Takeaway: Black Friday ad campaigns can make or break your year. We've put together seven expert tips to help you make a successful campaign that drives sales this holiday season and beyond.
Black Friday marketing strategies play essential roles in keeping companies profitable. Over the last several years, e-commerce sales have made up an increasingly larger chunk of Black Friday sales. In 2022, online sales reached a record high of $9.12 billion. The popularity of online shopping could make e-commerce stores even more important in upcoming years.
Seeing a huge number of sales in one day feels great. However, developing Black Friday marketing ideas that get expected results can make even the best marketing professionals feel anxious. There's a lot riding on Black Friday, so you can't afford mistakes that cost your business revenue.
Our top tips for Black Friday marketing:
How can you make your Black Friday ad campaign successful without worrying yourself half to death? Start with implementing these seven Black Friday campaign tips into your strategies. We can't promise that you'll get a full eight hours of sleep every night leading up to the big day, but we do have ideas that can ease some of your worries while boosting your campaign results.
Tip 1: Plan your Black Friday marketing campaign ahead of time
When should you start planning your Black Friday marketing strategy? The answer is nearly always, "OMG, you haven't started planning your Black Friday marketing strategy yet?!"
That's what it feels like, at least.
It's not surprising that everyone feels like they need to tell consumers about Black Friday sales months in advance. You probably see Oktoberfest beers in the supermarket by mid-summer. Your neighborhood grocery store probably starts selling Halloween candy and decorations in early September.
With so much pressure to rush ahead, it feels normal to advertise your online store's Black Friday sale as early as possible.
Keep in mind that the best Black Friday campaign isn't a 5k race where everyone pushes themselves to run as hard as possible. Think of Black Friday marketing as a marathon that requires months of training and a carefully considered pace.
When to start planning your Black Friday marketing
There isn't a precise time when you should start planning for Black Friday sales. Typically, you want to start a few months before you implement your plans.
Giving yourself plenty of time should reduce the stress you experience as the holidays approach. It will also give you time to:
- Write, edit, rewrite, and test messages that convert casual consumers into customers–yes, writing is a very labor-intensive process.
- Optimize all product landing pages for your online store.
- Communicate with influencers you might want to partner with as the season nears.
- Decide which metrics you want to track during and after your campaign.
- Set benchmarks that help you understand whether your campaign strategy succeeds.
- Develop alternative approaches to use when Black Friday campaigns don't go as planned.
- Schedule time with photographers, videographers, graphic designers, and other creative professionals who will make the assets your campaign needs.
- Establish–and probably justify–a budget that pays for the assets you need to reach Black Friday goals.
That's not even an exhaustive list! As you start planning Black Friday promotion ideas, you will inevitably find new factors to consider. Roll with it! Discovering new opportunities means you have more chances to attract new customers and boost sales.
Tip 2: Reward your loyal customers
Black Friday sales create a lot of opportunities for your loyal customers to explore other options. Sure, they might love your products and services. But it's hard to resist an amazing deal.
So, how will you reward customers for remaining loyal when they have so many ways to save money?
Give them early access to Black Friday deals
You can start by getting to your customers before competitors have a chance to. If you give people early access to your Black Friday deals, other online stores will have fewer opportunities to poach them from you.
You already have contact information for people who've bought from your company. Use the most reliable channels to reach those customers. Performance monitoring from previous marketing campaigns should help you determine whether you send someone a text message, email, social media message, or direct mailer.
Also, make it easy for customers to access the deal. Each person should have a unique URL to click or a QR code to scan that will take them to a personalized web page.
As a bonus, this approach lets you track which customers took advantage of your deals. You can use that information later to make future campaigns even more successful.
Add extra discounts when possible
If possible, add extra VIP discounts so your returning customers get even more enticing Black Friday deals. The idea of cutting another 10% off your regular price might sound insane. It's potentially worth it, though, if you prevent someone from choosing a competitor and you encourage customers to keep buying from you.
