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How to Prepare Your eCommerce Store for Black Friday

Sep 12th, 2022 by Sara Napier Burkhard
Person holding smartphone reading about Black Friday sale. Photo credit:

While for some, the phrase “Black Friday” might still conjure an image of a brick-and-mortar department store with long lines wrapped around the building, savvy businesses today know the bulk of their sales for the season will be done through online shopping. Originally a staple in U.S. retail, Black Friday has become one of the year's most important global shopping days. Brands need to be ready with a solid Black Friday marketing strategy. 

If the last two years have taught us anything, shoppers are ready to spend time and money online. Your eCommerce store needs to be prepared for the influx of traffic you'll see at the end of November and into the holiday shopping season through the end of the year. Here are some marketing ideas for Black Friday to ensure you and your customers have a successful end-of-year shopping season. 

History of Black Friday

While the marketing efforts around this day have ramped up in the last few decades, the phrase “Black Friday” is believed to date back to the 1950s. It was popularized in Philadelphia and Rochester when local police officers started using the phrase to describe what they were seeing when large crowds of suburbanites and tourists would descend upon the large cities the day after Thanksgiving to start their Christmas shopping.

While some businesses in the 1960s tried to change the ominous phrase and improve customer behavior with terms like “Big Friday,” the name had already stuck. By the 1980s, advertisers and the retail industry had fully leaned into it. An alternative explanation was even marketed in The Philadelphia Inquirer, which turned the phrase positive by stating that “black” referred to financial industry terms. 

The explanation reasoned that typically businesses are “in the red” (meaning they haven’t made a profit) throughout the first 2-3 quarters of the year and that the shopping weekend after Thanksgiving brings in so much profit it puts businesses firmly “in the black” (meaning they earned money). The concept was a great success and helped mainstream the idea that it’s positive and helpful to the economy when businesses run these sales and customers come out in droves to shop ‘til they drop. Talk about some successful Black Friday marketing! 

How Much Impact Can Black Friday Marketing Create?

While you might wonder if Black Friday marketing makes a difference, the data speaks for itself. According to research by Insider Intelligence, 2021’s Black Friday sales amounted to $9.03 billion, while Cyber Monday deals brought in a whopping $10.90 billion. Even during a tumultuous historical time, online shoppers still showed up online, and businesses turned a profit. 

Black Friday Marketing Strategies

A successful Black Friday marketing strategy is one that’s attainable. Start with SMART goals if you’re looking for a rubric to build your best plan. You’ve likely heard the term before, but if not, here’s a quick rundown. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Your marketing ideas for Black Friday should be ones that you can reasonably achieve. While there’s still plenty of time to build towards those goals for 2022, being SMART about it will make them successful. Here are a few strategies you can use in your efforts this year. 

1. Start Email Marketing Early

Email is one of the essential tools for your Black Friday marketing strategy. Plan to share your content early enough for your customers to expect the content but close enough to the date for them to remember it. A good rule of thumb is 1-2 weeks before the upcoming sale. Start with a teaser email that simply informs your email list about the deals, and then schedule your offer email to send on Thanksgiving evening or in the early morning of Black Friday. 

2. Create a Sense of Urgency

This might go without saying by now, but urgency is one of the most important drivers of success for a sale. Brands have been doing this for ages, but the sense that something your audience wants is in short supply or the lowest price only lasts a few hours can make a customer jump into action. A tactic you might find successful is following your user's online cart. Perhaps they’ve had one of your items in their cart for a while but haven’t pulled the ripcord and made the purchase yet. This is an excellent time to email those customers and let them know how your sale affects items they’ve been considering. 

3. Publish a Variety of Marketing Materials

Your marketing strategy isn’t complete without thoughtful materials to make it work. Variety is the key to success since your most significant audience is the one that’s found you through several access points. 

Digital Catalog

A digital catalog makes it easy for retailers to showcase their latest collections to an interested audience. They give a comprehensive look at a brand’s entire stock. Create a special edition of your catalog highlighting the sales customers can look for on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

Digital Brochure

A digital brochure makes it easier for customers to shop your sale. With e-commerce links placed over the items in your brochure, readers can easily click the item or offer they find most appealing and be taken directly to your website.  

4. Schedule Your Marketing Material Drop 

A well-planned schedule is essential for a successful Black Friday marketing campaign. When you send out your materials, plan where they’ll be seen. Your immediate thought might be to share your latest content on social media or through email marketing, but you should also ensure your website is up to date. As you promote your sales, more traffic will be coming to your site, and that makes a perfect opportunity to embed your digital brochures, catalogs, and other materials directly into your website. 

5. Use Visual Content to Increase Engagement 

From YouTube to TikTok, given the number of hours we spend on our phones, it should be no surprise that visual storytelling gets results. It’s easy for your audience to engage with your content when it’s visual-focused. You can make any piece of content more engaging and aesthetically pleasing with some visual components.

Add links for Shoppable Content

Black Friday marketing comes down to making more sales. Make it easier on your audience by creating your digital content shoppable. Add shopping links to your content to allow your readers to shop with the click of a button. 

Videos for Product Demonstration

As far as visual content marketing Ideas for Black Friday go, videos are always compelling. Adopt the “show, don’t tell” method and include a video to explain how to use one of your products.

6. Create Channel-Specific Offers

The final and arguably the most important Black Friday marketing tip is to create channel-specific content. For example, the offer you share with your audience through social media might require a URL or a coupon code. At the same time, your newsletter could go more in-depth with content like a catalog that features shopping links to your Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers. Another great idea is to use QR codes for direct mail postcards. Think carefully about where you want to drive your traffic and the information you’d like that audience to have, and you'll make the most impactful decisions.

Want to make your online store ready for Black Friday? Let Issuu help you create stunning interactive marketing content ready for the seasonal influx of customers.

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