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Best Black Friday (2021) Ideas For Small Businesses

By Kristina
01 Oct, 2021
10 min read

Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer an unbeatable opportunity for small business owners to drive new traffic, bring in more customers, and convert more sales. With bargain hunters worldwide logging on or heading out to take advantage of the special offers this weekend has become known for, having detailed Black Friday marketing strategies and promotion ideas in place ahead of time is essential.

So, if you’re planning to take advantage of the early holiday shopping season frenzy, here are some of our top tips for acing this Black Friday.

black friday

What is Black Friday? 

Black Friday started in the United States and falls on the first Friday after Thanksgiving. This is traditionally seen as the start of the holiday shopping season and brings a significant increase in foot or digital traffic as people search for the best discounts and bargains.

The term “Black Friday” was first used in 1869 when two investors drove up the price of gold, causing the market to crash. 

In the 1950s, “Black Friday” was a term used by Philadelphia police to refer to a day between Thanksgiving and the Army-Navy game, where gigantic crowds of shoppers and tourists would visit the city, meaning police had to work overtime to keep the peace. 

By the late 1980s, “Black Friday” took on a more positive meaning that’s commonly considered to be the origin story of Black Friday as we know it today… The story of increased store traffic causing business owners to become more profitable, turning their finances from “red” to “black.”

However, Black Friday got its name; one thing is sure; this is the day that stores online and offline can expect to see substantial increases in traffic and sales. In fact, Black Friday was officially designated the biggest shopping day of the year in 2000 (even busier than the Saturday before Christmas – we’re looking at you, last-minute gift buyers!). 

bf sale

What is Cyber Monday? 

The younger sister of Black Friday, the term “Cyber Monday” was first coined by Shop.org in 2005 and occurs on the Monday following Black Friday. 

The idea behind Cyber Monday was to encourage consumers to shop online. Like Black Friday, online retailers offer special offers, promotions, discounts, and website-only deals on this day, causing it to become the second-biggest shopping day of the year.

Cyber Monday also originated in the United States but has grown into a global phenomenon with considerable increases in online traffic and sales every year. In fact, holiday shoppers in the US alone spent an incredible $10.8 billion on Cyber Monday in 2020, making it the largest US online shopping day ever! 

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Why bother with Black Friday promotions? 

Now you know where Black Friday and Cyber Monday came from, you might be wondering whether marketing Black Friday deals is worth it for your small business?

  • Over the Thanksgiving weekend (between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday), an estimated 186.4 million US consumers shopped online or in-store. 
  • Shoppers spent an average of $311.75 on purchases during the five-day Thanksgiving weekend. 
  • On Black Friday alone, $9.03 billion was spent online. That’s a 19% increase vs. 2019. 
  • Early shopping and sales dominated Black Friday 2020, with 52 percent of shoppers taking advantage of early deals and 38% making holiday purchases in the week before Thanksgiving. 
  • Over 56% of Black Friday conversions were made via a mobile device. 
  • 75% of retailers say they offer deals before Black Friday, with offers lasting several days or even weeks. 
  • Small businesses can expect a +107% revenue boost over the holiday shopping season. 
get in loser gif

Top 10 Black Friday marketing ideas for small businesses: 

Knowing why Black Friday is essential for your small business is one thing, but coming up with creative Black Friday promotion ideas is a whole new challenge.

From how to create a Black Friday deal your customers will love, to knowing when to advertise for Black Friday, our top 10 Black Friday promotion ideas are sure to help you find some inspiration and give you a starting point for your BF marketing campaigns.

1. Gift guides

Gift guides are a fantastic (and free) opportunity to help customers find the perfect gifts for their loved ones and pay tribute to the idea behind BF – it’s the start of the holiday shopping season!

By helping your customers find creative, unusual, or bespoke gifts (and some special discounts), you’re showing that you care about their shopping and are dedicated to helping them find the right items to spend their money on.

Gift guides are also a great way to increase traffic and build trust in the lead-up to the Thanksgiving spending weekend.

