Twilio SendGrid processed over 5.8 billion emails on Black Friday in 2020 and over 5.7 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).

Ulta Beauty and creativity

Leading up to their 2020 Black Friday campaign, Ulta Beauty embraced creative copy to inspire their customers to shop. Ulta is known for its great holiday and seasonal deals, so each campaign needs to be unique. This email stands out because it catches the audiences’ attention without explicitly calling out the Thanksgiving holiday, but instead just referencing “Dinner.”

The email’s copy is short and sweet, keeping just the most important information about the sale. The calls to action (a callout to prestige brands and a more broad “Shop Now”) work together to encourage clicking through to the site.

This campaign is a great example of bright, simple visuals that are true to the brand and that don’t compromise the quality of the content. The visual elements add to the overall message rather than distracting from the information.

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.

Verb Hair and theme

Verb Hair‘s 2020 holiday campaign embraced a minimalistic theme. The content of the email revolves around a simple, large “Holiday Sale” graphic, with only one highlighted product in the header of the message and a simple “Shop Now” call to action toward the bottom of the message.

By keeping the copy short and visuals simple, the audience is not distracted by any unnecessary information. The focus is kept on the sale and driving people to the website. Holiday sales are a dime a dozen, but the simplicity of this campaign will ensure that it sticks in the minds of recipients.

Things to consider for your next email marketing campaign

Each of the examples above has 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 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.