Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year. It always takes place on the last Friday of November. This year (2023) it takes place on the 24th of November. This is a prime time for you to get fresh eyeballs on your products, find new customers and enjoy a revenue boost. 🤑
There are lots of growing online retailers out there getting creative with their Black Friday campaigns. If you're feeling stuck on how Black Friday fits into your ecommerce marketing strategy, or don't know where to start, here's some inspiration to get you going.
Should you bother with Black Friday?
Black Friday is a great way for consumers to get discounted products. But for brands, it may feel like you’re contributing to excessive consumption and overspending. If you or your boss is feeling apprehensive about jumping on the Black Friday bandwagon, here are some compelling reasons why you should give it a go:
- Your competitors are doing it: Your competitors will be taking advantage of this huge shopping holiday. And whilst big resellers like Amazon take a massive amount of traffic over this holiday season, there will be consumers interested in buying from independent online stores. So don’t let potential customers get drawn in by your competitors—make sure you’ve got a chance of capturing some of that Black Friday shopping frenzy.
- ‘Black Friday’ organic search skyrockets: Search volume for ‘Black Friday’ increased by a staggering 419% since 1st September 2022. This isn’t unexpected, however. People are more likely to be searching for this term as the date draws nearer, so make sure you get your Black Friday marketing campaigns ready and optimise your online store.
- You don’t have to offer discounts: You might feel reluctant about offering massive discounts on your products—especially if you’re a growing brand trying to make a good profit. But the good news is you don’t have to drop your prices. As you’ll see in this article, there are lots of creative Black Friday campaign ideas that don’t involve sacrificing profit.
15 Black Friday strategies from ecommerce brands
Your Black Friday marketing campaigns don’t just have to involve slapping big discount codes on your products. Here are some creative Black Friday ideas from small ecommerce brands you can use to attract potential customers. (And remember, you can use some of the ideas for the entire holiday shopping season including Christmas and Cyber Monday).
1. Make a stand
In recent years, companies have been taking a stand on Black Friday. They push against “fast fashion” and other consumer trends to bring sustainable initiatives to their customers. Think Patagonia and its “Don't Buy This Jacket” campaign, or Everlane, who used the buzz around Black Friday to draw attention to polluting ocean plastic.
Together, we can turn this tide. You order. We donate. This Black Friday Fund, let's raise $300,000 to support @oceana in their fight to put an end to single-use plastic. https://t.co/lbKod8waey pic.twitter.com/8reNmR2e78— Everlane (@Everlane) November 29, 2019
The brand still promoted its deals but also pledged $10 per Black Friday purchase to environmental charity Oceana. With shoppers choosing to buy from brands with aligned values, this is a clever way to highlight your mission while making sales.
2. Create a pre-Black Friday Buzz
Black Friday traditionally takes place the day after Thanksgiving, but businesses are now stretching it out to days or even weeks in advance. Take a leaf out of Tubby Todd's book and get shoppers excited in the lead-up to your sale. The brand not only promoted tips about how their customers could make the most of Black Friday deals, but it also encouraged followers to join the ‘Tub Club’ so they could cash in on extra savings.
Create excitement in the lead-up to Black Friday by giving a sneak peek of your sales and getting people to join your email list. When you do finally launch your offers, you’ll have hundreds more hungry shoppers eagerly waiting.
3. Run a PR drive
Getting placements in relevant publications is a great way to get more eyeballs on your store during Black Friday. This is exactly what boot brand Dear Frances did during one Black Friday event. It managed to secure placements in top online fashion mags, including The Zoe Report and Marie Claire.
Tons of shoppers turn to their fave publishers and bloggers for Black Friday inspo. If you've got a sought-after product or you've got a good relationship with a publication in your niche, try pitching some Black Friday content to them. If you've not built up those PR relationships yet, there are plenty of writers looking for awesome products to add to their holiday gift guides. Sign up for PR opps with sites like Help a Reporter Out to increase your chance of getting featured.
