Welcome to our ultimate guide to surviving Black Friday. This guide will take you through how to plan your sale, market it successfully to your target audience and how to compete for sales with some of the big Black Friday players.
Black Friday started out as an in-store shopping event that offered huge savings for one day only. Since then, it’s grown into a four-day mega sale extending over the weekend to include Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. These events now take place both in-store and online. In 2023, the Black Friday weekend kicks off on the 24th November.
Black Friday is a fantastic opportunity for businesses, with consumers making the most of the event. According to the Retail Gazette, £4.81 bn was spent by UK shoppers online during Black Friday 2022 – that’s an increase in spend year on year of £190m!
Here are some of the benefits of holding a Black Friday sale:
Increased sales – as demonstrated by the statistics above, consumers love to shop throughout the Black Friday weekend (including incremental sales of non-reduced items)
Increase footfall to stores – while we’re focusing on online Black Friday marketing in this guide, the shopping extravaganza can boost in-store purchases, too.
Brand awareness – with consumers shopping for the best deals, the event can be seen as an opportunity to attract new customers for your business.
It’s also a great way for brands to move overstocked or seasonal items (especially in time for Christmas)
An opportunity for new customer acquisition and getting your brand in front of additional audiences in time for Christmas when you can remarket to them.
Easy fulfilment of orders in time for Christmas, so spreading the shipping across those core seasonal months
Avoiding the pitfalls & learning from previous years: Black Friday advice
With huge fluctuations in trends and spending over the last couple of years due to the unpredictability of Covid and, more recently, rising prices and interest rates, shoppers are spending less and competition is fierce.
Black Friday strategies need to be tactical and well thought out, more particularly this year.
Be careful about inflating prices in the weeks leading up to the event, as online shoppers are savvy and the rise of price tracking websites such as Camel Camel Camel are more widely used. Don’t get caught out – it will have an impact on brand reputation.
Be creative and keep campaigns inventive and original. The unprecedented success of Black Friday often triggers a lot of unforeseen problems for businesses holding sales.
Don’t overstretch with your discounts
A lot of businesses manically slash prices to compete with the likes of Amazon, leaving little profit. There is a slowly growing trend from smaller businesses in particular to boycott Black Friday, avoiding the risk of profit losses and stock issues. Many instead are donating profits or planting trees instead as a way of marking the event, and then offering discounts on a more gradual scale in the lead up to Christmas.
But, with the right offers in place, the benefits of Black Friday can be incredible for businesses, with a huge percentage of Gen-Z ready to shop and with huge spending power.
Ensure your site and stock is ready for demand
The massive increase in demand over such a small space of time created a ‘delivery tsunami’ in the last few years. This is due to sites not handling traffic volumes on the day, stock assurance days after, or fulfilment throughout December. Understandably, this left lots of customers feeling frustrated, disappointed and without their purchases.
Click and Collect could be a good alternative to help ease these delivery pressures, research shows that customers opt for Click & Collect in order to avoid delivery charges. It can also be a great way to entice people into stores if you have a Bricks and Mortar business and help to acquire some subsidiary sales.
Revenue fluctuates every year
There was a lot of debate around whether Black Friday actually increased sales over the holiday period in recent years. According to IMRG, the online retailers association, Black Friday doesn’t boost the overall amount of sales, but squeezes them into a shorter time period based on Black Friday trends in 2022.
This year, it’s predicted that Black Friday will still be a strong period for businesses, but that overall spending will be less abundant compared to previous years, due to the recession and difficult economic circumstances. According to Tink, the open banking platform, 56% of consumers are expected to spend less over the festive season overall. That’s not to say that Black Friday won’t be a strong sales period for your business – where there are genuine promotions and strong offers, there will also be spending.
Planning, starting earlier rather than later and a solid promotion strategy are the keys to a successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale. This checklist should cover most of what you need to know to prepare and market your online Black Friday sale to generate real ROI this year.
Planning your Black Friday sale
The Black Friday weekend can feel a little out of control, which is why careful planning is needed. Below are a handful of tips to help ensure you’re prepared for the event.
Plan and organise your sales
Look at all of your products and plan your sales ahead of time instead of putting on a last-minute sale. Choose the products you want to run a holiday sale on and schedule their start dates and sale prices. This will stop you from falling into the trap of slashing prices to try and compete with more established sites.
It’s important to keep your sale SIMPLE. Unless you’re a well-known department store with decades of experience, don’t try to organise multiple layers of sales for Black Friday. It’s much simpler for you and clearer for your target audience if you have one main focus and do it well.
