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13 Small Business Saturday email marketing ideas + 25 subject lines

August 30, 2023

For small businesses, competing with ecommerce giants like Amazon, especially on Black Friday, can be challenging. They often operate with smaller budgets and tighter profit margins, making it harder for them to match the rock-bottom prices that large retailers can afford.

In this light, American Express launched Small Business Saturday back in 2010.

What is Small Business Saturday?

This event falls between Black Friday and Cyber Monday — two of the year’s biggest shopping days.

As the name suggests, Small Business Saturday is for promoting local small businesses. The event has gained significant attention over the years. Various organizations actively encourage the possibility of bringing small businesses into the spotlight.

In fact, research by American Express revealed that in 2021, shoppers set a spending record of $20 billion on Small Business Saturday.

For small business owners, overlooking this day isn’t an option. Instead, you need to find ways to stand out from the crowd. One of the most economical ways to do so is through email marketing.

With an impressive return of investment, tailored email marketing campaigns can help your business make a great profit this weekend.

This article will present 13 innovative Small Business Saturday email marketing ideas alongside 25 captivating subject lines. 

Let’s dive right in.

13 Small Business Saturday email marketing ideas

Black Friday and Cyber Monday planning is crucial. But if you’re a small business owner betting on a holiday, Small Business Saturday should be your top choice.

This day is exclusively devoted to honoring small businesses. It’s time to promote local shopping and nurture community support.

If you’re considering email marketing, this section holds valuable insights. These ideas help create visibility, educate your audience, encourage customer loyalty, and generate revenue.

You’ll discover impactful strategies and a collection of Small Business Saturday email examples to spark your creativity.

1. Highlight the essence of Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday has been around for over a decade now. However, the event isn’t as popular as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

So, use Small Business Saturday email marketing to highlight the essence of the event. In doing so, you’re not merely promoting sales but also underlining the importance of shopping locally.

There are many ways to go about this, one of the most effective being authentic storytelling. Here are some tips and strategies:

  • Share anecdotes about your business’s journey and its ties to the local community
  • Talk about the positive impact of customer support
  • Craft compelling narratives that highlight the unique products or services you offer 
  • Emphasize how each purchase contributes to the growth and vitality of the community
  • Include visuals such as images of your storefront, team, or local events for a personal touch

It also helps to use phrases that evoke emotions and a sense of shared responsibility. Examples include “be a part of something bigger” or “make a difference in your community.”

By doing this, you’re motivating subscribers to get involved in a meaningful movement.

2. Offer a special discount

Your subscribers’ inboxes are probably flooded following Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, this doesn’t imply they aren’t anticipating communications from small businesses like yours.

You’re providing something unique that larger retailers aren’t — an opportunity to back a small business.

Highlight the personal touch, quality, and community support that your business represents. By doing so, you stand out from the crowd and tap into the growing sentiment of supporting local and independent ventures.

You can always boost sales or express gratitude for their support. One good way to do this on Small Business Saturday is through unique discounts. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Use bundle deals to upsell and increase the average transaction value
  • Offer BOGO (Buy One Get One) deals
  • Offer a gift or sample with each purchase made

Starbucks is renowned for its occasional free beverage offerings. Given below is an email from the coffee company communicating its time-limited offer.

Setting clear goals for your campaign will help you choose the right approach.

The email also specifies the exact validity of the coupon, the redemption process, and any exclusions associated with the offer.

Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

Moreover, use language that conveys a sense of exclusivity and highlights the value customers will receive. Visual elements such as product images and graphics also go a long way in achieving this.

Take a look at The School of Life’s uncomplicated yet effective email. The email uses its brand colors – yellow, black, white, and grey, while the text presents the offer.

It also highlights the brand’s well-being tools, emphasizing the significance of prioritizing our higher needs.

Additionally, there are featured products with images and discounted prices mentioned.

Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

3. Gather feedback from customers

Small businesses are known for fostering close and meaningful connections with their customers. Take advantage of Small Business Saturday to continue nurturing these relationships.

You can email some of your loyal customers and request their feedback on your products. With their input, you can introduce new strategies to improve your business.

They might propose the addition of curbside pick-up or a widget for live chat support. Regardless, let them know that you value their feedback.

This goes a long way in showcasing your dedication to enhancing their experience. Moreover, it sets you apart from larger enterprises, which may need help to gather such insightful feedback.

You can even express gratitude by offering them a coupon code, just like Miro does.

Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

4. Organize an online event or workshop

Online events can be a valuable opportunity to create a sense of community around your brand.

These can take various forms depending on the nature of your business and audience. Regardless of the approach, leverage email marketing to generate anticipation for your event.

Craft compelling teaser emails, share sneak peeks, and offer exclusive event-related content to build excitement and ensure a strong turnout. Engaging your subscribers through strategic email marketing can catalyze a successful Small Business Saturday campaign.

