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How to manage mass refunds and gift cards in the time of pandemic

10 steps to optimize your Black Friday strategy

November 10, 2017

With our tips, you’ll be able to build up tactics which will help you optimize Black Friday offers, drive more conversions, and better calculate ROI.

10 steps to optimize your Black Friday strategy

Trackable coupon campaigns are a key to seeing how your Black Friday promotion strategy turns into profits or losses. In this post, you’ll learn how to leverage the versatility of coupons to successfully measure your BFCM performance and turn insights into learnings for future events.

We will guide you step-by-step through the campaign tracking possibilities and recommendations. A short index of the topics we cover in this article:

1) Why you should a/b test your Black Friday campaigns?

2) Optimize your coupon campaigns with easy and advanced techniques

  • Tracking with coupon prefix
  • Tracking with coupon category
  • Combination of prefix and category

3) Test your referral programs

  • First-minute referral programs
  • Double-sided referral programs
  • Referral tests in the nutshell

4) How to approach multi-level promotion workflows

  • How to set up a multi-level Black Friday promotion
  • Email campaigns
  • Location-based promotions

5) Takeaways to rock this year’s BF or CM

Why you should a/b test your BF campaigns

Keeping in mind that 40% of consumers start searching for deals with the arrival of November, you can leverage this movement for a/b testing and final optimization of your BFCM offer. To start a/b tests, delve into your customers' segmentation and ensure all your lists and target groups are updated. Testing different discounts combined with various constraints defines the expectations of particular segments and reduces the unpredictability of results.

“Big companies spend lots of resources testing ad campaigns and hiring focus groups, but you can do a lot more effective research on your own by simply starting small -- then testing and measuring everything you do.”

Read on to see what kind of promotions and tracking techniques are worth implementing while preparing your BFCM offer or scheduling a marketing strategy for upcoming 2019.

Promotion optimization and tracking for your 2018 BFCM strategy

Digital coupons have many attributes which can be a goldmine of marketing knowledge when properly used. Let’s take a look at coupon code for example. Coupons with unique codes can be easily tracked and analyzed, meanwhile coupons with a fixed-code are easy to distribute and therefore acquire new customers on scale. In the following paragraphs, you’ll see that digital coupons allow for much more, including sophisticated personalization. Based on the effort required for implementation, all BFCM promotion tracking ideas are divided into 3 categories ranging from easy to advanced.

Tracking with coupon prefix

With prefix, you can easily categorize your promotions. Imagine you run different campaigns on different channels, for different customer clusters. The analysis is easy if you can filter out coupons from a particular campaign by using their prefix

Prefix is a word placed at the beginning of a coupon code. Whether it’s a unique or fixed-code campaign, you can tag each type of coupon with an extra 2-3 characters in the code which carry specific data. For example, you can assign distribution channels to different prefixes and as a result, you'll be able to compare their performance.

Tracking coupon prefix - Black Friday strategies

Tracking with coupon category

If you’re running multiple BFCM campaigns at the same time, similarly to prefix, categories give you fast insights into current performance. Categories let you tag coupons attached to a type of delivery channel, a segment of customers (receivers) or area of campaign reach. After the sale, you'll be able to filter out coupons with a particular category and compare the performance of a specific discount combined with diversified params.

Combination of prefix and category

Prefixes and categories are a very useful and easy tracking solution if your coupon platform supports these features by default (both can be problematic to manage in hand-made excel sheets).

Prefix and category - optimizing your black friday strategy

Tracking with UTMs

Thanks to UTMs, you’ll be able to see the direct impact of all links on generated traffic and sales results. They are a simple yet effective tool to measure digital traffic. UTM is a specific string which you need to add at the end of a URL to track visitors. Each channel, type of coupon or campaign can be tied to a different UTM. You can also append UTM’s to corresponding landing pages where you publish your coupons.

A traffic defined by UTMs can be easily confronted with data from a coupon platform. For example, you can compare numbers of all visitors with total number of code redemptions.

Track UTMs

Test your referral programs and extend your reach


A referral program fired off 3-4 weeks before BF extends your potential reach. Consider launching a campaign which rewards with BFCM discounts according to the number of referred customers, e.g., “20% off during the Black Friday sale if you bring 2 friends to the store” or “50% off if you encourage at least 3 friends to purchase.”

Test referral programs
Catchy referral ideas can leverage the fever of waiting to bring more traffic and shape your final offer by captured insights.

After you scratched the surface, it’s time to introduce more advanced forms of tracking with multiple referral programs and highly-personalized coupons. A coupon and its features decide about the tracking potential because they accompany your customer through each phase of a sales funnel. They keep attributes representing all endpoints and crucial data (location, delivery channel, customer’s data, order details, payment method, etc.).


Trackable referral programs, started with the gust of a Black Friday fever, capture the most valuable sources of new acquisitions - your happy customers. Referral incentives increase chances for new recommendations and thus, bigger traffic around BF. The greatest thing about programs based on unique codes is that you know exactly the scale of generated traffic and a value of acquired leads.

Due to a/b testing that you can run within referral campaigns, we’ve listed attributes worth to start with:

  • Double-sided program structure - in such campaigns there are two incentives. When a referrer recommend your brand he/she shares a code which is an incentive for a new customer. If the new customer redeems the given incentive, the referrer gets a reward (2nd incentive). An example can be Airbnb referral program.

