It’s that time of year already, and two of the busiest shopping days for brick-and-mortar and online retailers are fast approaching: Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
The e-commerce landscape has never been more competitive, with the coronavirus pandemic accelerating the shift to online. With the global economy on track to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022, marketers need to prepare for two of the biggest retail days in the Western world: Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Black Friday sales are expected to soar in 2021, and digital marketers should leverage the opportunities brought about by this promotional event to increase sales.
What is Black Friday?
Black Friday refers to the day after Thanksgiving and is symbolically seen as the start of the holiday shopping season for consumers. As a result, retailers offer steep discounts on product prices to tempt customers to buy their products online and offline.
What started as a one-day event has fast become a four-day shopping bonanza, with many retailers promoting marked down prices until Cyber Monday, which falls on the Monday after Black Friday. In fact, many stores now offer discounts throughout November to try and entice consumers early on in the season.
Initially, Black Friday was the biggest retail sales day in the US, but the concept has spread to the rest of the western world, with approximately $9BN spent on the web in 2020 – an increase of more than 21% on the previous year.
What is the Real Meaning Behind Black Friday?
Many people believe that the term Black Friday was coined by consumers who participated in the massive shopping event, but the true meaning behind the phrase is far darker.
Though first observed in Philadelphia, when US police used to work around the clock to mediate the onslaught of traffic that would occur between Thanksgiving and the Army-Navy game, the phrase can be traced back to 1869.
In 1869, two US investors, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk tried their hands at cheating Wall Street, causing the price of gold to rise exponentially, which triggered a stock market crash. As a result, foreign trade ceased, and the stock market dropped by 20%, causing many to go into financial ruin. Yet, somehow Gould and Fisk escaped financial disaster.
Over the last few years, the Black Friday craze has caught wind in Europe and this year is expected to be busier than ever – especially online. We expect more shoppers to be queuing in virtual stores than physical shops due to COVID-19, meaning potentially more revenue for online businesses.
To help you prepare for one of the biggest shopping days of the year, we’ve put together a few creative Black Friday ideas designed to help you maximise traffic opportunities and drive conversions higher.
Why is Black Friday marketing important?
The global nature of Black Friday makes it a key sales opportunity and a strategic way to reach your target audience and spark their interest in your brand.
The total number of Black Friday shoppers increased significantly between 2017 and 2019, up from 174.6 million to 189.6 million. We won’t talk about 2020 for obvious reasons, but figures show that many online shoppers hit the 100 million mark last year!
According to Drive Research, Black Friday online spending hit an all-time high of $9BN in 2020, up by an eye-watering $1.6BN on the previous year!
The staggering amount of money spent online is more than enough to know why this is an important holiday, which every retailer, whether online or brick-and-mortar, should use as an opportunity to boost sales.
We expect that the convenience of online shopping will continue to encourage customers to spend online, and our tips could help you get a cut of the projected $10.96BN pie, setting you up for a prosperous end to the year.
15 Black Friday Marketing Ideas That Work
While Black Friday falls on the first Friday after Thanksgiving, online marketing needs momentum, so planning and executing campaigns need to happen well in advance.
Here are promotional marketing strategies you should take advantage of before the Black Friday fever starts.
A New Deal Every Hour
If your online business generates a lot of traffic, hourly deals are advantageous as they cover several bases at once. However, a new deal every hour could tap into the phenomenon known as the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO), which is the anxious feeling you get when you’re not included in something or think you’re missing out on opportunities.
FOMO encourages spending, while the frequently changing deals keep your customers coming back to discover the latest offer. It also helps to offer deals on other products in your shop and either increase the discount on your Deal of the Hour or offer the product/service as a free gift when different combinations of products are added to the basket.
You could also give your Black Friday hourly promo a fun, unique name or create mystery with a phrase such as: “The Countdown Has Started…”
Suppose you decide to run hourly promotions. Bold Discount is an excellent app for managing and scheduling sales to help you stay organised through this hectic period. It will also help with basic administration and logistics when deals go live, meaning you won’t have to be stuck to a computer every hour.
When promoting your Deal of the Hour promo, leverage social media platforms including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to help you maximise your reach, again, you can lighten your workload by scheduling social media posts in advance with tools such as Buffer.
While this promotion has the potential to create lucrative outcomes, it’s not the most ideal Black Friday marketing strategy for the solopreneur.
Make Gift Guides
Make targeted gift guides based on each of your buyer persona’s and their interests, which will not only highlight your products and deals but make it easier for your customers to shop across your website.
Sometimes too much choice can lead to no choice.
Black Friday gift guides give customers a sense of direction. They can be displayed through various media, from blogs to promotional emails and social media, even website landing pages where you can use anchor text to link to the product.
If you’re thinking about creating a Black Friday gift guide, there are two easy ways to go about this:
- Curating a collection of items
- Writing a gift ideas blog post
Most websites allow you to curate gift guides by applying one tag to all your promotional products or grouping them within the same category. Once you’ve created a Black Friday landing page, assign the relevant product category or tag, and your products will feature.
Alternatively, create a blog post, which requires a little more effort but can be an effective search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy. Outrank the competition by conducting keyword research and writing posts that feature popular products to encourage higher click-through rates.