4. Promote a buy-back campaign
IKEA isn't a small DTC brand, but we're a big fan of how they do Black Friday. As well as promoting hot deals on its furniture, the brand also hosts #BuybackFriday, where it buys back pre-owned furniture that has life left in it.
IKEA pays shoppers to give back their goods, increasing trust levels and turning one-time buyers into long-term loyal fans.
Think about how you can give back during Black Friday. Your customers have served you well, and now it's your turn to serve them. Consider buy-back initiatives or invite shoppers to send you their old products for repair instead of encouraging new purchases.
5. Offer free shipping
Free shipping is the number one incentive for buying online, with 49% of shoppers saying this incentive encourages them to complete a purchase. Combine this year-round tactic with your Black Friday deals to increase your average order value (AOV) and encourage on-the-fence shoppers to hit buy now.
Basic Piece does this well. The brand offers free shipping on anything and everything bought during the shopping holiday.
Give shoppers what they want—free shipping! Reduce your free shipping threshold or offer free shipping on your bestsellers to encourage more sales and increase customer satisfaction.
6. Inject personality into your campaigns
Chubbies is well-known for its tongue-in-cheek humour, and the brand plays into this during key holiday shopping events. This Black Friday email promoting its ‘Schworts’ includes relevant copy about Thanksgiving and eating too much turkey before promoting the offer it has on its bestsellers. The best part is that you’re so drawn in by the copy, that you don’t even notice that the shorts are being promoted at full price. 👀
If your brand personality calls for it, make your promotions fun and lighthearted, engage with shoppers and use puns and plays on words to promote your products.
7. Don’t forget existing customers
While Black Friday is prime time for attracting new shoppers, it's also the perfect opportunity to reward loyal customers and say thanks for their loyalty. Victoria Emerson offers existing customers a VIP deal which gives them access to exclusive discounts.
Don't just think about how you'll get new customers–reward your long-term loyal fans too! Offer extra discounts, exclusive access, special deals just for them, or freebies with every Black Friday purchase they make. This should positively impact your customer retention, too.
8. Send a free gift
Who doesn't love a freebie? Bed sheet brand Brooklinen sends every shopper a free gift on orders above a certain amount—and it's not just any old free gift, it's a valuable, high-ticket gift at that. This strengthens relationships with new customers and gives shoppers the chance to explore different products in the store catalogue. Brooklinen did this as part of their Cyber Monday campaign (which takes place the Monday after Black Friday), but you could easily slot this into your Black Friday campaigns.
Pick out a small but valuable item and give it away as a free gift with every Black Friday purchase (or put a spending threshold on it if you want to increase AOV). Choose something that's relevant to your audience but also gives a sneak peek at other products in your inventory.
9. Increase your discounts throughout the day
Big-ticket items, like furniture, are harder to sell on Black Friday because the shopping event notoriously promotes impulse purchases (and it's much harder to justify an impulse purchase on, say, a new sofa or car). Burrow sweetens the deal by increasing their discounts throughout the day. The more a shopper spends, the more money they save. Simple!
If you sell big-ticket items, consider offering a sliding scale for a limited time to encourage new shoppers to invest more.
10. Create product bundles
Black Friday isn't just an opportunity for attracting new faces to your brand, it's also prime time for introducing customers—both new and existing customers—to your entire product catalogue. Get shoppers out of a buying rut by bundling together relevant products like Handle the Heat.
The cookbook company groups together popular products that customers might enjoy to create irresistible Black Friday bundles at a fraction of the cost of buying each book separately.
Identify similar or relevant products and create exclusive Black Friday bundles to introduce shoppers to your entire product range (and give them a sweet deal at the same time).
11. Promote hourly deals
Black Friday is intense, there's no doubt about it. Shoppers spend hours online hunting down the best deal, so take a leaf out of The Winery at Bull Run and keep things fresh with a new flash sale every hour. This encourages shoppers to stick around on your site to see what's next and creates a sense of urgency around each sale.
