5 Black Friday Marketing Tactics That Actually Work in 2021

5 Black Friday Marketing Tactics That Actually Work in 2021

October 14, 2021
Versa Creative

‘Tis the season to be…selling? You got that right! 

Black Friday sales in 2020 totaled an astounding $188.2 billion (yes, I said ‘billion’ with a B). That’s more than a 32% year-over-year increase from 2019’s numbers. And just like a classic family Thanksgiving, everyone is fighting to get a piece of that pie.

For small and enterprise-scale businesses alike, the holidays can feel less mistletoe and jingle bells and more scrambling to find out what sells. But what if I told you the holiday season was about to become a whole lot less stressful? 

Sure, we might not be able to keep your nosy family members from asking too many questions about your personal life, but we can equip you with the Black Friday marketing tactics you need to ensure you’re prepared for this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday madness.

Black Friday heralds the official beginning of the Christmas holiday shopping season. Since the early 2000s, it’s been known as the biggest shopping day of the yea

What is Black Friday Marketing?

Black Friday heralds the official beginning of the Christmas holiday shopping season. Since the early 2000s, it’s been known as the biggest shopping day of the year—preceded by the Saturday before Christmas, a retail nightmare for true procrastinators. 

As buying behavior shifts and consumers start shopping earlier and making more purchases from online retailers (to the tune of about $9 billion on Black Friday alone), the need for flashy door prizes becomes less and less, while the necessity of a strong Black Friday campaign only becomes more apparent. 

So what is holiday marketing all about if not a jolly fat man in a red velvet suit and lines wrapped around the mall starting at dawn on Thanksgiving day? With online shopping on the upswing, today’s Black Friday marketing strategies are starting to look more like email marketing campaigns with punchy subject lines and offers of free shipping.

Planning your Black Friday Marketing Tactics should start as early as possible.

When Should You Promote Black Friday Sales?

With the line between when Thanksgiving ends and when Christmas begins becoming more and more blurred every year, it can feel like the holiday season starts before Halloween is even over. And as far as holiday marketing goes, it should! 

You may not be ready to put away the autumnal colors in favor of your most festive ugly sweater, but if you want to be ready for the big day in late November, you should start dusting off your best Black Friday marketing ideas starting in early October. 

It may seem early, but this will give you a little over six weeks to develop, refine, and advertise your biggest Black Friday deals. And if there’s anything I know to be true about this time of year, it’s that the clock seems to go twice as fast when you’ve got a mile-long holiday to-do list, so you’ll be glad you got an early start.

Businesses must find a unique way to stand out from competitors on Black Friday.

How Can I Increase Sales on Black Friday?

You’ve got sales, sales, and more sales on your holiday wishlist—and so do the other 2.1 million e-tailers running online stores in the US. So, how do you take advantage of the 8% increase in shoppers participating in the five-day retail weekend and turn those potential customers into bonafide buyers? 

Through carefully planned and executed Black Friday marketing strategies that would put Santa’s workshop to shame, that’s how!

If you’re a seasoned Black Friday retail veteran, you’ve probably seen the same holiday marketing checklist year after year—a checklist that looks something like this:

  • Optimize your online store for desktop and mobile
  • Test your website’s capacity for increased traffic
  • Build an email marketing campaign with personalized emails and catchy subject lines
  • Create paid ads to advertise your Black Friday deals on social media 
  • Use surprise and time-sensitive deals to create urgency and boost sales
  • Budget for increased ad spend and bulk on your PPC search engine marketing efforts

And there’s nothing wrong with those tips! They’re helpful things to keep in mind—that’s why we included them in our always relevant list of Black Friday marketing ideas for 2020—but we’re not in the game of re-gifting, so we wanted to give you something different this year. Last year’s guide is definitely worth checking out, so be sure to download that and reference it while building your Black Friday campaign for 2021 with the latest insights we’ve compiled below!

It's important to not overlook the shopping power of Gen-Z.

What Strategies Do Stores Use to Attract Customers on Black Friday?

As much as Black Friday has changed over the course of the 60 years since its inception, consumer buying behavior has changed just as much—if not more. 

In the days of shopping past, kids would sit down with the Sears catalog and write letters to Santa listing their holiday must-haves, like Easy-Bake Ovens and G.I. Joe action figures. These days, the idea of sitting down with a mail-order catalog to decide what’s on your shopping list is about as laughable as scoring a Cabbage Patch doll the week before Christmas in 1983. 

So if we’re not sitting down with an established list of the hottest Christmas gifts of the year, how are brands getting their products in front of shoppers and, ultimately, on everyone’s holiday wishlists? 

