Holiday shopping is poised to smash records in 2021, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) leading the way. According to eMarketer, consumers are expected to spend $10.42 billion online on Black Friday, up 16% from 2020. Cyber Monday sales are forecast to soar even higher, topping $12 billion, up 12% from last year. All this to say– it’s time to put some Black Friday marketing strategies in place.
Consumers are supporting small businesses, too. Shopify reports a 50% jump in purchases from independent and direct-to-consumer brands during BFCM last year. Ready to pull in a share of this spending? We’ve compiled some proven Black Friday marketing tactics for you to try.
Preparing your brand Black Friday
Before we get into specific holiday marketing ideas, let’s talk a bit about branding. The groundwork for successful Black Friday sales — really, any kind of marketing initiative — should be laid as soon as you launch your small business.
Sure, you’ve got your business name and a sweet logo, but you also need to create relationships and shape how you want customers to feel when they shop with you. Eco-conscious? Adventurous? Pampered?
Branding is critical to boosting sales. Once you’ve established a relationship with your customers and they know what to expect from your business, you’ve got a built-in audience for your marketing efforts.
Getting your online store ready
Start your BFCM efforts by fine-tuning your online store and removing obstacles that cause buyer hesitation.
- Optimize for mobile. About 73% of online sales are made from mobile. Make sure your site can be navigated seamlessly on a tablet or smartphone.
- Check site speed. Studies consistently show a correlation between website performance and conversion. PageSpeed Insights suggests ways to make your pages load more quickly.
- Focus on images with impact. Online shoppers don’t have the luxury of seeing a product in person. Use clear, well-lit, high-resolution photos that load quickly.
- Craft compelling copy. Write persuasive descriptions that clearly explain product features and help customers to see the benefits.
- Develop ways to recommend products. Black Friday shoppers may not know what they want to buy. Highlight your bestsellers, flag clearance items, and cross-sell.
- Be generous with returns. A prominent “easy returns” policy puts hesitant shoppers at ease and pushes them toward checkout.
Top Black Friday marketing strategies
1. Build an early-access email list
Spark interest in your sale by promising customers a sneak peek or exclusive benefit. Steve Madden encouraged shoppers to sign up for a mailing list to be the first to learn about Black Friday deals.
- Promote your early-access list on a popup, banner, chatbot, and social media
- Offer additional incentives to join the list, such as a promo code
2. Grab attention with popups
Popups are effective marketing tactics because of their visibility, but make sure they’re useful to visitors and only appear when it makes sense. Optinmonster shows how to use a popup to offer product recommendations. In this example, a customer looking at a pair of jeans gets a suggestion for a belt at 50% off.
- Determine the offer and when it’s triggered
- Design a simple, uncluttered popup with a clear offer
- Make it easy to exit the popup
3. Use gamification
Who doesn’t like to win something? Gamification is a playful addition to holiday shopping.
- Use an app like Wheelio or OptinSpin
- Add a virtual scratch card or wheel of fortune to your site
- Invite users to play for a discount or free gift
- Collect email addresses to build your subscriber list
4. Time it right
Black Friday doesn’t have to start on Friday. Consider moving your sale dates around to avoid competing with other businesses.
- Start your sale early before shoppers have made all of their purchases
- Extend the sale to reach people who were too busy over the weekend to shop
- Use a countdown clock in advance of the sale to build anticipation, or during the sale to display remaining time and create urgency
5. Make a date
Leverage the popularity of digital calendars and make it easy for customers to be reminded of your Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale.
- Send a Google or Outlook calendar invite with the date of the event
- Include a promo code and website link
- Clearly outline the benefits to the customer
6. Offer free shipping
Free shipping is a big motivator for shoppers seeking a bargain. Wayfair displays a shipping promotion at the top of every page of its website.
- Offer limited-time free shipping to target shoppers during the holiday weekend
- Determine how much you need customers to spend for free shipping to make sense to your bottom line
- Promote your offer with a pop-up or eye-catching banner
7. Showcase bestsellers in an email campaign
Lead up to Black Friday by generating excitement about your most popular products. Use copy that emphasizes how coveted the item is: “the rain jacket we can’t keep in stock” or “our customers’ all-time favorite coffee maker”.
- Create an attractive email highlighting products you want to push during BFCM
- Entice visitors with a generous discount
- Send the email to your subscriber list in advance of the sale
8. Add social proofing
Social proof messaging is a marketing tactic that creates urgency. Someone browsing a running shoe on SportsShoes.com, for example, might be prodded toward checkout if they see other people looking at and buying the same product.
- Choose a social proof app such as Fomo, Taggstar, Nudgify, or Nextsale
- Display real-time or recent purchases
- Show how many people are viewing or viewed a product
- Use low-stock notifications to warn the product may soon sell out
- Display product ratings
9. Create holiday gift guides
Gift guides are a staple of holiday marketing and target customers looking for inspiration. Fat Brain Toys has an online guide to help shoppers zero in on the best gifts in a category, such as hottest toys, family toys, baby gifts, and wooden toys.
- Pick out products that make ideal gifts
- Organize thematically by age, gender, interest, or another relevant category
- Suggest gifts by price point (under $50, under $25) to help customers stay on budget
- Promote the guide on your website, through social media, and in your newsletter
10. Cross-sell and upsell
Try to boost the value of your Black Friday orders by making product recommendations. Fashion brand Red Dress suggests how customers can “complete the look” on each product page.
- Serve up suggestions of similar items when visitors are browsing, in case the original isn’t what they’re looking for
- Suggest a premium version of the item when a product is added to the cart
- Cross-sell related items, such as a leather cleaner to go with a pair of boots
- Send an email with personalized recommendations a few days after purchase, based on items in the original order
11. Use a chatbot to recommend products
Online chatbots engage with customers 24 hours a day and can help with product suggestions. Shoppers use H&M’s Kik bot to put together outfits.
- Decide how you want to communicate with customers (website, Messenger, or app)
- Develop questions to ask customers to narrow down products
- Set up the chatbot
12. Go against the grain
Stand out on Black Friday by shifting your focus from sales to giving back to the community. Amour Vert, a clothing company, plants a tree with every purchase of a t-shirt.
- Choose a cause that’s relevant to your business to build brand identity
- Set a percentage of proceeds to contribute with every sale
- Use an app like Give and Grow to track donations, display results, and send donations to the charity
Black Friday ideas for service-based businesses
13. Create a giveaway contest
Service-based businesses can use Black Friday to reach a wider audience. Consider giving away a service such as a manicure, photoshoot, car detailing, or window-washing.
- Run the giveaway on social media to raise brand awareness
- Encourage shares and likes to engage followers
- Offer a contest entry in exchange for joining an email list
14. Offer a coupon that’s good only on BFCM
Drive people to your site with a coupon that only works during a specific time frame. Visitors can use the discount code on Black Friday or Cyber Monday and book the service for a future date.
- Share the coupon on social media
- Market to your email list
- Distribute printed coupons to local clients
15. Invite referrals for services
Grow your reach and leverage the loyalty of current satisfied customers by establishing a referral program.
- Create a campaign inviting clients to refer friends and family on Black Friday or Cyber Monday
- Offer an incentive such as a free service or discount when their referral books a service