Nearly all of the top-performing emails sent in the 30 days leading up to Nov. 13 supported a current promotion that a consumer could immediately act upon.

This holiday season, Samsonite International S.A.-owned eBags, No. 155 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500, wants shoppers to know that it will offer them the best prices around, says Chris Seahorn, the retailer’s vice president of marketing.

The retailer is using a vendor’s tool (it declined to name the vendor) to scrape its competitors’ sites and then using an in-house-built tool to adjust its prices on the fly to ensure that it has some of the lowest prices online. At the same time, the retailer’s emails throughout November have highlighted “extreme deals,” a section of its site that features discounts of up to 85% off their manufacturer’s list prices. eBags over the past week has been ramping up its focus on “deals” and “doorbusters” in email and other digital ads.

“We’re not just focused on a deal of the day,” Seahorn says. “We want everyone to know just how competitive we are on pricing.”

EBags is hardly alone in pushing out emails focused around discounts. Nearly all of the top-performing emails analyzed by email marketing vendor eDataSource sent in the 30 days leading up to Nov. 13 supported a current promotion that a consumer could immediately act upon.


Subject lines were almost all implicitly or explicitly promotional, says John Landsman, director of strategy and analytics at eDataSource. For instance, the top five performing emails had subject lines of “Black Friday is just two weeks away!”, “Enjoy our early Black Friday deals, and more,” “BLACK FRIDAY! The ad is here,” “SPECIAL INVITE — You’ve been selected to preview our Black Friday ad,” and “Black Friday prices start NOW + The Weekend’s Hunt Deals.”

The eDataSource analysis, which examined emails sent by 13 large retailers, found the merchants sent 103 Black Friday-themed campaigns, down from 150 last year. While the number of campaigns fell 31.3%, the send volumes soared to 9.0 million, more than double the 3.9 million sent a year earlier. And the large increase in volumes didn’t affect open rates, which were about 14.7% for both years.

EBags, which eDataSource didn’t analyze, hasn’t adhered to those norms. Over the past year, the retailer has overhauled its approach to email by tailoring every element of its messages to a consumer’s past purchases, browsing behaviors, demographics and other information it has gathered. That stands in contrast to its approach a year ago when one or two elements might be personalized to a shopper’s interest. Personalization has enabled the retailer decrease its email volumes (it declined to share specifics), while leading to double-digit increases in its click-through, open and conversion rates.

“The approach is much more effective than the type of batch-and-blast campaigns we’ve run in the past,” he says.


QVC-owned Zulily is also using email to shine a spotlight on its sharp discounts over the holiday weekend. While the retailer’s emails are tailored to shoppers’ interests and past on-site and in-app behaviors, Zulily on Black Friday will give prominent positioning to Flash Finds, a new section on its site that will offer a select product that’s discounted up to 70% off that’s only available for an hour. The deals will be available on the Friday after Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. The retailer also plans to highlight Flash Finds in its push notifications, on Facebook Live and on Facebook Messenger.

zulily flash finds

Zulily will offer roughly a dozen one-hour Flash Finds sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

“We want to get the message out to our customers, wherever they are,” says Kevin Saliba, the retailer’s senior vice president of marketing. “Email is the backbone of our messaging, but we’re making a big push to diversify our  marketing channels.”



Flash Finds, which is an extension of the retailer’s flash-sale business model, will offer at least a dozen products at steep discounts throughout Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

QVC Group is No. 7 in the Top 500.