Your Black Friday Sale

Written by Dani Sherman

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! (Cue the jingle bells).

Yes, the old song of the season was right.

And– Black Friday is my favorite of all Fridays. I actually start looking forward to it during the summer months. It’s the pinnacle of the online business selling season, and you want to make the most of it.

On Black Friday morning, I get up very early, get the coffee brewing, and assume my position for the day – glued to the computer! Then it’s time to make last-minute tweaks to my stores and ensure that all is ‘present and correct’. More about that later.

Just so you know, I’m writing this on the 11th of December, so Black Friday has already come and gone. So, what’s the point, you may ask?

Well, this is not the usual get-ready-for-Black-Friday-2022 post, but rather a post-mortem. Because– I thought of some tips that you may find useful, and it’s never too early to start getting ready for the next Black Friday, right? Kidding. Sort of. Read on!

Setting Goals for Your Black Friday Sale

So, first off, if you were staging Black Friday promos in your store this year, did you set any goals?

Because, I know – it’s very easy to just jump into Black Friday, and say to yourself: “Right, I’m just going to slash prices on everything in the shop, and just see what happens.”

This is generally a terrible idea. With your store and sales, you never really want to just see what happens. You want to have a goal or two in mind. And, there are a few different goals upon which you might focus.

Attracting New Customers to Your Online Store

First– start thinking of using Black Friday as a customer acquisition event.

Black Friday as you know coincides with the Thanksgiving holiday. It happens just before Christmas, and then there is New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and graduations all coming down the pike. Those are the best-known calendar events.

Do you see where I’m going with this? There is always a new holiday or event on the horizon of the consumer landscape. (Sorry if that sounds unsentimental!) But, you’re in business, so…

As an eCommerce business owner, you need eyes fixed on the times during the year when you can mobilise to capitalise. As long as you are selling items that the customer wants and also serving their needs, then everybody is happy and you should make no apologies for that.

So– you might use Black Friday as a way of getting new people through the virtual doors of your online business– in order to make them think of you during the gift markets which then follow. Think of it as starting a club– and the more, the merrier.

This could be the start of something…

You might offer substantial discounts on your products to get them noticed– and ideally sold, knowing that if the customer likes the item and your store, you can remarket to them later on and entice them to buy gifts throughout the coming year.

So, yes– steep discounting can be a strategy to acquire more customers. But remember, if you’re selling at very low margins, alongside that you are envisioning that you will be rewarded later with something called their customer lifetime value. That will make your discount extra worthwhile and worth the initial sacrifice.

You do need to be wary of just breaking even, or losing money on the first sale if that ends up being the only sale that you get from the customer. Because then you’re essentially increasing your costs for absolutely no benefit. And how does that make sense for your store?

The minute Black Friday is over, you should already be thinking of what new products you can offer to play to the interests that your customers have shown by choosing your store. Again, this is where having a niche is invaluable to securing a steady stable of buyers. Review your best-sellers from the big sale day, and in general. This can help steer your product planning as you move forward.

Free Shipping is Irresistible to Buyers

Another winning strategy for Black Friday sales is to offer free shipping on all orders. Customers love to see ‘Free Shipping’ in a store’s banner and/or at checkout. It’s what I call ‘customer catnip’.

But crucially, remember to build the actual shipping costs into the product price. If you don’t do this, you will lose money and that defeats the purpose of running both a sale and a store. Pretty simple, right?

I know, this strategy seems a bit sneaky– and I had a hard time doing this at the start. And let’s be honest, a lot of shoppers are now wise to this bit of engineering. But it’s a part of the eCommerce industry that seeing ‘Free Shipping’ often removes the last barrier to the sale.

I know how I feel when I excitedly put a much-wanted item into any online basket and am then confronted with the dreaded $9.95 Shipping at checkout. It just seems to make me stop in my tracks– and think “No, I guess I don’t want it that much”. It’s an extra cost that makes you question your spending– even on Black Friday!

Free shipping incentivizes buyers!

