Q4 2023 - Post 2: Choosing Black Friday Cyber Monday Offers & Discounts

Offers and discounts make Black Friday the peak shopping period of the year. It’s important to get this right to avoid leaving money on the table.

Offers and discounts are what Black Friday dreams are made of. They’re the incentive that creates the most insane shopping holiday experience of the year. So it’s important to get yours right to avoid leaving money on the table or worse, falling flat on your face. 

Like all things we’ve covered in this Black Friday series, there’s no “one strategy to rule them all” that fits every brand and business context heading into BFCM. 

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Pick your discounts based on your performance analytics; what’s been trending well this year as well as what’s worked with previous sales (especially previous Black Fridays, if you’ve been around that long). 

Review your margins (including higher 3PL rates for the holidays), the types of offers and promotions that have converted well in the past, and which products are selling best while considering inventory levels. Consider why those offers and products have done well to inform your approach for BFCM 2023. 

Reflect on your goals for the holiday season and determine what kind of offer best aligns with your targets. Do you want to use the holiday to acquire new customers with deep discounts? Or focus on retention by offering something special to your most loyal customers? 

That said: you don’t need to run the same offer to all audiences. You can leverage email segments to filter your regular and VIP customers to send different discounts to different groups based on past buying behaviour.

Even if you’re running the same offer to all audiences, it’s worth tailoring your messaging to speak to existing customers differently rather than using the same messaging that works for someone first discovering your business. 

Before getting into specific types of offers you can leverage this BFCM, here are a few general rules of thumb regardless of what direction you go:

  • Simple and easy to understand offers work best.
  • Avoid coupon codes or make the discount automatic at checkout to lessen unnecessary steps.
  • Make the conditions for your discount super clear throughout the customer journey. 
  • Feature your best bundles and highest AOV/LTV products as prominently as possible throughout the website, as well as your messaging and advertising for the sale. 

The case for not running a steep sitewide discount

First let’s look at a few situations where you might NOT want to have a massive offer on your site, and what you might look to do instead…

Say you’ve built a luxury brand that’s never used discounts or offers to preserve brand equity. Or you’re in the health and wellness space and know your busiest season comes in Q1, not Q4. Or you’ve run into supply chain issues and your number 1 selling SKU isn’t going to have inventory in November. Or you need to preserve overall profitability after a turbulent year. 

Whatever the case: don’t stress, and definitely don’t let ecommerce Twitter shame you into feeling like you need a big discount in order to win during BFCM. 

There are many reasons why you might not want to offer steep discounts during the holiday season, and plenty of alternatives to still ride the wave of holiday shopping momentum. The extra good news is that these offers can also be used in tandem with a larger offer if you really want to make an impact this Black Friday. 

New Product Launch

If you’re not keen on offering discounts whatsoever, a new product release in Q4 can be a great way to drive additional sales during the holiday season. 

If you don’t have a new product in the works, creating a new bundle for the holidays (especially if your products are giftable) can be a great way to increase AOV and revenue without offering a discount. 

This approach is especially effective if you’re able to generate hype and build your email list through a lead generation campaign ahead of the launch. 

Free Shipping

Offering free shipping as a BFCM incentive is a great option for higher AOV brands that don’t regularly offer free shipping. It’s also a great way to appeal to international shoppers if that’s a known sticking point for audiences outside of the country your business is based. 

Value Add or Free Gift with Purchase

The value-add or gift with purchase approach is a great way to maintain standard pricing while incentivizing an offer by throwing something extra in with the sale. Keep in mind that the expectations for discounts are high, so the value of the free gift has to feel substantial during Black Friday Cyber Monday. 

There are plenty of ways to add value without having to spend a lot or cutting into your margins if you’re able to get creative with the additional value or gift with purchase as well. It’s also worth keeping the free gift neutral (not gender-specific or themed) so that it’ll appeal to as many customers as possible. 

Charitable Donations

Offering a portion (or all) of your profits to a charitable cause may not impact your bottom line as much as a discount, but it can have a major impact on your social and brand equity by attracting more socially conscious buyers that aren’t as big on the Black Friday rush. This is especially true if you’re able to align the charitable cause with your brand values or mission statement.

Giving Tuesday (November 29th this year) is an additional opportunity to give back to your community, even if you’re running a more substantial promotion for Black Friday.

Offers and discounts to turn on the jets with acquisition

Before you mark your whole site for 60% off, consider what type of offer makes most sense to your specific context and goals heading into the holiday season. 

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If you’re stuck deciding between a few different types of offers, test them! Drive traffic to unique landing pages that feature different offers in exchange for contact information. Analyze which offer converts best and has the strongest AOV. Bonus points: this also helps grow your email list ahead of Black Friday Cyber Monday! 

Early bird VIP giveaways

Rewarding VIP customers with an added bonus is a great way to kick off your campaign and build momentum around your BFCM offer.
Bundling can be especially effective on a pre-BFCM landing page to collect email addresses and “unlock” purchases from when the holiday hits.
It’s also a great way to build loyalty with your best customers by offering a special promotion just for them during the busy holiday season. 

Sitewide discount

Sitewide discounts are one of the most common offers you’ll see during the holiday season, and they’re also one of the easiest to execute. Simply apply a percentage or $ value discount across your store and clearly communicate the savings and slashed prices throughout your site, ads, and emails. Consider your goals, margins, and how much of a conversion rate lift you’ll expect when deciding how much to discount. 

🤑 TIP 🤑 - For higher AOV brands, a $ off discount may look more appealing. Put yourself in your customers shoes when deciding which offer to use. Better yet, test it!

Timed and Limited sales

Timed sales last for a specific period of time, like Friday 8am to Sunday 8pm. Everyone is using roughly the same calendar for Black Friday Cyber Monday, so this isn’t one to worry too much about as it’ll be baked into your campaign calendar

Limited sales have unique discounts unlocked at different times throughout the day, like 10% off at 10am, 12% off at 12pm, gift with purchase at 2pm, etc. 

Both sales build off time sensitivity to build urgency, and both have potential applications to provide special access to VIP customers. They’re also both higher maintenance given the need to communicate specific instructions and timing to different audiences, so worth considering resources before committing to it. 

Buy One Get One (BOGO)

Encourage shoppers to get more for less with BOGO offers for specific products or bundles. This offer is especially useful if you have excess inventory of a certain SKU, or your products are often purchased in larger quantities. 

Tiered discounts

Tiered discounts are most commonly used with a greater percent off based on the amount spent, like 15% off $40+ orders, 20% off $75+ orders, 25% off $100+ orders. This can be a great approach to increase AOV if you can make larger discounts for larger orders work with your margins.

Tiered offers can also be effective in early November with a series of offers building up to a high point of the BFCM weekend. This is a great approach to avoid offer and ad fatigue and continue appealing to new audiences and those that don’t convert right away!

If you’re looking for even more offer inspo, Common Thread Collective put together a massive list of successful ecommerce holiday campaigns and offers that you can steal for yourself here

A few of our favourite discount apps to help with your offer rollout:

More than a few ways to roll out an offer, but what about timing? Let's go over how to build your Q4 campaign calendar!

© Kulin Co 2023