Double check your stock
Make sure you have double-checked the stock count on all of your products and organize them to make the sales and shipping process easier.
Double check your site
Nothing will affect your sales more than a non-functioning, unresponsive site on the most competitive shopping day of the year. Make sure everything is working smoothly – navigate your site, go through the checkout process and ensure your host can handle a spike in traffic. Consider integrating quick payment methods into the checkout, such as Apple/Google Pay, also.
Contact your developers in good time if you’re concerned about your site’s performance affecting your Black Friday sales. Ensure your site is optimised for mobile sales, with all pages easily usable and videos and images as optimised as possible. We’ve written a guide full of tips to ensure pages load as quickly as possible on mobile devices here.
Create a contingency plan
What happens if you experience downtime? Or the shipping company you work with becomes too busy? In the past, many businesses big and small experienced these kinds of problems on Black Friday, make sure you have proper backups in place in case something goes wrong.
Be ready ahead of time
Over the recent years, many brands have tried to jump ahead of competitors by launching Black Friday sales in advance. Ensure your deals are ready to go in good time in case you make the decision to start your sale early.
Black Friday digital marketing sale
When you’ve planned your sales, secured fast shipping and prepared your stock, it’s now time to plan your online marketing for Black Friday.
Black Friday shoppers are far more savvy than your average customer – they are planners, carefully considering where they should shop. So start marketing your Black Friday sales to them weeks ahead of time.
Consider running extended Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals the week before the official date, running until the weekend after. This will account for unpredictable spending habits due to the financial pressures that consumers are under this year.
‘Buy now and pay later’ options will become even more appealing this year too, so if possible you could consider developing this offering.
Create a buzz around your Black Friday online marketing
It’s important you think of your Black Friday as an event rather than just another sale, and the first rule of event marketing is to create a ‘buzz’ of excitement around it.
Include a countdown on your landing page or in your marketing banners. Countdowns help to create a sense of anticipation and suspense. As well as putting your customers in a buying state of mind.
Another simple way to create buzz around Black Friday is to tease your customers with information about what’s to come, and sneak peeks of products featured in the run up to the sale. You can do this through a number of online marketing channels that we’ll talk about in more detail below…
Create a new landing page and banners
Amazon UK, Argos, John Lewis and Boots all have their Black Friday pages live and visible on their website ahead of the Black Friday weekend. And with good reason.
According to the NFR, 40% of your customers have already begun researching and doing their Christmas shopping. So the quicker you can get your Black Friday marketing plan set in stone, the quicker you can start letting both them and the search engines know about it.
If shoppers are unable to find your Black Friday sale easily, they’ll leave. Make sure you capture their attention with clear and well-implemented marketing designs.
We strongly recommend creating a landing page specifically for Black Friday and updating this every year. Search engines have already indexed these pages, meaning they already have a better chance of being picked up in search engine results pages (SERPs) when people search for ‘Black Friday sales’.
Do it like the big boys and release your Black Friday landing page in three stages:
A basic Black Friday landing page that includes:
Black Friday or Cyber Monday in the title and H1 tags
A small preview of items you might feature
Newsletter signup and a call-to-action to register for Black Friday sales alerts
A preview Black Friday landing page that includes:
More previews of products to be featured in your Black Friday sales
Early bird deals
Links to blog posts on gift guides’ and other useful information
Display your full Black Friday landing page with all products in the sale listed.
Whether or not you have the budget to create a new page for Black Friday, your best deals should be clearly highlighted on your home page or above the fold with eye-catching banners. With details of upcoming discounts and stats around product sales from previous years, Argos’ Black Friday countdown page aims to entice users to return.
Make sure your core Black Friday landing page(s) is optimised for SEO too, by refreshing your keyword research for those core terms as well as the more niche searches.
Make sure your page is evergreen so that you can use the same one each year, allowing it to build up traction and good SEO foundations.
Simply amend the H1 and any other headers, as well as the meta data and content whilst keeping the URL the same.
We’d always suggest an evergreen URL such as www.loomdigital.co.uk/black-friday
Ensure the page is really visible on site, so within your menu, in the footer and linked to from any core blogs or offers pages.
After updating the page each year, request indexing in Google Search Console, to ensure that Google crawls the updates as quickly as possible.When the Black Friday sales period is over, put a 307 redirect on the page (to another relevant or more standard landing page) so that Google understands that the page is just ‘going away’ for a short time and will be back again. This ensures the page is more easily indexable the following year, when you need to create visibility fast.
