It’s every store owner’s favorite time of year – Black Friday! And I’m proud to provide my own personal Black Friday Playbook for store owners using WooCommerce in 2020.
But don’t worry – even if you don’t use WooCommerce, you’ll still be able to get plenty of awesome ideas and guidance if you read on.
This is the ultimate WooCommerce Black Friday Playbook – and I’m confident that by the end of this article you’ll walk away feeling more prepared and ready to tackle the holiday sales.
What is Black Friday?
Black Friday is a much loved retail sale day that falls on the Friday after the US Thanksgiving celebration. In 2020, it occurs on November 27th. It’s widely thought of as the first day of Christmas shopping and retailers kick off the holiday buying with some amazing offers and deals.
It started as just one day, but now it is much more than the Friday after Thanksgiving. Retailers often start their sales earlier in the month during the week leading up to Thanksgiving and run their sale a few days beyond the actual day.
Although Thanksgiving is an American holiday, many other countries now participate in Black Friday and related sales days.
The important sales days for store owners to remember are:
- Pre-Black Friday – many retailers now start their sales in the week leading up to Black Friday, beginning on the Monday prior.
- Black Friday – the traditional sale day after US Thanksgiving.
- Small Business Saturday – starting the Saturday after Black Friday and running for that weekend.
- Cyber Monday – beginning the week after Black Friday for online stores to provide extra sales incentives.
- Free Shipping Day – a new online sales day occurring on December 14th for last-minute Christmas gift shipping.
My view is that since this whole period of frenzied shopping has the US Thanksgiving holiday to thank for its existence, this can also be a time of year for store owners to give back to their customers and show appreciation.
It’s also worth noting that it’s frowned upon or in poor taste to do heavy sales promotion activities on Thursday (US Thanksgiving day) as this is a time for family and giving thanks.
Overall, for smart store owners who are prepared, this can be a great time to make up for any slow periods in the year and to take advantage of the high buyer intent that is already present at this time.
Success Tip: Build Your List Before Black Friday
An important tip for making Black Friday sales a success is to be prepared.
One of the best ways to be prepared is to build your audience as much as possible with excited customers who are ready to buy.
The best way to collect these highly motivated buyers is still by building an email list.
There’s a number of ways that I suggest going about this, but here are two that stand out as being highly effective:
- Running a pre-Black Friday giveaway
- Having a comprehensive approach to optin boxes on your website
Pre-Black Friday Giveaway To Add Email Subscribers
As mentioned, email marketing is the top way to reach highly motivated buyers on Black Friday and you’ll find you will get much better results if those people are freshly added to your list.
Basically, the longer they sit on your email list without buying the lower their purchase intent is going to be. The same goes for your Instagram and Facebook page lists by the way. Freshness matters.
That is why running a pre-Black Friday giveaway with the express goal of adding email subscribers and followers in the days leading up to Black Friday makes a lot of sense.
The freshness factor of these people means their buying intent is higher and you’re more likely to get sales from them when you announce your Black Friday deals.
Giveaways are great for adding a lot of subscribers – quickly.
But there is a good way and a not as good way to do it.
If all you cared about was Instagram followers, then you could just run the giveaway there with a hashtag. You’ll get some followers and grow your brand but since we’re wanting future sales it’s not the most ideal way to do it.
I suggest using the RafflePress plugin via your website to run a viral giveaway instead.
RafflePress gives you the ability to provide a page on your website with a specially designed form to capture people’s email addresses and earn “extra” entries by performing certain actions.
- Earn +3 points for referring a friend
- Earn +1 point for liking your Facebook page
- Earn +5 points for taking a photo and submitting an image
These are just some of the dozens of actions you can choose from to reward people with extra entry points in your giveaway.
These viral actions can help you grow your giveaway entries (and the email addresses you collect from it) very quickly indeed.
Comprehensive Approach To Email Optin Boxes
The next best way to collect emails before Black Friday is by ensuring you’re capturing value from your existing website traffic.
Most stores now feature at least one email optin box. It’s usually to collect emails for a “newsletter” promising news and discounts. Some even offer a coupon code as a welcome gift which is a great strategy.
So let’s talk about leveling up your optin-game for a minute.
The last time you checked your Google Analytics you probably saw your daily visits in the hundreds or if you’re lucky, the thousands. But did you stop for a minute to ask how many of those people are you actually connecting with and delivering value for?
The only way you can deliver value to those people is by having a way to contact them again after they close their browser tab.
And the best way I know to get their attention before that browser tab closes is by having a good optin box strategy.
I use OptinMonster on our sites here to capture people’s email addresses in exchange for a free guide on how to add wholesale features to your WooCommerce store. You may have even read it before.
