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7 Lesser-Known Black Friday Marketing Strategies (That Work Like a Charm)

  • Conversion Rate Optimization

The busiest shopping day of the year is around the corner. According to Shopify, merchants on the platform made over $1.5 billion in revenue throughout the shopping weekend last year. And this year, it’s only going to get busier.

Wanting to skip the long lines, more and more Black Friday shoppers are choosing online stores over brick-and-mortar shops.

That means lots of potential revenue for e-commerce businesses of any size.

Since Black Friday is this big, competition among online stores is, naturally, intense.

But don’t let the competition scare you.

With a solid Black Friday marketing plan, you can join the top e-commerce brands and skyrocket your sales, too.

Remember, Black Friday marketing starts long before the Friday. That’s why today we’re sharing the seven brilliant marketing strategies you need to try if you want to win this Black Friday.

Let’s get started.

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Build Your Black Friday Email List

First things first.

You already know the effectiveness of email marketing in driving sales. But for your Black Friday email marketing to be fruitful, you need to grow your email list with leads that are interested in your upcoming offers.

A few weeks before the shopping season starts, you need to create an on-site campaign targeting potential Black Friday customers that are interested in Black Friday deals.

Then, as Black Friday gets nearer, you’ll get the chance to tease the big day and thank those subscribers with an extra discount or early access code.

If you don’t want to discount your products any further, try giving your subscribers a freebie with their Black Friday purchases.

Here’s a Black Friday list building campaign example by Miinto:

(Sign up for our newsletter and get access to our Black Friday offers before anyone else.)

Note the visual representation of exclusivity in the popup design and the benefit-driven call-to-action (CTA) button: “Give Me the Best Offers.”

Leverage the time before Black Friday with a similar campaign and collect leads you can send promotional emails to—before, during and after Black Friday.

7 Tried-and-Trusted Black Friday Marketing Strategies

You’re likely looking for new ways to increase your Black Friday sales. Maybe you designed a few popups and already scheduled some emails.

But you’re also aware that your competition is doing the same.

If you want to make a difference this year, try these seven lesser-known strategies that only the best e-commerce marketers know about.

1. Experiment with Timing

The problem with many online stores’ Black Friday strategies is that they’re too predictable.

While there’s nothing wrong with being consistent and setting expectations, the situation is more tricky for Black Friday.

Consumers become numb during the shopping weekend because they receive the same type of marketing messages over and over again.

This year, try changing your timing—slightly or dramatically—so your messages don’t get lost among a million other distractors.

How early or late should you be? That’s up to you.

i. Act Early

Small or big—everyone’s doing Black Friday.

Luckily, there are creative ways to catch your potential customers’ attention before they are exhausted by e-commerce giants’ Black Friday messages.

Acting early is one way of doing this and Wool and the Gang knows this strategy better than anyone:

Instead of waiting for Friday, the company starts its sale already on Thursday and owns the day by calling it “Black Thursday.”

This way, they have a headstart in their subscribers’ inboxes (and wallets.)

Typically, Black Friday emails consist of a simple sale announcement and a scarcity-driven CTA. However, Wool and the Gang do something different in the remainder of this email:

They recommend products that are on sale, so you know where to start shopping.

It’s a smart tactic that’ll help convert your subscribers who don’t know what to buy.

Kate Spade is another Black Friday early bird:

Mailed by the sender name “kate spade surprise,” the company announces their early Black Friday sale by triggering your impatience.

Most of us like surprises, especially if we’ll gain something from it. Knowing this, Kate Spade runs a surprise sale before Black Friday so that you don’t have to wait another day.

In this email, they use a GIF as a sneak peek to their discounted products.

With the value-driven CTA button “Shop Gifts $100 and Under,” they aim to lure you to the site, where they can later cross-sell or upsell you with higher-priced items.

Knowing that Black Friday is a time when consumers are looking for a bargain, they focus on their more affordable products, instead of the bestsellers or limited editions.

ii. Act Late

Catching early birds is one Black Friday tactic to increase your holiday sales—and converting latecomers is another.

Since consumers associate the words “Black Friday” with unmissable offers, you can use them during the year to imply too-good-to-miss deals.