If you can't justify extra discount codes, perhaps you can sweeten the deal when customers spend a certain amount of money. Can you offer free shipping when they buy $50 of merchandise? How about a free gift that introduces customers to an upcoming product?
Make Black Friday bargains social
Social media platforms give you an excellent way to reward existing customers while reaching new customers in untapped markets.
You have a couple of options here. You could give your customer an extra discount in return for sharing their purchase online. You could also make some deals transferable. If one person doesn't want to take advantage of your deal, they can transfer it to a friend. That way, you attract customers unfamiliar with your business, which positions you for more sales in the future.
Tip 3: Invest in top-tier creatives
Have you ever seen a cheap advertisement that makes you want to avoid a product or company forever? Of course you have. We all have. Low-value assets often look so cheap that you assume the ad is a scam.
Using top-tier creatives in your Black Friday marketing campaign shows you care about your brand's image. Many people will associate your attractive Black Friday promotions with professionalism, quality products, and excellent customer service.
The fact of the matter is that serious companies spend serious money on their Black Friday marketing campaigns. Now is not the time to skimp. If you're going to spend $5,000 on a sub-par photoshoot, you might as well spend $10,000 and enjoy a higher return on your investment.
Audit the creatives you already have
Top-tier creatives can include much more than professional photographs. Your online business might also want to audit available assets like:
- Branded images
- Text fonts
- Color palettes
- Video scripts
- Customer testimonials
When you start your audit, make a list of your assets without judgment. A video script might make you wince, but it still goes on the list.
Once you've made a list of your creative assets, you can start judging them.
Is this infographic suitable for converting potential customers on Black Friday? Could we alter it to make it more effective during the holiday season?
If your team finds no redeeming value in an asset, remove it from the list and note that you need a replacement.
Upgrade your creatives
A few of your creative assets will make the cut. Most probably won't match the goal of Black Friday marketing campaigns, though. That's fine. Performing an audit will save you time and improve your campaign in the long run.
Now, you need to upgrade your creatives so you can boost upcoming Black Friday sales.
This might include major events, like setting aside several days for a photoshoot or making videos.
It could also mean addressing some minor–but effective!–changes to your existing assets. For example, you might want to:
- Update a landing page's content to attract more Black Friday shoppers.
- Add a countdown timer to your homepage to get people excited about Black Friday exclusive offers.
- Make pop-up ads that encourage your website visitors to download your Black Friday gift guide.
Talk to other marketing professionals in your organization to learn about their ideas. You don't have to love every idea they give you. Each one, however, has the potential to spark an innovation that puts your company ahead of competitors.
Tip 4: Choose the right channels to reach your audience
You came up with some stellar ideas for your Black Friday marketing strategy. Now, you need to make sure your target audience sees those messages.
You know the old thought experiment, "If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" You can apply that concept to marketing: If absolutely incredible Black Friday promotions never reach consumers, did the campaign happen at all?
All joking aside, your Black Friday marketing idea only works when you get the right messages in front of the right people.
Think about where your customers spend most of their time online. Perhaps they scroll Instagram... or maybe they prefer other social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit, or whatever Elon Musk decides to call Twitter (um, X... that just feels wrong) today.
Our research shows that you should pay close attention to:
Those options only make sense when your target audience uses them, though. You have a unique business, so you should take time to understand your customers and learn where they spend time online. If you typically sell to young people, TikTok is probably a no-brainer. If you cater to an older audience, maybe you'll get better results from Facebook ads.
Extra tip: Make sure you include Black Friday hashtags in your social media posts. They will help holiday shoppers unfamiliar with your brand learn about your e-commerce business.
- Score the best shoppers with these Black Friday email marketing tips
- A complete guide to Tiktok Ads for digital agencies
- Performance marketing channels to try in 2023
Tip 5: Closely monitor your Black Friday campaigns
Your digital marketing campaign will generate a lot of data. Success often relies on choosing which metrics to track–and how to pivot when you don't see the results you expected.
