On the last Friday of November, the mega-sale event named Black Friday occurs—have you heard of it? We would imagine the vast majority of those reading this have not only heard of Black Friday, but have purchased something in a Black Friday sale and are maybe even counting down the days to buy a particular item during this year’s event, too.
The Black Friday bonanza’s history is somewhat muddied. The first reference to “Black Friday” came in 1950s America, when scores of factory workers decided to call in sick after Thanksgiving to extend their holiday weekend to four days. From the 1980s, it was rebranded with the concept that businesses are “in the red”—or operating at a financial loss—until the day after Thanksgiving, after which the huge uptick in sales puts them “in the black” again. While it has a lengthy American history, Black Friday would take another 60 years to become a tradition in the UK, but now that it’s here, it’s not going anywhere too soon.
While your business may not be operating at a loss for the vast majority of the year, it’s useful to remember how important these big sale days can be for companies. They may not be the turnaround event of the season, but they can make a positive impact on your conversions.
In fact, total sales during Black Friday 2022 reached an estimated £12.3 billion— a year-on-year increase of 8.3%.
With this in mind, we have put together a list of marketing ideas to help you make the most of the sale season and increase conversions during this time.
Decide your stance
To start with, work out how your brand will position itself during the sale season.
For the most part, the general public is all too happy to take advantage of Black Friday’s discount deals, and it can be a big help for those with tighter budgets, too. Therefore, the majority of businesses do take part in the sale to varying degrees and advertise accordingly as to compete with their peers.
Some, however, find that Black Friday is contradictory to their values, and therefore either ignore the sale or subvert it entirely.
Outdoor clothing brand Patagonia, for instance, famously ran an ad in the New York Times in 2011 with a picture for one of their jackets and the headline Don’t Buy This Jacket. The intention was to encourage customers to buy less and buy more thoughtfully—an effective message which allowed the brand to engage with Black Friday without compromising their ethics.
Another example of this is sustainable footwear brand Allbird, who upped prices on Black Friday by £1 across the website, matched the cost, and donated the proceedings to eco-activists Fridays for Future. This allows the brand to both acknowledge the day without undercutting their values, and stand out from the crowd of competition, too.
Update your homepage
If you are running a Black Friday sale, you might think to remind customers of the time and deals available on your homepage. You can easily add a banner to your website for an unobtrusive nod to the upcoming event, or create pop up reminders when visitors land on your homepage.
If you have special offers for subscribers or previous customers, you should mention this here as well. This can encourage shoppers to sign up for your email list or complete their checkout prior to the event, or at the very least, keep them better informed of your activity and offerings.
As we have mentioned, the use of Shopify collections is an essential part of creating an effective ecommerce strategy. Collections allow you to group together products for easy customer discovery and a more succinct marketing direction. These can either be automated or manually curated. For automated collections, you can choose up to 60 selection conditions and can be useful if your collection regularly changes or expands. Manually created collections, however, are stationary and you will need to individually add and remove products as your collection changes.
For Black Friday in particular you may group together all of your on-sale products in one collection, or, if you have a large number of items on sale, numerous collections for different product categories. This allows you to target a more specific audience in advertising, and aid customer discovery once they are perusing the collection.
Top tip from us is that, if you are using the compare prices Shopify feature you can easily create a collection for your on-sale products by creating a collection with the rule that the compare price is not empty. This will add any items to this collection when they’re given a compare price.
See social enterprise brand Outside In for an idea of what one of these collections might look like. The team has grouped together their sale items for easy access and discovery.
Another way to help customers find the deals and items they are looking for is to add a navigation option to the menu for Black Friday or Sale. Here, link the most relevant collection—such as the sales collection we described in the last section. This way, customers will not have to dig through your website to find your discounted products (or more likely, leave in search of more readily available deals on another website).
To do this, simply access your Shopiy admin, go to Online Store and then Navigation. From here, click the title of the menu you want to edit, click Add Menu Item. Here, all you have to do is add the name for the menu item, add the link, then click Add to finalise the change. Save your menu to confirm the update.
Use your social channels
In the run up to Black Friday, remind your customers of your sale—specifically, the time at which it’s happening (and ending) and what customers can expect from your business. Are you offering mega discounts across all of your products, or just a discount on a few select products? What about free shipping, or free gifts/samples with every purchase? If you are subverting the sale day, how are you doing that? Think about charitable donations, special product offerings, or simply explaining why you aren’t taking part.
Regardless of your stance or plans, make sure to create posts which will both catch the eye and explain your Black Friday offerings fully.
Already, this year Walmart has launched a new Mean Girls’ themed advertisement (complete members of the original cast) on their social channels with products and deals sprinkled throughout.
On a smaller, more manageable note, think about product photograph, funny tweets or jokes, or—at the very simplest—good graphics explaining the dates and times of your sale.
When allocating budget for your Black Friday advertising, try not to use all of your spend on your general website. Instead, focus on pushing audiences towards specific Shopify collections of products you know will perform well during this time or are part of your Black Friday promotions.
See how BlueFun SUPs directs customers to their Black Friday sale as an example of this:
Shoppers will be on the lookout for special Black Friday deals or events, and so if you are not showcasing that your business has such offerings available, you’ll miss out on their business.
Another way to engage customers with your Black Friday activity is via email marketing. You can drop reminders of the event straight into their inboxes in the run up to the day, and on the morning of Black Friday, too.
This can be all the more effective if you title your subject something eye catching or offer something special for your email subscribers. This could be a unique code for free shipping or additional discounts, or an early access pass to the sale collections before they go live to the public. This can create an even more exciting sense of urgency and exclusivity.
Some brands get especially creative with their Black Friday sales. Some have created Spin The Wheel style games/widgets so that customers can “spin” the electronic wheel to determine their unique discount code, while others have created sliding scales for savings (ie. those who spend more, save more).
For instance, in 2022, Amazon launched a Spin & Win game, which awarded players with discounts from $5 off their cart. They could play once a day—and was a surefire way to get buyers coming back for more.
This creative route is especially effective if your brand has a light or fun tone of voice, or you can find a way to incorporate your product into your strategy.
Black Friday may not be the watershed event it was originally considered to be, but it is certainly a buzzy ecommerce tradition. Whether you agree or disagree with the celebrations, you and your business can still utilise the event to your advantage, whether that is in offering exciting deals and exclusive offerings, or turning the entire idea on its head.
If you want to talk about all things Shopify or are interested in upgrading your e-commerce strategy, get in touch with us today.
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