To do get people to download that guide, I use things like the end of blog post optin boxes, sidebar optin boxes, slide up optin prompts, full screen take over optins, and exit-intent optins.
A typical run-of-the-mill lightbox popup box, like most stores use, converts visitors to subscribers somewhere between 1% and 3% (and that’s if you really nail it).
Having multiple touchpoints and optin boxes helps “mop up the leftovers” that just having one lightbox optin box strategy would normally leave on the table. Some of these extra optins also convert well above average.
I always recommend my favorite tool for implementing these optins on your store easily and quickly: OptinMonster. It’s because they have so many relevant and engaging templates for optins that you’ll basically never run out of ideas.
Here are my personal favorites for e-commerce optins:
- Exit intent optin offer
- Slide up offer on the bottom right
- Spin to win gamification full-screen optin
- Countdown timer offer floating above your header
- Full-screen takeover offer
- Traditional lightbox popup but showing after a scroll %, time on site, or on their second-page view which increases conversions
Even if it’s just for the Black Friday period, adding these extra optin boxes will get you 2x-10x more email addresses than just having one popup box alone would.
Decide On Your Promotions
The biggest stumbling block for store owners is not leaving enough time to decide on their promotions before Black Friday actually starts. Many stores just throw something lackluster together a few days before and wonder why it doesn’t get them very good results.
Don’t leave it until the last minute – give yourself some time to decide what to do. Be clear about your deals and who they are targeting.
When you plan your deals, make sure that you cover your costs.
A lot of online articles advocate using a loss leader to attract more buyers, but people are smart, they’ll just buy that one item and you’ll make a loss if they never buy from you again.
We’ll talk about different types of offers you can run in a minute, but keep in mind that we’re in business to make a profit, so the discount you’re offering should be steep, but not so much that you aren’t making any money from it. It has to be a win-win situation.
Lastly, I suggest planning to do one thing to “give back”. After all, Black Friday owes it’s existence to US thanksgiving, so doing something like this can help validate the whole situation in the eyes of your customers.
Two great ways you can give back and still achieve your goals are:
- Giveaways; and
- Corporate charity donations
Using giveaways to give back
I mentioned above about the power of giveaways so the value to you as the store owner should be obvious.
But giveaways are also a great way to give both your new potential customers but also your existing customers something desirable potentially completely for free with no strings attached.
Make your audience feel great by hosting a giveaway this Black Friday and put up a really juicy prize for them. The juicier the prize, the better the response, and the good feelings will be.
Using corporate charity donations to give back
The second way I suggest is by preparing to donate a percentage of your sale period takings to a charity.
For the store owner, this can actually boost your conversion rate considerably. For the customer, they know that part of their money is going to a good cause.
If you choose this option, make sure you prepare and select your charity carefully as this can be a big sticking point for some.
Types Of Offers You Can Run
Let’s get into the meaty part of the article that you’ve been looking forward to; figuring out your Black Friday offers.
There are many different types of offers you can run on Black Friday and there are no hard and fast rules as to what works and what doesn’t.
The most obvious would be to run a site-wide percentage off discount that covers all products. And while it’s simplistic, it will perform reasonably well.
But if you want to make the most of Black Friday you need to work on making it a “deal” and not so much a “discount”.
Bundles of products
Product bundles are an excellent example of value-bundling where you combine two or more products together into a set for purchase together, often at a discount.
By combining the products together, as a store, you get to also combine their costs and revenues meaning the margin you make on a bundle could even be higher than the margin you would make on one product alone.
For the customer, it’s a simple proposition to be able to get all the items they need or want together. This is what makes bundles so attractive.
I recommend using the WooCommerce Product Bundles plugin which handles this perfectly. It even ensures that the inventory is managed at the product level so that your inventory counts aren’t messed up.
BOGO (Buy One, Get One) style deals
WooCommerce store owners have often been restricted by the technology available to them for creating the deals they want.
The team behind Advanced Coupons have worked hard to ensure WooCommerce store owners are able to run many types of deals that were not possible to run last year. This includes BOGO (Buy One, Get One) style deals.
BOGO deals make mathematical sense when you compare them with regular percentage-based deals too:
What would you prefer as a store owner?
Standard 30% off coupon deal
– 1x $100 pair of Jeans (discounted to $70 after 30% off)
– Minus $30 cost price
– $40 profit margin
A standard coupon for a “30% off deal” would take 30% off the revenue meaning its $70 profit margin would get reduced to a $40 profit margin.
BOGO (Buy 2 get 1 free) deal
– 3x pairs of Jeans is $300
– Minus $90 cost price ($30 cost price each)
– Minus $100 as 1x product is free for the deal
– $110 profit margin
Each time the customer takes the BOGO deal you make $110 profit. I’ll take that any day of the week.
