Fall-winter season 2021… What a time to be a customer!
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For now, you just create more wishlists, add more products to the never-meant-to-be-checked-out shopping carts, and save more social media ads.
You know: Black Friday is right around the corner, so all this struggle will pay off soon enough.
The situation is dramatically different for the other side, though.
Across the screen from you there are hundreds of desperate advertisers trying to find that one Black Friday eCommerce strategy that will change everything.
They are stressed, exhausted, and pretty much given up. It’s October, and that means they all are in for at least 3 months of marketing craze.
Oh, that’s right. You are one of those advertisers.
The good news is that it’s not too late for you to come out as the winner of the season!
This article is just what you needed.
We’ll be talking about some of the best strategies you can utilize before, during, and after Black Weekend 2020. So, here you go: 36 Black Friday creative ideas & example of successful ads for business owners, retailers, and advertisers to add to your 2020 marketing strategy.
There might be certain differences in approach here, depending on whether you’re a business owner or a third-party advertiser. I’ll try my best to address them all right on the spot, but if something remains unclear or confusing – feel free to let me know in the comments!
Now, on to the strategies themselves!
Before Black Friday
The weekend after Thanksgiving is the official beginning of the Christmas shopping season welcomed with all-night-sales, discount offers, and miles-long lines. Except for one tiny detail: the preparations for Black Week(end) start way earlier and, for the past couple of years, so do some of the sales. So why wait till everyone is offering discounts if you could lead the movement?
Select the products you’ll be promoting wisely
It can be very tempting to apply a certain discount to your entire estore supply and watch the world burn. But if you want to profit from Black Week, I’m afraid your marketing strategy will need a bit more effort than that. There are generally 4 categories of products you could be promoting:
- Full Stock: the ones you have the most of
- Old Junk: the ones you want to get rid of
- Bestsellers: not to confuse them with the Full Stock
- Covid angle: staycation-friendly goods inspired by the world’s fav pandemic
- Promote products you have the most of
The easiest way to clear your warehouse is to get rid of whatever you have stocked the most. That’s if you have a warehouse in the first place.
For smaller eCommerce stores, this approach translates into pushing the stuff that is the easiest/the fastest to make/acquire (e.g. if you run a home bakery, promote cupcakes, not layered cakes).
Finally, if you’re just looking for a juicy offer to advertise as a third party – forget what your momma told you and be like everyone else, jump on that bandwagon, and promote the hell out of it.
- Add discounts for the goods you want to get rid of
This one is simple. Let’s say you’re a small eCom store specializing in knitwear. You hoped people would go nuts over your custom spooky-season-special orange scarfs, but COVID-19 came back with the second wave causing your entire business model to go South. An orange scarf may not be everyone’s go-to after Halloween. But you know what will sell really well? An orange scarf with a “now 80% off” label right next to it.
- Advertise your best-selling products
This approach is by far the most popular and is used by retailers, business owners, and third-party marketers alike. Here, you simply push what your customers want the most.
- Stock up on the lockdown specials
The recent pandemic has brought a lot of uncertainties with it, but one thing is for sure: some products are meant to be more popular due to our so-called new normal. Utilize that and promote lockdown-friendly stuff like household appliances, fitness equipment, arts & DIY craft sets, baby-care products, etc.
- Create gift recommendations & guides
Not everyone’s a big fan of shopping for presents. Make their lives a bit easier and select products that will work great as a semi-personalized holiday gift for their convenience buddies.
Set your creativity free during Black Friday creative campaigns
Black Friday is a bit of a holiday, a bit of a state of mind, and a bit of a business model. Which is why it is important to utilize its power correctly to harness the best results off your campaigns. I don’t take the word “creative” lightly. I’m talking all sorts of stuff, including but not limited to:
- Landing pages;
- Headlines & ad copy
- Ad designs & graphics
- Invest in the landing page designs
Landers go a long way when it comes to retaining a customer’s attention. Investing a couple of hours into your main page may become definitive when it comes to their decision to stay or go. Try adding “best-value” offers next to Black-Friday specific sales or creating designated landers for the discounted goods only.
- Prepare promotional copy & graphics in advance
Don’t just sit there – grab a notebook and a pen (or better yet a laptop and a graphic tablet) and set your creativity free. Having a good ad copy and a couple of promo images ready a few weeks before launching your campaign won’t hurt anyone. You might even thank me later.