Whereas, had shipping been baked into the item’s price, it increases the value perception of the item. I then react: “I have to have this!”

Understand where I’m coming from? It makes the sale smooth and seamless. Shipping costs will always look like an added expense– and this leads to the customer doing mental math along the lines of “Is it really worth it?”

It’s a bit of a paradox, I know.  In the end, the customer is paying the same end amount. But it’s been a proven strategy time and time again.

Equally, don’t go to the other extreme and think–”I’m just going to give 10% off.” (Because that’s safe). Or, “I’m going to broad-brush it with 70% off.” (Because that’s bold).

People aren’t going to buy into that. They either won’t care, or they’ll be wary.

The lower discount is just not exciting enough to capture their attention.

And the higher discount looks a bit suspicious and lowers the item’s perceived value. You know, how it looks as if there must be something innately wrong with something at such a high discount? 

So, your offers still have to be attractive and believable to people in order to buy them. You can’t just put a 70% off price on anything boring and expect to sell it just because it’s Black Friday.

Same as the cheapskate’s tactic of 10% off– nobody will care that much. Unless they really, really love the item and were maybe going to buy it anyway– and that’s a gamble. That’s along the lines of “seeing what happens” with your sale, as I mentioned earlier. That’s not a good plan.

Think About What You Love About Black Friday

Think of it this way: What gets YOUR attention in a Black Friday sale? I bet it’s not a measly 10% off!

You want to get something you love, while also scoring a major deal. Almost as if you’re beating the retailer at their own game. Although– whatever the retailer is losing per sale, it’s certain that the volume of sales helps to close the gap.

As I mentioned earlier – you as a seller don’t have to lose your shirt during a sale. Pay close attention to product base and shipping costs, know your margins and walk a safe line for your sale. It’s amazing to me when I hear from online sellers that don’t know their numbers! You need to know them to make sure you’re headed for profits. Otherwise, why are you in business?

Value Perception is Key to Sales

Remember that value perception is another key aspect of your online business, and you don’t need to race to the bottom by offering bargain-basement prices just to compete with other sellers in your niche.

If all year long you’ve worked hard offering quality designs on quality products, most of your work is already done.

Value perception goes something like this: Are you selling ‘just a T-Shirt’?  Sure, it’s a basic tee– before you put your design on it.  Do people already own enough T-shirts? Probably. But what makes yours different is that you will have done the following:

All the ingredients for a ‘must-have piece’ for your niche customers

So, perhaps it’s not ‘just a T-shirt’ after all.  You bring the magic (and hard work) to make it a valuable item with the ‘wow’ factor. That’s value perception!

Bring Back the Previous Customers

Another great goal for your Black Friday sale is to reengage old customers.

If you’ve got people in your database that haven’t bought from you for a while, you’re probably thinking: well, they’re not really opening many of my emails, nor really engaging with my brand. Should I bother? Or, “will I be bothering them?”

You need to get over that, and know that all is not lost! The run-up to Black Friday is the best time to run some promos to them, and offer them some decent discounts in order to get them back in the habit of visiting your store and buying from you.

Customers love to be courted with special offers because it makes them feel– well, special! And, you can let them know about the deals at your upcoming Black Friday sales.

If they don’t buy from you in the earlier promos, at least there’s a good chance that you’re on their radar again and they’re going to wait for the big shopping event. It gives you a great excuse to go out to people if you’ve got some good, appealing offers.

Don’t be shy about getting the word out about your store’s offerings

Use Your Black Friday Sale to Build Your Email List

And then finally you might want to use Black Friday to build an email list or a retargeting list.

You can run various offers and drive people to your website knowing that if you’ve got your Facebook (now Meta) pixel all set up, then that’s going to feed it more data so that you can run remarketing and retargeting ads to them.

Even more valuable perhaps on Facebook is the look alike audience feature, which builds on the data gleaned from your targeted ads.