Discounting shipping is always popular with customers because when shipping is free it removes a complication from the buying process.
You can run shipping discounts in a number of ways:
- Free shipping over $X spend – this means the customer must reach a threshold before free shipping is activated
- Free shipping when purchasing a specific product – this encourages the purchase of that particular product which is a great offer for Black Friday
- Discounted shipping – using Advanced Coupons you can discount shipping methods which are good for offers such as last-minute express shipping or discounted shipping for repeat customers.
Whatever way you choose to discount shipping, ensure that you communicate the offer well to your customers so they know about it.
Something that many store owners miss out on is not altering their offers based on who is being targeted.
As users of Wholesale Suite know, the better you treat your wholesale customers the better they will treat you in terms of orders and revenue.
So this Black Friday, instead of just creating deals for new customers and existing retail customers, why not also create a special deal for your wholesale customers too?
I suggest you launch this deal a 3-4 weeks ahead of Black Friday so that you can suggest to your wholesale customers they put the product on sale during the same holiday sales period.
Here is a great guide on how to make a wholesale specific deal with Wholesale Suite, Advanced Coupons and WooCommerce. Step 5 in the guide shows you how to restrict the coupon to just your wholesale customers.
Automatic coupon deals
Lastly, whatever deal you end up creating, I’d like to also make a suggestion: to make the deal auto apply.
Automatically applying a deal when the user becomes eligible makes it simpler for the customer, and when things are simpler they get done more often.
Auto Apply is a premium feature in Advanced Coupons, so be sure to pick up a copy of it if you haven’t already.
The way it works is by checking the Cart Conditions of the coupon and when they are true, it will automatically apply the coupon.
So for example, if you had a BOGO coupon, valid only for wholesale customers, where they get 1 free t-shirt for every 50 that they order, you could set the following Cart Conditions:
- Check that the role of the user is Wholesale Customer (or any of your wholesale roles)
- Check that the customer has more than 49 of the t-shirt product in the cart
If the conditions match, then you can safely auto-apply the coupon. What I love about this is that it combines a number of Advanced Coupons features together so you really get to see the power of it (Cart Conditions, BOGO, and Auto Apply).
Pre-Black Friday Prep
Black Friday preparation is almost as important for stores as the day itself. Here’s a few items to think through and at the bottom of this section I’ll link to a free checklist you can download.
Know your target dates
The first step in preparing is to know what sale dates you will and won’t try to target.
As I mentioned at the start of the article, Black Friday is no longer just the day itself, its a number of sale days around it that make up the whole sale period.
Not everyone is going to have the time to target every one of those sale days and don’t feel bad if you can’t. Just make the most of the time you have and execute well for the days you can target.
Determine your advertising options
Paid advertising might be something you do a lot of, or it might be something you do occasionally. Whatever the case, I suggest you review it again through the lens of Black Friday promotions.
Here are some advertising options you could consider:
- Facebook ads
- Google ads
- LinkedIn ads (great for B2B)
- Twitter ads
- Private blog advertising
- Influencer campaigns
- Print ads
It can help to target one or two as your primary sources, then experiment with taking the same campaign to other networks or advertising options.
Set up tracking & e-commerce analytics
It’s important to collect all the data you can surrounding Black Friday sales so you can conduct a thorough post-mortem analysis after it’s done (I’ll talk more on this in the Post-Black Friday Tasks section of this article).
There are two tools I believe you should use:
This tool helps you track and report on all of the sales data your store generates. It’s a SaaS, not a plugin, so it won’t slow down your store which is essential.
The reports it can generate gives you information about what deals, individual products, and product categories were performing well during your sale. Additionally, you’ll be able to create ongoing dashboards so you can monitor these things over time.
MonsterInsights for Google Analytics
This plugin does something very valuable. It de-complicates the adding of e-commerce tracking to your Google Analytics.
I’ve found it extremely helpful to be able to see my e-commerce data inside of Google Analytics because then you can run reports on what landing pages perform well for you, what traffic sources are best for sales, and how people generally behave on your site as they make their journey to becoming a customer.
It also adds some nice reports right inside your WordPress dashboard which can be great for high-level stats without launching into your Google Analytics account.
Prepare eye-catching graphics
If you look at the advertising campaigns of big brands you’ll notice they spend a lot of time ensuring everything looks the same for that campaign.
This is branding in action and it can help you bring a common look and feel to your campaigns which will make them appear more professional and less “thrown together”.
It can help if you pick a unique theme such as “cyber punk” or “floral” or “black and white” which will give you the context needed to create some stunning graphics for your sale.
