18 Creative Black Friday Marketing Ideas for 2021

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Two of the biggest shopping days for online retailers are quickly approaching: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. As an online merchant, these two days are essential to increasing your sales. This article is your how-to template to join the black friday 2021 frenzy and make more money online. These 18 unique Black Friday ideas are designed to drive more traffic and sales during the biggest shopping season of the year. You can start implementing them now so that your online store is ready to reap the rewards of the impulse shopper.

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is the day after American Thanksgiving. This marks the start of the Christmas holiday shopping season for consumers, meaning retailers often heavily promote their stores and mark down prices to entice shoppers to buy products both online and offline.

What started as a one-day event has become a four-day shopping event ending on Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday is essentially the same type of event falling on the Monday after Black Friday with the promotions targeted at online buyers.

Typically, prices are marked down for the entire four days. Some businesses offer different types of discounts or Black Friday deals for each of the four days. For example, a fashion retailer may have 50 percent off everything on Black Friday, Buy One Get One Free on Saturday, 30 percent off Sweaters on Sunday, and 50 percent off online purchases on Monday. 

There are no rules for these four days, so you have the freedom to do your Black Friday marketing anyway you’d like to better entice purchases. 

The Real Black Friday Meaning

Black Friday may look business-driven, but it’s the consumers who actually started this shopping event. It was first observed in Philadelphia where there was always high traffic the day after Thanksgiving. Though the original Black Friday, a term coined in 1961, actually had a lot less to do with shopping, today it’s an event that helps retailers move from red to black before the end of the year. Read our Black Friday facts to learn more about what makes this day special. 

Why is Black Friday Marketing Important?

SaleCycle reported that in 2019 Black Friday online sales surpassed all previous records, reaching $7.4 billion, up by $1.2 billion from 2018’s $6.2 billion record. That’s huge! This is a serious holiday that every merchant with an online or brick and mortar store should observe. Our Black Friday tips will help you to get a cut of this $90.14 billion pie so you can settle in for a prosperous holiday season.

18 Creative Black Friday Marketing Ideas

1. A Deal an Hour

For high traffic stores, having an hourly deal covers several bases at once. Not only does it encourage spending, but by keeping your Black Friday deals a surprise and changing them often, it keeps your customers coming back. 

It helps to offer Black Friday deals on all items in addition to the Deal of the Hour. For example, if you offer 40 percent off everything, then your Deal of the Hour could be 50 percent off or higher, further discounts on particular brands or items, or other combinations of sales. Don’t forget to create a homepage banner for each hour you’ll have a deal.

Black Friday Flash Sale Example

You can also give a fun, unique name to your deal of the hour promo, like Musician’s Friend did:

deal of the hour black friday

To run a sale like this, I recommend using an app that allows you to schedule sales, such as Bold Discounts. This app is great for staying organized throughout this fast-paced, important weekend, so it’s well worth the investment. Plus it can take care of some of the admin and logistics, so you can schedule sales to go live when you’re not near your computer. 

When promoting your Deal of the Hour, consider having a product post created on all social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Since you’ll be busier than usual that day, I recommend automating your social media posts in advance with a tool like Buffer

Managing a Deal of the Hour requires the efforts of a team to manage social media, graphics, customer inquiries, and administrative work. If you’re currently a solopreneur, this may not be the best Black Friday marketing idea for you.


2. Create a Gift Guide

Gift Guides allow customers (particularly first-time customers buying gifts for friends) to find you during the holiday season. A Gift Guide not only highlights your products or deals, but it also gives a sense of direction for novices shopping for gifts. “Gifts for Crossfit Lovers,” “Crossfit Gifts for Her,” “Crossfit Gifts for Him,” “Funny Crossfit Gifts,” and “Crossfit Gifts for Coaches” are all examples of gift idea searches a Crossfit lover might search to find you if you were selling Crossfit gear.

There are two ways to easily create a gift guide: by creating a collection, or by writing a gift ideas blog post.

