For years, Black Friday has been the unofficial start of the
holiday shopping season. It marked the time when many retailers
would finally get into the black after negative sales numbers for
the first 11 months of the year. Black Friday is commonly
associated with doorbusters and deals worth waiting in line for as
retailers opened their doors for shopping in the early hours of the
day after Thanksgiving.
Over the past decade, however, there’s been a shift toward
Thanksgiving shopping—what’s now being called Grey Thursday or
Black Friday Thursday. Retailers are beginning to take notice and
open their doors Thursday night for shoppers.
Some are even staying open the entire holiday.
The extra shopping time means consumers spend more money each
year. According to the
National Retail Federation, the average shopper was expected to
spend more than $1,000 in 2018. Ultimately, they spend more than
$717 billion dollars between November and December.
So, what can you do to encourage your customers to spend that
holiday money at your company? Your holiday campaigns should
include Grey Thursday, but there’s a certain way to do it in
order to be successful.
Read on to discover the best ways to include Grey Thursday email
campaigns in your digital marketing strategy.
The growth of Grey Thursday shopping
The number of people shopping and the amount of money spent on
Thanksgiving continues to increase each year. According to a
2018 holiday shopping study, 26% of people say they’ll shop
in stores on Grey Thursday. The majority of the shoppers who visit
stores on Thanksgiving say they will be there before 6 p.m. Most of
these shoppers say they are out on the holiday because they don’t
want to miss the best deals.
Most people who get together for family or friend dinners tend
to do so in the early afternoon or evening. It appears most big
Thanksgiving purchases are made during this time as well, rather
than after dinner.
However, the biggest Grey Thursday shopping trends appears to be
Adobe Analytics reports that online shopping in 2018 accounted
for $3.7 billion in sales. Compare that to the previous year, and
it’s an increase of almost 28%. Black Friday still accounted for
about double that amount, but the Thanksgiving year-over-year
online shopping trend is one of the largest one-day e-commerce
increases in history.
Despite the increase in shopping over the Thanksgiving holiday,
it’s fair to point out the majority of consumers still prefer to
wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday for their holiday
more than 60% of people say they won’t consider shopping on
Thanksgiving at all.
How email metrics differ between Grey Thursday and Black Friday
Even if they don’t want to shop, that doesn’t mean your
customers don’t want to open emails. Of the
95 million mails sent by our customers on Thanksgiving in 2016,
more than 17 million were opened. Assuming all were successfully
delivered, that’s an overall open rate of about 18%. Those
metrics are slightly below what we saw on Black Friday that year,
but still a good indication that people are willing to check emails
while waiting for their food to cook or if they need a break from
Interestingly, we also discovered the most popular time to send
emails on both days was in the morning. For Thanksgiving, 10 a.m.
and noon were the peak times. On Black Friday, it was 9 and 10
Ways to implement Grey Thursday emails into your digital marketing
A different marketing strategy is necessary when communicating
with your customers on Grey Thursday. During Black Friday, people
are more inclined to think about holiday purchases because it is
the traditional day for shopping. Most brands will send some sort
of Black Friday promotional email encouraging customers to buy
something that’s on sale.
On Thanksgiving, you need to change tactics. Emails sent this
day should be
more generous and focus on giving back, family time, and
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t still send promotional
emails on Grey Thursday. Whether you’re looking for a good reason
to nurture your leads or you’re trying to push conversions, there
are a few different strategies to consider for Thanksgiving
Here are four ways to create a Grey Thursday email marketing
plan to engage with your customers without looking like a
1. Set the right mood.
Your customers are likely thinking about two things on
Thanksgiving: food and family (or friends that feel like family).
Make sure your marketing campaign captures the happy and fulfilling
emotions that come with the holiday.
Set the right mood by focusing on colors and photos that are
synonymous with this time of year. Think autumnal colors and photos
of dinner tables full of Thanksgiving feasts.
You can even use this idea for a promotion. Take a look at how
food delivery service Postmates used the concept of a Thanksgiving
dinner for this clever email:
Really Good Emails
The email does a great job mixing the desire for a perfect
Thanksgiving dinner with the pain point of actually making the food
without something going wrong. The CTA works as a simple solution
to the problem.
2. Give thanks.
There’s no better time to thank your customers for their
support during the past year than the day where everyone is giving
thanks for what they have. An email with a simple and sincere
message can go a long way to building positive sentiments about
The email doesn’t need to be elaborate, consider this example
from the NCAA:
The NCAA scores big with this simple message saying thanks for
supporting student athletes across the country.
3. Send your Black Friday emails a day early.
With more money being spent on Thanksgiving, it can be difficult
not to try for a piece of the pie. If you are going to send a
promotional email to your customers, consider doing it in lieu of a
Black Friday message. Birchbox has a nice strategy for this type of
If you send a promotional message on Thanksgiving and then
another on Black Friday, it might seem like overkill to your
customers that opened both messages. There’s a simple trick here
to avoid that. Create a Thanksgiving weekend drip campaign with
custom workflows. If a contact opens your message that was sent
Thursday, do not send one on Friday. However, if your customer
doesn’t open your Thursday email, set up your workflow so
they’ll receive your normal Black Friday message the next
There is a chance that customers who don’t open your Thursday
message right away will still get the Friday email. However, if
they are seeing the messages in their inboxes a few days later,
chances are they won’t open them anyway.
4. Show that you aren’t open for business.
A less frequently used tactic, but one that could be successful,
is to send an email specifically telling your customers that
you’re not open. An email like this will do nothing to drive
immediate conversions, but it could help position your brand in a
more positive light, especially with people who are against the
idea of Thanksgiving shopping.
If you consider this strategy, use messaging that conveys the
reason you are closed is so your employees can spend the holiday
with their families, just like how your customers should spend it
It’s almost a necessity for businesses to have some sort of
digital marketing campaign centered around Thanksgiving weekend.
Even if your brand already has plans to promote deals and discounts
for Cyber Monday and Black Friday, there is still room for you to
engage with your contacts on Thanksgiving. Consider some of these
Grey Thursday email campaign ideas:
- Use pictures of Thanksgiving feasts and autumn-themed colors or
templates to create a positive mood for your emails
- Send an email thanking your customers for their support over
the past year
- Run a campaign specifically promoting that you aren’t open
for the holiday and encourage your customers to spend the day with
- When all else fails, take advantage of the Thanksgiving online
sales growth and send your Black Friday email a day early
Whether you plan to nurture your leads or try to convince them
to make a purchase, follow these suggestions for a successful Grey
Thursday digital marketing plan.
‘Tis the season to start thinking about what you’ll do for
your holiday email campaigns. Check our list (or check it twice!)
ultimate holiday email marketing suggestions and tips you can
use to create a successful holiday email marketing campaign.
Is Grey Thursday a Thing and Should It be Part of Your
Strategy? appeared first on Campaign Monitor.
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Is Grey Thursday a Thing and Should It be Part of Your Strategy?