So, you want as much traffic on that pixel as you can possibly get, as long as it’s qualified. This will allow you to branch out to more potential buyers. And Black Friday can be a great way to do that by getting loads of people onto the site so that you can start building those lookalike audiences, and get ready to capture them later at Christmas– and holidays beyond.

Make Your Black Friday Sale Even More Enticing

Regular deals throughout the day are a great way to boost traffic to your site. If you think about it, if you run one Black Friday sale, you give people one reason to come to your site all day.

On the other hand, if you’re offering different sales throughout the day, it gives people a reason to come back to your site multiple times. It gives you a reason to reach out to them by email, and through your social channels multiple times throughout the day, and it can build hype throughout.

It could run something like this: 30% off all Sweatshirts Between 9 a.m. and Noon. Then, 30% off all Leggings Between Noon and 2 p.m. and 30% Off all Accessories Between 2 and 4 p.m. And so on.

It’s a sort of countdown sale, and it introduces an element of urgency, in that the sale price will only be live during a specific time frame. It makes it a little more challenging for the buyer, and it’s more engaging. I like to think it triggers the shopping/hunting instinct!

It’s more interest-specific, and you should know by your best-sellers throughout the year which categories might have the most demand. If you decide to run a countdown sale, go in with that in mind so you have a good idea of reaping the rewards.

Get the Black Friday Sale party started with countdown deals!

Amazon first did its countdown deals in around 2010, and it’s a fantastic strategy. They put certain products on sale at a particular time for a great price. And then they have a little countdown.

You could use countdown timer features on your product pages if that’s an ability of your store’s theme on your chosen platform.

It may go without saying that you should have a good amount of products in your store in the first place so that this strategy doesn’t look too contrived.

Then the site visitor says “Oh, it’s about to go on sale in like three hours.” And then they know to come back. They know that they don’t have all day, and they don’t want to miss their window of opportunity for a bargain. It also makes your store more memorable!

And by the way, if you’re going to use this strategy, make sure that your emails and your social media posts are already set up, all the creatives are done already and they’re timed and ready to go out.

You’re going to be busy throughout Black Friday. You don’t want to be distracted by setting up emails and social posts across all your different channels at the same time. So get it all set up in advance, and put it on autopilot, so that you can just sit back and watch all the automation happen.

And when those posts and emails lead directly to sales– it’s a beautiful thing. Cha-ching! (the sound of an Etsy sale.)

Give yourself the gift of organization for your Black Friday sale

Be ‘Socials’-Savvy

Also make sure that when you’re making up your social posts, you’re using Black Friday hashtags.

Now you might not be able to get traction on the Black Friday main hashtags, (because it’ll be crowded and your post will be buried in the speedy shuffle)– but maybe there are other variants that you can use. Again, think of your niche. There is #veganblackfriday, for example. And #etsyblackfriday (if you’re on Etsy, naturally). 

Just take the time to research your best hashtags in advance.  Personally, I find the 10k – 200k range acceptable margins for balancing popularity with visibility when it comes to hashtags and their corresponding posts.

So look inside whatever platform you’re on for the popular hashtags that are most relevant to your specific audience because you’re more likely to get traction on those lower-quantity hashtags than you are on the main ones.

Remember, the object is to get seen and you don’t want your post buried among a million or more other ones that will fly by in seconds.

Black Friday Marketing Tips Any Business Can Use

A variation of countdown deals is to have different deals going out on different days of the Black Friday week, all through to Cyber Monday and onwards, if you like.

I expect what we’re gonna see every year is that Black Friday is going to creep in earlier and earlier. You’ve got Black Friday week now– and soon it will be Black Friday month!

Like children not wanting Christmas to end, the retailers will want to extend the party.

Who knows? Someday soon it might be that Black Friday is every day! I say that in jest, of course. But mark my words: we’re going to see brands tapping into the Black Friday hype earlier and earlier as it goes. And extending it further beyond. 

Tap Into Buyer Intention

So you might want to start your Black Friday promos a week or even earlier, and then have promos going out throughout the whole period in order to keep people in that frenzied state of mind throughout the whole of the month. Yes, I said frenzied!