  • To curate a collection on Shopify, create a product tag with the same name. Then, go to all of the product pages that you want featured in this gift guide and add the product tag. Shopify will automatically curate the collection.
  • Creating a blog post in Shopify is a little more work, but can be a more effective SEO strategy. Consider making it a list. For example, 40 Gifts for Crossfit Lovers. If you want to outrank the competition on Google for similar gift guides, look at what they’re doing. Google “gifts for crossfit lovers” and look for the highest numbered article, then write a post that features more products to encourage a better click-through.

black friday marketing ideas gift guide

To get more traffic to your Gift Guides, feature them on your homepage or other places on your website where they’ll get visibility. Emailing the Gift Guides to customers is also a great way to have customers share the guide with friends and family ahead of the holiday season. If you choose to make your Gift Guide a blog post, you can share it on social media. I recommend boosting the post through Facebook Ads to drive more traffic to it. Don’t forget to leverage the Facebook Pixel so you can track the performance of sales from your Gift Guide.

3. Free Gift with Every Purchase

Offering a free gift is a fun Black Friday deal for shoppers. On AliExpress, you’ll find several products under $2.00. With each order, you can give away a free gift to every customer who orders over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period. Items that work best for this have cheap or free shipping.

Free gift with every purchase black friday

You’ll want to feature the free gift on your homepage banner to ensure visibility. You can set minimums such as “with every $300 purchase get a free gift,” or you can provide it to every customer who orders if you have high margins.

If you sell women’s fashion items, you can give away a free bracelet or earrings. In men’s fashion, you can give away cufflinks. For the home decor niche, you can give away a free vase. And if you sell beauty products, you can give away a makeup brush or sponge.

Using a Shopify app such as Free Gifts by Secomapp helps automate the process. It offers a free 14-day trial for new users which is perfect to test out over the holiday season, and continue if you see great returns. The app will allow you to set purchase minimums, have product X come with a free gift, and more.


4. Extend Your Sale From Black Friday Until Cyber Monday

An effective Black Friday marketing idea which has become much more common is extending your sale. Black Friday used to be the main day for retailers to have their best sales, but now the money keeps rolling in till Cyber Monday. As a result, most ecommerce retailers extend their sale through the full four days. By extending your sale, you’ll be able to gain more customers and profits. You can even start earlier like Best Buy did, with an early Black Friday sale.

Best Buy Early Black Friday Offers

Since Black Friday deals tend to be the most popular, you’ll want to focus your energy on those first. One approach would be to offer great deals on all your products on Black Friday, and follow this on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday with offers only on your best-selling items. 

5. Using Your Email List

Email marketing is a great promotional channel to bring sales. One of the most cited email marketing stats is that for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you have the potential to earn $42.

When it comes to email marketing for Black Friday, there are two approaches. 

  • Previous Customers. Contact your former customers and offer them a special VIP discount code that gives them additional savings when they buy.  Since they’ve already bought from you before, they’ll be more likely to buy again. If they’ve bought within the past 30 days, your brand will be fresh in their mind so be sure to include those people as well. If you don’t have an email list, you may want to run some ads to build out your list before Black Friday so that you can email them during the weekend. We also have an article on 10 ways to turn site visitors into email subscribers that you should find helpful.

Black Friday Email Offer Example

  • Potential Customers. When it comes to sending emails to potential customers, email them the deals you’ll have that day so that they keep checking back online. If you’re planning on promoting specific items, make sure their images are clickable so people can go directly to the product pages to make their purchases. Be sure to pay attention to your email subject lines. If they sound too promotional, they might end up in your subscribers’ spam folders.

For both approaches, it is important to know your audience, and that your email marketing practices adhere to GDPR standards for recipients located in the EU.  

6. Don’t miss out on the benefits of SMS

If email sounds kind of obvious and many don’t even question it when planning their marketing campaigns, SMS still has to work much harder to make it to the list. However, as old-school as it may sound in comparison to other communication methods, SMS is actually one of not that many channels that can cut through the noise and ensure that your audience hears what you’re saying. Did you really not know about 98% open rates?

If you’re wondering how you can benefit from it during Black Friday this year, here’s two suggestions:

  1. Use it to complement your email marketing When it comes to content, sure – SMS can’t really compete with email newsletters since it’s very brief and straightforward. But that’s exactly why those two work great in tandem. While it might take time until someone even opens your email, SMS is actually the opposite – since read almost immediately, it’s a perfect channel to grab attention when it’s needed. This also works great for time-sensitive deals which Black Friday is all about.
  2. Improve your customer experience. It’s the little things in life that count, right? SMS marketing can be used in many different ways, and every time you put time and effort into crafting a valuable message to your customers, it adds up to their overall experience. Use it to send deals and promotions, inform your subscribers about exclusive deals, or improve their post-purchase experience by providing order status updates.

