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  • Writer's pictureClaire Elbrow

Black Friday. How can you use it to boost your sales?

Updated: Mar 24, 2019

Black Friday comes to us from the US. It is the day after American Thanksgiving and marks the start of the shopping season. We have adopted it as it gives retailers and ecommerce businesses a chance to heavily promote their shops. The idea is to entice masses of frenzied shoppers to buy from them by using a series of discounts and offer.

Black Friday started as just one day of shopping mayhem, but now it has spiralled into four days, covering the weekend and ending on Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday is pretty much the same as Black Friday but with a different name! However, the intention of the day was to push buyers to online sellers. However, now you find prices are invariably marked down over the four-day weekend.

Retailers have got more sophisticated now and mix it up a bit more now that Black Friday is an established diary date. Their offers will vary, so you might find 50% off everything on Black Friday, a buy-one, get-one-free offer on Saturday, 20% off a certain product on Sunday and 40% off online purchases on Cyber Monday.

What this shopping bonanza does is give you, as the retailer, the freedom to set up your deals as you want and hopefully entice more sales.

So, how can you link into this opportunity:

1 Be selective

If you have a small business or are a solopreneur, it is really not feasible to offer the huge discounts on all products that business like Amazon can do. They have larger profit margins and can soak up costs. Some retailers might be happy to take a loss on Black Friday with the aim of getting their name in front of new customers. Others might be stock shifting.

Whatever your aim, be selective with your stock and make sure you select the items which meet your aims and you know you can handle.

2 Review your inventory

If you know you have huge stock levels on some products or have stock which is not selling, you can use this weekend to shift this stock – it’s really an end-of-line sale, but hooking on to the day can help you shift surplus and make space for your new products.

3 Sort out your deals

If you have any sales history from previous years, look back at it and see which deals worked the best for you. If this is your first year, you will have to trial it and see what’s hot and what’s not.

Invariably, a ‘deal of the day’ works well as it makes each day distinctly different and keeps your customers coming back.

Mixing it up works well with different discounts each day. Offering your loyal customers some exclusives may work for you or you may find your lead deal is some sort of lead generation activity linked with an exclusive offer to new subscriber.

Plan your schedule and decide on the order you want your products to feature. Sort out your resources by creating your marketing materials, including your social media and website banners.

I would certainly recommend you automate your social media posts over all the platforms you use over this time.

4 Offer a free gift with each purchase

You could offer a free gift with each purchase or offer one with purchases made over a certain price point. You obviously need to do the math with this one, but it can give that added boost as we all like something for nothing!

Your free gift could be free shipping – that is always popular!

5 Best seller bonus!

This is obviously the opposite strategy to shifting your older stock! By using your best sellers, you can create a buzz by implementing limited discounts and offer. People will be keen to engage and get their favourite items at a discounted price and will most likely come back for more.

6 Cross-sell or up-sell

Increase the value of that basket! If you are not sure of the difference of these two terms, upselling is when, for example, you are looking at a certain dishwasher and the helpful assistant leads you to the better, swisher and slightly more expensive model. You are purchasing a comparable higher-end product rather than the one you originally fancied.

Cross-selling is when you purchase one product and you are offered a complementary or related product as well. The two do cross over during the sales process and you can use both to your advantage.

The only issue with e-commerce is the lack of assistant to help you decide you prefer the higher value product, but cross-selling is far easier and most website will offer you the opportunity to have related products set up on your shop. If you have not done this, do it quickly now as you are missing out the chance to increase your sales and profits.

If you run a discount on a ‘big-ticket’ item and show your customers all the relevant add-ons and accessories that go with it, your discount might be enough to get your customer to buy and then spend more on the related products. Again, you need to do your maths for this one, but it does work well.

Think about when you buy a discounted tablet, instantly you see the covers, keyboards, screen film and extra charge leads in your feed.

7 Be exclusive

This is a fabulous little strategy to increase sales and encourage email newsletter sign-ups and customer loyalty. If you are building your email list, offer a Black Friday discount code which is exclusive to anyone who signs up to your newsletter. It’s a relatively low-cost option as only users who sign up will get the code and you build your list.

You can use an email pop-up on your online shop to show an encouraging message related to your Black Friday promotion and how to get exclusive access.

8 Be loyal

Offering your current customers an exclusive deal is a perfect way to say thanks for their past custom. The best way to do this is through an email marketing campaign so you only send it to customers that you know have purchased from you. Use an exclusive discount code which is only available for a certain period - and remember to thank your customers for supporting you.

Preparation is key!

If I had a pound for every time I said this, I would be drinking prosecco on a sunny beach! So, sorting out your shop is a vital step to success.

  • Finalise your products

Know which products you want to offer on which day and at what discount. Do your maths so you know what type of discount you can happily offer.

  • Plan your messages and sort out your marketing copy

Decide what you are calling your sale. It probably does need to be related to Black Friday and Cyber Monday so you can use the social media hashtags and of course, to be obvious to your customers. Once you have your name, stick with it throughout the sale time.

Decide on the marketing copy for each product particularly if you are running ads or emailers with it on.

  • Sort out your graphics

Check you have the right images in the right formats. Design your banners and advertisements. Switching around your website banner is a good way to garner attention. You want your graphics to be bold and eye-catching to encourage your customers to shop the deal.