With the influence of digital media at an all-time high, finding a way to make your mark might seem harder than ever, but the truth is, there has never been more opportunity for success at your fingertips—literally. So without further ado, freshen up your eggnog, take a seat in front of the Yule log, and make a note of the best Black Friday marketing tactics this side of the North Pole.

1. Leverage TikTok to Make Your Products Go Viral

You can roll your eyes at the teens and their TikTok dances all you want, but there’s no way around the facts: TikTok is influencing consumer buying behavior more than any social media platform we’ve ever seen. And in an age where more people than ever are looking to social media platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram to be told what they want to buy, the influence of influencer marketing should not be underestimated.

Gen-Z has over $140 billion in spending power, and 97% of the group report using social media as their number-one source of shopping inspiration. So it’s no surprise that AdWeek called this demographic, “the most dedicated group of buyers from social media,” and one of the biggest reasons why is that consumers simply don’t like feeling like they’re being advertised to. 

On TikTok, user-generated content is king. The platform allows anyone to have a wide influence, and consumers are drawn to the notion that the person gushing about this life-changing product actually means what they’re saying and has nothing to gain from you making a purchase. This, combined with the app’s ultra-intuitive algorithm, has allowed dozens of products to go viral by showing up in the right audience’s For You page.

Brands can use this to their advantage by working with content creators or marketing experts to advertise their hottest Black Friday deals on the platform in a way that feels much more genuine than a #sponsored post on Instagram.

2. Incentivize Spending Through Value-Added Marketing

Shoppers have more than enough options at their disposal on Black Friday, and it’s your job to make sure they don’t take their hard-earned money to another online retailer’s Black Friday deals. But short of removing the back button on their web browser, how do you reduce cart abandonment when our attention spans have become as short as our choices are endless? By giving the people what they want—more stuff. Well, not necessarily stuff, but value.

Value-added marketing focuses on giving a customer more than they’re expecting, and it’s a tried and true method of incentivizing potential customers to make a purchase. Value adds can be actual products, like promotional freebies and giveaway items, but they can also be intangible benefits. And when it comes to the intangible category, the possibilities are seemingly endless, but a few favorite options include:

  • Free shipping
  • Double, or even triple, reward points
  • High-quality gift wrapping

Or for brands with a more philanthropic side, consider making a donation to a worthy cause that’s relevant to your brand for purchases over a certain dollar amount made during Black Friday sales to let customers feel like their purchase is making an impact on the world at large. This can also help increase your average order total.

3. Bring Back Old-Fashioned Holiday Gift Guides

Harkening back to the days of old, online gift guides are the modern shopper’s version of the OG Sears Christmas Book. We all know the feeling of walking into a store without the slightest clue of what to get for that one family member you only see on holidays. That’s where gift guides come in. 

Holiday gift guides are great for consumers because they take off some of the pressure of picking out the perfect gift by laying out the top products for a range of audiences in one convenient location. And holiday gift guides are even better for business owners because they give you the chance to showcase your top products with a festive spin. 

Consider partnering with another brand that offers similar, but not competing, products that might cross-sell well with your product list to double your audience of potential customers just ahead of the holiday season.

4. Launch a Black Friday Pre-Sale

“The early bird gets the worm,” might be a cliche, but cliches have become overused for a reason—they’re true! The benefits of hosting a pre-Black Friday sale are twofold: For one, it’s a great way to give your customers the value they’re used to seeing with Black Friday deals while showing them that you value their holiday time with their family as well. And secondly, it gives you more time in front of potential customers before they’ve had the chance to spend their money at other online stores.

By getting ahead of the curve, you allow customers to skip the lines, get their shopping done early, and have the chance to spend more time with their family on Thanksgiving. This positions you as a brand that cares about their customers’ lives and not just their money, which is a top-notch place to be at a time where customers are becoming wary of purely transactional relationships with their favorite brands.

5. Keep COVID-19 in Mind

As more and more people are getting vaccinated, we’re starting to see the return of relative normalcy. But when you’re planning your Black Friday campaign, it’s important to remember that different people have different comfort levels. For this reason, brands with brick-and-mortar storefronts should offer multiple options for payment and make their online store’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals as enticing as their in-store Black Friday sales for customers who might still prefer an online shopping experience over the bustling crowds at shopping malls and big-box stores.

If Santa’s Workshop Had a Holiday Marketing Team, It’d Be Versa Creative

Wondering how you’re going to accomplish all of this AND get the Thanksgiving spread on the table before Christmas and the New Year are far behind us? Consider bringing in a team of experts to help you create a strong holiday marketing campaign with Black Friday marketing tactics that work. 

From digital to creative, our team of industry insiders has the know-how to make your Christmas wishes come true. Just don’t ask us to help you score this year’s must-have sold-out toy—we’re marketers, not miracle workers.

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