Top 10 e-commerce strategies to boost Black Friday sales

Published Oct 12 2023 Last updated Oct 25 2023 8 minute read
Black Friday tips
  • Sean Dougherty
    Written by Sean Dougherty

    A copywriter at Funnel, Sean has more than 15 years of experience working in branding and advertising (both agency and client side). He's also a professional voice actor.

Black Friday is more than just a sale — it's an event, a tradition, and, for many businesses, a lifeline. Originating in the United States the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday marks the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. Over the years, it's expanded globally, with retailers from various countries joining the frenzy.

A record $9.12 billion was spent in online sales on Black Friday 2022, which is expected to increase over the next few years. As the most anticipated shopping event of the year, it presents a golden opportunity to boost sales and revenue. 

To make the most of this retail extravaganza, it's essential to have a well-thought-out promotional strategy in place. In this article, we'll explore the dynamics of Black Friday, the art of crafting effective promotions, and ten top-notch Black Friday promotional ideas tailored for e-commerce.


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Black Friday's ever-earlier arrival

One striking aspect of Black Friday is its constant evolution. Traditionally, it marked the day after Thanksgiving when retailers offered discounts to kickstart the holiday shopping season. However, in recent years, Black Friday has crept earlier and earlier, with many stores starting their sales on Thanksgiving Day itself or even weeks in advance.

Starting early serves multiple purposes. It helps spread out customer traffic, avoiding the chaos of a single-day rush. Plus, it meets the evolving preferences of consumers who now prefer online shopping. Retailers get it — extending the shopping window not only eases logistical challenges but also attracts a wider audience, leading to more sales.


The crucial role of Black Friday in retail

Black Friday holds immense significance for retailers. It's not just a day of discounts; it's a make-or-break moment for many businesses. Annual revenue forecasts of retailers often hinge heavily on the performance of Black Friday. The sales generated on this day set the tone for the entire holiday shopping season, which can account for a significant portion of a retailer's yearly profits.

With so much at stake, retailers must carefully plan their Black Friday strategies. Finding the right balance in deciding what promotions to offer is a key part of this planning process.


Black Friday promotions

When it comes to Black Friday promotions, balance is key. Deep discounts can generate buzz and drive traffic, but if you go too deep, you risk slashing your profits. Conversely, nominal discounts may not lure the discerning Black Friday shopper, who is conditioned to expect jaw-dropping deals. 

The challenge is finding the sweet spot between attracting customers and keeping a healthy bottom line. Data analysis is key to nailing it. By diving into past sales, current trends, and what customers are up to, retailers can create promotions that really hit the mark — appealing to customers and boosting profits.


10 Black Friday promotional ideas

If you're an e-commerce business eyeing Black Friday as an opportunity to boost your sales, the following ten Black Friday marketing ideas will help ensure you squeeze every ounce of potential out of your marketing efforts. 

1. Define your Black Friday marketing strategy early

Regarding Black Friday, think of proactive planning as your secret weapon. Starting the preparations months in advance allows you to pull up a chair with your past performances, spot those ever-evolving market trends, and craft a strategy that's on point. Delve into the nitty-gritty of last year's analytics — pinpoint those rockstar products, discover which promotions were the crowd-pleasers, and identify any hiccup in your game plan.

With these insights, you can spotlight potential bestsellers, anticipate logistical curveballs, and weave more compelling promotional tales. Leveraging tools like Google Analytics and customer feedback will give you a holistic understanding of what works and what doesn't, ensuring you're well-prepared when the holiday shopping season begins.

Consider a home goods retailer who noticed a spike in demand for kitchen gadgets after analyzing their previous Black Friday sales. The next year, by planning early, they introduced exclusive deals on popular kitchen items paired with recipe guides, giving them a competitive edge and delighting their customers.

