16 Black Friday Ecommerce Strategies For Boosting Sales in 2023
September 22, 2022
As the holiday shopping season approaches, the big event on every savvy merchant’s mind is Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
With more than $10 billion spent on Black Friday in 2021 in the US alone, it’s imperative that sellers understand how to prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Monday this 2022 to leverage the most out of the annual event.
In this article, we’ll go over:
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The importance of Black Friday in retail
Every year, Cyber Week—also known as the Big 5 in ecommerce—runs from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday.
That is five full days of intense consumer spending year-over-year.
In 2021, Cyber Week accounted for almost $34 billion in online spend, with Black Friday raking in nearly $9 billion and Cyber Monday netting more than $10 billion online.
Considering 2021 saw roughly $870 billion in total online spend for the whole year, it’s especially impressive that only five days out of 365 were responsible for almost 4% of the total yearly spend.
With so many sales going on during this time and consumers in the “mood” to shop until they drop, it’s more important than ever for brands to build new relationships and nurture their existing customers for better retention.
Black Friday trends to watch
According to Mackenzie Frazier of TechRadar:
“…typically retailers reserve their best deals for Black Friday proper, but last year we saw the best deals leading up to Black Friday.”
In 2021, we saw many retailers extend a week of shopping into a full month. That includes big marketplaces such as Amazon, which drive consumer behavior.
Thanks to supply chain challenges, we expect to see retailers expand their sales periods to lessen the strain on their fulfillment networks again this year.
Instead of focusing their sales on Cyber Week, we can expect marketplaces and brands to start offering early deals and extended deals throughout November and even Q4.
According to Shannon Flynn of BlackFriday.com:
“…the pandemic inspired both shoppers and stores to focus more on online deals rather than in-store ones. People love the convenience of shopping from the comfort of home, so this shopping format will remain popular.”
We also expect more consumers to shop online throughout Cyber Week, including Black Friday—a shopping day traditionally spent at brick-and-mortar stores.
Thanks to the pandemic that taught more consumers the convenience of online shopping, consumers know they can forego the crowded stores and shop in the comfort and safety of their homes.
Finally, McKinsey & Company found that 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions, and 76% are frustrated when it doesn’t happen.
That means throwing blanket deals out during Black Friday isn’t enough.
Instead, brands must tailor their messaging to their buyer at every touchpoint, such as using different emails and promotions for different audience groups.
Tip: Use your audience’s previous purchases to tailor your messaging. Try to connect their past buys and some of the deals you’re offering during BFCM. Look at buying history throughout the year to influence and guide your present Black Friday advertising.
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16 Black Friday ecommerce marketing strategies to supercharge sales
Now that we’ve covered the basics of Black Friday and what to expect, let’s talk about some Black Friday marketing strategies you can employ to make the most out of the day.
1. Start preparing as soon as possible
“It’s never too late until the day of.”
— Eric Bandholz, CEO and Founder of Beardbrand
The ideal time to begin planning and brainstorming for Black Friday is in July or August. The next best time to start is now.
You want to give yourself time to plan for enough inventory by November as well as to change and adjust your Black Friday marketing strategy.
This also leaves you space to plan your campaign and decide which items to include.
Start by determining which merchandise you’ll include in your BFCM event.
Consider whether you’re introducing new products or promoting existing ones and what kinds of deals or offers you can viably make.
Then, brainstorm Black Friday marketing ideas for a campaign theme or tactics that excite (and incite trust in) your customers.
Your goal should be to create a long-term relationship that lasts beyond your BFCM promotion.
2. Generate anticipation in the days before Black Friday
“Black Friday Cyber Monday might account for 20%–40% of your revenue for the whole year, so it’s really important to develop a strategy where you maximize your conversion rate and average order value.”
— Joe Vela, Customer Success Manager at Postscript
You can excite potential customers in many ways leading up to BFCM, regardless of when you start planning.
Drumming up anticipation for your sale can lead to more conversions. Start with what’s on offer and build off of it.
3. Decide on the best offer for your store
To build a successful BFCM campaign, think about what makes a compelling ecommerce deal.
Before you map your campaigns and projections this holiday shopping season, you need to settle on your offer.
It must be both appealing to your customer and your business.
Each brand is unique, which means the type of deal that will work best for your brand may not be the same as what you see around.
Choose your offer carefully based on what you want to achieve during Black Friday.
