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Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Strategic Moves or Just Following the Crowd?

As we approach the busy season of Black Friday / Cyber Monday (BFCM), many brand owners and managers are at a crossroads.

The BFCM season has transformed from a mere sales event into a cultural phenomenon, pushing brands to partake almost as a rite of passage.

But, here’s something to ask yourself:

Are BFCM offers actually helpful for your business, or are they just a herd mentality that could be slowly eating away at your profits?

Is your brand running Black Friday campaigns just because everyone else is, or is there a strategic goal?

Black Friday presents a unique conundrum for e-commerce brands.

While it offers an opportunity for increased sales and visibility, it’s essential to approach it with a strategic mindset.

Let’s dig in below and discover how to maximise this BFCM season.

Creating Your Own Peaks

In the ever-evolving landscape of e-commerce, relying solely on traditional peak seasons like Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) can limit the potential of your brand.

As an e-commerce brand owner or manager, there’s a compelling opportunity to create your own peaks throughout the year.

Harnessing New Product Launches

Launching new products is a brilliant way of creating your own peaks.

Use new product launches as an opportunity to create excitement and anticipation.

Develop a build-up campaign that engages your audience, teasing them with sneak peeks and exclusive previews.

Consider offering early access or special deals to your loyal customers or email subscribers, making them feel valued and part of an exclusive group.

Leveraging Natural Peaks

Depending on your product range, identify natural peaks throughout the year. For instance, flower companies can capitalise on occasions like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day.

Companies specialising in mens grooming products could piggyback off Father’s Day.

Aim to establish annual events or sales that your customers can look forward to each year, turning these peaks into anticipated traditions.

Creating your own peaks in the e-commerce calendar is not just about boosting sales; it’s about establishing your brand as a dynamic and customer-centric entity.

This season, challenge the norm and think beyond the usual discount frenzy.

Conformity vs. Individuality: The Brand Dilemma

In a sea of discounts and deals, standing out can be challenging. Consider:

  • Are your BFCM campaigns just another echo in the chorus, or are they distinctly ‘you’?
  • How can you leverage BFCM not just for sales but to amplify your brand’s unique voice?

This is an opportunity to differentiate your brand.

Maybe it’s through storytelling, unique packaging, or a campaign that resonates with your audience’s values.

The Inventory Conundrum

Many brands default to large BFCM discounts without giving it much thought.

However, are you just needlessly eroding the margin for products that are forecasted to sell out regardless?

If products aren’t perishable, is there a need to jump the gun and push discounts? If so, what is the reason?

Take a company that sells jeans for example. If already forecasted to reach sales targets, there may not be any need to partake in BFCM discounts and erode your margin.

This could mean creating BFCM campaigns that focus on the quality and longevity of your products rather than just the price point.

You shouldn’t autopilot into blind BFCM discounts.

Ensure you’ve a strategy and a long-term play in mind.

Choosing Your Offer:

The key to a successful Black Friday/Cyber Monday strategy is understanding that customers are looking for more than just a good deal; they’re seeking real value.

Therefore, you need a combination of clarity and creativity.

Understanding exactly what your offer is and how that creates value is imperative.

This value might appear in a variety of ways, such as exclusive goods, customised experiences, or special product bundles.

Examples of offers include:

  • Percentage (%) OFF
  • Flat ($) discounts
  • Buy 1 get 1 free (BOGO)
  • Bundle deals
  • Free gift with purchase

It’s all about making an offer that appeals to their desires and emotions as well as their wallets.

In a world where discounts are expected, the challenge is to think outside the box.

How can your brand not only satisfy but also exceed market expectations in a memorable and meaningful way?

This requires a deep understanding of your target audience and a clear message that communicates the unique value you provide.

Whichever offer you commit to, make sure it’s easy to understand and follow for the consumer.

Rethinking Value: Beyond the Discount Tag

We’ve outlined five key strategies and considerations tailored for the upcoming Black Friday/Cyber Monday frenzy.

These tactics cover a wide range of innovative approaches, from the careful application of unit economics, to the calculated use of freebies and inventory control.

1. Unit Economics and Bundling Strategies:

  • Leverage Bundling: Offer bundles to improve unit economics. For example, pairing products together can increase the perceived value while maintaining a reasonable cost.
  • Free Gifts with Purchase: Include a unique and desirable free gift with purchases. This not only adds value but also differentiates your offer from competitors.
  • Perceived Value of Gifts: Ensure that the free gift has a high perceived value to the customer, enhancing the overall attractiveness of the offer.

Remember: value is in the eye of the beholder.

Things are valued differently by different people. Take the free gift with purchase example.

Consider a skincare brand that offers a free eye serum, retailing at €29.99, with every purchase over €65.