Where Should Gift Guides Be Featured?
If you want to maximise the potential for traffic, feature your Black Friday gift guides on your homepage or other high-traffic pages where they’ll get visibility.
You could also send gift guides to customers via email as part of your promotional email marketing strategy, which is a great way to encourage referrals. Email recipients are likely to share good deals with friends and family.
If you have the budget, boost your gift guides through social media ads such as Facebook Ads or sponsored posts on Instagram to help you reach a wider, targeted audience.
Freebies with Every Purchase
Offer customers a free gift with every Black Friday purchase as a token of their patronage, which is also a great way to inspire customers to return to your store once the holiday season has ended.
These gifts don’t have to be expensive but make them useful to offer value. For example, suppose you’re a beauty business, then free skincare samples or goody bags containing products from popular brands would be a great way to encourage people to buy from your store. For Example, Fahren Taps are offering a free filter with every Boiling Water Tap as their Black Friday Gift.
From a business perspective, items that work best for this deal have cheap or free shipping. You can also use software such as Free Gifts by Secomapp to help automate the process.
Secomapp offers new users a 14-day free trial – a perfect amount of time to test the software out and determine whether your business will benefit from the service.
If you choose to offer a free gift with every purchase, make sure this message is clearly displayed on your homepage, perhaps as a sticky bar, meaning it will remain visible to users as they navigate through different pages of your website.
Extend Your Black Friday Sale Until Cyber Monday
Black Friday is no longer just about one day, and many retailers now run sales for the event across the whole month of November.
One effective Black Friday marketing strategy which has gained traction over the years is to roll over sales until Cyber Monday. Some retailers offer bigger discounts on Cyber Monday and go as far as to expand the one-day event to a week-long promotional period.
With Christmas – yes, we said it – right around the corner, extending your sale could trigger a spike in web traffic and increase conversions, especially if your competitors have ended their promotional deals.
You could also have a Black Friday pre-sale and get a headstart on the competition by catching the early birds – another effective marketing tactic to increase sales.
Using Your Email List
If you want to get the edge on the competition, email marketing can also help skyrocket your sales.
One of the most cited email marketing statistics is that for every dollar spent on email marketing, you could earn another $42. But to garner any real results, you’ll need to build your email list.
Of course, it’s still important to reach out to your existing customers. You could encourage them to shop with you on Black Friday by offering them exclusive discounts for being loyal customers. We recommend targeting customers that have purchased your products or services within the last 30 days as your brand should still be fresh in their minds.
If you don’t have an email list, you’ll need to develop some outreach strategies.
Once you’ve compiled your data lists, send out emails to this audience about deals you have on that day to encourage them to continue checking your website for new offers. If you’re promoting specific products, hyperlink images of those products so that people can visit the page directly to purchase.
Be careful not to make your email subject line sound too sales-focused. Promotional subject lines could discourage recipients from opening the email, or worse, still end up in their spam folders.
There are several tools available for free that you can use to help you craft compelling subject lines, such as Send Check It.
Whether you’re emailing previous customers or reaching out to potential customers, ensure that you’ve cleansed your data to ensure you’re reaching out to the relevant audience. It’s also essential to adhere to GDPR standards to avoid being blacklisted.
Set Up a Winning Black Friday SMS Campaign
With more of us expected to shop online than ever before post-COVID, reaching customers while they’re at home is crucial, and you could achieve this with a solid SMS strategy.
According to Yahoo! Finance, 59% of Black Friday orders were completed on mobile in 2019 and text messaging is one of the best ways to ensure your marketing efforts will be seen where customers are spending most of their time.
While it may sound old school in comparison to other communication methods, SMS is one marketing channel that can cut through the noise and reach your target audience. Recent research shows that SMS messaging generates open rates as high as 98%!
Wondering how you could incorporate SMS marketing into your Black Friday promotional campaigns? Here are two suggestions:
- Use SMS marketing in conjunction with your email marketing campaign
- Use SMS to improve the customer experience
SMS can complement your email marketing campaigns due to its straightforward nature. While SMS can’t compete with email in terms of content, it could take a while for recipients to open your email – this is the opposite for SMS, with most texts read immediately. SMS is also a fantastic method to use for time-sensitive deals, which are popular throughout Black Friday.
Alternatively, you could use SMS to improve the customer experience by crafting valuable messages to add to their overall shopping experience. For example, you could use SMS to inform subscribers of exclusive deals, provide order status updates and send promotional offers for your products or services.
However, note that SMS marketing is also permission-based, meaning you’ll need to comply with GDPR and TCPA guidelines.
Black Friday Deal Sneak Peeks
To generate some interest and hype around your offerings, promote sneak peeks of your Black Friday promotions before the big day.
Besides email, social media is an excellent platform to build anticipation, and marketers can use different media forms to create “buzz”, such as GIFs, slideshows and teaser videos.
Suppose you don’t have Photoshop or aren’t confident in your Photoshop abilities. In that case, CANVA is an easy-to-use graphic design platform that you could leverage to create some unique posts for your Black Friday marketing strategy.