Three common offer types for Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) are:
- Exclusive product launches
- Sitewide discounts
Tip: Too many offers complicate the shopping experience for consumers. For example, you’ll want to promote a “25% off sitewide” sale throughout BFCM instead of featuring a different offer for every day of the week.
Effective BFCM campaigns aim at specific customer segments to deliver targeted, relevant offers.
Some potential segments to look at are last year’s buyers, shoppers searching for deals, and website visitors who haven’t made a purchase yet.
Exclusive product launches
BFCM is an opportunity to generate excitement (and revenue) for any new products you’re launching.
Consider the new items you have that may be worth holding back to make a splash on the big day(s). Make them the stars of your Black Friday marketing.
Lululemon did this during their 2020 BFCM event.
They created a digital promotion to generate excitement:
“Black Friday starts now. Check out all the gear that just dropped.”
When you start building your campaign, you’ll want to create a dedicated landing page to run your Black Friday promotions, bundles, and new product launches.
Another Black Friday idea is to include bundling and tiered discounts to excite your customers in the lead-up to your event.
Be sure to bundle items that logically go together. You can do this with almost any product—outdoor gear, electronics, wellness items, and more!
Or tier your discounts so everyone can enjoy a deal no matter how much they spend.
A tiered discount could look like: $10 off $30, $25 off $75, and $50 off $125.
Beardbrand offers an excellent Black Friday marketing example of harnessing bundling when sitewide discounts or coupons aren’t in your brand ethos; they introduced bundling to reward their customers for purchasing in bulk.
By offering their customers a bundle comprising 11 of their premium products at a 25% discount, they increased their AOV by 19%.
Although there are a few ways to use sitewide discounts, Shopify says one of the best Black Friday strategies is to focus on boosting average order value (AOV) by encouraging customers to purchase more.
For example, instead of a sale that offers 25% off all items sitewide, try promoting 35% off a $200+ order.
With this deal, you can increase your AOV and improve your profit margins.
4. Market through SMS with opt-in keywords
Once you’ve built your campaign (i.e., inventory, promotional collateral, and a dedicated landing page in your store), start marketing to your customers with SMS texts—specifically, SMS texts with opt-in keywords.
Since 75% of consumers are interested in receiving texts with special offers, BFCM is the perfect time to leverage SMS marketing.
During Shogun’s 2021 Xperience Commerce conference, Joe Vela used the following example:
“Reply ‘Daily Deals’ to get all of our best Black Friday, Cyber Monday deals!”
With opt-ins like this, Joe says, “You’ll create an engaged segment of subscribers that are more likely to convert on a lot of your deals.”
According to Digiday, DTC brands are successfully reaching customers through SMS texts: Research on SMS marketing shows a click-through rate (CTR) of 70% and a conversion rate of about 25%.
So, if you haven’t experimented with this tactic yet, the biggest sales weekend of the year might be a great time to try an “opt-in ahead” to build anticipation for your Black Friday deals.
If you have a Shopify store, you can use apps like SMSBump, Postscript, and Privy to introduce and automate SMS marketing.
5. Consider selling big-ticket items on Thursday
During our Xperience Commerce event, the Shogun team interviewed expert panelists Joe Vela, Customer Success Manager at Postscript; Eric Bandholz, the CEO and Founder of Beardbrand; and Val Geisler, Customer Evangelist at Klaviyo to chat about how brands can implement a campaign designed for conversions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BCFM).
All three experts agreed they saw “big conversion rates” on big-ticket items on the Thursday before 2020’s Black Friday.
Many consumers wait all year to buy a big-ticket item during BFCM (think TVs, new electronics, appliances, etc.).
When the week leading up to Black Friday rolls around, these consumers know what they’ll buy and are watching for the deals to land.
You can satisfy your customers and boost conversions by offering your big-ticket items on Thursday instead of Friday.
6. Personalize your messaging
Customers are inundated with messages around Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
However, you can make your brand stand out from other companies by personalizing your Black Friday messaging for your customers.
Work to create a lasting relationship with your customers rather than a temporary one that ends when BFCM does.
Ninety-one percent of shoppers are likely to buy from you if you offer what they want.
While personalization based on customer segmentation, past purchases, and browsing history are solid options, you can also offer something holiday-centric.
For example, you can introduce a cool unboxing experience of a new product on your YouTube channel (and maybe start one in the first place to talk to buyers directly).
Or you can incorporate digital wish and shopping lists on your site that consumers can send to family and friends—even create a marketing campaign to encourage people to use these lists to shop virtually together.
