8 Black Friday promotion ideas that aren’t discounts (+5 more new ones)

Many businesses can profit enormously from the Black Friday/Cyber Monday craze but it’s important to evaluate this opportunity within a larger business context. Not every store should adopt deep discounts as a sales tactic, but this doesn’t mean they can’t ride the Black Friday wave. In fact, there are many Black Friday promotion ideas besides discounts you can do to advertise your online store or business during the holiday shopping season.

Let’s assume you’re here for the long run and you’d like to stay in business for years to come. This means you’re building a brand and every decision you make will have an influence. Black Friday also influences buyers’ perception of your business and this is where you should carefully consider the long-term effects. 

These effects sometimes reflect variations in end-of-year sales results. For example, some stores like Walmart reported a drop in their forecasted Christmas sales because presents were already bought during Black Friday. Also, it may affect next year’s sales, as people delay purchases expecting sales at the end of November.

Some brands skip Black Friday altogether because it doesn’t align with their brand values. They promise to offer affordable products throughout the year, not just during a sale. Others, like Oliver Cabell, have gone even further, and saying that “to celebrate intentional buying, and believe that having fewer, better things adds more value to our lives, we decided to shut down the site for the day.” 

Keep in mind, Black Friday isn’t a requirement. Take a second to pause and consider if it aligns with your brand and culture and take it from there. 

Black Friday promotion ideas that aren’t discounts

Black Friday can be an opportunity to do something new for your customers. What that looks like is up to you and can vary depending on the type of business, your customers, and your long-term plans. 

But before anything, make sure your store is running smoothly and can sustain high traffic peaks. Make sure you carefully choose a reliable hosting provider that won’t let you down when you need it the most.

With your reliable site set up, you’re ready to explore Black Friday ideas that can inspire you to celebrate your brand and customers differently. After all, discounts aren’t always enough to set your apart when everyone else is doing them. Instead, consider focusing on offering something more valuable and more consistent with your brand to get your client’s attention.

1. Offer a Sneak Peek for Black Friday (new)

You can offer your customers a sneak peek at your deals as a part of your Black Friday marketing strategy. One approach could be to create a teaser video with products that would be on sale. You can either share the video on your social media channels, or send it to a limited audience, e.g., only to your loyal customers.

Another strategy could be to send an email to your leads and existing customers with the products that would be on sale. Some of the incentives to buy your products might include the possibility to reserve a product in advance, have an additional X% discount, or come in 1 hour prior to all other customers. These approaches would allow your followers to be prepared for your products on discount and get ready to purchase on Black Friday.

2. Create a Gift Guide (new)

Creating a gift guide is one of the Black Friday marketing ideas that allows you to reach both your existing customers and potential ones. You can compile a gift guide to give your customers useful advice and to educate new customers about your products. “The Best Gifts for Zumba Lovers” and “X Best Gifts for Your Grandmother” are some examples of a gift guide.

You can write a blog post that includes the list of products and publish it on your website. From an SEO point of view, this could be a useful long-term strategy to reach more people. You can also email the gift guide to your contacts and share/advertise it on social media in order to promote it and receive even more visibility.

3.  Create an Online Scavenger Hunt (new)

One of the most creative Black Friday campaigns would be to create a scavenger hunt on your website. One option is to provide your customers with a list of items on sale that they need to find on your website in order to buy them with a discount. Another option is to create a chain of clues for the customers to follow on your website in order to “unlock” a discount. These clues can eventually lead to a page with a coupon or a discount code for buying your products.

This approach would engage your customers and make them browse your website longer. Thus, they’ll learn more about your products and they might even buy something that’s not currently on promotion. Keep in mind that you should aim at making the scavenger hunt short, simple, and engaging, so that you do not bore your website visitors and they give up mid-way.

4. Give Online Scratch Cards (new)

The Black Friday promo can be expanded to include online scratch cards on your website. Customers respond well to surprises and to the chance of winning a prize. Besides, scratch cards are a fun and engaging experience. You can give a scratch card for each purchase during Black Friday, or for each purchase above $X. The winning scratch cards can provide your customers with a X% discount or a small free gift.

You can use an external tool to create the scratch cards. Once they are ready, you can either implement them on your website and/or send them to your customers via email, social media, and even inform them via a short text message.

