Following on from our article on how UK brands promoted the event online, here’s how seven retailers executed their email marketing campaigns.


Let’s kick off with one of the best of the bunch.

ASOS executed a pretty heavy email campaign, first mentioning the event nearly an entire week beforehand.

While this might sound a little excessive, the emails are still quite subtle, designed to build excitement and get customers in the mood.

When the real event finally kicked off, ASOS used a discount code with the promise of 20% off all items.

Just imagine the regret if you forgot to enter the code at the checkout…

It also promoted the Black Friday offer on top of an existing sale of ‘up to 70%’.

It’s not clear whether the items here were any good, but the email copy sure does makes you want to go and have a look.

Likewise, ASOS’s subject lines were nicely done, reinforcing the brand’s young and conversational tone of voice.

For more on ASOS, read our post on eight checkout design features that make its site great.

House of Fraser

Unlike ASOS’s strong but subtle approach, House of Fraser went overboard on the emails this year, as shown in the screenshot of my inbox below.

The actual emails were fine – they nicely promoted the array of discounts on offer.

It’s just a shame they were sent every day for a week, which could be enough to put off even the most loyal customers.

On the plus side, despite going down to 30% off, the emails become get more targeted as the week wore one.

The one below obviously takes into account my previous interest in womenswear.


In contrast to the aforementioned example, Zara took a very restrained approach, only sending out two emails in total.

As well as being underwhelming (in terms of the discount and the creative) – the subject lines were pretty boring to say the least.

With no indication of how big the offer or how long it’d be on for, I’d be surprised if it received many click-throughs.

For more on Zara, read ‘Six reasons I love (and a few reasons I don’t)’

John Lewis

Surprisingly, John Lewis wasn’t very impressive either.

Again, with no indication of the amount of money customers might save, it doesn’t give much incentive to click through.

Another thing I found interesting was that its Sunday email – sent when the weekend event was still running – used an entirely unrelated subject line.

This was despite the fact that the email itself was Black Friday related.

Maybe the retailer was trying to be subtle? It just felt a bit misjudged to me,

However, with John Lewis traditionally more focused on Christmas, perhaps Black Friday was deliberately underplayed.


H&M’s emails on and around Black Friday were strong.

With a bold and concise message of 20% off plus free delivery – customers were left in no doubt as to what they could expect.

Furthermore, I also like the fact that its emails included editorial-inspired content, motivating customers with how they could style their bargains rather than just promoting the sale.

The only factor that let H&M down was its slightly dull subject lines.

Not bad – just a bit lacklustre. Still, at least they’re concise.


On to Debenhams, and it demonstrated a good amount of variety in its emails.

As well as giving customers a heads up on what was to come, it also included original content, such as a ‘Top 10’ deal countdown and editorial-inspired imagery.

By incorporating more variety into its messaging, it feels less salesy, meaning customers are less likely to dismiss it as Black Friday noise.

You can read how Debenhams’ site redesign led to ecommerce sales growth in this article.


Finally, an interesting approach from US retailer Threadless.

On the Wednesday before the event, it sent out this email offering an exclusive 40% off code that expired before the Black Friday deals began.

While this might sound like it’d have limited impact as people would just hold out for Black Friday, it’s obviously an attempt to foster customer loyalty for the long-term.

By using a personal tone – even sending it from the Founder of the company – it is designed to make customers feel valued.

A refreshing surprise just before Black Friday hit, it made for one of the most memorable emails of the week.

On to the actual Black Friday emails, and Threadless promoted it with a Christmas-themed creative.

This could also prove effective for getting customers to think about the festive period (and why they might want to come back again soon).

Finally, hats off to the brand for including an original and humourous subject line in its Cyber Monday email.