Here are some ways you can use email:

  • Craft email invitations that highlight the event’s value and benefits
  • Use engaging subject lines to motivate recipients to register
  • Consider offering limited spots for an exclusive feel
  • Encourage participation with special promotions available only to attendees
  • Create anticipation with pre-event teasers, and ensure a straightforward registration process

After the event, you can send follow-up messages to express gratitude to participants or share event highlights.

This is a great way to integrate educational experiences into your Small Business Saturday email strategy.

Consider this example from Wildist. The email provides concise details about the workshop’s content and host. Additionally, it includes two distinct call-to-action buttons, urging recipients to “Explore New Workshop” and “Start Learning Today”.

Finally, the email creates a sense of urgency by granting access to an exclusive feedback session for those who enroll on the same day.

Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

5. Support a local cause

By tying your Small Business Saturday email marketing to a local cause, you engage your audience while contributing to the community.

For instance, you can pledge a percentage of your Small Business Saturday sales to a local charity or nonprofit organization.

This prompts customers to buy and makes them feel their purchases contribute positively.

However, keep certain things in mind when crafting your email messages:

  • Clearly communicate your commitment to the cause
  • Explain how their support will make a difference
  • Provide updates on the impact your joint efforts have achieved

Let’s take a look at this example from Chobani Trade. The Greek yogurt brand has partnered with Trade, a subscription service for coffee drinkers.

The email starts by outlining the rationale behind this partnership with a coffee organization. It then highlights the purpose of the partnership, beneficiaries, and relevant figures involved.

Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

6. Offer more than just discounts

Your recipients’ inboxes are likely already overflowing with discount offers and deals. So why not take this chance to offer something different?

Customers find unique experiences highly enticing, mainly when dealing with brick-and-mortar small businesses.

Small business owners have previously been very creative in offering incentives. Here are some ideas:

  • Extend your return policy for purchases made on Small Business Saturday
  • Offer free refreshments for visitors who step into your store
  • Share personalized recommendations based on purchase history
  • Elevate gifting with complimentary gift-wrapping
  • Keep your doors open longer with extended in-store hours, accommodating diverse schedules

Diversifying the experiences you offer adds layers of excitement to your Small Business Saturday email campaign.

This example from Cue is very fitting:

Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

With this limited-period free shipping offer, the brand encourages prospects to place small orders and try out its products. 

Similarly, you can create a similar Small Business Saturday email campaign to promote your entire inventory or a specific product line.

7. Promote other small businesses you collaborate with

Collaborating with and promoting other small businesses in your campaign can have dual benefits.

First off, you broaden exposure to fresh audiences for both businesses. Additionally, you establish a sense of unity that resonates with customers.

You can showcase the complementary nature of your offerings through co-created initiatives like product bundles and giveaways. Together, you can coordinate marketing efforts, cross-promoting through emails, social media, and various channels.

To evaluate potential small business partners, you can ask yourself questions like:

  • Do our target audiences overlap, allowing us to tap into each other’s customer base?
  • What goals am I aiming to accomplish through this partnership?
  • Are there any potential conflicts of interest that arise from this partnership?
  • Is this partnership suitable in the context of Small Business Saturday?
  • What strengths can each partner bring to the table to enhance the collaboration?
  • How can our joint efforts contribute to the local community or a more significant cause?

In an email, this hotel introduces its culinary collaboration with Chef Carlos Salgado. The email stands out visually, employing images and contrasting colors effectively.

A short paragraph then highlights the partnership, followed by a CTA inviting subscribers to get updates.

Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

8. Expand beyond written content and visuals

Email marketing tools have made it very easy to incorporate interactive elements into your emails.

These can greatly enhance engagement, interactivity, and relevance in your Small Business Saturday email campaign.

Here’s a list of elements you can consider:

  • Countdown timers: Create urgency with live countdowns for limited-time offers
  • Interactive carousels: Showcase multiple products or images that users can swipe through
  • GIFs and animations: Add movement to capture attention and engage recipients
  • Live social media feeds: Display your latest social media posts within the email
  • Interactive polls: Encourage recipients to participate and provide feedback
  • Scratch cards: Allow recipients to “scratch” to reveal discounts or offers
  • User-generated content: Showcase customer photos and reviews in the email

Although not exclusively a Small Business Saturday email, this Wix email captures your attention with a prominent countdown timer.

Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

9. Shine a light on loyal customers

Remember that Small Business Saturday coincides with the season of thankfulness. So, taking this time to spotlight loyal customers helps create tangible connections.

Making this part of your email campaigns is a great strategy. You can incorporate testimonials or video interviews where customers express why they continue to support your business.

This approach empowers your customers to become brand advocates. Moreover, their stories serve as relatable narratives that potential customers can connect with.

Yet another option is to include a “Customer of the Month” section, granting them exclusive discounts. You can even integrate social media posts that showcase their involvement in an omnichannel approach.

All in all, this strategy aims to ensure the spotlight remains on your customers.

10. Highlight local artisans or collaborators

Beyond your loyal customer base, you can highlight the local artisans you partner with.

Your customers are probably curious about the curators of the products they use.

So, we can share how these partnerships were formed. You can even weave in their personal stories for an authentic touch.

