Black Friday is one of the most important days for retailers and it’s also the peak of the shopping season. Last year alone, over 154.5 million people in the US shopped online and in stores on the day, spending over $8.9 billion.
Every retailer wants to get a slice of that sweet Black Friday pie. This year, retail sales are set to be even higher.
Running a special Black Friday promotion and maximizing your advertising dollars can help you get massive traffic, increase conversion rates, and boost your bottom line.
Here are some of the hottest Black Friday marketing ideas for you to try this year.
What is Black Friday?
Black Friday happens on the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November and Black Friday is the day after. It marks the start of the holiday shopping season.
Retailers use this opportunity to spread the word about their stores and drive down their prices to attract more customers on the biggest shopping day of the year.
Both eCommerce retailers and brick-and-mortar stores compete to provide better discounts and more attractive deals to holiday shoppers.
Black Friday vs Cyber Monday
Black Friday is an in-store and online shopping event that takes place the day after Thanksgiving. Cyber Monday is an online-only event that takes place on the Monday immediately after Black Friday.
Online retailers often extend these sales until Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday is the Monday after Black Friday, so in total, online shoppers get a four-day shopping extravaganza. They often have different online sales on each day of the extended shopping weekend. This helps them maintain interest in their stores and keeps the customers returning.
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How did the Black Friday sales event start?
The United States officially marked Black Friday as the day after Thanksgiving at the start of the holiday shopping season in 1952. However, the custom originated some fifty years earlier.
In the first half of the 20th century, there was an unwritten rule that no retailer could start holiday promotions before the end of the Thanksgiving parade. Some retailers wanted to start the season earlier despite the rule.
So they lobbied Franklin D. Roosevelt and got him to issue a presidential proclamation in 1939, which moved Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November, allowing retailers to start the holiday season early. Eventually, the Friday after Thanksgiving became known as Black Friday.
As decades passed, Black Friday grew in significance. It was once a uniquely American phenomenon, but it’s now getting traction worldwide. Stores started their sales increasingly early, and now they often begin as early as midnight.
Creative Black Friday marketing ideas
Black Friday is a big deal and you’re going to be up against some tough competition. A lukewarm and uninspired campaign won’t get you far.
Your marketing campaign must be creative and inspiring. Here are some of the hottest marketing ideas to help boost your Black Friday sales.
1. Plan out your marketing calendar
No marketing campaign can be successful if you improvise it. It’s important to build a solid eCommerce marketing strategy at least a month in advance.
Make sure that your copy, creatives, and other deliverables are ready before the Black Friday week starts. You can even automate social media posts and cart abandonment emails to make everything run smoother.
Create a marketing calendar to plan out everything in detail and ensure you know when everything happens. Your calendar should include all the tasks related to creating and sharing your content for the upcoming sale.
This includes the following things:
- Creative and copy: Your copy and creatives for marketing emails (optimize those email subject lines), social media, website, and more must be completed in advance. Include the campaign ideas and a deadline for each task in your calendar.
- Graphics and banners: It’s important to create a homepage banner for your Black Friday sale. You should also have all your video content and graphics ready to go.
- Promotions: calculate what discounts you can offer and remember to factor in your advertising costs.
- Social media posts: Prepare and plan your social media marketing strategy and schedule your posts ahead of time. Pay attention to your followers’ locations and time zones and target them with more personalized messaging.
- Email marketing campaigns: An email campaign can help boost your sales. You should have an email list ready to send promotional emails as soon as your Black Friday campaign starts.
- Blog posts & shopping guides: Create a Black Friday specific for your industry. Remember that if you want to promote it organically then you need to publish it 3-6 months in advance to give search engines ample time to index and rank it for your desired keywords.
Grab your copy of our marketing plan template to get your campaign off the ground.
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2. Share a sneak peek
You should give your potential customers a taste of what they can expect. This is best done with images and teaser videos of your products and services. It’s a great way to create and maintain interest in your store and products in the days leading up to Black Friday and create that momentum.
It’s a good idea to get a professional photographer or videographer to make better images or videos for your campaign. The first impression counts, and the better your videos are the more more conversions and holiday purchases you could get.
Your promo videos should have music that goes along with the visuals. There’s plenty of royalty-free music online, so it’s not hard to find something that will boost the interest in your popular items.
The mattress brand Leesa sent out a September Black Friday sneak peek campaign. The campaign helped build hype and let their newsletter subscribers get special discounts before the holiday shopping frenzy.
