How to Create a Black Friday eCommerce Strategy
Black Friday is one of the biggest days of the year for online retailers, but it can also be one of the most challenging. Meeting the expectations of so many new customers is no small feat.
Fortunately, you’ve got time to plan for success with a Black Friday eCommerce strategy— and we have all the tips you need below!
Bonus: Learn how to sell more products on social media with our free Social Commerce 101 guide. Delight your customers and improve conversion rates.
What is a Black Friday eCommerce strategy?
Black Friday is the day after the American Thanksgiving holiday and is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Customers expect deals and promotions from their favorite retailers. In turn, they reward businesses with big spending. In 2021, US shoppers spent $9.03 billion dollars on Black Friday.
The dawn of eCommerce ushered in a sequel to Black Friday which is Cyber Monday when online retailers break out their best offers. Last year, Cyber Monday actually surpassed Black Friday for spending among American shoppers, with $10.90 billion in sales.
Those big numbers translate into a lot of traffic to your online store. You’ll want to prepare with a solid Black Friday eCommerce strategy.
That means a marketing plan in the lead-up to Black Friday so that you can capture your customers’ attention and get them excited for your online sales. You’ll also need to prepare for an influx of shopping cart orders and customer inquiries on the day, which will need a rock-solid customer support strategy.
Are you starting to sweat? Don’t worry! We’ve mapped out the must-have eCommerce tools and tactics to include in your Black Friday strategy below.
11 Black Friday eCommerce tactics you should try
1. Optimize your website for SEO
Whether you sell lip gloss or jet skis, increasing your search ranking will literally help you rise above the competition and boost conversion rates. For starters, use a free SERP checker ( that stands for “Search Engine Results Page”) to see how you’re ranking. See room for improvement? Here are some things to try:
- Speeding up your loading time. Sites that take forever to load a landing page suffer in the search rankings. Here, Google comes through with another free tool to check your site speed. Compressing your images and upgrading your hosting service are two ways to improve site speed.
- Refining product names and descriptions. This will help customers discover your products when searching and ease the user experience. You can use free Google tools to determine the best keywords for your product pages.
- Posting quality content on social media. We ran an experiment a few years back and found that having an active, engaged social media presence reflects well on your search ranking.
2. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly
In 2021, Shopify reported that 79% of all Black Friday Cyber Monday purchases happened on mobile devices. Mobile shoppers surpassed desktop shoppers in 2014 and their numbers have been growing ever since. Test your website and make improvements now, before you miss out on mobile shoppers.
3. Start your campaign early
Remember, every other retailer is also going to be running a Black Friday campaign. You don’t want to leave yours until the last minute, you should be nurturing your followers on social media and email months in advance. That way, when you roll out your deals, you have a captive and engaged audience. Here are some tips:
- Offer exclusive early access to Black Friday deals for email subscribers. Encouraging customers to sign up to your email list will extend the reach of your offers, and pay dividends after the Black Friday Cyber Monday sales event ends.
- Test your ads. After all, you don’t wait until the day of the marathon to start training. You should be refining your creative and running A/B tests on your campaigns to figure out what works best for your audience well in advance.
- Build buzz. Tease your Black Friday promotions in advance. Let your customers know you’ll be dropping the details on social media and email. This will boost your followers and reward your engaged followers, improving customer experience in the long run.
4. Make sure all stock information is accurate
This is also a good time to restock your most popular items, and plan special deals or offers to get slower-moving products off your shelves.
You can expect to see an influx of new customers on Black Friday. That means the shopping experience should be easy and intuitive, to avoid causing confusion or hesitation. Product pages should include all the important specs, like size, weight, and materials.
Ensure every product has high-quality images and videos. Also, include customer reviews on the page— even one review can increase sales by 10%.
5. Have customer support at the ready
Ever wandered around a department store, growing increasingly desperate to find an employee who can help you? Then you know how annoying it is to have to wait for help. And if your customers get frustrated, they’ll split!
To keep up with the volume of shoppers on Black Friday, invest in a retail chatbot. A chatbot like Heyday provides instant customer service that can answer up to 80% of customer inquiries. That frees up your customer support team to respond to the remaining 20% in a timely fashion.
This is especially helpful during Black Friday Cyber Monday. Remember, you’ll have brand-new customers who are less familiar with your store and inventory. (According to Bluecore, 59% of Black Friday sales were made by first-time shoppers in 2020!) A chatbot can help your customers find exactly what they’re looking for, by directing them to the size, color, and style they want. They can also generate personalized product recommendations, upselling, and cross-selling on the average order. These can drive sales even higher— especially when you consider that 60% of Black Friday purchases are impulse buys.