- Design Black-Friday specific banners and pop-ups
Nothing screams SALE better than a pop-up banner on your homepage. Except for maybe the same banner on some other relevant pages. Don’t slack on this one! You want it to be just flashy and screaming enough, so not too bold and not too shabby.
- Write product reviews for your eCommerce store or lander
84% of consumers trust product reviews and 90% of all shoppers read reviews before deciding on a purchase. So go ahead and ask your customers to leave a review or entrust your copywriter with writing a couple of honest yet effective sentences about what you have to offer.
- Don’t forget about paid ads
Writing a couple of words to frame your display Black Friday ad is easy. Cramping as much useful clickable info in 30 allowed symbols of Google Ads headline – that’s a different story. Plan your budget ahead, think every word in your copy through, and find something to stand out from the croud!
Get those advertising assets in check
There are different types of ads you could run depending on your goals, your budget, and your creative ambition. Some perform better than others, but in the long run, it’s all about tying an advertising strategy together. Some of the tricks you could try include:
- Running early-bird discounts;
- Creating special promo coupons;
- Keeping an eye on your competitors;
- Trying going with more complex ad types
That last one is especially important, because if you want to earn like an expert, you’ve got to advertise like an expert. But I’ll come back to it in a sec.
- Launch early-bird discounts
A friendly discount offer goes a long way. And if placed strategically, it can even save you a couple of bucks in the long run. Say, you decided to drop prices up to 75% during the big Black Friday sale. Try tempting your clients with a good-old 30-40% discount on a Monday morning before the big day and see what happens. A great example of this is Amazon’s Holiday Dash:
- Tempt shoppers with special Black Friday coupons
Where the banners didn’t work, coupons will pick up the slack. Essentially the same discount you’d be offering people anyway, coupons have this hue of exclusivity to them that makes a potential buyer feel important, special, and cared for.
Unlike the discount displayed on your main page for the whole world to see, not everyone will see the coupon, hence not everyone will have the coupon, hence, not everyone will use the coupon. VIP treatment.
- Spy on your competition
Strictly speaking, ad intelligence should be an integral part of your marketing strategy regardless of the time of the year. But Black Friday is a perfect time to start. Try using spy tools like AdPlexity of Anstrex and build a winning advertising campaign that will leave your rivals far behind! You can find my full list of the best ad spy tools here and choose the one for yourself.
- Go beyond display ads – go Native!
It’s true, a good-old SALE banner still works.
But you know what works even better? A video-ad designed specifically for Black Friday. Or a TikTok ad shared by your trusted influencer. Or maybe you need to be on the recommended page by CNN/NY Times/BBC.
Think it all through and don’t leave these decisions for the last minute. Try and generate organic traffic where you can, but don’t strand from paid advertising whatsoever either.
It doesn’t even have to be hard!
It’s a perfect combo of a powerful ad tracker, with which you can automate your work, an advanced DSP that lets you access traffic from 20+ sources including Taboola, Outbrain, MGID, RevContent.
Don’t be afraid of emails
Some might think that email marketing is the thing of the past. Well, it’s not. In fact, if done right, email marketing can bring one of the highest ROI. I’m talking more than 35-to-1 higher ROI. Before the sales start, there are basically three types of emails you might want to send:
- Preparation email
- Early-access email
- Referral email
- Send an email saying you participate in Black Friday
This year is anything but ordinary and Black Friday is no exception. Traditional retail’s been hit the hardest (more than a half of Americans decided against participating in the Black Weekend whatsoever due to COVID-19).
But eCommerce is still standing. In fact, it’s doing better than that, as for once, instead of camping in front of the stores the night before, people are expected to hunt for the best deals online.
Well, don’t make them wait! Let your loyal customers no upfront that you will be offering them some goods for a friendly price come November. And thank them for sticking with you!
- Consider granting an early access to your VIPs
First things first – look through your client database and decide if some of them are more active than others and, hence, are more likely to return (we all know that a returning customer is at least 5 times better than a new one, right?)
Then, take those cream-of-the-crop people and give them something they won’ expect – a Black Friday discount a week or two in advance. They’ll be forever grateful and will praise your store to their friends as a free word-of-mouth bonus.