3. Power up a wheel popup
Popups tend to be annoying, and most of us shrug them away without looking twice. Wheel popups are much more effective as they’re most interactive and engaging for shoppers.
Wheel popups are much better at collecting email addresses. They have a conversion rate of 13.23%, much higher than regular popups. You can use them to offer a discount code or a special offer.
The more you gamify your wheel popup for Black Friday, the better.
4. Create a gift guide
A gift guide is a great way to highlight some of your products and give your customers ideas on what to buy for their loved ones. For example, you can curate a selection of gifts centered around your product and a specific demographic.
You can do this by creating a collection in your online store or by creating a series of blog posts on your website. The latter option requires more work, but you can use it to create an effective Black Friday campaign.
For example, Converse released a special Black Friday gift guide sale. They curated a list of great items from their store and bundled them in a special guide.
5. Extend your sale from Black Friday to Cyber Monday
What’s better than a sale? An even bigger sale! Extend your Black Friday sale until Cyber Monday to get even more sales.
This has become the way to go for a lot of brands. Think about it: you’ve already invested in advertising for Black Friday, you won’t have to start another big campaign for Cyber Monday, just extend your sale and use similar graphics.
Some retailers extend the sales of all their products, while others only extend the sales of the most popular products. Look at your business goals and see which option is best for you.
The cosmetics brand Julep extended their Cyber Monday all the way into Tuesday. It gave their newsletter subscribers more time to shop for their products.
6. Launch a last-minute extended sale
You don’t have to end your online sales when Cyber Monday ends. Surprise your potential customers with a last-minute extension of your sales. It will encourage them to shop more.
This must be a surprise and last for a limited period. You can put up a banner on your website saying the sale will extend for 48 hours. Make sure you follow through with this and end the sale after 48 hours. Add a countdown timer, too.
A flash sale will allow your customers another shot at buying the products they missed out. It will also create a sense of urgency and draw their attention to your store.
For example, Mud Pie unexpectedly extended its Black Friday sale to include the entire weekend. This extension for sure brought them more customers.
7. Offer rewards for a minimum spend
You can incentivize your customers to spend more by setting a minimum amount and rewarding everybody that goes over it. You can offer a gift card, additional discounts, or even free shipping.
What’s even better is offering different tiers. You can set increasing amounts of money and offer better gifts for each tier, similar to a rewards or a referral program. This may incentivize your last-minute shoppers even further, leading to greater revenue.
For example, Kosas encouraged their shoppers by offering discounts for different tiers. They got a larger discount if they spent more.
8. Do a Facebook Live
Going live on Facebook is a great way to communicate with your customers, build genuine connections, and spark discussions. This drives up your engagement and brings you more conversions.
If you do this right, you can get some serious attention from potential customers and build massive hype for the shopping weekend. Not just that, but you’ll also get a long-term boost in brand awareness and it will help you build a loyal customer base.
The underwear company MeUndies ran a two-hour Facebook Live event with a DJ and a dance contest during Black Friday. As more people joined the party, the brand unlocked larger discounts.
9. Offer loyalty or VIP discounts
If you don’t already have a loyalty program, you should totally start one. Take your most active shoppers and offer them special discounts and exclusive access to products, and ensure the special offer is reserved only for those people.
This will help you boost customer retention, increase the customer lifetime value, improve customer experience, and help you create VIP customers for your business.
For example, BaubleBar ran this type of event to incentivize their loyal customers to shop more during the season.
10. Partner up with a TikTok influencer
Another killer idea is to partner with a TikTok or Instagram influencer. An influencer can promote your sales and products in a friendly and less intrusive way.
You can give them an exclusive discount code and have them promote your products on social media platforms. You can even have them host a live Black Friday event where they unbox your products and offer their audience exclusive deals.
Ulta Beauty partnered up with a TikTok influencer to promote their Black Friday sales on TikTok. The influencer recorded a series of videos using the products that were a part of the Black Friday sales event and got a lot of great engagement.
11. Simplify your checkout process
Sometimes all it takes is not adding more promotions but removing the friction from the user experience. One of the best ways to do that is to simplify your checkout process.
Make it easy for online shoppers by removing any unnecessary steps and fields, fitting it all on one page, and adding some autocomplete features to make the whole experience a breeze. Also, add third-party payment options and mobile wallets like Google Pay, Paypal, and Apple Pay.