Some other ideas are:
- Listen to social media channels to understand what your customers are looking for in your niche and tailor offers accordingly. Customer surveys, too, are helpful for customizing experiences for each individual as much as possible.
- Create shareable discount links that eliminate the need for shoppers to find or enter a code.
Whether you send out emails or SMS messages, using personal information can surprise and delight customers.
Include their first name, the last product they purchased with you, or even an item they saved for later.
By adding this type of detail, your audience will feel a more personal connection to your brand.
7. Humanize your brand
Give your brand personality so people can see the real individuals who work at your company.
For example, try this abandoned cart copy suggestion from Joe Vela:
“This is Joe from Postscript. I saw you abandoned your cart. Can I help you with anything?”
Val also raised a good point about humanizing your brand by being genuine.
She illustrated this with an example of giving your email subscribers a chance to opt-out of BFCM emails in advance.
Your messaging could say, “We know you’re getting a lot of emails and texts right now. If you’d prefer to opt-out of our Black Friday Cyber Monday marketing emails but would like to stay on our email list, click here.”
This shows your audience you prioritize them over holiday promotions; as Val put it, “We’re not going to risk losing our ability to talk to you for the sake of making an extra $10.”
8. Craft on-brand marketing asset designs
Your creatives must be original and eye-catching to compete for customer attention. You’ll want to:
- Hire an agency or professional to help design the collaterals. Or, if your budget can’t accommodate a third party, use tools like Canva to design your own creatives.
- Write solid copy for ads. It’s not just an exercise in creative thinking—you need research-backed psychology. The copy should also be consistent with the messaging on your site.
- Design and organize marketing assets according to your campaign. You’ll need creatives in different formats and sizes for social media and your blog. If you plan to leverage influencer marketing, keep their assets ready.
Retargeting and paid advertising are expensive during the holiday season, so set aside a sizable budget for these tactics.
Instead of bidding on generic terms like “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday,” focus ad spend on keywords with high purchase intent like “buy XYZ product.”
Tip: Use a countdown timer app to create a sense of urgency on your product landing pages.
9. Construct and test your landing page for conversions
Businesses often use their website homepage to promote campaigns.
However, this leads to confusion and distracts customers, as your homepage already has a lot of information on it.
A BFCM-specific landing page narrows those choices and directs customers to only one given action, which simplifies their decision-making process.
Optimizing this landing page for SEO also helps drive organic traffic to your store throughout the busiest shopping weekend of the year.
Landing pages not only increase click-through rate (CTR) but also provide data and insights for merchants to improve the effectiveness of their campaign by monitoring factors such as conversion rate and incoming leads.
You can use a no-code plug-and-play tool like Shogun to create a landing page for your BFCM page in less than a few minutes.
Tip: A/B test each page to see what works best for conversions.
10. Leverage the power of email
Customers anticipate Black Friday promotional emails from brands they love and are likely to spend 138% more than those who don’t receive them.
These emails help customers get excited—and prepared.
An effective Black Friday email strategy should be specific: You want to create different emails for different customer segments.
Shopify users can use email marketing tools to send segmented messages.
While you prepare email scripts, pay special attention to abandoned cart emails. Customers have shiny object syndrome, especially around BFCM, and are prone to abandoning their carts.
However, an email from your brand can inspire action and nudge them to continue with the checkout process.
Have email templates ready for stockouts and back-in-stock scenarios.
Also, think about post-BFCM customer communication; continue to engage with your buyers and offer more value to keep them hooked on your store.
Tip: Offer subscribers an opt-out from BFCM emails so certain users won’t unsubscribe from your email list altogether.
11. Fortify your store
Your website needs to be iron-clad when BFCM hits.
The last thing you want is to face a crash during the biggest sales event of the year, as it can cut into your revenue goals and customer experience.
It could also send your customers to competitors to check out their deals instead.
To ensure the most seamless online shopping experience, we suggest the following.
- Test your website volume capacity. Ensure your website can handle unprecedented traffic during the surge of Black Friday online shopping.
- Double-check your online shopping and purchase flows. Run usability testing to determine if your website is user-friendly.
- Ensure your website is mobile responsive. Black Friday 2019 saw 2.9 billion in sales from smartphones alone. So, ensure your site is optimized for mobile to increase your conversion rate.
- Optimize for speed. No one likes slow page speeds, least of all online shoppers: Research found when page speed decreased by just one second, conversions dropped by 7%. Remove dormant Shopify apps to combat sluggish site speeds.
