Every year, Black Friday deals seem to start earlier and earlier. And over the years they’ve added Cyber Monday and Grey Thursday to extend the sales through Thanksgiving to the following Monday. Now, businesses are spreading out their offers all month long for “Grey November.”
If you don’t have your Black Friday strategy figured out by now, don’t panic! Since businesses have started using all month for their holiday sales, there’s still time to put together some last-minute Black Friday marketing strategies.
And there’s plenty of strategies to choose from. Many assume that Black Friday offers are only good for physical products, like televisions, cell phones, etc. – but with the right strategies, any business can utilize the popular shopping holiday to their advantage.
From email to social media to traditional marketing, you can use all, some, or even just one marketing tactic to better your chances of Black Friday success. Below, we’ve collected our favorite Black Friday marketing strategies that are sure to help your business stand out.
1. Email Marketing
People check their emails on the days leading up to Black Friday, but they continue checking when they’re in your store shopping. Utilize your email lists by sending out teasers and sneak peeks enticing your customers to stop by your store (or online store) on Black Friday to get the hottest deals.
Flash deals are another way you can put your email marketing to use. Send out emails on Friday that offers a limited-time only flash sale for a certain part of the day. Not only can this increase your foot traffic, but can make your subscribers feel like VIP members by getting exclusive deals.
While an older example, this Samsung email shows how you can start marketing before Black Friday, and figure out exactly what your customers want to see from you on Friday (and Cyber Monday).
2. Share on social media (and increase your ad spend)
With consumers using their mobile devices to shop and compare products, there’s no better time to start utilizing your social media. Similar to email, you can use social media to tease your deals ahead of time, share your deals as they’re happening in real-time, and either extend your deals or use your platforms as a way to thank your customers for all their business and loyalty over the holiday weekend.
Paid ads on Facebook and Instagram allow you to specifically target your ads. You can create target audiences based on information of current customers, and target brand new customers as well! Twitter is great for contests and creating hashtag campaigns. With Twitter’s voting option you can ask your followers what items they would prefer be on sale for your Black Friday and Cyber Monday events.
In 2016, Target had an all-around successful and consistent social media approach to Black Friday. They had Snapchat filters, Facebook ads, Instagram ads, and more. In fact all their Black Friday marketing is clean and compelling year after year.
3. (In-store) SMS promos
How nice would it be to walk into a store and get that day’s deals right to your phone?
Using beacon technology, you can have SMS ads sent right to your customer’s phones. This is a particularly strong tactic on Black Friday (and throughout the whole weekend) when shoppers are running around frantically trying to dig out their coupon clippings and sales ads.
This post by Mobile Marketing Engine has an interesting collection of SMS ads you can gather inspiration from. Although these are not necessarily ones that are sent to consumers when they’re in the store, that doesn’t mean you can’t mimic their ideas and adapt them to beacon technology.
4. Have a deal of the hour
If you decide to host flash deals, you can use the above SMS tactic to give your current in-store customers an exclusive deal that lasts only for a very limited amount of time. You see many businesses do this under the name “doorbusters,” or sales that are only available for the first few hours of the morning.
Stand out from the crowd by having a time-sensitive sale in the afternoon rather than in the morning. JC Penny’s did this in 2016. They had varying sales throughout the day that were only available for a few hours at a time.
A note of caution with this idea: you have to be very careful with your in-store signage if you use this approach. Take your signs down or replace them with the new sales as quickly as possible – otherwise you’ll have angry customers to deal with when they go to check out and the $8 sweater they wanted is back up to its original price.
5. Extend your sale
As we mentioned earlier, Black Friday is no longer just on Friday. If you didn’t have the time to start your sale early, try running yours longer instead. You can do this two ways. One, extend your sales by opening earlier and staying open later on Black Friday; and two, by having your sale last through the weekend and even into the following week.
For example, many people will boycott shopping on Thanksgiving for various reasons and even avoid Black Friday shopping because of the chaos. Cater to this crowd by extending your sale past Black Friday to give your customers more opportunity to snag your good deals.
6. Mail a holiday card
We live in a digital age. Keeping in touch with your friends and family is just an e-card or instant message away. Switch things up and create a traditional direct mail advertisement to surprise your customers!
Plenty of businesses still mail out Black Friday flyers, but how many also send out thank you notes to their customers? Add a thoughtful handwritten note to your flyers this year and we guarantee your direct mailer will stand out in your customer’s mailbox. According to a survey by Taradel, 75% of shoppers prefer receiving ads and offers via direct mail (and email).
Bonus tip: Do this for both Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. Or if you don’t think you have enough time to send anything out for Black Friday this late in November, then send out a thank you note after the hectic weekend to thank your customers just for being them (and possibly promote your winter holiday sales early!).
7. Give the gift of the gift card
Speaking of cards, when you can’t decide what someone wants or needs, most people turn to a gift card. Although some may argue that gift cards are lame or impersonal, consumer surveys say different. In fact, over 80% of shoppers plan to buy at least one gift card this season. Whether it’s for iTunes, their favorite store or restaurant, or to the movie theaters, you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t appreciate a little extra cash.
Get in some extra sales by offering $50 for $40 or even go as extravagant as two $25 gift cards for only $25 (a.k.a. a buy one get one free offer). This is especially helpful when you’re running behind on your marketing strategy because it doesn’t necessarily take a lot of inventory stock. If you run out of cards in-store, you can always email people their gift cards or a coupon to come back and redeem the physical gift card at a later date.
8. Give back
Last, but certainly not least, is the gift of giving! Consumers – specifically millennials – prefer the brands they’re loyal to not only make quality goods and services at a fair price, but are also socially responsible. Nielsen published a survey in 2015 that indicated 66% of consumers are willing to purchase a product at a higher price if it comes from a sustainable company.
