Ancestry Email Review: Does this Black Friday–Cyber Monday email campaign get the click and conversion?

Ancestry Email Review

Ancestry Email Grade: [A-]

Subject Line & Preheader


Preview Pane


Eye Path


Clarity of Message


Call to Action


Offer & Urgency



Email grades are based on a 5-point scale: A = 5, B = 4, C = 3, D = 2, F = 1

January 9, 2017

Organization Overview Inc. is an online genealogy company that is based in Lehi, Utah. Founded in 1983, it is the largest for-profit genealogy company in the world. In addition to operating a network of genealogical, historical-record, and genetic genealogy websites, Ancestry also offers the AncestryDNA test. This test provides an ethnicity breakdown that uses a simple saliva sample.

Strong Subject Lines Stand Out in the Inbox

This Black Friday/Cyber Monday email campaign from Ancestry was sent to a customer who had previously purchased an AncestryDNA test. The first of the 3-email series was sent on Black Friday (November 24), a second email on Sunday (November 26), and the final email on Cyber Monday (November 27). Except for banner copy on the final day of the sale, the email message in the 3 emails was the same. However, the subject lines were different for each send:

  1. Pin AncestryDNA is JUST $59—but hurry!”
  2. “$59 AncestryDNA—Last days for our lowest price of the year!”
  3. Pin $59 AncestryDNA— ends today!”

The first subject line stands out in the inbox, thanks in part to the red push-pin emoji. In addition, it is relatively short in length and effectively uses a mixture of uppercase and lowercase type. Similarly, the email subject line sent on Cyber Monday also grabs attention, but with the help of a check-mark emoji. With so many e-commerce retailers flooding consumers’ inboxes on Black Friday through Cyber Monday, finding a way to help ensure that your subject lines cut through the clutter is the first step in driving up open and click rates.

The content of all 3 subject lines is also compelling, especially when combined with the preheader: “Get the savings of the year on the story of a lifetime. Buy now GET Ancestry DNA FOR ONLY $59—ENDS MONDAY. Don’t miss out—it’s our lowest price of the year.”

The strong offer and urgency are succinctly expressed in the subject line/preheader combination. Because this series was sent to a customer who was familiar with the regular pricing of the DNA kit, she was aware of the substantial savings with this special promotional price. (Normally, the AncestryDNA test costs $99.) Would pointing out that the test is 40% off the regular price in the subject line and/or preheader motivate more opens? Testing and optimization would help answer that question.

Preview Pane, Eye Path, and Call to Action Are Effectively Designed

The preview pane without images is effective, displaying all of the pertinent information in the email message, as well as the call to action. In addition, alternative text (“AncestryDNA”) was displayed for the logo and the email images.

Upon opening the email, it is immediately apparent that the message is congruent with the subject line and preheader. The eye path works well, effectively using bold type and contrasting colors to clearly present the email message and guide recipients’ attention to the call-to-action button. Not only is the call-to-action copy clear and concise, but the centered, green button stands out in the email design. In addition, all of the important email content and call to action are located above the fold of the email.

Outstanding Offer—Available Only for a Short Time—Grabs Attention

The offer is outstanding—40% off the regular price for a DNA testing kit. The special price of $59 is rendered in big, red type and strategically positioned right above the call-to-action button. Crossing out the regular price of $99 also helps emphasize how great the promotional offer is. The sense of urgency is also strong, giving recipients only the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend to take advantage of the savings. In the final email message, the red banner stresses the urgency by changing the copy from “GET AncestryDNA FOR ONLY $59—ENDS MONDAY” to “GET AncestryDNA FOR ONLY $59—ENDS TODAY.”

This email series from Ancestry is a fabulous example of a simple, yet effective, Black Friday/Cyber Monday campaign. Starting with the subject lines and continuing through a well-designed email, the outstanding offer was clearly communicated and a strong sense of urgency created. It successfully stood out in the crowded 2017 holiday-season inbox—and, in this case, got the click and conversion!

Disclaimer: FulcrumTech does not have access to the performance data relating to this promotional email, so any tests performed on this email can’t be reflected in FulcrumTech’s commentary.

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