Let’s talk about Black Friday marketing. There’s no denying it can be stressful stuff.
I remember my first BFCM weekend as a merchant. I felt like I had a million and one things to get done and no idea where to start.
So, I did what any self-respecting digital entrepreneur would do.
I rolled up my sleeves, opened a word doc to begin writing promotional email sequences…and then quickly hopped over to Instagram for three hours of looking at cat videos.
If this sounds like something you’re capable of doing, don’t worry. We’ve all been there.
But today, you’re in luck because I’m going to share ten proven Black Friday marketing tactics you can use to get your store ready for the biggest shopping weekend of the year.
I’ve hand-selected these BFCM marketing ideas based on their ease of implementation and potential to deliver earth-shattering results.
But before we get to the specific marketing strategies, let’s step back and think in broad strokes to give context to what’s to come.
Black Friday Marketing Trends: What You Need to Know
Last year, Shopify store owners collectively made a whopping $5.1 billion in sales over the BFCM weekend – a 76% increase on 2019 figures.
Obviously, the Coronavirus pandemic (and ensuing lockdowns) played a key role in driving this boom in eCommerce sales. Along with the pandemic came several challenges for brands and retailers.
This year, it’s likely that the holiday season will present similar challenges for your store. So, before we dive into specific Black Friday marketing tactics, let’s zoom out and look at five trends to expect this holiday season:
1. BFCM Shopping Will Start Earlier
In 2020 customers got spooked by supply chain issues. Extended shipping times meant most of us were worried about our purchases arriving on time.
As such, almost 50% of shoppers started buying stuff earlier than pre-pandemic years (admittedly, I wasn’t quite so well planned).
And on top of that, holiday shopping also continued right through to the end of the year. So, we had this kind of extended BFCM that traversed multiple weekends before and after the actual holiday.
There’s no reason to doubt that this trend won’t be the same in 2021. As a retailer, this means you have an opportunity to launch pre-BFCM offers, garner interest and scoop up some of the early-bird bargain hunter revenue as well as design post-BFCM campaigns for even more profits.
2. Customer Expectations Are Higher Than Ever
The mega-boom in online retail also meant that brands stepped up their game to a new level. Sure, the advent of Cyber Monday already spurred brands to create better digital storefronts. But COVID-19 cemented top-tier shopping experiences as standard.
Think immersive video, stunning visuals, and ‘try before you buy digital experiences. For example, eyewear brand Warby Parker implemented augmented reality to let shoppers virtually try on frames before deciding.
Overall, customer expectations are rising. Brands that manage to step up and exceed expectations stand to garner sales and bolster customer loyalty.
3. Customers Want Instant Support
The rise of conversational commerce is fueling deeper personal connections between customers and the brands they love. Without an in-person clerk to help you choose the right gift or answer your questions, live support is a must.
For example, Shopify reported exponential growth in stores using Shopify Ping to communicate with their buyers last year. Another option is to deploy a click-to-call widget on your store so that customers can voice chat with support in a matter of seconds.
But no matter where you provide support (chat, voice, email), the most important thing is that you provide speedy response times. More data from Shopify indicates that businesses who respond to chat requests within 5 minutes are 70% more likely to get a sale from the interaction.
4. Customers Want Alternative Delivery Options
Fuelled by an increased desire to support local businesses combined with an aversion to shipping delays, local delivery, and curbside pickup grew early in the pandemic.
What’s more, the data shows that shoppers spend roughly 25% more when opting for local pickup or delivery compared to standard delivery methods. Shopify reported that on Black Friday, the average cart price for curbside pickup orders was a beefy $78.60 in the US.
It looks like the trend towards local businesses and alternative delivery options is expected to grow in popularity as shoppers look for the perfect last-minute gift.
5. Brand Values Matter
A whopping 80% of Americans say they believe companies have a responsibility to impact society positively. What’s more, over 60% of shoppers say they’d leave an existing brand in favor of a purpose-driven alternative.
So, if your BFCM campaigns are angled around a larger purpose, you stand the greatest chance of driving massive success. Last year, values like kindness, unity, and support for others were themes in many marketing campaigns.
Whatever themes your audience is interested in (e.g., environmentalism), touch on those when designing your BFCM strategy. Consider donating some profits to a charitable organization. You’ll be helping a worthy cause, delighting your customers, and boosting your bottom line at the same time.
10 Super-Effective Black Friday Marketing Ideas
Okay, with the BFCM trends under our belt, let’s talk tactics. The following ten Black Friday marketing ideas will help you ramp up your sales and crush your revenue goals.
1. Skip Blanket Discounts
I agree this piece of advice is a little controversial. I mean, how could you not offer a sitewide discount on Black Friday? Well, hear me out.
Heavy discounts are by far the most common type of BFCM offer. We’ve all been tempted to buy one of those gigantic flat-screen TVs off Amazon just because it’s $1000 off, right?
But while mega-discounts are great for publicity (and consumers), they often only make sense for larger companies with big margins who know customers will be back to buy again later in the year.