6. Work with influencers
Influencer marketing is a powerful tool. One recent survey found that 8% of shoppers had bought something in the past 6 months because an influencer promoted it. That figure increases to almost 15% for 18- to 24-year-old shoppers. Collaborating with an influencer on your Black Friday strategy can help you reach new customers and boost your sales.
If this is new to you, we have a guide to influencer marketing that will set you up for success. And remember that it’s important to find the right fit with influencers. Don’t go for the biggest following— it’s more important to align on values and audience.
7. Create BFCM promo codes
Offering promotional codes and coupons for Black Friday Cyber Monday creates urgency. These encourage your customers to take advantage of the big discounts you’re offering.
However, you want to make sure your customers can find and apply the promo codes easily. Otherwise, they might abandon their carts in frustration. Shopify has some great suggestions for how to ensure your discount codes are easy to spot:
- Use a pop-up on your eCommerce site. This will announce the discount code, and give your customer a chance to apply it at check out with a single click.
- Ask customers to enter their email address to receive the promo code. This helps with your email marketing and remarketing efforts, too!
- Add a floating bar at the top of the page with the discount code. This makes it too obvious to miss.
- Apply the code automatically at checkout. This is the simplest solution for your customers. Sephora used it for their 2021 Black Friday sale. Customers received an automatic 50% discount at checkout:
One tip: Make sure your discounts are competitive. According to Salesforce, the average discount in 2021 was 24%— lower than in years past. But on Black Friday, customers are still looking for serious deals, so 10 or 15% off is unlikely to sway them.
8. Run an email discount campaign
Promote your Black Friday Cyber Monday sales through email. This is an effective way to reach your already-engaged customers. It’s also the perfect way to build a buzz in advance of Black Friday. Tease upcoming offers and get your customers excited about the deals to come. Offering early access to your Black Friday sale is also an effective way to grow your email subscriber base.
Plus, it gives you the opportunity to segment your offers, which increases their effectiveness. Klayvio found that segmented emails yield three times as much revenue per customer as general marketing messages.
Show returning customers discounts on products they’re likely to be interested in, based on their shopping history. Or provide an exclusive gift-with-purchase for your VIP shoppers, as a way of building loyalty.
9. Extend your BFCM deals
There’s no reason to end your sale on Monday at 11:59 PM. Extending your Black Friday Cyber Monday offers through the week can help you catch customers on their second shopping lap. It also gives you the chance to add steeper discounts, in order to clear more inventory before the end of the year.
As many shoppers will be planning for the holidays (more on that below), make sure you’re clear on shipping dates. Shoppers will want to know whether their package will arrive by Christmas.
You can also extend your deals in the opposite direction, to get out ahead of the competition! For example, fashion retailer Aritzia runs an annual “Black Fiveday” sale. It kicks off a day early, on Thursday.
10. Create a holiday gift guide
Black Friday is often considered the beginning of the holiday shopping season. For many people, it’s the time for crossing as many names off their gift list as they can. Creating a holiday gift guide makes their work a lot easier.
Pro tip: Segment your guides by the recipient (“Gifts for Mom,” “Gifts for Dog Sitters”) or theme (“Sustainable Gifts”). This will help your customers find what they’re looking for. Outdoor retailer MEC even created a gift guide for the person who has everything.
You can also share your gift guide on social media by creating an Instagram Guide. These are curated collections of images, accompanied by titles and descriptions.
11. Promote your BFCM deals with social media ads
One of the biggest challenges for businesses on social media is the decline of organic reach. It doesn’t matter how good your content is. If you want to reach your prospective customers, you need to have a paid strategy.
Also, your strategy should definitely include TikTok, where your ads can reach over a billion users. According to our 2022 Social Trends report, 24% of businesses said TikTok is their most effective channel for reaching their business goals. That’s an increase of 700% over 2020!
3 creative Black Friday ad examples
Walmart – #UnwrapTheDeals
For Black Friday 2021, Walmart created the #UnwrapTheDeals campaign with a custom TikTok filter. Posting a TikTok with the filter allowed users to “unwrap” gift cards and prizes and shop directly in the app. Walmart partnered with influencers to promote the campaign, leading to over 5.5 billion views.
- Make it fun. By using an interactive filter, Walmart made a campaign that was sharable and enticing.
- Add creative rewards. #UnwrapTheDeals offered bonus prizes in addition to the Black Friday discounts. This encouraged TikTok users to try to win by posting a video. Each new post amplified the reach of the campaign.
