As I was trying to reflect on the previous Black Friday sales and collect some lessons for this post, I realized that I’ve gone through seven total Black Friday sales. Woah!
It’s become a staple in my business — in the Contract Shop®, we pulled in $121k+ in total sales just in November 2021 (Black Friday month). But it hasn’t always been that way. I started my shop in 2015, and it didn’t become profitable until 2018, and 2019 was when we finally hit a profitable 6-figure mark. So, it’s been quite the journey to get there.
And I think it goes without saying that I’ve made a mistake or two along the way. But I’m airing out my dirty Black Friday laundry now so you don’t make the same mistakes I did.
Without further ado, here are the 6 biggest lessons I’ve learned from 7+ years of Black Friday Sales!
Black Friday comes earlier and earlier every year. It’s not that uncommon to see mega-stores start their sales weeks before it’s actually Black Friday (and at the time I’m writing this, it’s halfway through October, and I’m already starting to see Christmas decorations in the store, which is #TooEarly IMO) .
That’s why I recommend a fast growth event, which are little pushes you can do to increase your email list ahead of time. Because there will be so many businesses fighting for your customer’s attention, a week or two before Black Friday isn’t the time to get people on your email list.
When they’re on that list far enough in advance, you have plenty of space to warm them up to a sale, versus asking a practical stranger to buy from you.
Adding a chat feature to our website for Black Friday was a game-changer.
I won’t lie…at first, I DID NOT want to do it. I wanted to be offline like everyone else and because I’m an introvert, the idea of talking to so many people at once was entirely too overwhelming.
But my team kept persisting, and so the chat feature lived to see another day. And you know what I found? It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It helped people have a smoother buying experience and made our shop more money. So yeah — it was worth it.
I’ve also learned to keep an eye on when our emails go out during Black Friday. This is when people are more active online because they would have just received the email and their questions are fresh on their mind. I mark it in my calendar and get my booty in the chat for a little bit because it makes a difference.
After spending bookoos of cash on ad spend during Black Friday for a few years in a row, we stopped. Cold turkey. Why?
Because we found that it was entirely too noisy online for those ads to be effective.
If you want to spend money on ads, be my guest! Just make sure you’re doing it before you try to start getting people to buy from you. Your focus should be on getting people into your circle ahead of time so you can warm them up through things like your email list for your sale.
Targeting cold traffic is not made for a Black Friday sale (unless you’re cool with paying way more than you normally would because it’s BF and everyone is scrambling to sell the week before too).
A website shouldn’t just be pretty, it should also be usable.
If your customers are fumbling around to find what they need, I’ll let you in on a little secret…that’s the quickest way to lose a sale! They’ve got places to be and things to do, and if it’s taking them too long to find what they need, their first thought is going to be “I didn’t need this anyway.”
Make it RIDICULOUSLY simple, easy, straightforward (and all the other adjectives) to buy from you. Nothing ruins customer experience faster than tech hiccups and confusing UX.
At the Contract Shop®, we love our affiliates! They bring in 20-30% of our total sales every year on Black Friday, and we didn’t even have to lift a finger to make it happen. We give them resources (like swipe copy) to use, but other than that, it’s a pretty hands-off way to make money.
We also use prizes to add some incentive, because who isn’t motivated by prizes?? I don’t care if it’s a dolphin pool floatie in the dead of winter. If there’s a prize involved, I’m so there.
But maybe don’t offer a pool floatie as a prize? I’d say cash is a much better option. We give $150 to first place, $100 to second place, and $50 to third place to keep things simple and profitable for us too.
If you’re going to raise your prices, do it well in advance of your Black Friday sale. Chances are, there are a lot of people who are keeping tabs on your prices, and if you jack them up right before the sale, only to bring them back down to what they were originally, you’re going to turn off customers, and have some very unethical marketing decisions to weigh on your conscience.
Let me be clear here — jacking up prices right before a sale, only to bring them back down to normal during your “sale”, isn’t a sale. It’s bad marketing.
Don’t play games with your customers. It’s okay to raise your prices but just wait until it’s not Black Friday season.
Head over to my YouTube channel — I’ve got an entire playlist dedicated to all my best Black Friday tips and tricks.
Need to know if your product will be profitable? Want some killer marketing ideas leading up to your sale? I’ve got it all right here for you in one place!