  • Set up any funnels you want to create

If you are promoting your products on social media and want to capture names, set up your advertisements funnels to let you do this. If this is new to you, the individual platforms do have some guides to help you. You could look at online options like LeadPages or Clickfunnels, but I suggest starting simply and perhaps use the options your email marketing system has – Mailchimp has a simple to use option which pops names straight onto the list you want or create.

  • Check your site is working on mobile

In 2017, around 50% of Black Friday sales were made using a mobile device, so it is vital your site is geared for mobile. Make sure your site is on a mobile responsive theme.

Marketing for Black Friday

Here’s a few ideas to ensure you make the best of the Black Friday surge.

Ensure your customers in the know.

Create some excitement and anticipation about a week before. People will be starting to plan their shopping activity and weighing up their options, so you want to be at the forefront of their mind. Offer sneak peaks of your promotions through slideshows, video or a look book.

Ensure your current customers are aware and start your lead generation activity to collect new emails. If your shop is new, use Black Friday to start building your database in readiness for Christmas. Again, planning is key. Ensure you use a common theme and the name of your sale. Get your copy written, tweaked and proofed. Sort out your subject lines and make sure your graphics and images are ready to roll.

You can split your emails into a nice run, starting with the ‘coming soon’ first email which announces your Black Friday sale. You can even create an email countdown timer for free with tools like sendtric. Just pop the HTML code into your email.

Next could come your ‘exclusive access’ email. Send this to your email subscribers to make them feel special! This is an exclusive preview of your offers – well nearly! To be honest, people could stumble on your website and find them, but as you won’t have yet promoted them on your social media channels or advertisements, the chances are your subscribers will be getting the first look.

Launch day comes next. It’s not necessarily the most exciting email as it is literally just launching your event. It’s the big announcement rather than an email showing lots of products!

The ‘last chance’ email is your chance to create a sense of urgency and push people to your site in panic that they will miss those last deals! Time conscious copy works nicely with these – ‘limited time left’, ‘ends today’, or ‘1-day left’.

Maximise your social media

Social media is your friend for these types of events but focus your efforts on the platform/s which brings you the best results. Don’t stretch yourself too thinly particularly if you are a small business owner.

In the same way as you are working your email marketing, you will look at building systems and anticipation before your event. Simple posts like a ‘coming soon’ or ‘save the date’ works well. The online tool Canva is a great help and you can easily create your own graphics.

Make sure you clearly shout about each of the different offer you have available to your customers on the right day and at the right time! Be clear about what you are offering, particularly if you are including a freebie.

Keep it light and fun. This is not a serious weekend – it is about creating fun, entertainment, engagement and interest. Even if you do not get one sale you will gain brand awareness and recognition by keeping it memorable. Remember you are just one retailer in a swamp of millions so keep your expectations in check but have fun!

Video can work brilliantly as long as you keep it simple! You can create some videos of your product to share, or you could be brave and go live on Facebook!

Keep on top of the hashtags! Look for the best hashtags for your products and use them well! #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday are obvious, but there will be specific tags for your sector which you should be aware of.


Paid advertisements are powerful tools, particularly if you are a small retailer and struggling to get reach on your organic social media posts.

A series of advertisements on social media could be the way forward for you.

If you are not used to doing this, watch the various Facebook Help videos first, but you need to set up a re-marketing campaign. This means you re-market your products to site visitors who have been on your website previously, invariably browsing your products. Once they have been on your site, the re-marketing campaign will present an advertisement for your Black Friday promotion showing the new sale price of your products, or the discount code you are offering. It’s a way of enticing back these potential customers who were interested in your site, but did not quite get to buying.

You will need a Facebook Manager Page, and you will need to create a Facebook Pixel and install this code onto your shop. Then you create your custom audience for ‘website traffic’ within the last 60 days, or perhaps 30 days. Create your advertisement, target your new audience, set your budget and timeframe and then off you go..

You could also use a lookalike audience – this is when the platform uses the data from your selected audiences to find people with a similar profile. It broadens your audience and offers your products to an audience who are likely to be interested.

If you have a very specific products, specify your audience or target it as much as you can. If you sell cat beds, then target users who are pet owners, cat food buyers etc, and push your promotion directly to this audience.

If you use Instagram, maybe post more often and make sure your images are engaging. Video works nicely here. For example, you can share video testimonials from customers who have already purchased your products, or you post some behind-the-scenes stories of your office preparing for Black Friday. Instagram’s shoppable posts allow you to add product information tags to your feed and Instagram Stories posts. With just a tap, your viewers can see the price and other details about your products, and easily click-through to your website to make a purchase.

Little extras

Black Friday is a great opportunity to find new customers and drive repeat business from your past customers. However, there are some key point to success.

  • Make sure you know your stock levels, so you don’t sell the same product twice! Customers service is key, and it only takes one error for people to stop shopping with you.

  • Keep on top of your social media and respond to queries as they come in or you will lose that follower. If you use live chat and Facebook Messenger, keep them turned on so you can respond quickly. The same applies to your email.

  • Many people will be buying Christmas gifts, so make sure your returns policy is clear and easy. You could extend the number of days customers have to return products or swap sizes if they are buying a Christmas present.

Remember to relax when it’s all over and also take stock of what worked, what did not and if it is for you. It is not for every business but it is an opportunity that is worth at least one try!

About the author: Claire Elbrow is a communications and PR specialist with over 20 years experience in small business marketing. Claire freelances and to extend the services on offer to her clients, links with other freelancers to form a full-service agency with an on-tap approach. Blue Lizard Marketing focuses on building great campaigns for businesses which entice new customers and build sales.

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