Black Friday Marketing: Everything a Business Owner Needs To Know

Welcome to Black Friday Marketing 2021, a collection of tips and tricks for business owners who want to stay up-to-date with the changing landscape of retail shopping.

Black Friday — and the holiday season, in general — is widely recognized to be perhaps the most optimal moment of time for boosting sales by any retail entrepreneur or executive.

The statistics say it all. According to information gathered by Marketing Land about digital Black Friday sales, here are the key figures:

  • Total sales reached $5.03 billion
  • eCommerce Average Order Value was estimated around $135-142
  • eCommerce stores saw a 24% increase in revenue as compared to the average over the course of the year

Despite what you may have heard about the modern consumer’s waning interest in Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc., the holiday season is still the perfect time to make hay.

Of course, your competitors are already aware of this; and they probably have a variety of tactics in their arsenal to cash in on the excitement.

Still, while you can make it through this holiday season with your existing marketing methods, it’s critical that you come up with a variety of unique marketing ideas to help you stand out from the competition and grab as many additional sales as possible.

The Ultimate 3-point marketing strategy for Black Friday 2021

Let’s first address the more fundamental aspects of Black Friday eCommerce marketing before we get into the more “down and dirty” strategies for generating sales over the holidays.

[Strategy #1] Start preparing and building anticipation early

While Black Friday and the holiday season provide the opportunity to boost sales, you have two things working against you:

  1. The window of opportunity is rather narrow, time-wise
  2. Every other business out there, whether it’s a competitor or not, is trying to get your target consumers’ attention.

You’ll want to start planning and building anticipation for your Black Friday sales and events much earlier on – like, yesterday.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean you want to start straight-up advertising your Black Friday promotions in September (although it certainly isn’t unheard of to do so…). Rather, you’ll want to utilize the months of September and October to ramp up your mailing list and social media subscriber numbers so as to maximize the number of consumers you’re able to reach in November.

As your list of subscribers grows, you’ll want to make sure they’re in the proper customer group. Keep in mind that you’ll be competing with dozens – maybe hundreds – of other companies for your recipient’s inbox and social media feeds, so make sure the information you send them is highly relevant. You should also think about developing distinct offers that appeal to each of your customer groups.

As Black Friday approaches, you’ll want to start hinting at your sale through your various channels. You might consider pinning a note to the top of your social media pages, including a branded hashtag for the holidays, or adding a call-to-action in your most recent blog articles to remind readers to sign up for your mailing list and get more information on your holiday event.

[Strategy #2] Encourage immediate action

Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales, by nature, aren’t supposed to last very long.

Nonetheless, it is not unusual for customers to put things off a bit as they wait for their favorite stores to offer further discounts throughout the holiday season.

While this might or may not be the case for you, your ultimate objective is to make as many sales as you can right now. That said, you’ll want to use urgency, scarcity, and exclusivity to get your customers to take immediate action.

However, it’s important to note that a 2017 study of Black Friday/Cyber Monday emails found that content featuring played-out phrases like “Hurry!” and “This deal won’t last!” didn’t fare all that well – especially when compared to messages that communicated:

  • A “challenge” (such as “Get Ready,” or “Prepare Yourself!”)
  • A sense of intimacy (such as “A Gift for You” or “From Us to You”)
  • A message of encouragement (such as “Go For It!” or “Treat Yourself!”)

Of course, the above simply relates to the copy of the email or message in question – not the actual offer. As far as your offers go, you can instill a sense of scarcity, urgency, and/or exclusivity by…

Implementing a Black Friday countdown timer:

Providing members-only discounts and offers:

Or offering time-sensitive or seasonal products at a discount:

Basically, you want your customers to know that the offer you’re providing at the current moment isn’t going to be available for long – and the products the offer applies to might not be, either.

[Strategy #3] Retarget, Retarget, Retarget

No matter what time of year it is, you should certainly be focused on re-engaging people who left your site before going through with a purchase. (It’s critical to do during this holiday season!)

Since the typical consumer is generally swept up in a shopping tornado around this time, it’s reasonable to expect that they’ll be clicking around – and abandoning their shopping carts – far more often than usual. So retargeting abandoned carts via captured email addresses and retargeting ads in Facebook and Instagram is a great way to gently nudge the customers in the right direction over competitors.

Believe it or not – data collected by DigitalCommerce360 shows that, throughout the previous holiday season, a staggering 66% of eCommerce companies didn’t bother reaching out to cart abandoners. Presumably, this resulted in a ton of lost business that otherwise could have been saved.

Tip: Your approach to cart abandonment emails during the holiday season should be a bit different than the rest of the year. Basically, you’ll want to skip the formality of sending a simple “reminder” email, and jump straight into offering a straight forward discount. Reason being, it’s safe to assume that your customer didn’t simply “forget” they had an item in their cart; they most likely navigated away in search of a better deal.

5 Fool-proof Black Friday marketing campaign ideas to turn up engagement and sales

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s take a look at some of the approaches you can take when creating these holiday campaigns.

Black Friday Idea # 1 : Extend the season

Black Friday and Cyber Monday provide rather small windows of opportunity for your company to increase sales, however, there’s no rule that says you can’t take it upon yourself to extend this window a little bit.

Now, this technique has undoubtedly been done before (How many retail businesses put up Christmas trees in September?). That said, there is a fine line between providing value and promoting your business shamelessly.

This means you’ll have to think outside the box.

You certainly can extend your Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale to re-engage the stragglers who, again, might be holding off in search of a better deal.

On the one hand, the modern consumer likely expects certain companies to put on different sales throughout the holiday season – so, again, this is nothing new. On the other hand, if you’re one of the only companies in your niche that does so, you’re certainly going to stand out above the competition.