On top of that, we know that consumers associate value with the price of your products. So slashing your prices by 50% may not only harm your brand’s reputation, but it may fail to capture sufficient sales volume to offset your loss in profit.
Plus, given that holiday shopping fever is now essentially spread out from early November to year-end, offering a bulk discount makes it hard to maintain customer interest once the BFCM weekend ends.
Of course, if you’ve run the numbers and you’re in a position where a hefty blanket discount makes sense, by all means, go for it. But if you’re working with tighter margins or offering discounts doesn’t seem appropriate, there’s another mindset to build your BFCM campaigns off.
2. Focus on Average Order Value
As more and more retailers flood online, the competition is heating up.
And if you’ve been around for a while, you know that CPMs have been creeping up, making it harder to take home a decent margin.
In addition, If you’re handing out discounts for BFCM, you’ll see an even further drop in profitability. Not fun.
So, instead of offering a sitewide discount, what would happen if you focused on maximizing the value of every sale?.
Well, to illustrate, let’s consider two types of BFCM offers:
A 20% Sitewide Discount
- Average order value: $80
- Revenue after discount: $64
- Product & fulfillment costs: $30
- Customer acquisition cost: $25
- Profit: $9
Get 30% off when you spend $200
- Average order value: $215
- Revenue after discount: $150
- Product & fulfillment costs: $75
- Customer acquisition cost: $25
- Profit: $50
By focusing your offer around boosting cart value, you can significantly increase your margins and overcome rising CAC costs.
For example, here’s an excellent example from The Perfume Shop. Sure, they’re offering discounted prices. But by offering 20% off a second item, customers are encouraged to double up their order and knock another person off their gift list.
Remember, shoppers aren’t only looking for rock bottom prices on BFCM. They are primarily looking for value for money. Think about how you can offer incredible value while also encouraging customers to spend more.
3. Build a BFCM Post Purchase Funnel
Seriously, most retailers who want to boost AOV focus pre-purchase offers. And sure, these can work, but post-purchase offers are better because:
- Too many pre-purchase offers can confuse buyers and cause them to bounce
- Post-purchase offers are only served to qualified buyers
- Thanks to the principle of consistency, post-purchase offers typically convert better.
So, in the build-up to BFCM, don’t focus only on front-end revenue. Think about how you can extract more cash from customers after they’ve bought from you too.
For example, on BFCM, you might cross-sell gift-wrapping services, personalized greeting cards, or premium shipping in your post-purchase funnel. These cross-sells have a high margin and can dramatically boost your target profit for each order.
Seriously, because shoppers are in peak-buying mode, post-purchase funnels are an untapped goldmine of revenue that most brands overlook. Don’t let that be you. Add a post-purchase funnel to your Black Friday marketing playbook today.
4. Create BFCM Product Bundles
Product bundling is a brilliant way to add value and drive more revenue. Remember, BFCM shoppers are looking for value for money. So, if your customer can get three products for the price of two, that can be a super tempting offer that doesn’t involve discount codes.
For example, last year, Lootcrate ran an offer where they offered 30% off all crates but also threw in a free mystery bundle on subscriptions of 3 months or more.
This promotion added an element of curiosity to their BFCM campaign and made it stand out from run-of-the-mill discount offers. Plus, such an approach has the added benefit of allowing them to offload slow-moving stock before year-end.
Another excellent example of BFCM bundling e comes from ‘A Kids Company About’. They don’t offer any price disocunt, but instead use a buy two get a third free’ offer:
Obviously, the type of bundle you create depends on your brand and product line. But think about how you can create BFCM bundles that make your customers say, “Wow, that’s a deal!”
5. Create a BFCM Pre-Launch Campaign
One of the keys to smashing your BFCM sales goal is to build buzz amongst your audience before the big weekend. This is advice you’ll hear everywhere.
But seriously, over the weekend, your customers will be inundated with offers from every brand they’ve engaged with.
So, to stand above the pack, you want to carve out a unique piece of mental real estate in their minds. How do you do that? With a pre-launch campaign.
There are several ways to build anticipation. One of the easiest is with a pop-up on your site in the weeks leading up to BFCM.
A simple pop-up like this will help you build an email list of purchase-ready shoppers who’ll be waiting for your promotions.
But if you want to go beyond the basic pop-up and generate real excitement, here’s what to do:
- Use a tool like Shogun to build a pre-launch BFCM promo page where customers can sign-up with their email – add a link to it using a banner on your homepage.
- Then, send an email to your existing subscribers that drives them to your landing page so they can opt-in.
- Then, promote your BFCM landing page on your social media accounts to get even more sign-ups
- Lastly, run 14-day retargeting ads to drive website visitors to your landing page to round out your segmented list.
On your landing page, include an offer like a special VIP discount code or the promise of getting first access to your BFCM deals and offers.
People who sign-up are highly likely to convert because they’ve opted into your BFCM promotion. They put their hand up and said, ‘I’m interested.
