Fresh Ink

December 23, 2020
Author: Christina Hagopian

A Best of 2020 Holiday Marketing Recap | Needle Movement Podcast

The BFCM Awards - A conversation about Email and SMS with Stephen Carl

Was your inbox flooded with branded deals during Black Friday? I was invited recently to be a part of Stephen Carl’s Needle Movement podcast to break down the best email and SMS tactics used during this holiday season. Find out the winners and keepers to try in your own campaigns

Episode Summary


Are you ready for the “American Idol” of eCommerce? Our first annual BFCM awards recognize the brands that excelled on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and this holiday season with awards categories such as “Favorite Holiday Tactic” and “Best New Marketing Trend”. From seeing thousands of brands unleash their new digital marketing in the 4th quarter, important new trends and savvy tactics are emerging which we’ll highlight as people prepare for the next year and holiday season.

Our two judges are Corinne Watson, researcher and writer for the SMS provider, Postscript and Christina Hagopian, the President and Creative Director of Hagopian Ink, an eCommerce marketing and email design agency.



  • Intro to the BFCM (“Black Friday Cyber Monday”) Awards and how our three judges evaluated brands and tactics.

  • Selection and commentary on the 3 brands mentioned for “Best Brand” that excelled this holiday season.

  • Selection of Favorite Holiday Marketing Tactics: conversation marketing, countdowns and gamification of eCommerce (Quizzes, free order strategy)

  • Best New Trend of Holiday 2020: A sales calendar, how Black Friday went from gift-giving to being the Super Bowl of deals and the importance of respecting the audience.

  • Biggest Surprise of 2020: Thanksgiving was a huge day, SMS is still in early innings and the impact of COVID-19

  • Learnings from Holiday Season 2020 and how to translate those into early 2021 wins and prepare for BFCM 2021. Topics include: The importance of experimentation, staying on-brand, list growth and lead nurturing.

  • Best Song selections for the panel.


Watch and listen now:

My observation on the most noteworthy trends for holiday 2020:

“The thing that’s most noteworthy about black Friday 2020 is that it lasted an entire month. And a lot of retailers didn’t open on Thanksgiving or in the wee hours of Black Friday. I believe Covid changed the whole sales cycle and most likely permanently. The demand for online shopping with Covid was obviously the highest ever and ecommerce numbers are larger than ever this year.

Another trend I saw was that sales were extended even when they said they were ending. Follow up emails were sent to get you to buy when you didn’t make it in the deadline.”

– Christina Hagopian 


Branded emails I love and follow:

  • Casper
  • Adobe
  • Under Armor

The Casper Series was smart, creative and on brand.


Email Tactics that I see working for holiday

  • Ceative countdowns (some in real time tickers)
    • extending the coutdown/sale time/”last chance extended”
  • Animation for attention
  • Click to “reveal the deal” – find out how much you save tactics
  • Opting in to frequency (Encircled example)
  • Differentiating and being “on brand”
    • Patagonia led with a donation/gifting to a cause. I saw this also with
    • REI encouraged people to be offline and “#optoutside” – a big branded message that matches their core values. They even closed their doors for the day. They have been doing this since 2015:  


Links + Resources Mentioned

Email Marketing Example Websites

Really Good Emails


Hagopian Ink specializes in building creative campaigns that drive results. So let’s get started!


Marketing insights + best practices delivered monthly.