Black Friday Idea # 2 : Offer mobile-only promos

Last year’s holiday season was huge for mobile commerce, with eCommerce companies seeing a 13% year-over-year increase in sales numbers. As you can imagine, this upward trend is predicted to increase even further during the coming holiday season (especially with local restrictions and protocols still in place).

So, it simply makes sense that you’d want to cater to your mobile-first (and even your “mobile-second”) customers:

Not only does this provide your mobile-first audience with a sense of exclusivity, but it also allows you to easily track which – and how many – of your customers came to your site via push notification.

While it may seem a bit obvious, you also might want to remind your mobile-first customers of the fact that, by shopping online in the first place, they’re saving a ton of time and frustration. 

Black Friday Idea # 3 : Create gift guides

I hope this goes without saying, but the true spirit of the holiday season is in the giving. (Or, at least, it should be.)

There’s a decent chance you’ll be attracting visitors to your site who aren’t in your target demographic, and they will be searching for things to buy for friends and relatives who are. The issue is that these newbies may not be familiar with the items you offer; they may only know their friend enjoys shopping with you.

So, you’ll want to offer assistance to these newcomers in order for them to discover the ideal presents for their friends and relatives.

Perhaps the easiest method to go about this is to start by categorizing your items based on your most basic customer groupings, then get more specific within each of these categories.

Now, clicking on any of these links does not take you to a product page or even a category page. Instead, each one leads to a blog post that discusses numerous aspects of the products in the category. This allows the gift-giver – who may not be familiar with all of the items in the first place – to choose an option that best fits their friend’s personality and/or requirements by reading through all of the blog posts about them.

Even if a gift-giving novice (or a long-time client, for that matter) does not wish to browse your gift lists, you still have the option of making recommendations for additional purchases on your various product pages. Basically, this entails using some classic cross-selling:

In the above example, it specifically showcases a number of “top-gifted holiday items,” reinforcing the idea that the recommended products aren’t just any products from the store’s category – they’re the top popular items that customers have recently purchased for their friends as gifts.

Taking this tactic a step further, you might also decide to offer product bundles. These bundles can be either premade by you or can be created via algorithm, based on the purchasing behavior of your customers.

In either case, your goal is to recommend supplemental products to your gift-givers – who may or may not know exactly what they should be looking for.

Black Friday Idea # 4 : Let the “takers” buy guilt-free

Let’s face it, not everyone gets into the spirit of giving during the holiday season. To each their own, right?

While many consumers simply look at Black Friday and holiday sales as just another opportunity to save on items for themselves, you also don’t want to discount the idea that some of them may have that little ghost of Christmas past nagging at their shoulder to “do the right thing.”

But who says they can’t have it both ways?

Here, a fast-casual restaurant allows its customers to either give themselves an extra $5 with the purchase of a $25 store card, or pass the $5 onto a friend. Those who feel at least a little bad about spending on themselves during the holiday season can take solace in the fact that they’ve given a friend a free meal on them – and those who don’t care all that much can scoop up an extra $5; either way, you make $20.

You could also take the opposite approach, here, and provide those who spend a certain amount on others with a gift for themselves:

Again, both your customer and their friend/family member gets a little something – and you clean up. It’s a win-win-win situation.

Black Friday Idea # 5 : Go against the Grain

So, we’ve covered the concept that the holiday season is a significant time for your eCommerce company to make a lot of money.

But we’ve also stressed the need to not overlook what the holiday season is really all about. Of course, it isn’t very unusual for retail businesses to solely concentrate on making a sale at this point in the process.

However, there’s a good chance you can make your brand stand out above your competitors by going against the grain and concentrating entirely on the “giving” aspect of the holiday season rather than the hoopla of Black Friday.

For example, in 2016, UK-based pie shop Pieminister decided to solicit donations from its customers, donating pies to a homeless charity as donations poured in.

The campaign had nothing to do with making money, and everything to do with giving to the less fortunate. Needless to say, doing something along these lines will certainly make your brand stand out in your industry.

Another approach to rebel against the system is to actively persuade your consumers not to shop on Black Friday. For example, REI ran its now-famous #optoutside campaign in November 2015.

Essentially, the outdoor equipment store chose to shut its doors entirely rather than participate in Black Friday frenzy, asking its consumers and workers to spend the day with their families and friends instead. While the company undoubtedly missed out on some potential revenue throughout the day, people continue to talk about it years later; from a marketing perspective, it’s impossible to do much better.

Another approach to encourage your customers to avoid Black Friday shopping is… and you should probably sit down for this…raise the prices for the day. It sounds crazy, but it’s what Cards Against Humanity did a few years ago:

As you can imagine, a decent amount of people actually jumped on the promotion – presumably giving the company the extra $5 for providing a good belly laugh.

(Note:  the people behind Cards Against Humanity regularly contribute to organizations they – and their customers – believe in, so this “promotion” did end up allowing the company to give back in some way or another.)

At any rate, the lesson here is:

While you certainly do want to use Black Friday and the holiday season as an opportunity to increase sales and make some extra money, you shouldn’t do so in a way that exploits your customers or your employees. Sometimes, the most wholesome and charitable approach can lead to much better things in the long run.

 Prepare for Black Friday early!

As the 2021 holiday season approaches, you’ll have a lot of choices when it comes to promoting your business.

While you probably won’t be able to implement all of these suggestions, hopefully, we’ve shown you which strategy works best for your brand and generates the most excitement from your fan base.

And, although you probably don’t want to start rolling out your holiday campaigns just yet, you certainly want to be ready to do so when the time comes. With that in mind, we’ll let you go get started.

The silly season is nearly upon us!

This year is going to be a big year for online retail, so having a solid marketing plan is more important than ever.

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