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CAIL Innovation Blog

Brands Who Crushed Mobile Marketing on Black Friday

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Just like that, another Black Friday and Cyber Monday has come and gone. And early reports state it was the biggest one ever for mobile, which was responsible for a whopping $1.2 billion or 36% of the total spend, up 33% from last year.
None of this should come as a surprise, as we’ve been shouting from the rooftops how important it is for mobile marketers to prepare for Black Friday. So as you impatiently await the arrival of your own impulsive purchases, here is our list of the best Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) mobile marketing we saw this year:

1.   Best Buy

Best Buy was short and sweet with this one, but still managed to get their point across. The copy text combined with shouty caps and an exclamation point certainly creates a sense of urgency. The word ‘Doorbusters’ is intentionally vague, and intrigues you to click-through. Plus, they get bonus points for their emoji usage.

2.   Canadian Tire

This push from Canadian Tire is effective because it gives the end user all the information up front, in a compelling way. You know you have 4 days to get the lowest prices of the year. So while this was sent on Thanksgiving, if you’re too busy eating all the things to take advantage of this great offer, you know you still have plenty of time. #TurkeyThenTires

3.   Jet

Jet totally gets us with both of these push notifications. During the Thanksgiving Holiday, most of us have two goals; avoiding awkward conversation with family members and being as gluttonous as possible without the guilt. So thank you, Jet, for being there when we needed an out from talking politics with Uncle Tony or from inhaling our third piece of apple pie. Jet shows us what an effective push notification looks like by knowing their target audience and speaking their language.

4.   Wayfair

Another brand with on-point copy for their target audience – Wayfair. These two push notifications try to connect with the end user beyond a simple hand raise push to remind them it’s Black Friday. In a sea of bland push notifications that simply state the obvious (e.g. ‘It’s Black Friday and we have deals!’), it’s refreshing to get a clever pop culture reference and validation that shopping in sweatpants while eating your Thanksgiving sandwich and binge watching West World is not only acceptable, but admirable.

5.   Hulu 

Ok, so technically this isn’t a Black Friday push, but it is included because it is a great example of how to humanize mobile marketing. Too often, we get so wrapped up in KPIs and conversions that we forget to be real. Not every message to users’ needs to be a sell. Instead, you should try to connect with them and remind them that there are humans behind the screen as a reminder of how brands can use the power of push to create meaningful relationships with their users – in this case, resting on the couch and catching up on favorite shows and movies is a great way to wrap up a day of activities and eating.


A popular marketing campaign is REI’s #OptOutside.  If you haven’t heard of it, the team at REI got together last year and decided they were going to do something really brave for a retail store; they would close their stores on Black Friday and give their team the day off to opt outside. The campaign was wildly successful, winning them awards but more importantly respect from consumers everywhere.   This year, they continued the campaign, and their app played a big role in this, allowing users to get in on the action by agreeing to #OptOutside and sharing how they planned to do so on their social platforms. This campaign is ingenious for a number of reasons. The concept alone ties closely with their core brand identity and messaging and REI shoppers are the perfect demographic to transform this from a marketing campaign to a movement. Using their mobile app, REI was able to successfully continue their #OptOutside movement this year, and strengthen their relationship with users in the process. And for the record, the above isn’t all for show – whereby if you did #OptOutside by going for a long run in the morning, this campaign would be effective with you.


Mobile continues to capture an increasing amount of Consumer’s attention and pocketbook.  With greater competition, the need is to elevate the art and science of crafting push and in-app messaging. This requires both creative messaging and a data-driven approach to who, why, and when you send. Individualized app marketing is poised to take center stage going forward – and the brands who are able to tailor their messaging accordingly will see the most success.  

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