And finally, make sure that it’s optimized for mobile users, the last thing you want to have a user be unable to checkout because they have to zoom in on their tiny screen.
12. Increase your site speed
If your page doesn't load then the user is just going to move on to the next website. So you have to make sure that your load times are at 2 seconds or shorter. Test your site speed using a tool like Google's PageSpeed Insights and get your dev team to implement the changes.
Loading time is not the only aspect of your site that you should optimize. You should also optimize your product descriptions, the various keywords on all your product and category pages as well as your long-form blog content to maximize your organic traffic from search engines.
13. Make sure your site is mobile friendly
Over 57% of the world's traffic comes from mobile devices so it's critical that you get your eCommerce store optimized for mobile users. Make sure that every aspect of your site such as - your product search, your product reviews, product images, and add-to-cart buttons - are visible and accessible on smaller screens.
14. Segment your emails
If you want your email marketing to be effective you need to target different customer segments with tailored messages. There are many different ways to segment your audience including:
- Desktop vs mobile traffic
- Send cross-sell or upsell emails to previous customers that have purchased a related product
- Send special discounts to your most loyal customers
- Send out an abandoned cart email sequence
Segmenting your emails will increase engagement and drive more conversions.
15. Start advertising early
Don’t wait until the last minute to start promoting your products – start promoting well before Black Friday so customers know what’s coming. Power up your advertising campaigns well before the start of the holiday season (early November or late October) with small budgets and ramp up from there.
16. Pamper your VIP customers
Reward those loyal customers who keep coming back by offering them exclusive discounts or freebies – this will encourage repeat purchases during the sale period and increase your word-of-mouth and referral traffic.
17. Rescue those abandoned carts
Use email automation tools to send out reminder emails about abandoned carts, giving customers an incentive to complete their purchase by offering a discount or free shipping on orders over a certain amount.
18. Use a buy now, pay later platform
A lot of customers can't afford to pay everything upfront but still want to buy something right away. So you should use an alternative payment option such as Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) to help you capture more sales.
19. Run an email discount campaign
Sending out promotional emails with discounts is one of the best ways to draw attention to your store during Black Friday – but make sure that these emails are relevant and personalized to each customer segment.
So many eCommerce businesses send generic emails. Make sure that you optimize the offer, personalize the content, and send the email at the perfect time for each customer.
20. Upsell and cross-sell your products
Black Friday is one of the busiest times of the year for shoppers and a lot of them are going to make impulsive purchase decisions. So for each product you sell, display a wide range of related or complementary products under it (either on the product page, add to cart page, or the checkout process)
Most eCommerce platforms have built-in features or third-party plugins you could get to display your upsell and cross-sell offers.
You can display your upsell and cross-sell deals in your email campaigns, influencer promotions, and for new product launches. It will help you increase your average order value per customer and help grow your eCommerce business into the future.
How to prepare your store for Black Friday
1. Plan early
Start planning your Black Friday promotions early, so you have enough time to prepare and make sure everything runs smoothly. That includes all your marketing campaigns, checking to make sure your landing pages work, making sure your attribution is set up correctly and your email sequences are scheduled and turned on.
Studies show that 54% of consumers start shopping in October, so eCommerce sites should start displaying all their holiday sales early.
2. Check your inventory
Check what you have in stock and decide which items you’ll be offering discounts on. Make sure to plan for adequate supplies of popular products by looking at your data from last year's shopping season. Give yourself a buffer of 10%-20% just in case your marketing campaigns do extra well this year.
3. Audit your checkout process
Make sure that your checkout process is working smoothly. The last thing you want to provide a perfect shopping experience on your site and then have your checkout malfunction. So do yourself a big favor and check that all your payment gateways, fields, and discounts are working properly.
4. Boost your customer support
Make sure you have adequate customer service resources ready to handle inquiries and complaints during the sale. You don’t want customers getting frustrated because they can’t get their questions answered in a timely manner.
Boost Black Friday sales with the right marketing strategy
Black Friday is one of the most important shopping events of the year. If you want to promote your business, get ahead of the competition, and earn additional revenue, you absolutely must launch a Black Friday promotion.
What’s required to rock it out? Have a comprehensive eCommerce strategy in advance and fine-tune your campaign as you go along.
Need help thinking of a high-quality marketing campaign for this holiday season? Want to attract more customers this Black Friday and not sure where to start?
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