While defining your strategy is crucial, Black Friday isn't a one-size-fits-all dance. It's a dynamic event that can toss in surprises, much like an unpredictable twist in a plot. That's why flexibility is the safety net you need. Embracing agility means being ready to pivot, reassess, and adapt your strategies in real time. Maybe a hot new product enters the market, or there's a sudden change in consumer behavior — being flexible ensures you're not left scrambling. It's a delicate balance between staying true to your core strategy and having the resilience to alter course when needed.

2. Optimize your online store experience

The digital landscape during Black Friday is akin to a bustling marketplace. As visitors throng virtual aisles, it's imperative to offer them an intuitive and seamless shopping experience. This means ensuring web pages load rapidly, product images are of high resolution, and descriptions are concise yet informative. 

In addition to this, the backend infrastructure must be robust enough to handle the surge in traffic. Periodic stress tests and optimizing for mobile responsiveness can preempt potential hiccups, ensuring that customers experience a smooth purchase journey from browsing to checkout. One study found that a delay of just one second in mobile page load can impact conversion rates by up to 20%.

However, a responsive website isn't just about quick loading times. It's also about intuitive design. Think about the path a customer takes from entry to purchase; every click and every second counts. Streamline the process by minimizing unnecessary steps and simplifying navigation. 

3. Test Black Friday promotions earlier in the year

Have you ever thought about giving your Black Friday deals a little test drive? The notion of 'testing the waters' has never been more relevant. How about rolling out bite-sized sales or pop-up promos a few months before the big Black Friday show? Not only does it build buzz, but it also gives you a sneak peek into what the grand finale might look like.

Imagine these mini-events as your personal Black Friday crystal ball, showing you where the magic happens and where you should center your efforts. You'll see firsthand which items are catching eyes, which promo lines are making waves, which marketing channels deliver maximum ROI, and the optimum angles for data storytelling. With these golden nuggets, you'll be prepped and primed to drop a Black Friday marketing campaign that's nothing short of epic.

For instance, let's say a clothing e-commerce store decides to run a "Summer Sizzler Sale" in July. They could offer discounts that are similar to the anticipated Black Friday deals. By gathering insights from customer feedback and analytics during this pre-Black Friday sale, they can gain valuable data on customer preferences, inventory management, and the effectiveness of specific marketing campaigns.

4. Employ an omnichannel strategy

Today's shoppers are pretty switched on, and they're not just sticking to one platform. They demand a seamless shopping experience, be it online, in-store, or via 3rd party retailers. Implementing an omnichannel approach means ensuring that promotional messages, pricing, and customer experience remain consistent across all platforms. 

Monitoring how customers move and interact across these different touchpoints gives you a well-rounded view of their habits. Seeing trends, like items they check out online but buy in-store, can give you a heads-up for shaping future promos. It can also help create a sense of brand loyalty when customers feel that personal touch and convenience across all channels.

Imagine a shopper who discovers a product on a brand's Instagram ad, checks reviews on their website, and finally purchases through a third-party online marketplace because of a special collaboration deal. Later, when they have a question about the product, they visit a physical store and receive exceptional customer service. Each step of this journey should feel connected, coherent, and hassle-free.

Retailers who nail this integrated approach can foster deeper trust and loyalty. When the customer's experience feels seamless across different platforms, they're more likely to become repeat buyers and brand advocates.

5. Create targeted landing pages that convert

In the vast digital playground, personalized landing pages are like your well-marked spots that grab attention. To up your conversion game, think about customizing these pages for different audiences. Whether it's by product type, shopper demographics, or what they've previously eyed or bought, there's a page for that. With on-point visuals, clear messaging, and straightforward CTAs, these landing pages can supercharge your promos.

For an electronics retailer, creating separate landing pages for different product categories — like home entertainment, personal gadgets, and home appliances — allows for targeted messaging and promotions, making it easier for customers to navigate and find what they're looking for. Another example might be a fashion retailer creating separate landing pages for women's, men's, and children's clothing, catering to each demographic's specific tastes and preferences.