Because the great thing about having regular deals is that you’re giving yourself a reason to talk to people, by sending more emails and creating more sales-specific social posts. And that is what this is all about.

Give yourself a valid justifiable reason to go out to people, promoting your products and services. Because if there’s a great deal on the table, no one’s going to mind getting messages about it.

So you’ve got some choices, and need to do what’s right for you and your online store. And I’d say that probably concentrating on a small number of really deep discounts is more compelling than going site-wide with something like a 10 or 15% discount, which really doesn’t hold much value for people unless they were going to buy your item anyway.

Again, just think about what’s going to get you the most attention without destroying your margins.

Black Friday Gift Guides

The next strategy that you can use is to run a Black Friday gift guide.

Now, this is a great Black Friday SEO strategy, because what it allows you to do is to build a static page on your site, either a product category page or a content page that exists all year, targeting Black Friday and Cyber Monday keywords.

You might call it something like “Our Black Friday Best-Sellers”. And then every year you will update it with the appropriate calendar year, and of course, add some new items and SEO to keep it fresh.  

The great thing about doing this is that there’s a static URL, which can get rankings when people are starting to talk about– and search for Black Friday deals each year.

Site visitors are going to be linking through to this page, so over time, it’s going to build a huge amount of authority. Kind of like a snowball effect: compounding consumer interest! And it means you’ve got that static page that you can focus on improving ranking continually.

It’s no secret perhaps that people will be searching for Black Friday terms before Black Friday itself. If we have a look at Google Trends, we can see people are actually searching for Black Friday deals up to a month before actual Black Friday.

Another thing I like to do is, in my Etsy shops, I keep a category called ‘Christmas Shop’ live all year round. Because you never know who’s still looking, who’s the early bird for next Christmas, and so on. I have sold Christmas tree skirts in May!

So, I like to provide that option continuously, and it’s a nice unexpected bump for sales whenever one of those items moves. Cha-ching!

Christmas preparations are starting earlier every year

Build Scarcity into Your Black Friday Sale

Scarcity sells! A really simple way of creating it is by showing the limited quantities that you have available at your Black Friday discounts.

It’s not a bad thing to have some of your Black Friday deals showing as “sold out” because that builds credibility for the scarcity of these offers and shows people that they need to act fast if they’re going to catch one of these amazing deals. 

Of course, you can easily tweak this at your sales platform’s back end under the Inventory variable. Remember — you are a print-on-demand store, so you never actually sell out of any item. But you can make it look as though demand has depleted a few stocks.

Now, I’m not for one minute suggesting that you stop selling a hot-seller just to activate a sold-out sign!  Rather, I suggest that you designate a habitual non-seller as sold-out, and make that listing work for you to move the other merchandise.  

The power of two words! Build in scarcity to your Black Friday sale.

If you’re unable to show quantities, you can have limited stock notifications that you put on your sidebars, or across your store announcement banner at the top of your site, which can alert potential customers that a deal is time- or quantity-limited, and they need to act fast, or lose out.

You also have numerous notification apps which pop up in the corner to let people know that others are buying the products that they’re looking at. You’ve probably seen them: “So-and-so from Tennessee just bought XYZ”.  So you’ve got to think about the frenzy and feed into that.

Really, Black Friday is about two things, deals, and hype. If you can do both of those things in tandem, chances are very good that you’re going to have a good Black Friday for your store!

So, there you have it, some of my best Black Friday strategies. I hope you enjoyed them. And I’ll give you a heads up come next August when it’s time to ramp up on getting ready all over again!

To moving forward,

Dani Sherman

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About the Author

Dani Sherman, CEO at EcomGemini

Dani's been immersed in the online space for the past several years, and she knows what it takes to establish a presence on multiple e-commerce platforms. She would like to help you get started with your own dreams of running a successful online business. Her weekly blog focuses on all things Print-On-Demand and eCommerce.  So, check back often to see what's new, and to be inspired!