces of content, including blogs, videos, case studies, and emails.