Black Friday is a staple of the yearly retail calendar – a time when you can raise awareness, drive customer engagement and, most importantly, boost winter sales. In this article, we take you through some of the best Black Friday ideas for small businesses, to help your company prepare for one of the busiest retail times of the year.
It's no secret that the rules of Black Friday are changing – and as a small business owner, preparation is important. Traditionally, Black Friday was a one-day event that came around yearly to mark the start of the Christmas shopping season; then it seemed to extend over a weekend, then a week, and now, more often than not, it kickstarts a whole month of deals – especially among bigger retailers.
As a small business, it's important to take advantage of this crucial early holiday shopping period, and potentially extending offers into December to increase sales.
Here's our guide on how to prepare your business for Black Friday.
Whatever your product offering, gift guides are a great way to help customers find gifts for loved ones and to personalise the shopping experience. By helping your customers find the right products for their needs (along with Black Friday discounts), you're showing that you care as a retailer and want to help customers get the right presents for their hard-earned money.
Gift guides are a great way to boost traffic to your site and build trust in your brand. Some examples of gift guides could be recommendations on gifts for parents, children, teens, personalised gifts, gifts for foodies, and so on. Do some target market research, and be sure to push the gift guides by sending emails out to subscribers to help direct more traffic.
To create a sense of urgency, and to give your promotions a level of buzz and excitement, try offering a large discount on certain products for an hour, rotating product types on an hourly basis. According to Shopify, flash sales help retailers to get rid of old or excess stock, drive sales by creating urgency, and boost loyalty. Experian claims that 2-hour flash sales lead to 14% higher email open rates, and 3-hour flash sales lead to a 59% higher than average email open rate. Sales rates are also 23% higher for evening flash sales.
It's a great idea to promote your flash deals on your website, social media, and email marketing platforms – such as with countdowns, sneak peeks, or 'reveal' times. A regular email newsletter is a cost-effective way of reaching new customers or making sure your current ones keep coming back for more. Social media is a great tool for promoting your offers during this time too (check out our collaboration with Meta to boost your digital skills with our training sessions).
It’s also worth remembering that all businesses will be thinking the same as you, and that there are plenty of tempting offers out there, so you’ll want to make your business stand out. Do this by making sure all content is customer-first. Think about including content from your community; this could be as simple as showing the different ways customers are using your products, or by answering frequently asked questions through videos to put a face to your business and services.
Capitalise on eager shoppers by starting your pre-Black Friday sales earlier in November. Some retailers even decide to stretch these offers out and post them in late October. Early sales are a great way to get items sold before your customers potentially run out of money by spending lots on Black Friday itself. If you decide to offer early bird discounts, keep switching them up to keep customer engagement high and to ensure they come back for more. You could also offer VIP access to your early bird deals by giving subscribers to your newsletters and social media some extra value.
Loyalty is an ongoing issue for many small businesses, so VIP programmes and referral rewards are a great way to ensure customers stay with your brand. Such programmes can also be very useful when it comes to your Black Friday marketing strategy. Through a VIP loyalty programme, you could offer early access to Black Friday sales, a greater discount, or gift cards. A complimentary gift is another idea to give your VIP channel an edge. Encourage more customers to sign up for your VIP area with email marketing campaigns that launch before your Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales. Use enticing language that increases open rates, too.
Social media is a powerful tool for advertising your Black Friday business deals. Hashtags are an important part of any Black Friday social media campaign, and they can be very effective at creating interest over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday period, to reach customers who want a bargain, and to build promotional awareness. Some common hashtags you might want to include are:
You may also want to use hashtags that are more relevant to your demographic in terms of your customer base, or the region you're in. For instance, they may include the name of a town, region, or county.
Offering an entire month worth of sales might seem a lot, but chances are your competitors will be using this opportunity to draw customers in, too. Plus, since Western Europe e-commerce sales have grown by 128% since 2015, you can be certain customers will be on the hunt for the best online deals.
So, before you launch, you need to plan ahead. Make sure your website, online shop, social media, and email communications are set up for success. Schedule social media posts in advance and create all of your content ahead of time so you can be highly responsive. A good starting point is making sure answers to likely questions are easy to access and ensuring your website can run smoothly with increased visitors.
Next, put yourself in your customers’ shoes and view the shopping experience from their perspective. Understanding the type of deals they’ll be looking for, or how their spending habits or lifestyles are changing, will help make your offers eye-catching. For example, the current cost of living situation means consumers are switching to cheaper brands and are postponing large purchases.
Check whether your website is simple to use, easy to navigate, and kept up to date with fresh content to make it more than just a shop window. Your online shop should also be well maintained and updated as often as needed to keep it engaging.
For more support on Black Friday ideas for small businesses, discover our free business support helpline, and speak to one of our Business Advisers by phone, contact form or web chat. Or if you want to find out how to keep up with change and use technology to make more sales, read on here.
Available Monday to Friday, 8am-6pm, our friendly team are here to provide guidance and support on the topics that matter to your business.