Preparing for Black Friday: 7 strategies for holiday marketing

Posted on 27/09/2018 by Team Hallam

The Black Friday frenzy of shopping resulted in £1.4 billion in online sales last year. That’s an 11.7% increase on the previous year. Here are 7 strategies your business can use to leverage the Black Friday opportunity.

Black Friday is well established in the international retail calendar, and more retailers are now participating with some form of promotional activity. The Black Friday market is experiencing better planned and more sophisticated marketing campaigns, with businesses taking a strategic approach to selling more of the right kind of products to the right kinds of customers – here are some top strategies you can implement.

1. Create a plan for longer than just Black Friday

Historically, Black Friday was the peak shopping day on the Friday after the American Thanksgiving holiday. More recently this has been extended to include the full weekend culminating in Cyber Monday. There’s now a surge in online shopping activity on the day before Black Friday as shoppers are positioning themselves to get the best deals. Most retailers are now launching some deals on the Thursday evening.

For 2018, this is evolving into an even longer sales period extending over a golden retailing period of nearly a month. Small Business Saturday is the next phase of this golden retailing period on 1 December. Businesses are needing to create a series of rolling campaigns as shopping continues is surge onwards towards Christmas and then into the Boxing Day sales.

2. Target your abandoned shopping carts

 Black Friday may be the busiest and most successful sales period of the year for many retailers. Whilst there are huge volumes of completed sales, there are also an extraordinary amount of abandoned shopping carts. Black Friday research by Barilliance reports the global shopping cart abandonment rate is a staggering 72.5%.

Abandoned shopping cart rates black friday 2017


This presents huge opportunities for online retailers to win back customers who have taken the trouble to put products in their shopping cart but for one reason or another failed to make the final payment transaction.

Abandoned shopping carts tactics:


3. Fine tune your email marketing campaigns

The best email marketing campaigns are just that: campaigns that comprise a planned series of communications for your target market that guides them through your sale offering.

Shopify’s Black Friday 2017 Recap revealed email marketing has the highest conversion rate of the digital channels.

Black Friday Conversion Rates by Source

  • Email marketing: 4.29%
  • Search: 3.04%
  • Direct Mail: 2.39%
  • Social Media: 1.81%

As you are planning your email marketing campaigns you may wish to consider creating a series of trigger emails to send out to your lists:

Email #1: Announce your Black Friday sale. Create a simple email with a single message: we are having a sale with a single call to action. Also known as a teaser, this email will warm your customers up and get them ready for the big sale.

Email #2: Make an offer exclusive to your current customers. This is a pre-release that builds loyalty with your existing customer base.

Email #3: Behavioural targeting email. Create a series of messages for your current customers and prospects based on their previous purchases, or how they responded to your email newsletters, or how they interacted with your website.

Email #4:  The scarcity email. “We’ve almost sold out” will create a sense of urgency. Remind your customers the sale will end soon, and there isn’t time to waste.

Email #5: Extend your Black Friday offering. By extending your sale beyond the date your competitors finish theirs, you give your customers another chance to make a purchase.

4. Sharpen Up Your Pay Per Click Advertising

Now is the time to ramp up your online advertising. As my grandmother used to say, “Go Fishing Where the Fish Are” and Black Friday is when shoppers have their wallets at hand and are ready and prepared to make a purchase.

Google has published a great set of research about holiday shopping behaviour, and here are a few takeaways to implement in your PPC:

Recent research from Google reveals consumers are open to buying from new retailers during Black Friday, so this is a great opportunity for small businesses to compete with larger players:

Black Friday Purchases open to new retailers

And continuing on that theme, a powerful search phrase for  your business could be “brands like” and stores like” for smaller businesses to infiltrate the space occupied by larger brands.

Brands LIke PPC Black Friday

But do not simply reuse your existing PPC campaigns. You need to tailor your campaigns for the Black Friday season, and be sure to:

5. Focus on your mobile shoppers

If 2017 was a record-breaking year for Black Friday online shopping, then the growth of mobile shopping has to be the big story for retailers to think about. According to research undertaken by Adobe, purchases made on mobile devices totalled 36.9% of all Black Friday sales, and 54.3% of all site visits.

Even more importantly, the gap between desktop sales and mobile sales will continue to narrow as retailers address concerns the main mobile ecommerce barriers as identified by ComScore:

  • Security concerns
  • Cannot see product details
  • Navigating is difficult
  • Cannot browse across multiple screens/compare
  • Too difficult to input details

As you review your Black Friday campaign planning this is a good time to reassess your overarching mobile marketing strategy.

  • Review the user experience on your website both in terms of the actual mobile shopping experience and the checkout process
  • Create offers and content specifically of interest to your mobile shoppers
  • Creating emails particularly well suited for reading on a mobile device
  • Tweak your pay per click campaigns for your mobile customers, including mobile bid adjustments

6. Harness the power of social media

Millions of users turn to social media during the Black Friday period to look for bargains, and to boast about the deals they’ve discovered. There a wide range of different social media marketing tactics for your business to consider, and here are just a few to get your started:

Update all your social media profiles to give a coordinated and consistent set of messaging about your Black Friday campaign

Advanced preparation is key given the amount of work that needs to get done. Plan and schedule your social media posts in advance. Do your research to find out when your shoppers are at their most active on your website (see this guide) and

Create video content. On Facebook there were more than 450 million views of Black Friday related content including shopping and product guides, and it is a powerful way to increase conversions and improve your social reach.

Focus on the networks that will give you the greatest ROI. It is easy to get carried away and divide your efforts across too many networks. Focus on the one or two networks that either generate the most revenue for your business, or which have the highest levels of engagement.

Social media advertising. Create advertising campaigns using Custom Audiences (be sure to take a look at this guide) to:

  • Target your existing fan base
  • Target users who have previously bought from you online
  • Reach audiences that abandoned their shopping cart
  • Target audiences who have viewed a specific product page


7. Review your performance from last year

Jump-start your Black Friday marketing planning by reviewing your sales figures from last year. Now is the time to get working on your data to give you a head start in the work that needs to be done.

Some strategic Black Friday questions the leaders of your business need to consider:

  1. What you are looking to achieve with your Black Friday campaigns? Would it be helpful for cash flow to clear old stock? Is bumping up revenue figures your top priority, or is it more important to build a pool of new customers for their lifetime customer value?
  2. Review your stock levels, and how well you were able to fulfill this spike in demand
  3. Review your pricing strategy, particularly in light of the popularity of the product, and your profit margins
  4. Review the effectiveness of your omnichannel activity, from social media to email marketing, and also including traditional marketing techniques
  5. Ensure site performance and discuss with your technical partners how well your website copes with the demand of Black Friday traffic to ensure you are delivering customers the fastest possible experience
  6. Review your loyal customer behaviour and ensure you have offers
  7. Plan for new developments in the areas of personalised offers, real-time offers

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Preparing for Black Friday: 7 strategies for holiday marketing

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