Related reading: Designing high-converting landing pages for Black Friday 

6. Test and optimize your Black Friday campaign often

In the dynamic world of e-commerce, resting on one's laurels isn't an option. Campaigns, even if initially successful, need continuous monitoring and optimization. This involves identifying underperforming segments, and making adaptive adjustments. For instance, if a social media ad doesn't garner enough clicks, tweaking its visual appeal or message can breathe new life into it. 

Modern digital advertising platforms, like Facebook Ads or Google AdWords, offer real-time analytics and A/B testing capabilities. By running two versions of an ad simultaneously, businesses can discern which messaging or imagery resonates more and quickly pivot to the more effective version. 

On the most intense end of optimization, some businesses even monitor and adapt their campaigns on an hourly basis. While hourly adjustments may be a bit overboard for many businesses, staying vigilant and making adjustments as needed will go a long way in maximizing the ROI of a Black Friday ad campaign.

7. Set aside a budget to be agile

When it comes to Black Friday, expect the unexpected. Keeping a little budget cushion can be a lifesaver when you spot a hot trend or need a quick fix to a curveball. Maybe you need to give a specific ad some extra juice, grab more of that product everyone's suddenly talking about, or even outshine a competitor's flashy deal.

Picture this: Out of nowhere, a certain toy becomes the must-have of the season. If you've got a bit of budget stashed, you can ride that wave with extra ads or deals while it's all the rage. Or if a competitor drops an amazing offer, you can quickly adjust your own campaign to one-up them. Staying agile and having the resources to act on market changes could be the difference between a so-so Black Friday and a record-breaking one.

8. Run multiple Black Friday campaigns

Diversity is the spice of life, and this holds true for promotional campaigns, too. Segmenting target audiences based on their preferences, behaviors, or demographics and crafting tailored campaigns can yield superior results. For instance, a campaign targeting Gen Z might emphasize eco-friendly products, while one for baby boomers could spotlight convenience and reliability. Such bespoke campaigns enhance customer engagement, ensuring messages resonate deeply and drive conversions.

Think about different customer personas. Jane, a 28-year-old urban professional, may be enticed by tech deals, while Bob, a 45-year-old suburban dad, is looking for home improvement tools. Tailoring campaigns to such personas can yield much higher engagement rates.

9. Reward your loyal customers

Loyalty is a two-way street. As customers repeatedly choose your brand, it's incumbent upon you to recognize and reward this loyalty. This can manifest as exclusive early-bird access to sales, additional loyalty points, or even personalized product recommendations. These gestures not only incentivize purchases but reinforce brand loyalty, ensuring these loyal customers continue serving as brand ambassadors, advocating your business to peers and family.

Imagine this: you run a beauty e-commerce platform. You've got a group of dedicated customers who have stuck with you for a long time. Show your appreciation by giving them early access to Black Friday deals and exclusive samples. This motivates them to shop and deepens your relationship with them.

10. Create the ideal experience for holiday shoppers

Black Friday, while exciting, can be overwhelming for shoppers. Ensuring they have a frictionless shopping experience will help set your business apart. This involves refining every touchpoint, from product discovery to checkout. Implementing features like one-click checkouts, real-time chat support, and transparent return policies can alleviate common customer pain points. 

Improving the user experience goes beyond the online store. It encompasses post-purchase support, customer-friendly return policies, and prompt responses to inquiries. For example, implementing chatbots to address common customer questions instantly or providing a seamless and hassle-free return process can greatly enhance the shopping experience, leading to higher chances of repeat purchases.


Selecting the right Black Friday marketing strategy

Every company has its own vibe and tribe, which means no one-size-fits-all strategy. But one thing's for sure — the competition is fierce. Consumers are compelled to make choices across various categories as they face a limited holiday budget. With everyone flashing deals left and right, you aim to make yours downright irresistible.

It’s not just about price tags but nailing the entire shopping journey, from start to finish. Understand what your customers are after, give them more than they expect, and stay engaged. By understanding, anticipating, and exceeding your customers' expectations, you'll be able to cut through the noise and achieve the highest possible return on your marketing efforts. 

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