- Shorten your checkout process. The checkout page makes or breaks a sale. Seventeen percent of U.S. online shoppers abandoned a purchase midway because of a lengthy checkout process. Accelerated checkout buttons like Shop Pay or Apple Pay help returning customers quickly complete payment options for their orders, thereby eliminating any friction in the process.
12. Manage your inventory to avoid going out of stock
Nothing irks holiday shoppers like discovering an item is out of stock.
When faced with an out-of-stock item, 37% of consumers will purchase from a different brand instead.
Some actions to take ahead of time include:
- Forecast demand and expect sales to peak during BFCM.
- Order enough supplies and work out the reorder point.
- Look at past shopping trends to understand the products that customers liked the most.
When thinking about inventory management, you must also plan for fulfillment and last-mile deliveries.
Shopify shipping apps can reduce shipping hassles, especially during the busiest time of the year for small businesses.
On a related note, establish a transparent process to deal with returns. Actively solicit feedback on the return merchandise and work on reducing friction throughout your returns process.
13. Have a backup plan
Even the best-laid plans can fail. Set up a contingency plan to avoid last-minute damage control amid the busiest time of the year.
Shopify Analytics provides insights into your store’s activity and helps plan for worst-case scenarios.
Consider what you might do when faced with website crashes, shipping issues, budget restrictions, or inventory shortages.
In the event of a crisis, effective customer communication provides you with an opportunity to stand out. Keep templates ready for potential mishaps to inform the customer and strengthen their confidence in your brand.
Finally, arrange a 24-hour trial sale before BFCM to ensure the promotional codes, inventory, checkout, and fulfillment work without error.
Staying on top of mishaps leaves a positive impression on customers that lasts after BFCM ends.
Buyers who had a good interaction with a company during BFCM will appreciate it when they see the brand pop up in their inbox after the sale.
14. Strengthen customer relationships
You want your BFCM sales to yield loyal customers.
But the grim reality is that BFCM shoppers are unreliable, and 70% won’t return to your brand after their purchase.
Retailers who engage with their customers personally and create an experience with multiple layers of value will earn loyal patrons who stick with them.
Here’s how to leverage BFCM to build up your customer relationships.
- Send a thank-you note and offer discounts they can use immediately along with their order. Or send it a few weeks afterward to jog their memory and stay at the forefront of their mind. The idea is to keep customers inspired and returning for more.
- Start a rewards program to transform one-time customers into loyal ones. Make rewards available after the first purchase and send loyalty reminder emails periodically.
- Consider a referral program or add it to your existing loyalty program to expand your consumer base. Shoppers refer brands they appreciate to their family and friends when they feel fulfilled from a buying experience.
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15. Offer free shipping
Everyone loves free shipping, and offering it on BFCM—even if you don’t regularly provide free shipping—is a smart way to stay competitive.
While you’re at it, consider offering 2-day delivery during your BFCM sales.
With consumers expecting both fast and free shipping, the more ecommerce permeates global shopping habits, fast and free shipping should be table stakes.
16. Conduct a BFCM post-mortem
It’s important to hone in on what worked during this holiday campaign—and what didn’t.
What happens after the sale is also essential to march into next year’s season confidently. Review your efforts and understand which marketing channels and campaigns worked best to produce the desired results and engagement.
You should also request post-sale reviews from satisfied customers since they’re highly effective at building trust within your community.
Leverage these reviews to pinpoint areas of improvement and connect with your customers and prospects more closely.
The Shopify dashboard will give you insights into analytics like average order value and conversion rate over this period too.
Also, take note of your competitors’ product offerings, marketing techniques, and price points. This competitive analysis will help you retool for future campaigns as well.
Make Black Friday your best sales day yet
Black Friday and the full Big 5 (Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday) is a time for ecommerce merchants to make sales, build customer relationships, and strengthen their brands.
Prepare early by generating excitement, picking your offers strategically, personalizing your marketing, testing new channels, and fortifying your infrastructure to support an influx in sales.
BFCM will test your brand from strategy down to delivery, so it’s vital that you get every step of the buyer experience right and can do so at large volumes.
Use the strategies we list above to make this Black Friday your best sales day yet.
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Rachel is a remote marketing manager with a background in building scalable content engines. She creates content that wins customers for B2B ecommerce companies like MyFBAPrep, Shogun, and more. In the past, she has scaled organic acquisition efforts for companies like Deliverr and Skubana.