Greatest Hits of Black Friday, Cyber Monday Subject Lines 2018 December 06, 2018, | Posted by Samantha

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Earlier this week we looked at some of the best creative of Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaigns from this year, but of course creative alone isn’t all that drives results. As we move into the holiday marketing season more thoroughly, Site Impact wanted to take a look at the best subject lines of the opening weekend. There is a lot to be learned and even a good deal that companies and marketers can use as last-minute feedback to crafting subject lines through the end of the year--and of course, marketing efforts don’t end just because holiday season does. We’re going to look at some of the big wins in terms of subject line keywords and more, and make some projections as to what this can mean for the months to come.

“Top” was tops this year

A study conducted by Sailthru examined trends across almost 250,000,000 Black Friday email subject lines and 143,455,866 Cyber Monday subject lines sent out by their clients to examine trends in terms of the keywords, lengths, and more that drove the most opens and clicks. Amongst all of the subject lines they examined, the word “top” was the best in terms of response, followed by “first,” and “deal.” Some examples of the subject lines that got the best responses includes:

      Our Top Black Friday Offers

      This Morning’s Top Deals

      Top gifts to get on Cyber Monday

      Our top 5 gifts inside

      Black friday deals start now!

      Tick Tock! Cyber Monday Deals TODAY ONLY!

Of course, there were millions more--but this illustrates the point. The least successful keywords for the holiday weekend included “while,” “miss,” “save,” and “last.” This indicates that while consumers have definitely been driven by seeking out deals this holiday season, they aren’t responding well to subject lines designed to play on the fear of missing out, instead more towards promises of the best possible deals.


Length matters!

Another aspect that the study uncovered was the fact that length of subject line is a major contributing factor when it comes to holiday email marketing success. Shorter rather than longer subject lines carried the day, following in a trend that we’ve been noticing for some time now. It makes sense for this to be particularly noticeable when it comes to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when consumers want to get to the point of the email as quickly as possible: short email subject lines with quick, easy information are going to get the greatest results.


Tone will continue to be a major factor, along with personalization

Tone of the subject line is another factor that the study looked at, and overall it seems to be that neutral-to-positive tones worked the best for the big holiday sale weekend--something that brands should consider throughout the holiday season. Negatively-themed subject lines (such as those focused on fear of missing out, or implying a consequence for not going for the deal) performed much more poorly. This marks a stark contrast from last year, when the negative tone worked very well indeed. Moving through the holiday season, sticking with neutral or positive messaging in subject lines, restricting length, and focusing on keywords like “deal” “top,” “best,” and so on will be winning strategies for brands.


As the holiday shopping season continues, brands need to be ready to make adjustments to their subject line strategies, often very rapidly. Looking at the data and engaging with the testing is a great way to do that--and the data from the biggest days of sales this year shows the way ahead for the rest of the season and into the new year. Contact Site Impact to learn how we can help you make your subject lines count.