Check this email I received from Doggyloot in December:

By claiming that they bring Black Friday back, they hint that great offers are awaiting their customers. Even though the company’s offers don’t go beyond 25%, they successfully create a perception of Black Friday.

Forever 21 takes a similar approach and runs a Black Friday sale in July:

They simply run a limited time offer that gives their customers 30% off, yet frames it as “Black Friday in July.” (Notice how they use GIFs to drive urgency.)

If you’re reading this outside of the typical Black Friday schedule or if you want to stand out among the competition, try running your own Black Friday by acting early or late.

2. Make Your Sale Memorable

Your online store may have the best deals and the fastest delivery options. But you won’t be the only one making these claims.

While every single e-tailer is competing for your prospects’ attention, the competition gets even more fierce during Black Friday.

It’s not easy for consumers either. They have to navigate through different stores, make comparisons, and create shopping lists so that they can buy their favorite items before they sell out.

This is a great opportunity for you to stand out and make your e-commerce site memorable on Black Friday.

See how Glossier does that in their Black Friday emails:

Sometime before Black Friday, they send their subscribers this email and help them to “be prepared.”

In addition to writing down the big sale’s beginning date and time, they give you the option to add the event to your calendar by clicking the “Add to Cal” button.

When you download the .ics file in the email and add the event to your calendar, this is what you see:

To make your Black Friday shopping experience even smoother, Glossier adds a link to their website so you don’t have to think twice.

With this selfless-looking email, Glossier successfully stays top-of-mind during a busy shopping season and no-doubt increases their email conversions.

It’s a simple yet effective tactic that every business can easily implement in and out of Black Friday.

3. Use the Element of Surprise

Surprises are exciting, but they’re also a powerful marketing tool when used right.

While every other online store kills the element of surprise by adding their Black Friday discounts to their subject lines, there are a handful of successful e-tailers that know the magic of surprises.

Those are the brands that stand out in busy Black Friday inboxes and get their emails opened.

Happy Socks is one of their best examples:

Instead of telling that you’ll receive X percent off, they tease their Black Friday offer by asking you to get excited because you’re getting a discount.

Although numbers typically perform well in email subject lines, avoiding them is a smart strategy if you want to be different on Black Friday. That’s why Happy Socks hides the discount amount they offer, which urges you to open their email…

…and find out that you’re getting 40% off (plus free shipping.)

Death Wish Coffee is another company that uses the element of surprise in their Black Friday emails, but they take it one step further:

They send their subscribers a curiosity-evoking email that reads “Here’s your random gift code.”

And this is what the email looks like:

The company sends you a random unique code that you can use during checkout to see how much it’s worth and adds another layer of surprise.

In other words, you have to click through the email, add some products to your cart, and move to checkout to see your surprise gift.

This is a clever way to make your Black Friday offers more interesting and special. Plus, it will increase your email opens, and encourage more subscribers to visit your site and move to checkout.

4. Offer More Benefits

You might be thinking that Black Friday is only about discounting.

You’re right to an extent. Consumers are expecting a compelling discount during the Black Friday weekend, but that’s not all.

If everybody is discounting their products, what makes you different?

Black Friday is a good time to go beyond discounts and offer more benefits to your customers, such as free shipping, returns, or bonuses.

Estee Lauder knows this well and offers their Black Friday customers additional benefits:

They combine Black Friday deals with their loyalty program and gives 2x more points for purchases made on this day.

It’s a smart tactic to increase the number of your loyalty program members and Black Friday customers.

The best part? It costs you zero dollars.

5. Make Your Subject Line Stand Out

Black Friday is not a battle of discounting, it’s a battle of attention.

If you want to win this battle, your first goal should be getting noticed in your subscribers’ inboxes.

And you know by now that crafting well-written email subject lines is the first condition to it.

While a typical Black Friday inbox looks like this…

…smart e-tailers play the game at a whole other level.

Check this email Chubbies sent me last Black Friday:

Known for their humorous tone, Chubbies sends an email that certainly stands out in your Black Friday inbox.

(Also, notice the hilarious sender address “liar@chubbies.com.”)