Two-sided referral campaigns let you emphasize the power of recommendation. With a real value in hands, new customers are motivated to check out your services

Data on referral programs

What to A/B test? Begin from standard tests verifying what incentives and program rules work best:

  • Incentive type: amount discount, percentage off or maybe gift card credits?
  • Minimum order volume which allows for redeeming the code: on one hand, it needs to secure your budget. On the other hand, it can successfully push customers to spend more than they initially intended.
  • Expiration date: short time for redeeming code typically increases subjective value of an incentive.

We recommend you to test configuration which gives exactly the same discount to the referrer and new customers but in the case of referrers, it requires a minimum order value set little above the average order value.

Lastly, don't forget expiration dates on both incentives!

Next, you can test further campaign attributes such as different incentive types, redeeming rules, time limits and distribution channels.

How to approach multi-level promotion workflows

Referral programs are only one of the many actions you can schedule with a modern promotion engine. In this paragraph, you’ll see a combination of different incentives and automatic cross-channel distribution. Together, they create a multi-step, trackable campaign building sense of urgency before BF final. The goal is to catch the attention of consumers who search for deals much earlier and keep them into your funnel until BF comes.

Multi-level promotions


For most businesses, emails with coupons are the most relevant way of reaching customers with their Black Friday offers. The combination of email and coupon expands a tracking path from the moment customers receive an email to the end of the sales funnel when they make an action. For the most important email campaign parameters, i.e. Open Rate and Click Through Rate, coupon data show how email content affects revenue. For example, if you noted high OR and CTR with a poor number of utilized coupons, you probably need to focus more effort on a discount. Likewise, complex email tracking helps you to define reasons and hacks for future reference if any of your campaigns did not perform well this year. 

What’s also important in the case of emails is their design. Take your time to test different button colours, CTAs and email personalization.  You can do it using an email campaign informing about a digital promotion in your store. The workflow can look as follows:

  • Cart-level promotion (auto-applied discount) is active for 6 hours every Sunday.
  • Every Saturday customers get an email reminder that the promotion is active the next day from-to. Each reminder has a different design. Remember to test one thing at the time (firstly test buttons, then a graphics, then a message content).
  • When it’s close to BFCM you can send dedicated emails and mention that special offers are coming. The key is to design a BF message template based on insights from testing reminders.
Master promotional emails with our WHITE PAPER: Coupons in email marketing
Coupon reminders


With a great Black Friday traffic and plenty of utilized coupons, you can capture significant clues and define what’s catching on and where.

Geo-segmentation is one of the most important attributes which impacts sales results recurrently. Tracking your success geographically and digging into data from different areas helps you to define characteristic patterns and test the quality of a current segmentation.

Geo-located campaign for Black Friday

From a technical point of view, we placed segmentation analysis in advanced techniques because campaigns based on CRM geolocation data need to be equipped with solid limits which secure your coupons from misuses and fraud, e.g., you need to ensure that NY Black Friday coupon can be redeemed only in New York. Plus, you have to ensure your workflows and infrastructure align with new law restrictions.

“By segmenting your customers, you may be able to identify the opportunities where you should be investing the most effort and resources into future marketing and customer retention initiatives.” Forbes

Geo-segmentation is one of the most important attributes which impact sales results recurrently. Tracking your success geographically and delving into data from different segments helps you to define patterns characteristic for each area and test the quality of a current segment.

Ultimately, with great Black Friday traffic and plenty of utilized coupons, you can capture significant clues and define what’s catching on and where.

Takeaways to rock this year’s BF or CM

After the Black Friday & Cyber Monday sales, you can eventually define how people were consuming your content and follow the bright spots in your future marketing strategy. To make the analysis easier, we summed up all crucial data trackable with digital coupons:

  • Knowledge about channels and third parties which generate the biggest traffic lets you optimize the distribution process in terms of building brand awareness.
  • Redemptions metrics show you real sources of new customers which you should focus on in the future.
  • UMTs results compared with coupon numbers show how traffic generated in a particular coupon location impacts on sales results.
  • Email campaigns which noted the highest CTR show you what kind of discounts and promotions are the most wanted amongst your opt-ins.
  • Customers data acquired during BFCM redemptions enables you to extend your regular audience and define new target groups (new locations, subscribers, etc.).
  • Field-tested Black Friday campaigns show you which combinations of buying rules and discounts (cross-selling, flash sales, etc.) bring the highest levels of interest.
  • Eventually, comparing final sales results with achieved traffic enables you to estimate the efficiency of your coupons in terms of turning interest into actions.
  • Mobile app and QR codes enable you to track offline redemptions and cover the omnipresent demand for mobile technologies.

According to H.J. Harrington “measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement.” As soon as you catch a breath after the Black Friday and Cyber Monday rush, start digging into achieved numbers. Modern coupon platforms with trackable coupon campaigns support Google Analytics data or MailChimp stats which, together, allow for the most accurate reactions during the extraordinary BF traffic and for scheduling your field-tested strategy for the future.

Don't have any promotion engine in place? Use our free 30 days trial to build the outstanding Black Friday campaigns with the support of dedicated team ready to help!

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