Get your optimised product pages ready for shopping feeds
Once you have selected the items you’ll be featuring in your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, make sure your product pages are up to date, optimised and as helpful as possible. You may want to consider adding seasonal keywords such as ‘black friday sale’ and ‘Christmas gifts’ to the descriptions too. Also, ensure these products are included in your Google Products feed.
Having your product pages ready well in advance has two main advantages:
It gives search engines plenty of time to index each product page. Last year, searches for ‘black friday’ started to ramp up around 10 days before Black Friday
Establish the regular retail price for your customers so that when you put the item on sale there is a clear discount.
Instil confidence in your customers and boost your brand identity at the same time. This Black Friday, make sure your customer’s interaction with your business is as seamless and smooth as it can possibly be. This will be crucial when it comes to a customer choosing to buy with you.
Email communication is key for this. And, the great thing is that it’s often low cost or free, and easy to automate. Use an email programme (like Hubspot) to let your customers know when their delivery is being packaged up and when it’s been sent. When the order is completed, follow up with an email asking for feedback. This will get you reviews that you can use to improve trust in your brand when the Christmas rush hits.
Four basic emails you should send during the Black Friday sales include:
Teaser emails with sneak peeks
Black Friday sale announcement (one on Monday night and one sent late afternoon/early evening the Thursday before)
Exclusive offers for email subscribers
Last reminder before the sale ends
Target your emails for when your audience is most likely to be free to read them.
We also strongly recommend having your Black Friday sale live when you send out your announcement email the Thursday before.
REMEMBER Everyone will be sending out Black Friday-themed emails over this period, so it’s extra important to be creative with subject lines so you stand out against the competition!
The abandoned cart strategy
Collect all of the abandoned cart data from the week before and leading up to Black Friday and use this data to try and get them back. Send them a ‘Your shop has been reduced for Black Friday’ email with information about the sale, or remarket to them using Google Ads and Facebook, making them aware of your sale.
Content Creation and Blogging
Content creation and blogging should play an important part in your Black Friday promotions, as it may help you attract a significant amount of organic traffic to your site before and during the sales. In fact, according to the 45-day rule, publishing your content a week before a major event will help your potential search engine traffic by 50%.
Here are some content ideas that can help support your Black Friday and holiday sales throughout Christmas:
Product demonstration/review videos
Holiday gift guides (focusing on specific family members, saving money and so on)
Social media is another great platform for creating that sense of suspense and anticipation around your Black Friday sale. Remember to focus your biggest efforts on sites that your target audience are most likely to use, and do it ahead of time to cut through the noise.
Use social media to:
Promote your seasonal blog posts
Tease customers with snippets of information about upcoming sales
Create a countdown
Give followers exclusive offers
Advertise to new and existing audiences
Raise awareness using hashtags
You could also take advantage of this increased engagement by hosting a special Black Friday competition. Get your customers to screenshot gifts they want to buy and tag you to enter a prize draw.
Another good use of social media during Black Friday is to make it easy for your customers to share the products they’ve just bought on their social media accounts by adding social share buttons to the check-out process. #salefies (we’re pretty proud of that one, too)
As mentioned earlier, plan your ads, giveaways and creative ahead of time.
In terms of specific platforms, use TikTok if you can – it is officially part of Black Friday shopping trends in 2023. Tiktokers are 1.2x more likely to shop online or in-store and be more open to direct social shopping. It can be a key part of helping customers make their purchasing journey down the funnel, with its short-form video format ideal for sharing deals, coupons and expanding brand awareness
Don’t miss Tiktok’s shopping platform either. Make use of Tiktok’s custom audiences or ‘Hashtag audiences’ in order to target your Tiktok ads more effectively.
If you have good relationships with bloggers in your industry, the holidays are a great time to reach out with products they might be interested in reviewing for their own Christmas gift guides. This is a great way to get your sales products in front of a new but interested audience.
If you are unsure about the best way to collaborate with bloggers, read our blogger outreach guide in time for next year.
Pay Per Click
Pay Per Click (PPC) is a quick way to attract valuable traffic to your website – and it’s profitable too! Here are our recommended paid media marketing tactics:
Avoid expensive and competitive keywords such as ‘gifts’ – instead, use Google’s keyword planner, data from Search Console as well as previous in-house sales data to target specific keywords your audience may be searching for at this time. On Black Friday, it’s more likely that people will be searching specifically for what they want, rather than browsing for ideas.