With all of the traffic the Black Friday (and all of Grey November) brings, now’s a great time to put a percentage of your sales to good use. Pick a local or popular charity and be sure to spread the news via social, email, and in-store signage that part of your customer’s purchases will go to helping those in need. The holidays tend to put people in the spirit of giving, so this kind of promotional deal helps your business, helps charities, and helps your customers feel good about themselves, too.
No matter what industry you’re in, hopefully we’re given you some inspiration to find a way to utilize the upcoming shopping holidays to your advantage. Whether you go the traditional or digital route, there are many channels you can (quickly and easily) use to put together a last-minute Black Friday marketing campaign.
And if you really think you’re too late for this year, then put these ideas aside to get a jumpstart on next year’s Black Friday! If you’ve seen other creative Black Friday marketing campaigns we didn’t mention, please share them in the comments below – we’d love to hear about them!
The one-month countdown is about to begin. Thanksgiving is coming, and so is America’s favorite unofficial holiday: Black Friday.
Scoring a deal on Black Friday no longer requires camping out for a new TV. The weekend after Thanksgiving has become the time to shop for just about anything. Last year, more than 151 million Americans told the National Retail Federation that they shopped online or in stores that weekend, spending nearly $300 per person on average.
Even if your products or services don’t inspire a campout, your business can still take advantage of the year’s busiest time to buy. And it’s not too late to start planning (as long as you start soon).
Here’s a week-by-week glance at preparing for a Black Friday promotion.
For a complete plan, download 10 Steps to Organizing a Small Business Holiday Promotion, a guide to choosing an offer, sending a promotional email series, and following up with another offer.
Week of Oct. 24: Set a goal for your promotion
Don’t have a Black Friday sale just because everybody else is doing it. Choose a promotion that helps your business, whether by clearing old inventory, launching a new offering, or boosting sales of a holiday-centric product.
Before setting a goal for this year, consider how you could improve on last year’s holiday season. How were your sales last November and December? What were your best and worst sellers? What kind of emails did you send—and who received them, opened them, and clicked them?
Check out the holiday marketing guide for a list of questions to ask in reviewing the success of last year’s season, as well as tips for tools that provide the data you need to inform your strategy.
Week of Oct. 31: Choose a target audience for your offer
With your goal in mind, create a holiday offer that’s going to help you achieve it. If you need to deplete old inventory, you might offer a “buy one, get one free” deal that helps you move more products. If you’re trying to gain awareness for your business, a low-dollar offer (also known as a tripwire) could make it easier to upsell customers on bigger-ticket items later.
But when you decide on a promotion, you’re not quite ready to promote it yet. First, you need to identify the target audience for your offer. Hint: It’s not everyone.
Any marketing effort is more effective when you focus on an ideal customer. When you consider the customer’s demographics and psychographics—the attitudes and emotions that drive purchase decisions—you can better speak to her goals and challenges in your marketing messages.
Need help determining your target market? Check out our free worksheet, “How to Identify Your Target Market”
Week of Nov. 7: Segment your email list
Perhaps you heard there’s some kind of election going on this week. Rather than fighting for customers’ attention in their inboxes and social channels, use this time to do some behind-the-scenes work on your email list.
If you identified a specific target audience for your holiday promotion, that offer may not pertain to everyone on your email list. And customers don’t have time for irrelevant emails, especially when they’re being bombarded with holiday offers.
Ensure you target the right audience through segmentation, the act of dividing your customers into groups by factors like gender, location, and purchase history. Software like Infusionsoft can help by automatically segmenting customers based on actions like purchases, link clicks, and form fills. The information is then stored in a customer relationship management (CRM) database, allowing you to send emails to certain customer segments.
For an in-depth look at segmentation, check out this guide, Take Your CRM Contact List to the Next Level with Segmentation.
Week of Nov. 14: Tease your promotion
Next week, more emails will be sent on the day before Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday than any other days throughout the year, according to research by Experian Marketing Services.
It’s going to take more than one email for your promotion to stand out in a customer’s inbox. Using email and your social channels, give customers a heads-up that a promotion is coming next week.
If you use marketing automation software like Infusionsoft, you could also ask customers to join an early notification list to receive earlier access to your promotion. By clicking a link, the software automatically tags them to receive the emails. Similarly, customers could also click a link to indicate they don’t want to hear more about the offer—allowing you to protect customers’ inboxes from unwanted clutter and your emails from being marked as spam.
See the holiday marketing guide for an example of how one small business used this strategy to drive 80 percent of his Thanksgiving weekend sales.
Week of Nov. 21: Schedule and send a promotional email series
This week, it’s go time. With consumers seeing deals every day from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, send a series of increasingly urgent emails, with subject lines like:
Email No. 1: Holiday sale for three days only!
Email No. 2: Get [offer] now before it’s gone!
Email No. 3: Today is the last day for [promotion]!
Between the business, family time, and maybe even doing a little shopping yourself, you’ll have better things to do this week than manning your emails. If you have marketing automation software, you can schedule emails to be sent on specific days and times—and automatically remove customers who purchased your offer so you don’t annoy them with subsequent emails.
After the weekend: Follow up with another offer
After Thanksgiving weekend, the holiday shopping season is still only beginning. First of all, there’s Cyber Monday—the biggest online spending day of the year, with $2 billion in desktop sales last year, according to comScore.
Keep your customers shopping by making another offer to those who took you up on the promotion, like a related upsell or a thank you discount to be used on the next purchase.
And if the promotion doesn’t produce the results you hoped for, there are always the procrastinators who might jump for gift cards and other last-minute deals: As of Dec. 15 last year, about 90 percent of consumers told the National Retail Federation that their holiday shopping lists still weren’t finished.
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