- Hold attention. You only have a few seconds to catch someone’s eye on social media. A dynamic campaign like this makes users want to stop scrolling and watch.
- Get on TikTok! This is your final reminder to make TikTok a part of your business strategy.
IKEA – #BuyBackFriday
IKEA ran a creative #BuyBackFriday campaign over Black Friday 2020. Rather than just offering a discount, shoppers could earn credit by bringing in old IKEA items. IKEA offers a buy-back program all year, but during Black Friday they doubled the credits.
This campaign worked on a few levels:
- It wasn’t your average Black Friday campaign. The #BuyBackFriday messaging stands out in a sea of “25% off!” posts.
- It appealed to values. A lot of shoppers care about sustainability and affordability. This campaign was built around those principles. Showing your customers that you care about the same things builds loyalty and trust.
- It was about more than the sale. This campaign targeted IKEA shoppers with old furniture to offload. That allowed it to reach people who weren’t even planning on a Black Friday shopping spree.
- It offered a creative discount system. If your business can’t afford to knock 30% off your stock, consider how else you can appeal to shoppers. A credit system like this one encourages customers to return in the future. It’s a long-term strategy for success.
DECEIM – Slowvember
Beauty and skincare brand DECEIM went against the grain. Their “Slowvember” campaign lasted for all of November. The idea was to discourage impulse buying and encourage customers to shop thoughtfully. It got a lot of positive attention from shoppers.
Here are some takeaways:
- Get creative with timing. By running a month-long sale, DECEIM beat the competition on Black Friday.
- Focus on the customer. DECEIM’s messaging was all about their shoppers. This makes people feel cared for. In turn, they’re more likely to support your business in the future.
- Don’t forget the promotion. The campaign tagline got attention. But DECEIM was still offering an attractive 23% discount on all products.
- Offer experiences. Black Friday can be hectic. In response, DECEIM hosted relaxing in-store experiences. They included DJ sets, flower arranging, embroidery workshops, and more. Remember, just because most sales happen online, that doesn’t mean you can forget the in-person experience.
- Think about the long run. Black Friday Cyber Monday is a time to connect with lots of new customers. Ideally, you want to turn those into long-term customers. So think about how you’re building relationships or trust for years to come. You might not make as many sales on Black Friday itself. But a successful business strategy is a marathon, not a sprint.
The top 7 must-have tools for eCommerce stores
Heyday is a retail chatbot that will delight your customers and save your business a ton of time and money. It’s always on to answer questions and help customers find what they need, which is valuable all year long (but priceless during Black Friday!) One company saved 50% of its customer service resources after getting Heyday.
Hootsuite helps your business streamline and improve its marketing efforts. With Hootsuite, you can schedule your social media content across every platform in one place. It also gives you the data you need to refine your campaigns, with a customized dashboard of your social media performance. You can also use Hootsuite to track what your customers are saying online.
Facebook Messenger is one of the world’s most used social media platforms, with 988 million daily active users. If you’re not on Messenger, you’re missing the opportunity to connect with countless customers. Plus, you can use a Facebook chatbot to offer fast, friendly customer service 24 hours a day.
Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool lets you know how fast your website is loading. Improving your speed will also improve your search ranking, so don’t sleep on this one!
Are you selling products directly on Instagram? You should be! Social commerce is the future. According to Instagram, 44%of users shop on the app weekly. Tap into that growing market by connecting your online store to your Instagram account.
TikTok has proven to be an effective retail channel: nearly half of all users are purchasing products after seeing them on the platform. While Millennials and Gen X shoppers are more likely to buy on Instagram and Facebook, younger customers are favoring TikTok. No wonder TikTok is poised to become the most important social network for marketing.
TikTok Shopping is a relatively new feature, but don’t sleep on it. We’ve got a detailed guide on how to set up your TikTok shop.
In 2021, Shopify merchants raked in $6.3 billion USD in Black Friday sales. That’s because Shopify offers an easy, intuitive platform to build your shop. There are tons of Shopify apps that can enhance your business and improve your customer experience. You can also integrate your Shopify store with TikTok shopping and Instagram shopping. This creates a seamless customer experience across all platforms.
Plus, Shopify integrates directly with the Heyday chatbot, allowing you to provide 24/7 customer support to every shopper.
Engage with shoppers on social media and turn customer conversations into sales with Heyday, our dedicated conversational AI chatbot for social commerce retailers. Deliver 5-star customer experiences — at scale.
Turn customer service conversations into sales with Heyday. Improve response times and sell more products. See it in action.