Make a statement with your Black Friday marketing campaign
Now, these few ideas are for those of you who like to live dangerously. They may work wonders to your brand or bring you out-of-this-world conversions to your campaigns, BUT they may also backfire and cost you some potential profits. But, hey, when else to be bold if not during the craziest year of the century? So, to shake things up a bit with your Black Friday advertising you could:
- Assign your business profits to a specific cause
- Join the anti-Black-Friday campaigns
- Use your power to support a cause
A lot of businesses do it, think TOMS or 4Ocean. Choose something to stand for and make it known to the world. It doesn’t even have to be permanent – the best retail weekend of the year can do all the impact you’re looking for (for both the world and your equity). The only downside is that you may lose some of your customers who don’t share your viewpoints on the subject. But think of the new and loyal ones you may gain!
- Anti-Black-Friday is also Black Friday
Over the recent years more and more people seem to view Black Friday as a mindless capitalist attempt to enrich the rich. You can win over this audience by choosing not to join the race this year and either give goods out for free, or sign up for charity work, or promote green shopping alternatives. Depends on your business and world views, really. Just make your intentions clear and known, otherwise it’s not marketing but an ideology.
And, of course, optimization!
One last thing you should take care of BEFORE the big weekend is that everything runs smoothly and that some minor technical fault won’t cause you tremendous losses. Focus on:
- Your website’s load speed
- Adjusting your page for mobile devices
- Testing different sources of traffic
- Creating backup accounts for advertising
- Make sure your website loads fast
eCommerce is a highly competitive environment where every second counts. Literally. 40% of people would abandon a page that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Think about that and do everything in your power to make your offer appear in front of a customer in 2 seconds or less.
- Put Mobile first
Do you know when people are most likely to browse online goods? When they’re on a bus, in front of a TV, or during another boring conversation at dinner. These days you can also add any sort of a business meeting to the list, as most of us work from home. So if your page is not perfectly mobile-friendly, or better yet, doesn’t feature a couple of mobile-specific offers, rest assured – you’re losing a ton of money.
- Search for traffic beyond Google and Facebook
I know, I know, it’s very tempting. But it’s also crowded and very hard to get in and Facebook has declared war on third-party ads accounts. Instead, try your luck with lesser known yet just as effective traffic sources, you’d be surprised with the results!
- Set up a few backup accounts in case you get blocked
If you’re in the business for quite some time you should already know that you can never be too careful. Which is why it’s always a good practice to keep a couple of backup business accounts running in case your main is taken down all of a sudden. Normally, you could sort this issue out in a few days, but you can’t waste that kind of time during the Black Weekend.
From Black Friday to Cyber Monday
So we’ve covered the pre-arrangements and it means it’s time to talk about the big day(s). At this stage you need to stay vigilant, make sure everything is going according to plan, and be ready to react in case something changes unexpectedly,
You’ll notice that some of the categories are very similar to the ones from the previous part… That’s because a coherent marketing strategy always encompasses similar sources on the different levels of depth.
Shake those product offers up!
Let’s say you’ve listened to my advice and selected a specific few types of goods you’ll advertise this year. You made sure there’s plenty of them available in stock, the landing pages are ready, the ads are running. Here are a couple of ways you could make your promotion even more effective:
- Cross-sell and upsell;
- Run flash sales with countdowns;
- Rotate your offers on a daily basis;
- Throw in a couple of freebies;
- Offer free or discounted shipping
- Elevate your sales by upselling and cross-selling offers
Cross-selling is suggesting a customer to opt-in for complementary products in addition to the one they decided to buy (e.g. complementary accessories for a selected dress). Upselling is persuading a customer to purchase a more expensive (or more advanced) product model of the same category. Try adding cross-selling and upselling pop-ups with discounted offers to your Black Friday deals to increase sales.
- Emphasize the urgency with flash sales and countdown clocks
A test has shown that a good flash sale can increase revenue 236%. That is not to mention an obvious rise in traffic and growth of conversion rate. Be mindful not to overpromise and underdeliver. Encourage swifter purchases by adding a countdown timer, so that the potential customers would spend less time on browsing the competitors’ websites for comparison.