Some examples of valuable gift guides could include:

  • X gifts new moms need
  • Best personalized gifts for him/her
  • X unique gifts under $20
  • X gifts for foodies
  • X gifts the techy you love will love
  • 13 gifts for tween girls
  • Editor’s best gift picks

Some target market research will be invaluable here. Consider people shopping in your store already and who they might be buying for over the holiday season. Create guides that tailor to both, and be sure to send out emails to your subscribers to let them know every time you publish a new gift guide that they might want to check out.

gift

2. Hourly deals

Hourly deals are a fantastic way to make your BF promotions a little more exciting and create a heightened sense of urgency. Try offering a general discount on all products (for example, 40% off), with further discounts on set products rotating on an hourly or bi-hourly basis.

Flash sales have been shown to increase transaction rates by 35%, with the best results available when brands use email promotions to drive sales. 

Interestingly, flash sale emails sent after 3 p.m. tend to perform best. Evening flash sales have 9% higher open rates and 33% higher clickthrough rates than lunchtime sales. ROI per promotional email is also 30% higher in the evenings.

What’s more, a study from Experian found 2-hour flash sales resulted in 14% higher than average email open rates, and 3-hour flash sales lead to a 59% higher than average email open rate. So, keeping your bonus sales between 1-3 hours long could help you find a sweet spot and maximize ROI. 

In addition to email marketing, it’s a good idea to promote your flash sales on social media and any other sales channels your business uses. You could even go Live with a countdown letting customers know how long they have left on a special deal or provide sneak peeks into what the next discounted category might be.

The downside to offering a Deal of the Hour or Flash Sale is that it can take a lot of effort to coordinate your marketing and administration needs. This means that solopreneurs might struggle to keep up and may want to save this promo idea for when they have a team with them and can make the most of automation and delegation tools.

3. Early-bird Black Friday sales

As competition for Black Friday customers increases annually, many businesses are starting their BF promotions ahead of time to capitalize on eager shoppers. Pre-BF sales often start in early November, but some stores offer discounts as early as mid-October.

Offering promotions before the Thanksgiving weekend will allow you to get customers excited to shop and help your brand stand out from the thousands of others vying for audience attention over the discount-heavy weekend.

In addition, early sales are an excellent way to sell your items before customers run out of money after a spending frenzy.

In 2020, offering early bird BF sales was particularly important as many brands wanted to avoid the shipping delays caused by the Covid pandemic. In 2021, this is likely to be a continuing concern, so providing early offers can help shoppers beat the rush and get products delivered faster. 

If you start offering money-saving discounts before the Thanksgiving weekend, it’s a good idea to keep these fresh and changing. Consider Daily Deals that will keep shoppers interested and coming back to your store. Alternatively, you could offer VIP access to early bird sales to add extra value to a subscriber’s membership.

early bird

4. Second/Last chance offers

Similar to starting your Black Friday sale ideas early, you could also capitalize on indecisive customers by offering an extended chance to take advantage of any campaign. This could be announced in advance to transform your Black Friday sales into a whole event lasting a week or longer, or you could go for a sneakier approach…

We really like one Black Friday event idea: to initially promote your deals over the BF-CM weekend, then surprise customers by extending the sale at the last minute. When customers see you’re offering a second chance to save, you can increase the likelihood of a purchase.

This Black Friday marketing idea could be particularly valuable if you have abandoned carts following the BF weekend. 

According to research from Baymard Institute, average cart abandonment rates vary from 68.75% (desktop) to 85.65% (mobile). By setting up an abandoned cart email marketing campaign that offers shoppers a second/last chance to benefit from Black Friday deals, you can provide customers with an extra incentive to complete their purchase. 

If you decide to surprise shoppers with an extended sale period, be sure to let them know the new expiry date/time of the offer. As with flash sales, a website banner highlighting the extension with a countdown timer can be a great way to add value to the customer experience while also installing a continued sense of urgency.

sale

5. Free gifts

Who doesn’t love a freebie? Adding an extra incentive to purchase is a great way to show how much you value your customers and make every buyer feel special. 