Similarly to email, SMS marketing is also strictly permission-based so make sure you have everyone’s consent to text them and stay TCPA and CTIA compliant.

7. Offer a Sneak Peek at Black Friday Deals

An easy Black Friday marketing approach is to create a gif or teaser video of products that will be on sale, while mentioning their promotion before the big day. Remember to promote the sneak peek on your social media accounts. This builds anticipation for your Black Friday deals, making people “line up” at your online store ready for the sale. 

You can create a free slideshow on Animoto, or use free images in Canva or Photoshop. If you’re up for a challenge, you can promote some really unique images with the help of professional photography. The video doesn’t need audio to be effective, but if inclined, there are sites that offer royalty free music to match the mood of your video and store.

8. Take Advantage of Hashtags

When running creative Black Friday campaigns, you should be taking advantage of Black Friday focused Instagram hashtags in addition to your regular hashtags. You’ll want to include hashtags such as #blackfriday #cybermonday #sale #blackfridaysale #blackfridaydeals. This will allow you to reach customers who are specifically looking for deals over these days.

hashtags black friday 2020

Using these types of hashtags works particularly well for everyday products like fashion, home decor, and electronics. If you sell more niche products, this may not work as well as people are less likely to search for these types of products under Black Friday hashtags. If your products are not for a larger audience, consider focusing on the niche hashtags that normally work well for you.

9. Increase Your Ad Spend

During the Black Friday weekend, advertisers will be spending way more than usual. The return on Black Friday sales is seen by many as a major investment, justifying the increased spend. This means that the cost per click (CPC) will be higher than usual. If you plan to advertise on Facebook, consider increasing your ad spend a few days out from Black Friday. This will give the ad enough time to optimize for conversions, and allow you to adjust and tweak along the way before the big day. 

black friday Facebook marketing idea

By spending more money than you usually do, you’ll be more likely to be noticed by potential customers. This is another reason why it’s essential to mention Black Friday deals, or have appealing discounts to catch people’s attention. People will be ready to buy if they’re presented with the right offer, at the right price, at the right time. Black Friday weekend is all of this. A steep discount will help you attract customers with the right price. Focus on your best selling products on Black Friday to promote the right offer.

10. Create a Promotional Content Calendar

As Black Friday draws nearer, you’ll want to solidify your overall strategy. A great first step is to create a content calendar with what assets and content you want to share and when. Aim to plan a month ahead and start your promotions the week of Black Friday so that your customers know you will be offering deals. Your calendar should include:

  • New graphics and banners: You should create graphics for social media posts, and email campaigns. You’ll also need to create a new homepage banner graphic as well as graphics for any promotional video clips.
  • Social media posts: Automating your social media posts ahead of time will make your life easier. Write out the copy with the relevant hashtags in advance, then use Buffer for marketing automation. Pay attention to where your engaged followers are located to ensure that you post at the best time for them to see. 
  • Creative and copy: You’ll want to have your creative and copy completed for emails, social media, ads, articles and more. 
  • Promotions: Run the numbers to figure out how much of a discount you can offer your customers without affecting your margins too greatly. If you offer VIP discounts to some customers for additional savings, you’ll want to ensure that you’re still making a profit. Keep in mind that you’ll be spending more money on advertising and paying for the actual products, so be sure to take those costs into account as well. 

Black Friday content calendar

You can take inspiration from Common Threat Collective’s Black Friday content calendar. Feel free to include some of the tactics they have up there in your own calendar. Alternatively, you can use Trello to plan out your tasks in preparation for Black Friday.

11. Use Apps to Help With Promotions

I have already mentioned a few apps you can use to help with this busy shopping holiday. But there are several more Shopify apps that work best for Black Friday deals. Here are a few good ones to install on your store:

  • You can use an app like Tidio chat to create a live chat on your store. This allows customers to contact you live with any questions, and can be really important in helping customers convert on Black Friday. While email support is always great, on Black Friday you’ll likely have an influx of customers contacting you. It’s important to respond to their inquiries before they bounce off your website.