This offer might seem generous at first glance, but a closer look at the unit economics reveals its strategic advantage.

  • High Perceived Value:

The eye serum, retailing for €29.99, carries a high perceived value. Customers view this as getting a substantial product for free, enhancing the attractiveness of the overall purchase.

  • Low Unit Cost:

Despite its high retail price, the actual cost to the brand for each eye serum is only €4.99. This significant difference between perceived value and actual cost is where the brand’s strategy shines.

  • Encouraging Higher Spend:

The condition of spending over €65 to receive the free serum cleverly incentivises customers to add more to their carts, potentially increasing the average order value.

  • Inventory Management:

This strategy can also be an effective way to manage inventory, especially if the eye serum has higher stock levels or is strategically chosen to be cleared.

For the skincare brand, the actual cost is a fraction of the retail price, making it an economically sound choice.

Meanwhile, customers perceive high value, which not only drives sales but also enhances brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.

2. Inventory Management for Free Gifts:

  • Monitor Inventory Levels: Keep a close eye on inventory, especially for items used as free gifts, to avoid stockouts and customer disappointment.
  • Plan for Demand Fluctuations: Anticipate and prepare for increased demand, ensuring a smooth customer experience and avoiding overselling.

If giving out BFCM discounts, it’s important to ensure you’ve enough inventory to hit your goal.

A simple formula to avoid any mishaps is BFCM GOAL / OFFER = RETAIL VALUE NEEDED

  • BFCM Goal: €100,000

Although it seems obvious, brands occasionally make this error.

Identify your goal at the outset, then ensure your forecasts include the discount.

3. Challenges for Single SKU or Hero Product Brands:

  • Diversify Offers: For brands with a limited product range, consider creative offers like exclusive limited-time variants or special editions.
  • Focus on Brand Strengths: Highlight the unique value proposition of your hero product to make your offer stand out.

Although a completely single SKU brand is difficult to find nowadays, Crocs are still a good example.

They’ve added SKU’s over time, yet recent reports show that 79% of their quarterly revenue came from their original clogs.

4. Cashback and Coupon Strategies:

  • Cashback Offers: Provide cashback on purchases to be used on future buys, creating a reason for customers to return.
  • Coupons for Next Purchase: Offer coupons redeemable on the next purchase. This not only drives sales but also encourages repeat business.

Coupons can also have additional value that can be difficult to quantify as a large amount of people will never actually redeem them. Therefore, they may shop again without cashing in on their coupon or cashback offer.

5. Gift Card Incentives:

  • Spend and Get Offers: Implement offers like “Spend €X and receive a €25 gift card.” This not only drives immediate sales but also encourages future purchases.
  • Post-BFCM Strategy: This approach can be particularly effective after Black Friday/Cyber Monday to maintain sales momentum.

🛑Proceed with caution…

Margin ErosionA Hidden Threat: While BFCM can lead to a significant volume of sales, it’s essential to consider the impact on profit margins. Deep discounts might attract a surge in customers, but if not carefully planned, these can lead to substantial margin erosion, affecting overall profitability.

Brand Perception and Value: Constant discounting can also alter how customers perceive your brand. Are you positioning your brand as a value-for-money option, or does relentless discounting undermine your brand’s perceived value?

Alternatives to Traditional BFCM Campaigns

If jumping onto the BFCM bandwagon doesn’t align with your brand strategy, consider these alternatives:

  1. Exclusive Offers for Loyal Customers: Instead of broad discounts, create exclusive offers for your loyal customer base. This approach not only protects margins but also enhances customer loyalty.
  2. Value-Added Promotions: Offer value additions instead of discounts. Bundling products, offering free shipping, or providing post-purchase services can be more profitable.
  3. Sustainable and Ethical Marketing: Position your brand as a proponent of responsible consumerism. Promote sustainable shopping habits instead of impulsive buying.

Understanding your customer life-cycle

In the fast-paced world of e-commerce, an in-depth understanding of your customer life-cycle and lifetime value is not only advantageous; it is also essential for long-term success.

By gaining insights into this lifecycle, you unlock the ability to evaluate the lifetime value of your customers, a critical metric that transcends single purchases and looks at the overall profitability a customer brings over time.

This knowledge is invaluable, as it informs and refines your acquisition strategies, ensuring that your efforts are not just driving sales, but are also contributing to sustainable, long-term profitability.

Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) sales can be chaotic, and it’s easy to get sucked into the momentary frenzy of bargain hunting and discounting.

However, the savvy brand owner knows that true success lies in understanding the broader customer lifecycle.

Here’s some questions to ask yourself and your team:

  • Is this customer a BFCM-only purchaser?

Reflect on the patterns of buying behaviour. Are certain customers exclusively attracted to your brand during BFCM sales? Understanding this can help tailor your marketing efforts more effectively.