Create a fresh new deal every hour to keep shoppers interested. It also gives you something new to post about on your social channels throughout the day to keep engagement levels high.
12. Ask customers to slow down
Black Friday can be absolute chaos. Shoppers are flitting from one site to the next, making impulse purchase after impulse purchase.
Bearaby cuts through the noise and asks its customers to slow down and think about what they're buying. Instead of psyching shoppers up to buy big on Black Friday, the brand actually shuts down its checkout and encourages people to “sleep on their decision”. The next day (after a good night's sleep), it sends a reminder email to customers with products in their cart. Here's a peek at their chatbot they use to help you decide when to buy.
Do something different. When every other store is fostering FOMO, take a step back and think about what your customers really need from you. They'll thank you for it in the long run.
13. Collect user-generated content
Let your customers do the selling for you on Black Friday—no one's a more convincing brand advocate than your existing customers. Monsoon is well aware of this. It uses user-generated photos and videos to promote its Black Friday products on its social media platforms while giving a hat tip to its customers, affiliates, and influencers.
Ramp up your user-generated content (UGC) collection in the lead-up to Black Friday so you have a library fit to burst with great customer shots. You can even use Dash (that’s us) to collect UGC and seamlessly send them out to your campaigns (scoot down this article to find out how).
14. Do something unexpected in your email campaigns
Think about how many emails you get sent during the holiday sales. (In fact, think about how many you get sent literally any time during the year). Instead of sending a standard Black Friday email like your competitors, why not do something totally unexpected like Surreal?
The breakfast cereal brand promotes its Black Friday sales by enticing email subscribers with really random products. The email subject line is: Fancy being on a billboard? And the email encourages you to grab an old-school alien egg from their store. 👽 It’s weird…but effective.
Try something unexpected to stand out amongst your subscriber’s email lists. You could go one step further and donate any money made from these additional products to charity.
15. Keep the momentum going with SMS and email campaigns
The Black Friday hangover is real. With such an intense lead-up, and then the frenzy of the actual event, it can be easy to breathe a sigh of relief and forget about the day once it's over—but you could be missing out on a chunk of sales if you do this.
Instead, be like Blenders Eyewear and remind shoppers who added items to their cart during Black Friday that they can still claim a discount on their products. You could do this with SMS and email marketing campaigns.
Plan how you'll keep engagement levels high after Black Friday and what your exit strategy will be. You might land an influx of new customers and once the event is over, you need to nurture your relationship with them if you want them to come back. Send personalised product recommendations and offer discounts on items already in their cart via SMS and promotional emails.
How to get your online store ready for Black Friday
Now you’ve got loads of creative Black Friday marketing ideas, you’ll want to make sure your online store is ready. Hopefully, you’ll get a huge influx of new customers, but if your website isn’t prepared you risk losing out on sales. Here are some tips to help you out:
- Prepare your marketing strategies: Make sure you get your campaigns ready in advance. Do you need to set up email workflows for new customers? Do you need graphics created for your different marketing channels? Preparing will mean there’s no mad rush when the end of November comes around (or at least, the rush will be a little less stressful). Take a read of our post about getting your website ready for Black Friday.
- Collect all of your visual content: As an online brand, no doubt you rely heavily on visual content like product photos and videos to help market your products. So make sure you’ve got all your visuals organised before Black Friday using Dash. 😇
Dash is a digital asset management (DAM) tool that lets you search, find, share and deploy your visuals. You can organise all of your content and create collections that you can save, ready for the big day. You can also get content creators to upload images for your approval, and create public portals to share with agencies and PR teams (perfect if you’re doing some affiliate marketing).
🤓 Read how Dash helps ecommerce brands grow.
If you’d like to try Dash out, you can sign up free for 14 days, no strings attached. ✨