12. Offer Mystery Savings

The element of surprise can be powerful in Black Friday marketing. Using a tool like Zembula allows you to add scratch cards, “peel it” offers, and other interactive experiences to your online store. 

creative black friday campaigns

Having scratch cards or exit intent discounts like Wheelio can be a fun and engaging surprise for your customers. Offering a discount through gamification may entice customers to stay on your store a little bit longer. Moreover, It can help prevent an abandoned cart.

13. Donate To a Charity

A rising trend around Black Friday is the number of stores offering to donate a portion or all of their profits to a charitable cause. This marketing idea not only attracts shoppers who aren’t tempted by discounts, but it can drive positive customer perceptions of your business.

black friday donate to charity promotion

Shopify’s Give & Grow app simplifies the process of donating a percentage or a fixed amount per sale. In fact, it also lets you feature specific products by linking them to nonprofits or causes. What’s more, you can use the app to give customers the options to choose where their contributions go.

14. Direct Mail with a Coupon Code

Who says you can’t market an online brand offline? Around the holiday shopping season, advertising online gets far more expensive and congested with retailers drastically increasing ad budgets. If you’ve built up a customer base, you can send a holiday card to previous customers. This could include a personal note thanking them for their purchase during the year and a special holiday discount code exclusively for him or her with their name as the code. Handwriting the name on the card makes it more personalized. These little touches are rarely done by marketers but can be effective for leaving a lasting impression.

15. Create Printable Gift Cards

Gift cards are one of the most popular presents given during the holidays. As an online retailer, you must cash in on that. Encourage your customers and store visitors to buy gift cards for friends and family if they aren’t sure which product their friend or family member will love best. Let customers know you can create printable gift cards which they can gift during the holiday season.

black friday printable gift cards with Shopify

16. Offer a VIP Discount

If you have a loyalty program or a VIP Club for your best customers, offer them a special VIP exclusive discount during the Black Friday weekend. As loyal customers, they’ll likely buy more from your brand than once off shoppers. They’re also more likely to make repeat purchases on your store throughout the year. Treat them with an exclusive discount. You can create a Facebook event or a landing page informing them about the opportunity to gain early access to your Black Friday deals. 

black friday VIP promotion

17. Partner with Instagram Influencers 

One of the most creative Black Friday campaign ideas is to collaborate with Instagram influencers who complement your brand. You might consider having the influencer promote your Black Friday deals via Instagram Stories or host an Instagram Live session where they unbox/try on your most popular items and share a discount code with the viewers.

Black Friday partner with Instagram infuencers

At a time when consumers face an onslaught of Facebook ads and promotional emails, influencers offer a nice change of scenery and can make your promotions more appealing. For the best results, partner with someone who knows how to leverage Instagram’s different features to entice the audience. For example, if you’re going to have an influencer promote your deals with Instagram Stories, they should know how to encourage interactions via interactive stickers, polls, quizzes, etc.

18.  Last-Minute Extended Sale

Who says you can only offer discounts till Cyber Monday? For Black Friday 2021, consider surprising your customers by extending your sale beyond the shopping weekend. But do this last-minute or when your competitors have ended their sales. When customers see you’re the only store offering them a second chance to save, they’re more likely to buy from your brand.

 However, make sure to associate a deadline with the extension. For example, you can extend the sale beyond Cyber Monday for 72 hours. As Cyber Monday winds down, put up a website banner with the text “extended 72 hours” – the banner will serve as a reminder for visitors who may not have explored your deals yet while also creating a sense of urgency. And don’t forget to send out an email announcing the extended sale!

black friday last-minute extended

Still Not Sure What to Sell?

Phew! That is 18 marketing ideas that should keep you going during this busy period. But if you are still unsure about what your store should sell, feel free to check out our trending products article. It’s full of awesome ideas for products that are popular and trendy this year.


Now it’s time to get started on these Black Friday marketing strategies. Don’t wait if you want to make the most of the boost in sales on the year’s biggest retail weekend. Implement the tactics that suit your store best to ensure the best return on this major shopping weekend. Good luck!

Want to Learn More?

Have any other Black Friday marketing ideas that you’d like to share? Or maybe you need help preparing for Black Friday? Leave a comment below.