You could let customers select their own free gift, have a particular item available, or create some suspense and excitement by throwing in a mystery gift or bundle with qualifying purchases. The mystery element is sure to entice, and nearly 90% of shoppers say they’re “somewhat likely” to buy more often from online stores if they’ve received a free gift in the past. 

According to studies, shoppers are even more likely to buy if the gift is a mystery than if they know what they’re getting. In fact, a secret free gift can double the likelihood of a purchase. 

Some examples of free gifts you might want to include as part of your Black Friday promotions might be:

  • Free socks with a pair of shoes
  • A free mystery makeup item when you spend over $X on beauty products
  • A free piece of jewelry with women’s fashion items or cufflinks/tie pins with men’s fashion

Naturally, a free gift should be a small token and shouldn’t eat into your profit margins too much. It’s also vital that you don’t charge shipping on the free gift. If a customer has to pay to receive their bonus present, it’s no longer free.  

6. Buy more to save more

Of course, the best way to maximize profits over the BFCM sales weekend (or at any time of the year) is to increase the Average Order Value of your customers’ shopping carts. A great marketing tactic to achieve this goal is to offer greater discounts for higher-value carts.

This is similar to the free gift Black Friday marketing ideas mentioned above, but it can also be a highly effective tool to encourage customers to spend more in your store.

Another fun way to increase spending could be with a game. Perhaps customers who spend a certain amount of money could spin a mystery wheel to receive rewards such as gift cards, free gifts, extra discounts, free shipping, or something else. 

cash in hands

7. Highlight your referral and VIP schemes 

Referral and VIP programs are a great way to instill loyalty with your customers and build brand awareness, but they can also hold a valuable place when it comes to your Black Friday marketing strategy.

To start with, you could offer an extra discount, early-bird access, or gift cards to your VIP customers (or members of your email list). Perhaps VIP customers could get a higher percentage discount than standard shoppers, or you use our complimentary gift idea above to add value to repeat customers.

Next, you can encourage more people to sign up for your VIP scheme with email marketing campaigns following a Black Friday or Cyber Monday purchase. Use a heading along the lines of “Want more Black Friday deals that last beyond the shopping season?!” to boost open rates, then explain how your referral or VIP program provides year-round access to the best deals.

8. Provide sneak peeks

Even if you don’t want to start offering a discount on products before BF or CM, you can still promote your best Black Friday sale ideas with sneak peeks at the discounts to come. 

This is a brilliant way to get customers excited about the special offers on the way and allows them to create mental shopping lists. You could even add a “wish list” button to items that will be on sale, with email reminders to let customers know when to buy.

The best Black Friday marketing ideas build anticipation for the awesome discounts to come. Try making short videos highlighting the discount, gift, or bundle that you’ll offer over the spending season and post about it on social media. 

You could also give an influencer early access to your best Black Friday promotions and have them create demand before you discount anything.

9. Don’t forget your #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday hashtags! 

In our social media lead world, every small business should know that it’s essential to be online and using your chosen marketing platform correctly. This includes using hashtags.

While hashtags are always a vital component of any social media marketing campaign, they can be fantastic over the BF/CM weekend to build awareness of your promotions and reach bargain-hungry customers.

Some brilliant Black Friday Instagram hashtags you might want to use include:

  • #BlackFriday
  • #CyberMonday
  • #BlackFriday2021
  • #Sale
  • #BlackFridaySale
  • #BlackFridayDeals

You could also benefit from using more bespoke hashtags that appeal to your specific demographic. Try #BlackFridayUSA for sales in America, or if you’re promoting a local business, Black Friday hashtags might include your town.

hashtag cup

10. Plan ahead and get the word out 

The most critical component of any Black Friday marketing strategy is to get the word out about your special offers and discounts as early as possible. Remember, almost every other big-name brand and small business alike will be looking for a boost in revenue over the shopping season, and your audience must be able to hear you over the noise.

