Following last year’s Black Friday, you and your marketing team probably took some time to evaluate what worked, what didn’t work, and what could be improved in the future. You had a plan to make sure Black Friday 2020 was really successful. 

It’s funny now to think how any of us actually had a “plan” for 2020. 

Retail has changed, in-store shopping has changed, customer engagement has changed, and so, too, will this year’s Black Friday. But before you resign yourself to the bleakest expectations, 2020 has yielded some interesting new opportunities as well. 

E-commerce is in the forefront of consumers’ minds, which means your digital channels are now even more lucrative, and primed for customer engagement. You can still “plan” on creating compelling customer experiences and drive sales by leveraging your online business. 

Let’s look at three tips for using e-commerce to create memorable customer experiences and sales opportunities during Black Friday 2020.

Tip #1 — Quick-Change Flash Sales

Retail brands have been addicted to the rush of seeing the jaw-dropping, single-day sales numbers from in-store Black Friday events. But this year, with COVID-19 looming in the air (literally and figuratively), even the best marketing campaign won’t bring the frenzied Black Friday foot traffic you want into your stores (though with the right online-to-offline omnichannel strategy you can get pretty close). 

Instead, consider a time-constrained Black Friday flash sale on your website. Putting a time-constraint on your online sale will instill a must-act-now urgency in your customers. A flash sale also offers an element of surprise, since the customer won’t know which products will be part of the promotion. These factors combined will drive customers to your website in droves, and encourage spending. 

Skip the more relaxed “all weekend long” sale. With your Black Friday flash sale, stick to 24 hours, 12 hours, or — if you’re like Sports Direct — change it up every hour of the day with a “deal of the hour” sale.

Sports Direct's Hour Deal for Black Friday e-commerce

You may not be able to have “door-buster” promos this Black Friday, but with the right marketing in place, you could have an epic “server-crasher” sales event at your online stores to really drive revenue.


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Tip #2 — Hyper-Segmented Targeting

If you’re only sending out generic, mass marketing emails to hype your Black Friday event, that’s not going to cut it. 

Get the best return on your digital marketing by reaching the most receptive audience via the most receptive channels. Leverage your customer, sales, and product data to nail down specific, unique segments that will respond to the Black Friday promotions you are running. 

Even during Black Friday, where your event may have something for everyone, you’ll do better targeting, instead of showing the same ad to everyone. Nike did a great job of this by showing a targeted banner ad that focuses on a relevant product offering that is part of their broader Black Friday event.

Nike Black Friday E-Commerce Promo

To show the right message, to the right person, at the right time, you need to be sure your marketing team has access to all your disparate data without being hampered by organizational silos. This is why having your data unified, and preferably, fully integrated into your customer engagement platform is vital.

Tip #3 — Non-Discount Incentives (and VIP Perks)

Typically when you think of a Black Friday sale, you think of massive double-digit discounts. While those discounts may whet the appetites of your customers, they definitely make your CFO cringe. Even with great sales volume, if your margins are being eroded via heavy discounting, your epic Black Friday sale isn’t going to look so epic once the finance team crunches the numbers, only to come up with lackluster profits.

The beauty of going with a digital-first marketing strategy this year is that you can try some powerful incentives that drive online sales, without relying on the insane level of discounting that is customary on Black Friday. 

Non-discount incentives are most effective when they’re led by a customer loyalty program or some other members-only/VIP program. For instance, LEGO’s VIP Program gives members early access to Black Friday shopping before the general public. Instead of discounts, members receive double points, exclusive gifts, and free delivery for purchases made during the event.

Lego Vip Weekend

Worth noting, although exclusive members-only shopping is a great way to increase traffic and sales for your e-commerce site, if your marketing and loyalty teams are siloed, you’ll run into more roadblocks trying to execute loyalty-driven use cases. Having your loyalty program fully integrated with your platform can make this easier, especially leading up to Black Friday, when your marketing campaigns are most critical.

Final Thoughts

Black Friday is a big deal. Not just for your brand, but for your customers as well. And now that online shopping has grown so rapidly (particularly this year), it’s an important event for retail and e-commerce brands alike. 

You and your marketing team have already faced a lot of unexpected challenges in 2020. But there may be more unexpected challenges to come. Fortunately, you can leverage your e-commerce business and a strong digital marketing strategy to drive sales, to make sure this Black Friday, along with the entire holiday shopping season, is lucrative for your brand — and satisfying for your customers.


Want to finish 2020 with more customers and better business outcomes? Focus on e-commerce.

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