It’s amazing what you can find on royalty free stock websites these days as well if you have a theme in mind. Here are some great stock sites where you can explore:
- Unsplash – beautiful free images & pictures
- Pixabay – 1.8 million stunning free images
- Pexels – free stock photos
You can also use an online graphics tool like Canva who have many pre-done templates to choose from. This will reduce the amount of work you need to do and help eliminate some of the costs of paying graphic designers to create these assets.
Black Friday Prep Checklist
On the Advanced Coupons blog we put together a great checklist for Black Friday this year which is a free downloadable.
Just goto this blog post and scroll down to see and download it.
Turbo Charge Black Friday Sales
To make your Black Friday sales really explode you need to work on “turbo charging” your efforts.
Here are three tips for turbo charging your Black Friday sales:
1. Introduce urgency & scarcity
A scientific study conducted by Worchel, S., Lee, J., & Adewole, A. (1975), tested the effects of supply and demand on ratings of an object’s value. They tested 200 undergrads with two cookie jars, one overflowing and one nearly empty.
They were told that the nearly empty jar was that way for one of two reasons, either that it was an accident or that there was a high demand for those particular cookies. The in-demand cookies were rated as more desirable.
This leads us to this tip. There are two tools you can choose to leverage to increase sales during an offer period and they are:
- Urgency – highlighting how long someone has to do something
- Scarcity – highlighting limitations on doing something
Urgency is all about how you communicate your offer. As a store owner, you can increase the feeling of urgency by how you word things, your graphics, and how you present the time left to take action.
Scarcity is all about giving the sense that an offer is limited in some way, usually by either time or stock left. Scarcity is a perception that they’re going to miss out on the item if they don’t take action soon.
Amazon is the master at this, I really like how they use urgency and scarcity triggers on their deal of the day products for example.
An easy way for you to leverage this tip for Black Friday is to use OptinMonster again with a targeted header bar containing a countdown timer.
Many software tools do this on their pricing page during promotions and it’s very effective.
Ask yourself how you can leverage urgency & scarcity during Black Friday.
2. Expand the dates (it’s more than just one day!)
I’ve touched on this a few time during this article, but it’s worth repeating I think.
Expanding the dates on your Black Friday sale to just before and just after the official sale day can be a great way to increase the scope of your sale and earn more.
You can do this in one of two ways:
- Just extend the dates and call it all “Black friday sale” – this is totally fine to do and will save you many hours of creating additional graphics.
- Create unique graphics and promotion material for the entire period – this can help you give something else to email or talk about without seeming like you are repeating the same message over and over about Black Friday.
Both ways have their advantages and disadvantages, so choose whatever is right for your situation.
3. Focus on building your lists early
The biggest tip I can give that will dramatically affect your performance this Black Friday is the amount of time and attention you spend on building your email lists between now and then.
I wrote a whole section on building your email list at the start of this article. My two big suggestions are:
- Mop up all the leftovers you’re missing from your existing traffic that normally would just close the browser tab by building additional optin boxes to collect more emails.
- Create a viral giveaway with an epic prize that will turn heads and give you additional emails in a short period of time.
Post-Black Friday Tasks
Now that Black Friday is over, and you’ve finished banking that truckload of cash you made, it’s time to tend to some post-Black Friday tasks.
First of all, if you ran a giveaway or did a corporate giving scheme where you donate a part of your proceeds, you need to follow through on that.
Additionally, it can help to actually communicate to your list that you’ve done so as this will build trust.
Second, you should be planning a follow-up sale.
There’s a day called “Free Shipping Day” in the e-commerce world which is gaining more and more traction every year and it’s a great follow-up for the people who didn’t pull the trigger on your Black Friday sale.
Just remember to exclude the people who already bought so they don’t feel fatigued by all the sales. A nice simple shipping offer is all that is needed on this day.
For the ones that did buy, it’s probably a good idea to map out how you intend to add value to these people over the coming months. This can be content, product education, product improvements, etc.
For the non-customers, I suggest trimming your list sometime in January. It’s weird, but sometimes people just get excited with all the Black Friday fever and they’ll randomly join giveaways or lists because they think they’re going to get something for free and they have no intention or desire to buy your products.
There’s no point in paying your email marketing software provider for those subscribers, so just trim off anyone who joined your list recently but did not open any of your previous emails over the last 3 months.
And finally, but probably most importantly (which is why I left it as the last item on the conclusion so it sticks with you!), it’s time to run a post-mortem on your whole campaign.
What went well? What didn’t work as well as expected? And what did “just okay”?
These kinds of insights can inform your campaign for next year as well as any additional sales you run throughout the year.
Now don’t just close this browser tab, bookmark the article, scroll to the top and start planning your most epic Black Friday sale ever! I wish you all the success you deserve!