Metrics to monitor
The specific metrics you monitor will vary depending on your goals. More often than not, though, you will want to pay close attention to:
- Pageviews–the number of times people have visited a specific page.
- Unique visits-how many new customers come to your site.
- Session duration-how much time people spend browsing your site.
- Conversions–the percentage of people who took a specific action while visiting your site. (Importantly, not all conversions are sales. Getting someone to sign up for a newsletter or give you their email address might also count as a conversion.)
- Repurchase ratio–how many customers come back to buy a second, third, or fourth time.
- Clickthrough rate–how many people click through a PPC ad, assuming you use them.
- Sales–this is what it all eventually comes down to. How many sales did your campaign help generate?
- Revenue–just as important as sales... how much money did your campaign bring in during the holiday?
- ROI (return on investment)–how much revenue or profit did each marketing dollar generate?
Using metrics wisely
You don't collect and track metrics just for the fun of it. You monitor them to determine your campaign's effectiveness.
Ideally, everything goes as planned. But how often does the real world give you an ideal outcome?
Monitor your metrics closely so you can adapt quickly to consumer behaviors. Maybe that ad emphasizing that your small business can offer better customer service isn't landing as you expected. Monitoring metrics lets you decide whether you should update or remove that asset.
Metrics will also show you which aspects of your Black Friday marketing idea work best. If people really respond to the YouTube video of a dog freaking out over a specific discount code, invest more into getting that video in front of more potential customers.
It's all a bit of a balancing act. Success requires experience and a gentle touch.
Without data, though, you don't have any idea whether a part of your campaign will gain or lose sales for your business.
Related reading: 10 essential performance marketing metrics to monitor
Tip 6: Think about the complete holiday season
The name "Black Friday" used to make more sense than it does today. It started off as one day to enjoy low prices. Then it morphed into Black Friday weekend. Today, you need Black Friday marketing campaigns that last even longer. People start lining up outside stores before they've had a chance to digest their Thanksgiving meals.
And don't forget the importance of Cyber Monday. In 2022, Cyber Monday's online sales dwarfed those on Black Friday. Of course you want to capture as many online sales as possible on Black Friday, but the fact of the matter is that Cyber Monday involved $2.2 billion more in revenue.
Perhaps it's time to stop thinking of Black Friday and Cyber Monday as single events. Instead, think of them as days that start the holiday shopping season. Once you accept this "new normal," you can start connecting Black Friday marketing ideas to the rest of the holiday season.
During the upcoming weeks, you start swapping out images of turkeys with images of Santa and snowmen. You don't have to end your Black Friday marketing campaign. Instead, you let it evolve throughout the season.
Whether you keep offering the same Black Friday sales is beside the point. With a few adjustments, you can reuse marketing materials as people shift from Thanksgiving to other holidays that involve exchanging gifts.
Related reading: Best practices for peak season reporting
Tip 7: Don’t report too early
You did an awesome job promoting products and services for Black Friday! Now, you're eager to share the results with the higher-ups within your company.
We understand your enthusiasm, but we advise against rushing forward. Wait at least two weeks before you generate reports and send them to your bosses.
A lot can happen immediately after Black Friday. Some people won't like the orders they receive. Others might have mistakenly ordered more than they intended. Regardless of the reason, you can expect some people to return the items they bought. If you submit your report now, you'll have to backtrack later to explain why the numbers aren't as amazing as they initially looked.
Consider that European shoppers have 14 days to cancel or return online orders. They don't need to justify their returns. It's a right they have as European Union residents.
(What do Europeans have to do with an American shopping holiday? Somewhat surprisingly, many Europeans have embraced Black Friday as an opportunity to shop for great deals. The most sales tend to come from the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Spain. Europeans probably don't account for a huge percentage of your sales, but you still don't want to revise your numbers after the fact. It's more than a little embarrassing.)
Good luck sharing your Black Friday deals with the world!
Do you have the data to optimize Black Friday marketing that will generate record sales? Read the following blog posts to learn more about leveraging data to make marketing campaigns more effective than ever: