There’s an old proverb about the best time to plant a tree.
The best time to plant it was twenty years ago.
The second-best time is today.
The same is true for Black Friday prep. You can’t wait until it rolls around… the sooner you start making plans, the better.
However, shoppers are increasingly picky about where that money goes. According to Finder, 15% of customers report it would take a steep 90% discount to get them to shop on Black Friday. And 42% claim there is no discount that would move them to action.
That means whether you’re selling a product or building a brand, the best time to strike is Black Friday/ Cyber Monday—when people are in the mind frame to spend.
You need a strategy that will cut through the competitive noise this holiday season. With that in mind, let’s dive into some strategies you can use to make a direct impact and drive seasonal growth.
Start early and capitalize on enthusiasm before it peaks
Ask the experts about Black Friday/ Cyber Monday, and they’ll tell you the Black Friday frenzy isn’t anything new. Since 2015, shoppers have started ramping up their holiday shopping well before the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. If you want a leg up, don’t ignore these customers. Speak to them in their own language.
That language is simple enough to learn: Black Friday and pre-Black Friday shoppers are both looking for exclusive deals.
What does it mean to “speak to customers in their language”? For Leanne Scott of Passive Income Superstars, it doesn’t mean blasting her list with promotions or announcing special October Black Friday/ Cyber Monday campaigns. It simply means that she observes what customers are interested in. She then uses ConvertKit to tag her customers in anticipation of the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday season.
If it sounds like a lot of work, the good news is that Leanne automates this process within ConvertKit. “I tag my subscribers inside ConvertKit every time they click on a link,” said Leanne. “[That] gives me some clues about what they are interested in.”
This takes advantage of ConvertKit’s segmented email list feature. By the time Black Friday/ Cyber Monday weekend does roll around, Leanne then has entire lists of customers, divided up by the links they’ve previously clicked on her main page.
Rather than slash prices and hope for the best, Leanne then creates email blasts targeted at each group—knowing full well what each group wants to purchase. The key takeaway: you can’t grab early engagement if you don’t plan ahead.
Stagger your Black Friday/ Cyber Monday promotional emails
This isn’t the only approach to getting a head start on Black Friday/ Cyber Monday, either. You can start driving engagement before Black Friday/ Cyber Monday with targeted campaigns that highlight the season you want to create.
Call it the “staggered” approach: you don’t have to center everything around one or two days. Apple used this technique to great success, staggering its Black Friday emails with blasts designed to drum up anticipation.
Apple will use teaser emails saying: “Black Friday is just the beginning.” This frames the holiday buying campaign as one that extends beyond the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday weekend. But they also use another interesting strategy designed to get customers to linger around during the holidays: Black Friday gift card giveaways.
Buy an iPhone, for example, and the emails promise a $50 gift card…perfect for buying a stocking stuffer when December rolls around.
The overall strategy takes the limited timeframe of Black Friday/ Cyber Monday and extends it in both directions. Plan accordingly and you can do the same. Build engagement that starts before the holiday and lasts long after Cyber Monday is in the rearview mirror.
Use ConvertKit’s newsletter design tips—like using custom branded imagery in your templates—to add flair and consistency to every pre-Black Friday/ Cyber Monday newsletter you publish. Once there, get started with our email designer to keep your emails clean and professional.
Use the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday season to build urgency for your offer
Some customers’ least favorite part of the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday season might be that it ends. But if you use this short-lived holiday shopping season’s urgency to your advantage, you can convert more customers.
One way to build urgency is through the use of a timer—a visual reminder that your Black Friday/ Cyber Monday offers are about to expire. That’s what Alicia Powell of Pixistock did, employing a reminder that 40% discounts were going to expire as soon as Cyber Monday was over.
This is an element you can incorporate into your promotions from the start. Place a timer on your landing page, and you’ll immediately create a sense of urgency in your audience. They can even watch the seconds tick away.
ConvertKit’s 10-minute landing pages can work from pre-built templates—customized to your specific brand. Once you set one up, you can publish multiple landing pages (each running on Black Friday/ Cyber Monday timers) with slight tweaks for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or any offerings you create throughout the holiday season.
Draft campaigns with the full holiday season in mind
The laziest way to build a Black Friday/ Cyber Monday campaign is to slap an offer on your website and hope for the best. But don’t take Black Friday/ Cyber Monday engagement rates for granted. Customers may have their wallets handy, sure. Even so, if you don’t entice them enough, they still may not buy from you.
To get the most hype out of your campaign, target customers of all types. Entice people. Learn to appeal to pre-Black Friday/ Cyber Monday buyers as well as post-Black Friday/ Cyber Monday buyers. Engage them with a creative email sales funnel that coincides with how the shopping season develops.
How do you do that? A Deloitte holiday retail survey found that shoppers with different holiday shopping styles will be all over the map when it comes to their spending totals.
The most festive shoppers—the ones most likely to engage with those calendar holidays— spend the most on average, at $1,652. Meanwhile, the ruthlessly efficient shoppers—the ones “avoiding events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” as Deloitte notes—only spend about $1,061 per season.
Plan your strategies accordingly. For example, if you want to target those festive shoppers who have their credit cards near their laptops on Black Friday, don’t expect to catch their attention the day of. You can potentially target efficient shoppers that way—but by then, it’s already too late for the festive and conscious shoppers.
What should you do instead? Here’s an example from a Serious Sport campaign.
- Stage one: Anticipation. Serious Sport announced its Black Friday campaign well in advance. This put the festive and conscious shoppers on alert. At this point, you can ask your customers to sign up for newsletters with the promises of deals to come.
- Stage two: Offers. Offer some exclusive deals even before Black Friday. This helps create a sense of urgency—by the time Black Friday rolls around, these deals should be gone. (Of course, you’ll have other deals, but not the same ones).
- Stage three: Promote. During Black Friday/ Cyber Monday, offer the classic discounts and promote them as you usually would. Use the strategies you’ve read about so far.
- Stage four: Beyond Cyber Monday. Now it’s time to capture those lingering “Festive” shoppers and even appeal to the efficient shoppers. Offer flat discounts, especially when customers subscribe to your newsletter.
This approach creates urgency and spreads out the holiday sales, helping you to capture more holiday shoppers by relying less on the mood of Black Friday/ Cyber Monday to carry you through.
How did it work out for Serious Sport? Staggering their campaign into four distinctive phases created a 25% increase in revenue, year-over-year.
To incorporate a similar promotion style into your Black Friday/ Cyber Monday campaign, don’t wait. Set up automation templates well ahead of time. This will help you run a disciplined, pre-scheduled campaign that automatically triggers at the perfect time, helping you capture and maximize attention as Black Friday season ratchets up.
Use Black Friday/ Cyber Monday as a starting point in a unique customer sequence
The usual sequence might call for a landing page with a lead magnet, a standard newsletter campaign or two, along with a hard sell at the end for the product you ultimately want to sell your customers.
But Marie Poulin of Notion Mastery doesn’t create these sorts of flat promotions. She uses her email sequences to create something more akin to a choose-your-own-adventure story.
If a customer chooses Notion Mastery Solo, for example, they’ll receive a different email sequence from the customers who chose Notion Mastery for Tiny Teams—or Notion At Work.
Many of the emails are about the course itself—joining the Notion Mastery community, for example, or links for accessing the promised call recordings.
But these sequences also drop in other money-making opportunities for Notion Mastery, such as details about how customers can become affiliates for the course.
In addition, Poulin adds custom tags through ConvertKit to avoid the email sequences getting too pushy. If a customer has already joined the Notion Mastery community on Circle, for example, the system automatically tags them so they don’t receive future nudges.
But if they haven’t joined that community yet? The sequence is plenty happy to nudge.
You can customize your email sequences in the same way—creating product-specific tags to segment customers based on whether they purchased a promotion, for example. You can use this to offer Black Friday/ Cyber Monday discounts and then, later, soft-push your upsells only to this list.
Combine segments with unique sequences, and your emails will take on a far more personalized vibe from the start.
Use sequences to take customers on a choose-your-own-adventure story, even if they all start in the same place. For example, one of the key ConvertKit features is the Creator Profile. Better than the standard “my link is in my bio” offering, the Creator Profile creates a centralized hub for everything your customers might be interested in. But once you’ve captured their interest, you can use Poulin’s strategy to take each customer on a unique journey.
Offering courses? Do something unusual with your discounts and offers
What happens if everyone else uses strategies on this list? How do you stand out when competitors are offering 25% and 50% discounts?
To answer this, let’s look at what Teachable did. It’s subtle, but it had an impact. They offered 58% discounts. 47% discounts.
Why? Teachable is a year-round subscription service. It didn’t matter that they weren’t using round numbers, because anyone signing up for Teachable during the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday season was going to represent a long-term customer. All Teachable needed to accomplish was simple: create the sense that its offer was unique in some way.
This all goes back to pricing psychology—reframing your Black Friday/ Cyber Monday deals as truly once-in-a-lifetime, even if they’re more like once-a-year. To accomplish the same, consider the following strategies:
- List benefits before price. Don’t say “Special deal—$29.99 for 70 songs!” One test found that putting the price before the benefits turned customers off. But 70 songs for $29.99? That sounds like a deal.
- Price context. What if you want to sell more $35 bottles of wine at your restaurant? List the $35 bottles after the $15 bottles, and it sounds expensive. But if you list it after the $60, it now sounds like a value buy.
- Employ discounts. Discount psychology is especially relevant around Black Friday/ Cyber Monday when customers are already on the hunt for savings. For example, have you heard of the “rule of 100”? It goes like this: if your product costs less than $100, offer a percentage discount. If your product costs more than $100, offer a dollar discount.
For Teachable, those steep 58% discounts were worth it—it created new customers who lasted the entire year.
Then, when you’ve captured plenty of traffic during the season, you can later upsell to different types of commerce. For example, ConvertKit makes it easy to use Commerce to publish ebooks, paid newsletters, music, and coaching services—all within the list you’ve built during peak Black Friday/ Cyber Monday season.
Stand out without excluding yourself
Black Friday/ Cyber Monday is not part of the holiday shopping season to ignore as a creator. Use these strategies, incorporate them with ConvertKit’s features like newsletters and landing pages, and you’ll be off to the races.