When you go live with your promotion, you’ll stand out from the hundreds of other emails in their inbox because you’ve primed them in advance. You’re familiar. Your competitors are not.
6. Plan and Schedule Your BFCM Email Campaigns
Okay, so you’ve created a Black Friday marketing pre-launch campaign and built a nice list of purchase-ready subscribers. The next thing is to create and schedule your BFCM email campaigns.
The best advice I can offer here is this: don’t be afraid to send too many emails.
Sure, at normal times of the year, sending too many emails is spammy and counterproductive.
But at BFCM, your audience’s inbox is going to be battered with hundreds of emails from brands trying to win their custom.
So to ensure your brand gets noticed, set up at least four emails to be sent on Black Friday (and the same on Cyber Monday):
- One at 12am to kick off the sale
- Another at around 9am (include reviews & social proof)
- One more at 4pm (more social proof)
- And the last one at 10pm (laced with scarcity and urgency!)
Of course, you can send out more than this – although, in my experience, I wouldn’t advise sending more than about six emails over the course of the day.
Spreading your emails out like this is especially important if you’re selling to a global audience that spans many different time zones.
Pro Tip: To step your email marketing up a notch, use personalized product recommendations and audience segmentation to tailor your marketing and achieve the highest possible conversion rates.
7. Send Daily Deals on Black Week
Maintaining momentum throughout the entire BFCM sales period is challenging. One way to boost engagement and keep sales coming in is to hit customers with new deals for each day of the week.
For example, last year, Target created different offers to keep customers coming back to check what was on offer throughout the sale period. By changing up both the offer and the product category, Target was able to keep things fresh and interesting.
If you sell several categories of products, this approach to BFCM is especially powerful. It creates opportunities to segment your customer base and provide personalized offers that’ll appeal specifically to them.
Spreading out offers like this across the course of the week and sending them by email also gives you a chance to garner more opens, clicks, and hopefully sales from your customers too.
8. Offer a Free Gift With Purchases
Another compelling way to capitalize on the holiday rush without slashing prices is to offer a free gift with every purchase.
Typically, such gifts are low-cost items. However, you may also want to offer higher value gifts for customers who spend above a certain price threshold.
For example, here’s one of Kiehl’s BFCM promotions from 2018:
Notice how they’ve created different price bands to encourage customers to nudge their order value up above $45.
Remember, when it comes to gifting, we know that consumers aren’t solely motivated by price. Emotional perks play a key role too. So, gifts like exclusive limited edition items or access to a VIP community can work well too.
However, you decide to implement your free gift offer, make sure you add urgency by setting a specific end date to the campaign, so customers take action before the deal is gone.
9. Use Influencers to Promote Your BFCM Campaign
Joining forces with influencers to promote your offer is a great way to build trust and awareness.
And If you play your cards right, influencer marketing can deliver a plethora of direct sales over the holiday period.
The most important thing is that you choose influencers based on how well their audience aligns with your buyer persona. If you’ve worked successfully with influencers in the past, get in touch now to book off the dates for your promotion. For BFCM, choose the top-performing influencers from previous campaigns.
Get creative with influencer marketing – instead of just having them shout out your offer, why not work with them to create a special bundle of their favorite products? The more personalized you can make it, the more conversions you’ll get.
10. Donate to a Cause
As conscious consumerism continues to grow, many brands are choosing to skip out on Black Friday altogether. Instead, many are opting to donate some or all of the proceeds to a charitable cause.
If your brand and audience align themselves with a specific cause, Black Friday can be an excellent opportunity to tighten those bonds and reaffirm your convictions.
Patagonia is probably the most well-known brand for shunning BFCM, but other environmentally conscious brands like Allbirds and Everlane have followed suit.
Instead of giving a discount, Allbirds increases their prices by $1 and matches it with a dollar before donating all additional profits to charity.
Staying true to your brand values and ethical standards builds deeper trust between you and your customers and enhance loyalty over the long run.
Implement These Black Friday Marketing Ideas Today
The holiday season is an immensely important time for you as a merchant. With shoppers in peak-buying mode, it’s a huge opportunity to generate huge profits.
Hopefully, the ideas shared here help inspire a profitable BFCM campaign that captures more revenue than ever before. Here’s a quick recap of the core ideas I’ve covered:
- Mega-discounts aren’t the only way to drive sales
- Focusing on boosting AOV will likely have a bigger impact on your bottom line
- A post-purchase cross-selling funnel is a must-have to maximize revenue
- Product bundles are an awesome way to boost cart value
- A pre-launch campaign and email list can transform your sales revenue
- Email is king – don’t be afraid to send lots of them
- Daily deals can keep engagement high over the sale period
- Free gifts for spending thresholds can boost AOV
- Influencers can be a great way to build trust and drive direct sales
- Staying true to your core values is essential to winning your customer’s business
Ultimately, a killer BFCM marketing campaign is the marriage of a standout offer with top-tier execution. Above I’ve outlined how execution on both these fronts can deliver the best BFCM your business has ever seen.
So, now there’s nothing left to do but get out there and get to work! Good luck!