Use Google Trends to try and estimate traffic levels. This will help you to budget. For example, searches for ‘macbook’ nearly doubled on Black Friday last year – your budget needs to reflect this increase in demand.
When writing your ads, be sure to entice shoppers by adding a sense of urgency to your offers.
Performance Max and PPC automation have become the new normal in 2023, so we would recommend using this effectively so you can target the right audiences during your Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaigns.
You can also use AI to personalise ads at scale, for writing ad copy, creating targeted campaigns and for testing ads too.
According to Clarity.fm, it’s 50% easier to sell to existing customers than it is to brand new ones. So, make sure to make the most of your remarketing lists. If you have not used remarketing before, read this Google article on setting up and using remarketing cookies on your site.
Getting your product feed on Google Shopping is another proven way to gain visibility with potential customers. Not only do Google Shopping feeds have a higher conversion rate than other forms of PPC, they also have a lower cost-per-click.
Keep an eye on what the competition are doing
You’ve got to know what your competitors are up to in order to make sure your offering is competitive. There are three easy ways to do this:
Google Analytics is a powerful, free traffic tracking tool that every eCommerce business owner should be using. Ensure you have eCommerce tracking set up as well as key conversion points tracked such as add to basket, sign up for newsletter etc.
This not only helps you track your Black Friday promotion efforts, but gives you a host of data to use in the upcoming weeks and months.
Top tips for competing with the big boys
Just because we can’t all offer 50% off and two-for-one deals like the big boys, doesn’t mean that we can’t still offer our customers exciting offers and cash in on Black Friday.
Here are a few ideas for you to try:
Start early Who says your Black Friday sale has to start on Black Friday? Why not try starting your sale at 7pm on Thursday (more affectionately known as Grey Thursday), to catch people when they are already at home and usually bored? Bored people spend money.
Have at least one jaw-dropping sale Try running a “jaw-dropping” sale on a popular item to lure customers on to your site – it’s likely they’ll likely pick up a few other items on their way to the checkout.
Reward loyal customers Black Friday is a great time to build stronger relationships and brand loyalty with previous customers. Give your previous/existing customers the best deals. For instance, you could give them the opportunity to access your sales earlier, or give them exclusive sales just for being a subscriber to your newsletter. This also encourages email signups by offering exclusive deals customers wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
Upsell and cross-sell products Remember, as Black Friday shoppers are more likely to be buying gifts, they may be more inclined to buy an expensive product. Offer them a few similar options that will fit the same need, as well as products that relate to the item they are viewing.
Exit intent pop-up offers Target those about to leave your site with exit intent offers to drive them back to your site. Many retailers will be offering big discounts, so think about going down a different route, such as offering them a free gift.
Launch a new product Remember, this is the time of year people are most likely to splurge, as well as be searching for the best deals. One way of taking advantage of that buying intent is to launch a new and exciting product. You can also use this powerful promotional period to push a limited or exclusive product line.
Spread the deals Black Friday may now be the busiest shopping day of the year, but we’ve read no rule saying your sales can’t extend beyond it. Try hosting a 12 or 30-day holiday sale to keep people coming back to your site after the madness.
Free delivery and hassle-free returns Can’t make everything half price? Offer free delivery and hassle-free returns. Not only will this invite customers to spend more online rather than hitting a physical store, it will help encourage those on-the-fence shoppers to make a purchase. Remember to be transparent about when customers will receive their orders.
Be small and proud Take advantage of the growing ‘buy local’ movement and communicate that you appreciate their support as a small business. This personal touch can help ensure you bag a sale over the multinationals. Where possible, also push any sustainable or ethical product lines or business ethos during this period – another way to stand out from the crowd.
Customer service Providing fantastic customer service can help boost sales during Black Friday. Have extra help on hand to ensure quick response times, and always be courteous and respectful.
Post-Black Friday and Cyber Monday Have a marketing plan to turn those seasonal, one-time shoppers into year-round customers. Keep them informed of new deals via email, stay in touch with them on social media and try retargeting to remind them where you are!
Online marketing tips from Loom Digital
At Loom, we have years of experience combining all of these elements to create highly successful sales campaigns for our clients. If you would like to know more about what we can do for your business, get in touch today. And if this is your first Black Friday and Cyber Monday as a business, remember to treat it as a learning experience and make sure you make notes for next year!
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