- Throw in free gifts
Everybody loves free stuff. Apple knew that and that’s how we ended up receiving earphones together with phones back in the day. They also knew you can’t keep giving the good stuff for free forever, which is why now some newer iPhone models come without any accessories included in the price. You’re not Apple (yet) and you most probably have some small gifts that won’t cost you that much but will make your customers feel loved and appreciated.
- Prolong your return policies
If you’re feeling extra funky, give your clients a chance to really enjoy your product. A 2-week return policy is a universal standard, but try to offer them a one-time opportunity to purchase something with a Black-Friday discount AND think about it for a little longer. The results might surprise you!
- Let your customers save up on shipping
Last year, 25% of online shoppers were expected to abandon their orders due to unexpected shipping costs added prior to check out. On top of that, almost half of all participants (49%) of last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales admit that having free shipping affects their purchase decision. So think the logistics through and give people what they want!
Manage your Black Friday advertising strategy mindfully
Ain’t no rest for the wicked – it’s just getting interesting. Timing is everything. You want the right ad to reach the right people at the right time, otherwise you’re losing profit. Here are a couple of strategies that could help you reach your full potential during this shopping craze.
- Target your audience carefully
- Track your performance with an ad tracker
- A/B test everything
- Pay close attention to who you target
Sending your ad to the right person may determine whether you’ll rip the profits or watch your entire marketing effort burn. Sit down, think about what products might interest what buyers, create buyer personas, and only then set up their profiles while selecting the demographics for your ads. Not the other way around.
- Use an ad tracker
You can run multiple ad campaigns on different traffic sources at the same time from a single platform that will also react automatically to any changes you predict. But also, trackers are exactly the type of thing you need to collect the data necessary for targeting, bidding, planning, etc.
- Run as many A/B tests as you can
A/B testing is hands down my favorite part of digital advertising. You get to see what works and what doesn’t in real time. Just make sure you change only one variable at a time. Top it up with automation & optimization solutions like our Automizer – and you’ll be unstoppable!
Remember how I told you not to be shy when it comes to email marketing? The advice still stands! Even more so, don’t post square pictures on Instagram and automatically share them across the rest of your accounts. Use social media like it’s 2020, not 2012!
- Send an email about the beginning of the sale
- Remind your clients about the end of the discounted offers
- Livestream during the prime sales’ hours
- Email your clients about the launch of Black Friday sales
Where your paid ads won’t reach, email will pick up a slack. Don’t count on your loyal customers to check your offers themselves even if you decided to follow strategies #15 & #16 from this list. Let them know about the beginning of your sales, be extra!
- Send “Last Chance” emails
All things in life come to an end and so does Black Friday. Pair this farewell email with a flash sale or a countdown timer from advice #24 and catch the least certain parts of your audience before it’s too late.
- Use Livestream
The new normality of COVID-19 has brought us all closer together, at the same time leaving the world more scattered than ever. People may decide against Black Friday’s traditional shopping, queueing, and fighting, but you can still give them a feel of the good old times by broadcasting a closed event, running a couple of product reviews / flash sales online, live streaming an award ceremony – just go wherever your creativity takes you!
Black Weekend: The Aftermath
Take a deep breath, have a look at your emptied supply closet or enriched spreadsheet, smile, and get back to work. It’s too soon to rest on our laurels. You’ve got a few more things that require your imminent attention.
- Adjust your bidding strategy
If you rely on automated bidding, try running bids manually for a couple of weeks after Black Friday. It’s a good practice because the influx of data may cause delays and confusions. Don’t forget to increase your budget, too! Try increasing your bids by 25-30% to outrun the competition not only during but also after Black Weekend.
- Reach out to clients with “abandoned baskets”
Find shoppers who visited your eCommerce website, selected some products, but didn’t finalize the purchase. Reach out to them with a special offer customized personally for them. This is also a good time to cross-sell some extras.
- Gather all the data together and analyze the hell out of it
This Black Friday will go down in history as the most unpredictable one. You may not build your next years’ budgets based on the profits received in 2020, but you can still learn from consumer behavior and see which parts of your Black Friday marketing strategy could use some adjustments.
Looks like that’s it. Good job for sticking till the end!
Just one last piece of advice.
Choose whatever strategies feel right for YOU
I can only give you some general ideas of directions towards which you could develop your Black Friday marketing plan. However, it’s up to you to integrate all the pieces together. So go ahead and make Black Friday marketing great again. You’re the hero this year deserves!