  • Will they repeat purchase?

Consider the potential for long-term engagement. What strategies can you implement to transform one-time BFCM shoppers into repeat customers throughout the year?

  • Are they now conditioned to only purchase at a sale price?

Assess the impact of your discounting strategy. Are your customers becoming conditioned to wait for sales, and how does this affect their perception of your brand’s value outside of sale periods?

  • What’s the value of them to your brand long-term?

Evaluate the lifetime value of these customers. Beyond the immediate transaction, how can these BFCM shoppers contribute to your brand’s growth and sustainability in the long run?

No One-Size-Fits-All: Industry and Product Specifics

Recognizing that BFCM strategies are not universally effective is critical. What works for a tech gadget brand might not hold the same results for luxury fashion labels.

  1. Product Life Cycle Considerations: For some, BFCM is an opportunity to clear out old inventory, making room for new products. For others, especially those with evergreen products, heavy discounting might not be necessary.
  2. Industry Dynamics: The effectiveness of BFCM campaigns also varies across industries. High-ticket items might see a more significant benefit from BFCM discounts than everyday consumer goods.

The BFCM Hangover:

Unfortunately, post-BFCM, many brands face a ‘hangover’ period, marked by high returns and customer disengagement.

It’s a critical time to re-engage customers.

Step away from the ‘sales’ and push towards value-orientated emails.

Some examples are:

  • How-to-guides
  • Success stories and testimonials
  • Lifestyle integrations
  • User-generated content (UGC)
  • Seasonal tips
  • FAQs
  • Invite to social media
  • Giveaways and competitions

By implementing these strategies, you can maintain engagement with your customers after the BFCM rush, providing them with value that extends beyond discounts and deals.

This approach not only helps in avoiding a post-BFCM slump but also strengthens your brand’s relationship with its customer base.

Email & SMS

24 Campaigns to Boost Your E-Commerce Revenue🔥📈

Other considerations / key takeaways

As the dust settles on the frenetic pace of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, ecommerce brands barely have a moment to catch their breath before the next major event on the retail calendar looms large: Christmas

As we wrap up our exploration of strategies for Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) and beyond, here are some essential takeaways to guide your e-commerce journey:

Forge Your Own Path: Remember, you have the power to create your own peaks in the ecommerce landscape. Don’t just follow the crowd; carve out unique opportunities that align with your brand’s identity and customer base.

Smart Discounting: If participating in BFCM, be strategic about your discounts. Avoid eroding your margins with excessive price cuts. It’s about finding the right balance that attracts customers without compromising your profitability.

Innovative Offers: Consider alternative promotional strategies, such as offering a free gift with purchase. This can often be more appealing to customers and more cost-effective for your brand than traditional discounts.

Inventory Management: Keep a close eye on your inventory levels. Efficient management is crucial to meet demand without overstocking, ensuring a smooth customer experience and maintaining healthy cash flow.

Leverage SMS Marketing: In a landscape crowded with BFCM promotions, SMS marketing can be a powerful tool to cut through the noise. It offers a direct and personal way to reach your customers, often with higher engagement rates than email.

Final Thoughts

As you navigate the bustling world of ecommerce, these considerations can serve as guiding principles.

Whether it’s BFCM, Christmas, or any other peak season, the key is to stay true to your brand’s values, understand your customers’ needs, and continually adapt your strategies for sustained success and growth.

What’s next: Christmas?

As the dust settles on the frenetic pace of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, ecommerce brands barely have a moment to catch their breath before the next major event on the retail calendar looms large: Christmas

Christmas is a critical date in the calendar so it’s important to pivot your strategies and be ready.

Here’s some key tips to help you transition from BFCM to Christmas:

1.Reassess Offers & Sales Targets

Post-BFCM, quickly analyse BFCM data to understand customer behaviour and preferences. Use these insights to tailor your Christmas offers.

2. Inventory Management

After the BFCM rush, assess and replenish inventory to avoid stockouts during Christmas.

3. Logistics and Fulfilment

Clearly communicate last order dates to ensure Christmas delivery, managing customer expectations.

4. Marketing & Promotions

Utilise your email list, especially those who engaged during BFCM, with targeted Christmas promotions.

5. Customer Service

Prepare for increased customer service inquiries and consider extending support hours or staffing.

The transition from BFCM to Christmas is a critical phase for e-commerce brands.

It requires swift action, strategic planning, and adaptability.

By effectively managing offers, inventory, logistics, and customer engagement, brands can capitalise on the momentum of BFCM and turn the Christmas season into another significant success.

💡Important: For those brands that switched your email flows to specifically BFCM, don’t forget to change them back immediately once it’s over.

Email & SMS

Black Friday Cyber Monday - Email & SMS Playbook

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