If you’re wondering how and why Chubbies canceled Black Friday, you have to open the email. (I certainly did, but more on that on Strategy #6.)

So far we’ve only talked about how you can promote your Black Friday offers. But what if you’re not doing Black Friday?

Ironically, you can still capitalize on Black Friday, even if you’re not running a Black Friday sale.

Check this email subject line by Away:

Positioning their products as superior to Black Friday, Away implies that they’re canceling Black Friday, similar to Chubbies.

Knowing that their subscribers are expecting a sale announcement in their Black Friday email, they explain why they don’t do Black Friday, instead:

Explaining why they don’t discount their products this weekend makes the company’s hand stronger. Their prospects will now associate good prices with high quality, not only one day a year, but all the time.

It’s a brilliant strategy and a curiosity-evoking subject line, whether or not you’re running a Black Friday sale.

6. Redefine Black Friday

Almost every brand approaches Black Friday the same way these days: Discount your products, send a promotional email, and wait for the results.

But there’s a reason why e-tailers like Chubbies win Black Friday: They go above and beyond to redefine Black Friday.

As a part of the long shopping weekend, Chubbies owns Cyber Monday and turn it into a branded day that they call “Thighber Monday.”

Besides being fun and memorable, they offer customers gifts on this day. And they make sure to tease Thighber Monday at the bottom of their Black Friday emails:

They even ask you to set your alarms for the big day:

This way, Chubbies successfully sets expectations and create excitement with a series of pre-Thighber Monday emails.

Even if your brand voice isn’t as humorous as Chubbies’, you can still turn Black Friday into your own holiday.

Take a look at this example by Cotton Bureau:

Using wordplay, the company adds a product focus to the big shopping day and evokes your curiosity.

When you wonder what Blank Friday is and open the email, this is what you see:

Cotton Bureau redefines Black Friday as Blank Friday to promote their discounted blank t-shirts. It’s clever and attention-grabbing.

If you’re in for a more radical change, you can move away from the extreme discounting approach to social responsibility, just like Everlane does:

By creating a Black Friday Fund, Everlane redefines this greedy shopping madness as a day of good deeds.

In this email, the company explains that they donate their Black Friday profits into a fund to clean the oceans. And since one order equals one less pound of plastic, they subtly invite you to shop on their site—all for a good cause.

7. Tease Your Next Campaign

As I mentioned before, Black Friday starts long before the Friday. But it also doesn’t end on Friday.

If you want to make the most out of the holiday shopping season, try teasing your next big shopping day when Black Friday ends.

You can already start promoting Cyber Monday, Christmas, or a local holiday and hint that a compelling offer is around the corner.

Check out the email Man Crates sends after Black Friday:

When Black Friday is over, the company teases its Cyber Monday sale with a funny tone.

This is how the email looks:

Man Crates lets you know that they extended their Black Friday sale into Cyber Monday, which is the online shopping day of the year.

This way, the company converts the prospects that they couldn’t convince on Black Friday and increases their overall sales.

Another company that leverages the post-Black Friday period is Madsen Cycles:

But instead of joining the Cyber Monday bandwagon, they celebrate Small Business Saturday, which fits their brand better.

And in this email, they inform you that even if you missed their Black Friday sale, you’re in luck.

To show you the reason why they’re doing a Small Business Saturday, they introduce you to their family and how they built their small business.

No matter what your next campaign is about, make sure to tease it after Black Friday, so you can convert the prospects who didn’t buy from you at this time.

Be careful when extending your sale, though. If you overdo it, you’ll lose credibility.

Free Downloadable Bonus

Want More Conversion Rate Optimization Strategies?

Get access to our free CRO toolkit and skyrocket your organic traffic, on-page conversion rate and more (includes resources not found in the blog post).

Conclusion

Whether it’s the Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Christmas sale you’re planning, there are always quick wins you can apply to stand out among competition this year.

Make sure to trigger urgency and scarcity with your Black Friday marketing, but don’t drive your prospects into a panic like many e-tailers do.

Give these lesser-known strategies a try and you’ll make a difference this year.

Which one of these strategies will you try this Black Friday? Share with us in the comments.

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