When running Black Friday campaigns on social media, you’ll want to focus on event-specific hashtags alongside your regular hashtags to help boost your visibility and reach a broader target audience.
According to recent statistics, the most popular Black Friday hashtags include:
The hashtags mentioned above work particularly well for fashion, electronics and home decor retailers. However, if you sell more niche products, you might need to spend a little time researching the hashtags people are using to search for your products during the holiday period.
Boost Ad Spend
It’s not uncommon for advertisers to increase ad budgets during the promotional period, with return on Black Friday sales justifying the significant investment in spending.
However, with more online traffic, the cost per click (CPC) will be higher than usual. So, if you do plan to increase your ad spend, consider waiting until you’re a few days out from the big day, giving you enough time to optimise for conversions and adjust spending accordingly in the run-up to Black Friday.
If you are launching a Black Friday ad campaign, make sure your offer is clear and transparent from the outset to avoid getting lost in the sea of ads or misleading potential customers.
Your ad copy should contain simple, compelling language that will appeal to audiences or have steep discounts, which will help you attract more customers. Use striking visuals and animations to help stand out from the competition and research popular ad campaigns platforms beforehand to save you money, time and effort.
Offer Mystery Savings
The mystery savings strategy could help your business cut through the Black Friday noise as the element of surprise is often a powerful marketing method.
You could offer mystery savings to customers in the form of digital scratch cards, a magic box or spin the wheel with various savings available. Interactive content also drives better engagement as it personalises the user experience, so offering a discount through gamification could entice new customers and help to prevent abandoned carts.
Donate a Portion of Profits to Charity
Some retailers are donating a portion of their Black Friday profits to charity or completely swapping out discounts for donations to charitable causes or more sustainable initiatives.
Given that most people want to see businesses supporting charitable initiatives, it’s a clever marketing strategy as it can help encourage positive customer perceptions of your brand.
It will also tempt customers who aren’t motivated by discounts to purchase from your business, especially if you allow online shoppers to choose what nonprofit organisation to give their contributions to.
Brands participating in the charity initiatives include L’Occitane, Isabella Oliver and Baukjen.
Furthermore, partnering with charities could help you earn valuable backlinks to your site and increase website visibility. The organisations you choose to support might promote your brand on their websites and other media channels.
Create Personalised Printable Gift Cards
Encourage your online customers to purchase gift cards during Black Friday if they aren’t sure what to get friends or family for the holidays.
Gift cards are often one of the most popular gifts given during the holidays, presenting an excellent opportunity for your business to boost holiday sales. If you want to go one better than the competition, offer customers customisable gift cards that can be personalised and printed to give as a gift to loved ones.
Make sure these gift cards fit with the theme of the event or the holiday season so that they appeal to your customers!
Offer Exclusive Discounts for Loyal Customers
Does your business have a loyalty programme or VIP Club for subscribed customers?
If the answer is yes, why not offer them an exclusive discount over the Black Friday weekend? Loyal customers are more likely to make a repeat purchase from your store, and if they receive an exclusive deal, they’re also more likely to buy from your brand than competitors.
You could offer the VIP discount through your email marketing strategy or create a Facebook event informing them of the opportunity to gain exclusive discounts and access to early Black Friday sales before the crowds!
Use Influencers to Prepare For Black Friday
Many brands are turning to social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok and leveraging influencers as one of their leading marketing methods.
Traditionally, Black Friday was an instore event, and we’ve seen viral videos of brick-and-mortar shopping gone wrong, with consumers breaking into stores and fighting to secure the only product left on offer.
With e-commerce shopping booming, those days seem to be behind us. However, that means more competition online, and as a result, brands are upping their digital marketing strategies to meet shopper demand.
One of the most creative Black Friday campaign ideas is partnering with influencers who have strong audience ties and the ability to create authentic content for their followers.
You could have an influencer promote your Black Friday deals via their social media stories or through a “Live” session on platforms such as Instagram or Facebook, where they can unbox and showcase your product to their viewers and share a discount code.
Given that consumers will face an onslaught of promotional emails, SMS campaigns and ads wherever they look online, influencers offer a nice change of pace and can help make your Black Friday deals more appealing.
To generate the best results, make sure you partner with an influencer that knows how to leverage different social media features, has high engagement rates and aligns with the brand. For example, if you’re a fashion brand, there’s no point in reaching out to an influencer creating content unrelated to what your business sells.
Extend Black Friday Deals
Why not surprise your customers by extending your Black Friday deals past Cyber Monday? It’s an effective method to help you stand out and acquire new clients following the main event.
To generate a sense of urgency, apply a deadline to the extended sales as customers will rush to secure your promotional offerings. Remind customers that the offers are available for a limited time via website banners with the deadline displayed and by email marketing campaigns.
We also recommend announcing your sales extension at the last minute.
When customers see that you’re the only store offering them a second chance to take advantage of discounts, they’ll be more likely to purchase from your brand.
And there we have it – our 15 Black Friday Marketing Ideas that should help boost your business’s holiday sales. So if you want to make the most of Black Friday, start devising plans for the tactics you think will work best for your brand.