Though it’s not precisely about artisans, this example from Nike is a great demonstration of using email to highlight team members. With a bold copy complemented by an image, Nike communicates the impact of teamwork on their success.

Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

You can also give your subscribers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the collaborative process. This further humanizes the experience, allowing customers to connect more personally.

11. Generate FOMO in your campaigns

Generating FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is an efficient approach for promotional email campaigns.

To implement this strategy, consider including elements that encourage immediate action.

One way to achieve this is by offering limited-time deals, such as flash sales or hourly offers. Here’s a great example from Collin Streat Bakery to illustrate this point:

Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

Additionally, providing real-time inventory updates adds an extra layer of urgency. This way, customers can also remain informed about product availability.

If you have customers who have been part of your journey for a long time, grant them special privileges. For instance, you can offer early access to promotions, thus encouraging them to participate promptly.

Aero does a great job at doing precisely this. The company focuses on a specific audience segment, giving them early access to book flights to Napa Valley.

The email also highlights the scarcity of available space. It then emphasizes that only 48 hours remain until bookings open to the broader public.

Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

12. Opt for segmentation and personalization

The last thing you want is for your subscribers to receive emails they’re not interested in. This is where audience segmentation comes in, allowing you to categorize your subscribers based on their preferences and behaviors.

By tailoring your emails to specific segments, you can deliver content that resonates and maximizes engagement, ensuring each email is a welcome addition to their inbox.

This involves categorizing your email list into distinct segments based on factors like:

  • Demographics
  • Purchase history
  • Location
  • Engagement level

This will help you tailor your email content, boosting open and conversation rates.

For example, you could send personalized offers to devoted customers and engage new subscribers with a welcome series.

Fortunately, many email marketing tools make this process very easy. Many of them even offer automated workflows. These let you set up predefined sequences triggered by specific actions.

This can be especially helpful when recovering lost sales. When a customer adds products to their shopping cart but doesn’t complete the purchase, you can nudge them with an email.

Take a look at this abandoned cart email from Javy Coffee as an example:

Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

13. Launch a new product

Are you planning to expand your product line? If yes, Small Business Saturday could be great for launching your new product.

This can be a strategic move due to the day’s focus on supporting local businesses. As an added benefit, it allows you to stand out amid the influx of promotions.

You can even build up anticipation for your new product during Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Share glimpses of the product, highlight its unique features, or emphasize how it addresses customer needs.

You can unveil the product on Small Business Saturday with a dedicated email campaign. This sequential strategy lets you maintain your audience’s interest across multiple days.

You can even offer special discounts to promote your new product, just like Blue Bottle does. The coffee company entices subscribers with complimentary shipping for its new instant coffee.

Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

25 Small Business Saturday email subject lines

Your subject line is the recipients’ first impression of your email, setting the tone for their engagement. While your email may contain great deals, its impact won’t be big if the subject line fails to evoke curiosity. 

Craft a subject line that piques their interest and compels them to open, increasing the chances of your message being seen and acted upon.

So, in this section, we’ll share some of the best Small Business Saturday email subject lines to inspire you. Let’s dive right in.

  • Shop local on Small Business Saturday
  • Exclusive discounts for Small Business Saturday
  • 25% off: Small Biz Saturday deals inside
  • Grab 50% off: Shop local, save big 😍
  • 6 Hrs Left: Small Biz Sat Countdown
  • $15 Off: Limited-Time Sat Specials
  • Shopping small is a big deal for us
  • 30% off: Local finds await
  • Your local community is counting on you
  • In celebration of small businesses 🎉
  • Check out these local gems!
  • 3, 2, 1… Uncover Sat Surprises
  • More reasons to shop locally!
  • Local Love: 6 Small Biz Sat Deals
  • Free Shipping | Small Business Saturday
  • Countdown: 3 Hrs to Sat Savings
  • It’s Small Biz Sat! Grab your free watch
  • [First_Name], thanks for your support!
  • Think big, shop small!
  • Get 10% off this Saturday only
  • Uncover 4 Surprises: Sat Edition
  • Cheers to 15% off: Shop small
  • BOGO! Small Business Saturday Only
  • Support and save: Enjoy 40% off
  • From our community to yours

Wrap up

Small Business Saturday has gained traction over the last few years despite being a relatively new event.

As its popularity extends beyond the US, there’s ample reason for every small business owner to participate in this movement.

In doing so, one simply can’t ignore the power of email marketing. Email marketing isn’t just effective, but also extremely economical. Moreover, it’s a great way to nurture customer relationships, a crucial part of running a small business.

Remember, the key lies in resonating with your subscribers, conveying gratitude, and offering them unique experiences.

Ensure your emails are focused and provide irresistible discounts. Additionally, take a moment to recognize the individuals that have supported your journey.

You can always take the help of an email marketing tool for creating engaging campaigns. Specifically, tools like Shopify email, Getresponse and Omnisend are designed for online stores.

Test their free plans today, and begin crafting your Small Business Saturday email campaign.

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