What are the origins of Black Friday?

It’s probably no surprise to learn that Black Friday originates from America; the home of the sales campaign. The term ‘Black Friday’ was first used in 1961 in Philadelphia. The day after Thanksgiving was always a day when shoppers came out to shop after the festive break. The term was first used to describe heavy traffic as shoppers took to the roads. 

Retailers soon cottoned on the fact that there was a surge of retail buyers directly after Thanksgiving so, in order to tempt buyers, retailers started offering sale promotions on this day.

The term Black Friday was then used to describe how retailers would use that day to move out of the red and into the black before the end of the year. It was seen as the last opportunity before the end of the year to make a profit.

With the advent of the internet and email marketing, Black Friday has become a global event in the last 20 years. It is now a firmly established event in everybody’s calendar. Getting bigger each year and spilling over into more days and offshoot sales events – it looks like it’s here to stay. 

Why should you jump on the Black Friday Band Wagon?

Love it or loath it, it seems to be here to stay – and there is always a huge surge in sales revenue. In the months leading up to Black Friday, buyers tend to sit tight before making any purchases. Lots of people will be looking to see what happens on Black Friday, waiting for a better deal to appear.

Key elements of a successful Black Friday Email marketing campaign

Announce that you are going to be carrying out a Black Friday Deal
It’s an easy one to overlook, but typically Black Friday deals have much more impact if people are aware that you intend to launch one.

If people know the key elements, such as timescale and a teaser of what the potential offering could be, this really helps to build anticipation. Doing this will really boost your Black Friday sales.

Build your list in preparation
Prior to going live with your Black Friday offer, it’s a good idea to maximise your list of email subscribers. Don’t be tempted to buy a list though, purchased lists are typically fraught with issues and any reputable email software supplier won’t let you use them.

What works really well is carrying out teaser campaigns on social media – you can offer anyone who signs up to receive your Black Friday offer early access or subscriber-only content.  You can then post a copy of your email sign up form as a social media post, this really works well to attract new subscribers in decent numbers.

Ideas to try with your Black Friday campaign

Use a countdown timer – why this works
A countdown timer is a great addition to any sales email marketing campaign. It works especially well for Black Friday offers. It also adds movement to your mailer – which really makes your email stand out.

Bundle deals
Creating multi-buy deals really helps to add additional revenue, bundle deals on popular products can tempt your viewers into buying more than they may have otherwise done.

Element of surprise
This really helps to generate impulse purchases, suddenly launching surprise deals can also create a sense of urgency – a fear of missing out.

Use of moving images such as animated GIF’s
Moving images are a great way of grabbing people’s attention, they really help your email to stand out. This can be done by using animated GIF files.

Totally different look and feel to your regular marketing campaigns
If you make sure that your Black Friday design looks totally different to your regular newsletter type emails – then this really helps to create a ‘one off’ feel to your email marketing for Black Friday. This really helps to add value and build a sense of exclusivity.

Offer deals that focus on building loyalty
As well as offer based deals – you could offer loyalty programmes, such as extended free shipping. This can help to increase the reach of your Black Friday offers by offering loyalty based deals that span a longer period for loyal customers.

Consider releasing a different offer every day (rather than all at once)
You could try a Black Friday week – with a different offer each day. This really helps to make sure that each one of your offers gets the maximum exposure. Sometimes sending all of your offers in one email can dilute sales too much as they can get lost in the mix.

Try marketing for ‘Small Business Saturday’ instead
Avoiding the pack is a great way to make sure that your offers are not lost in the mix. ‘Small Business Saturday’ is a great time to send as it sits neatly in between the huge volume that is often sent on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Black Friday checklist

Spam check your content
Don’t forget to check your mailer content for spam phrases – sales-related phrases often carry a spam rating. So it’s well worth double-checking your content using a decent spam checker.

Ensure your website can cope with additional bandwidth
If your Black Friday offer proves to be popular – your website may receive quite a bit more additional traffic. It’s worth checking with your website hosts that your package has enough headroom for extra bandwidth.

Research what your competitors are doing
Making sure that your offer is both competitive and unique is vital if your Black Friday email campaign is to succeed. Invest some time into researching what you think your competitors are likely to run with.

Don’t over-promise delivery times
Be careful about overpromising delivery during Black Friday, it may be a struggle for you to fulfil the additional volume that you may have. If you ship a physical product – remember that couriers and the postal service will also be struggling to cope with the added volume.

Ensure you have adequate stock to cover
Hopefully, your Black Friday campaign will be a success, this means that you may need more stock than you currently have. Always ensure that your strongest sales offers are matched by good stock access. 

Study your previous analytics to look for the best time to send
Looking at the email analytics of your previous campaigns throughout the year will give you a good idea of the optimum time to send for your target audience. Over this time, you will hopefully be able to identify the best time to send to maximise reads.

Don’t forget previous customers
Whilst we are focused on new business, it’s really easy to overlook our existing customers. Black Friday is a great time to offer a loyalty-based offer purely for your existing customers, this is a great opportunity to thank them for their support throughout the year.