Building a VIP email list: your secret weapon for Black Friday success


You could call it the holy trinity of eCommerce and retail: Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. If you own a Shopify store or work in eCommerce you know this weekend is a BIG deal. 

In 2018, U.S. online retailers sold $3.7 billion on Thanksgiving, $6.2 billion on Black Friday, and a whopping $7.9 billion on Cyber Monday — that’s $17.8 billion in online sales over just three days!

And it’s only getting bigger. It's estimated that 74% of Americans will make a purchase on Black Friday or Cyber Monday this year. 

As eCommerce store owners and marketers, the challenge is to keep coming up with new and creative ways to get clicks and increase conversions. 

One tried-and-true tactic is to build a strong email subscriber list and use it to offer exclusive VIP promotions. Not only does this increase your customer reach, it can also work wonders towards building brand loyalty and encouraging repeat purchases. 

Why building an email list is important

We all know an email list is important, and stats can prove it.

Last BFCM, email was the highest-converting sales channel for Shopify stores, beating out both social media and search.


While an algorithm shift can destroy your social media reach and an ad-blocker can filter out your paid advertising, a prospective or current customer who voluntarily submits their email address to your list is easier to reach AND closer to actually buying something from you.

In fact, they probably joined your email list because they're waiting to hear about a deal from you.

This year, it can be your secret weapon for Black Friday success too! It's a sure fire way to make sure customers hear about your Black Friday offers, instead of hoping your social media or promotional messaging reaches them.

Ready to learn more? 

Here are three steps for building a high-converting rockstar VIP email list in time for Black Friday. 

1. Start building up your email list now 

If you're an eCommerce veteran, chances are you've been building your mailing list since day one. 

Not every click through to your page will automatically result in a sale.

However, even if a potential customer looks around on your site, maybe adds an item to their cart, you've greatly increased the chances of them returning and converting. 

Pro tip: Check out these 13 amazing abandoned-cart emails that stores have used to entice customers to come back to and complete their purchase. 

What are the best ways to build an email list? 

One of the most effective ways to grow your list is to create an email sign up pop-up. This way when people visit your site, they'll see an enticing image asking them to subscribe.

Nobody wants more spam in their inbox, so you need to make sure you offer them something in return. A small discount, game with a prize, or intriguing contest offer can be enough to get someone to join your mailing list, especially if they are already a fan of your store.

Here's a good example from Guilty Soles via OptiMonk. Anyone who loves shoes won't be able to resist this offer. 

Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 11.53.15 AMEmail sign-up by Guilty Soles

Header and footer bars can also work great for acquiring new subscribers.

The approach is less in your customers' face and doesn't interrupt the browsing experience (some people hate pop-ups!). If your message is strong enough, you may be able to get people to sign-up without any specific offer.

Look at this clever header bar from MailChimp

Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 12.09.03 PM                  Email sign-up header bar by MailChimp

Cabela's Canada also uses a simple footer bar.

Keep in mind, the strength of your brand might reflect how successful your email acquisition strategy will be. Large companies with a strong reputation will have an easier time getting people to sign up to an email list, because customers are already interested in what these brands offer.

If you are a smaller company, or are just starting out, you might have to offer a discount, gift, or contest entry to get people to sign up. 

Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 12.05.09 PM .                                                          Email sign-up footer bar by Cabela's Canada

Whether your list has twenty people or 20,000 loyal customers, now is the time to get as many new subscribers as possible in time for your 2019 Black Friday campaign.

Now that we've covered the basics of email acquisition, let's look at how to shift your email sign-up messaging to get customers excited about Black Friday. 

2. Make your sign-up messaging about Black Friday 

If you’ve already built an email list and use it to run email marketing campaigns, great work! The infrastructure is already in place to launch a profitable Black Friday / Cyber Monday campaign

The next step is to tailor your sign-up messaging for Black Friday. This is where the strength of your offer will really shine. Black Friday shoppers expect deals and exclusive promotions, and if your sign-up messaging doesn't entice them they may go looking to your competition for better offers.

Remember, Black Friday is the biggest eCommerce event of the year. Shoppers are on the hunt for deals, making them more likely to subscribe so they don't miss out on the best offers! 

Whether you're using an in-your-face pop-up or a header bar with a countdown timer, your Black Friday sign up messaging should not only offer a juicy discount, but also tease upcoming deals they can only find out about if they submit their email.

Tell them that in addition to 10% off your entire store, by subscribing they will be the first to hear about flash sales, deals of the day, exclusive VIP savings, and more! 

Sometimes an off-key deal like "74%" can catch people's attention. Any percentage in the 60–70% range is very strong and will likely entice customers to want to subscribe to find out more. Check this pop-up out: 

Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 2.45.40 PMBlack Friday sign-up pop-up from via OptiMonk

3. Use VIP offers to grow and retain your subscriber list 

If your email list isn’t as long as you’d like it to be, don’t worry, Black Friday is an excellent opportunity to build those numbers using VIP offers. Let’s look make an example:

James owns a popular men’s grooming products eCommerce store. He sells beard oils, balms, and other grooming accessories. He is looking to drive sales and expand his email subscription list this Black Friday by running the following email sign-up pop-up: 


Subscribe to our VIB email list and receive a special access code to get 10% of your entire Black Friday purchase. Plus, be the first to find out about our Cyber Monday Flash Sale! 

The goal of this promotion is to move a high volume of product at a discounted price, while expanding his mailing list for future promotions. 

Whether you run a small store or are managing a massive eCommerce enterprise, VIP offers can expand your message's reach, increase sales, and build customer loyalty. 

Here's another example of a VIP sign-up form via UK eyelash experts Whiplash Lashes:

Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 3.04.08 PMVIP email sign-up popup from Whiplash Lashes

Using VIP offers is an excellent way to acquire subscribers, especially leading up to Black Friday. But how do you keep them from unsubscribing once they have used up their discount or offer? 

One way is to identify who your VIP customers truly are and continue to target them with great offers, upcoming sales previews, and more. Sometimes a great piece of content, like an informative newsletter or a hilarious video can keep subscribers wanting more.

Building a strong list for Black Friday is important, but you also want to carry that momentum into the upcoming holiday season! 

Want some more advice? Check out this blog post from Klaviyo on how to maximize your VIP email subscribers. 

Need help building a VIP list? 

Using an email marketing service like Privy can help you grow your email list, reduce cart abandonment, and jumpstart eCommerce business growth. 

Now that you have your sales planned and are promoting them, you need to be able to execute them! Try Bold Discounts (there's a free trial!) It allows you to run dynamic, store-wide sales without discount codes!

What kind of list building strategies have you used in the past? Let us know in the comments below!

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Marshal Fries

Written by Marshal Fries

Marshal Fries is an ecommerce writer and content creator at Bold Commerce and a fantasy sports fanatic.

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