Start your Black Friday advertising campaigns as early as possible to give customers plenty of time to consider their options. You could offer early-bird discounts if people sign up for your rewards scheme, or simply offer to notify customers when the items they’ve been dreaming of go on sale.

A promotional content calendar will be invaluable when marketing Black Friday deals, and you’ll find it much easier to keep track of Cyber Monday advertising ideas with an organized diary.

Scheduling and automating social media posts will also be incredibly beneficial, as you don’t want to be struggling to update Facebook when a BF customer is asking questions about your gift cards.

In addition to social media and general marketing campaigns, you’ll also want to ensure all your content and copy have been created before the holiday rush. This includes any gift guides you’re planning on sending out (we recommend you start sending these out in October to give your audience time to spot them and get excited), having every landing page ready to go, and getting any BF promotional blogs written ahead of time.

It’s also a good idea to run the numbers to ensure your Black Friday ad advertising costs don’t eat into your profit margins. Remember that the higher discount you offer, the smaller your profit margin will be, no matter how many sales you make. So, check the figures and make sure any Black Friday deal ideas you have won’t harm your bottom line!

Final thoughts

No matter what Black Friday or Cyber Monday campaign ideas your small business comes up with, you can make this shopping season your best ever by offering exclusive deals and resources that your customers will love. Be sure to keep your target audience well informed about any promotion you’re setting up and start early to get people excited about what’s to come.

Remember when marketing Black Friday deals to keep any VIP or loyalty programs in mind. The increased traffic can provide a fantastic opportunity to build brand awareness and build your customer base from the Black Friday funnel.

black friday i'm not afraid gif

FAQ

How can I promote my small business on Black Friday?

When it comes to Black Friday marketing, you want to install a feeling of excitement and urgency in every campaign. Social media is probably the best way to get your BF/CM campaign ideas out there, as this will allow you to speak to a large and engaged audience. You should also be sure to send out regular email marketing with gift guides, sneak peeks, and information about your upcoming sales.

Does Black Friday help small businesses?

The holiday season is an incredible opportunity for small businesses to attract new customers and build brand awareness with special deals and an improved marketing campaign.

BFCM sales are also a great way to show customer appreciation and boost your bottom line, thanks to extra purchases and new shoppers.

When should I start promoting Black Friday? 

If you’re wondering when to advertise for Black Friday, the answer is simply the earlier, the better! Many stores will post their first Black Friday creative ads as early as October to get people in the shopping mood.

What sells the most on Black Friday?

If you’re wondering when to advertise for Black Friday, the answer is simply the earlier, the better! Many stores will post their first Black Friday creative ads as early as October to get people in the shopping mood.

What sells the most on Black Friday?

Technology and electronics tend to be the best sellers during the BFCM sales. In 2020, the Nintendo Switch dominated sales with over twice as many searches as the second most popular product (the PS4).

In addition to Nintendo and PS4, some other big sellers include well-known and premium brands such as Apple, Vans, Pandora, and Dyson.

This year, blackfriday.com expects the Nintendo Switch to do well again, alongside Apple AirPods, Apple watches, iRobot Roombas, and other big-name electrical/technology brands.

Do you save more on Black Friday or Cyber Monday?

According to Business Insider, if you’re looking for new, big-ticket items or are shopping in-store, you should focus your attention on Black Friday sales. On the other hand, Cyber Monday deals tend to offer better discounts on tech and smaller gifts, with the best sales online.

That said, these days, many businesses offer discounts over the entire BFCM weekend and even beyond, so keep an eye on any email marketing or social media posts you spot leading up to Thanksgiving to ensure you get the best deals!

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Kristina

I'm a content manager at sixads. I'm fiery about marketing, writing and traveling, so you can often find me scribbling away in some unknown corner of the world. If you want to know more ways to increase traffic and attract buyers to your online store get in touch with sixads on one of the channels bellow.