5. Send an SMS to Your Contacts (new)

Black Friday marketing can go beyond the usual approaches or go back to traditional ones such as sending an SMS to your contacts. An SMS can be a great addition to your Black Friday marketing strategy, along with email marketing and content marketing. It might sound a bit old school, yet it can be very effective, as the open rate of an SMS is pretty high.

SMS is a useful communication tool also because it’s short and straight to the point. Use it to inform your customers about deals and discounts, or to improve their purchase experience. Don’t forget to make your SMS communication GDPR compliant as well.

6. A new limited edition product

This one is first because it is the hardest one. But it also has the biggest impact. Why not think big and come up with a new product or feature and release it during the Black Friday campaign? 

Launching a new model or opening up a new line of products in your store is a good reason for people to visit your shop. You can make it available during Black Friday only. Add a counter to display the remaining stock or the time remaining and make that your Black Friday offer. No discount, no bargain —  just surprising and delighting your customers! If you want to explore this option, be sure to give yourself plenty of lead time and start preparing for Black Friday 2020. 

Black Friday limited-time tee edition

7. Offer super-fast, free delivery

This one is a great option if you’re selling physical products. It’s also a good selling point for people who want to start using their new purchase right away instead of waiting weeks to receive them. 

Black Friday deliveries are often prone to delays (at least in Europe). Take advantage of this known fact to provide a faster delivery to your customers during Black Friday, like next-day shipping if possible. Of course, you’ll be covering the additional costs but you may make many more sales thanks to customer eagerness. 

8. Offer live chat support

If you have a small team, offering support during weekends may be a considerable expense. However, live chat support has proven to influence a buyers’ decision, especially during Black Friday when people are doing impulse buying. Having someone to answer questions on the site in real-time will influence the user experience. Make sure the people you put on support during this time are well-trained and ready for any question. 

To improve the experience even more, you and your team can become available to customers for a set timeframe. Imagine you’re checking Amazon and Jeff Bezos pops up. You’d be telling everyone about it. Just seeing that the owner/CEO is talking to clients does miracles for a brand’s popular perception.

9. Gift card or 2-for-1

Instead of discounts, try offering a gift card or 2-for-1 with every purchase during Black Friday. It’s a good way to reach more customers but keep in mind it can increase your costs significantly. Look into options like segmenting your customers so only return customers get the promo.

A gift card campaign can be easily automated with codes being sent by email. The upside is that new customers will have a reason to return to your store later to redeem their gift. 

Apple’s gift card offer in 2017

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10. Send out free samples or swag

Why not surprise your loyal customers with a small gift? We did this a while ago and were really happy with the response to this campaign.

With the help of Printfection, we sent our top users a toy version of our parrot logo. They took care of personalizing the swag and the deliveries. People love freebies. And if you can send out samples of your products, even better.

11. Personalized experiences

Sometimes you need to go the extra mile to win people’s hearts. One way to do this is by personalizing something for them. It can be a handwritten card or a picture with you and the product. Look to crowdfunding campaigns as inspiration as they offer many examples of tailored experiences to their backers. 

People want to feel special and receive something unique. Here’s a powerful example:

James blunt record label

12. Donate profits to charity

I was inspired by Patagonia for this one. Last year they donated all their Black Friday sales to nonprofits. It’s a bold move but it will bring you lifetime clients. And these clients who believe in what you believe will be talking about you and recommending you to others.

13. Join Buy Nothing Day

Lastly, you can always do the opposite of selling more by not selling anything! On November 29th, it’s Buy Nothing Day. Going back to what I was saying about long term thinking if you’re planning for the customers of the future, it’s likely they will be more environmentally aware. While the circular economy is gaining traction, they will be making more informed purchases. So maybe it’s time to be ahead of the curb.

This was the 7th installment of our Black Friday series. Eager for more tips on optimizing your eCommerce performance? Stay tuned for more posts just like this one featuring industry experts and some of our technical partners. Learn how to improve your website design, conversions, online marketing, and more.  

author avatar
Ionut Neagu

ThemeIsle Founder

Ionut is a young entrepreneur running several small & medium businesses with the help of a 20+ person team. His WordPress journey started with the launch of CodeinWP in 2012, a year later ThemeIsle was born.

Comments ( 2 )

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Jeremy

Nov 15, 2019

Great post! Thanks for sharing!

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Kaylee

Nov 22, 2019

Bookmarked this page! So simple, yet very creative for small businesses!

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