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10 Steps to Optimize your Black Friday Strategy in 2021

Mike Sędzielewski
Mike Sędzielewski
November 10, 2017
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10 Steps to Optimize your Black Friday Strategy in 2021

The annual shopping frenzy is about to begin – Black Friday is a literal feast for those who want to save, buy new appliances, or get dressed for almost nothing.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday around the corner, you need to ensure that your e-commerce site and sales processes are optimized beforehand. You need to take a closer look at every step of the user journey – from SEO and SEM to the checkout page and transparent return policies. Even a minor mistake could cost your brand a fortune. 

In 2021, Black Friday will take place on November 27th. Many online stores do not reveal special promotions and discounted products until Friday afternoon. Nevertheless, traffic in e-stores increases as customers visit e-commerce websites, browse the available assortment, and prepare to hunt for discounted products.

At Voucherify, we breathe promotions daily. I wanted to share several key strategies and tips to optimize your 2021 Black Friday strategy.

Trackable coupons as an integral part of your Black Friday strategy

Trackable coupon campaigns are crucial to see how your Black Friday strategy turns into profits or losses (hopefully, it won’t come to that). But how to leverage the versatility of coupons to measure your Black Friday performance successfully? Or, more importantly, how to turn insights into learnings for future sales?

Digital coupons have many attributes, which can be a goldmine of marketing knowledge when appropriately used. Let’s take a closer look at coupon code, for example. 

Coupon prefix tracking

A prefix is a string of characters placed at the beginning of a coupon code. Whether it’s a unique or fixed-code campaign, you can tag each coupon type with extra characters that carry specific data. For example, you can assign different messaging channels to different prefixes and, as a result, be able to compare their performance.

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 the prefix. Quick and easy. 

Coupon category tracking 

If you’re running multiple Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaigns simultaneously, coupon categories will give you quick insights into their current performance. Categories let you tag coupons attached to a specific delivery channel, a segment of customers (receivers), or a campaign location. After the sale is over, you'll be able to filter out coupons with a particular category and compare the performance of a specific discount against various parameters.

Coupon Category Tracking

All in all, coupon prefixes and categories are very useful and easy tracking solution if your coupon platform supports this kind of features by default (both can be problematic to manage in hand-made excel sheets).

UTM tracking

UTMs are unique parameters that can be added to the standard URL address. With UTMs, you can precisely monitor traffic coming from specified sources on your website.

In terms of a Black Friday strategy, UTM tracking allows you to see the direct link impact on generated traffic and sales results. They are a simple yet effective tool to measure digital traffic. Each channel, type of coupon, or a campaign can be tied to a different UTM. You can also append UTMs to corresponding landing pages to publish your coupons (e.g., coupon aggregate websites). 

Traffic defined by UTMs can be quickly confronted with data from a coupon platform. For example, you can compare all visitors’ numbers with the total number of code redemptions to see your offers’ success rate. 

Why should you A/B test your Black Friday offers?

Keeping in mind that 40% of consumers start searching for deals with the arrival of November, you can leverage this spike in traffic for small A/B testing and final optimization of your Black Friday and Cyber Monday strategies. 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 helps you find out more about particular segments’ expectations and reduces the results’ unpredictability.

“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.”

Test your referral program before Black Friday

A referral program fired off several weeks before Black Friday extends your potential reach. Consider launching a referral campaign that rewards the referrers, referees, or both with Black Friday discounts based on the number of referred customers. Catchy referral ideas can bring more traffic and shape your final offer by captured insights.

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

Referral programs statistics

Double-sided referral programs are a great prologue to a Black Friday campaign. When a referrer recommends 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. Airbnb mastered this referral model with their world-renowned referral program. 

Examples of referral campaigns that you can A/B test before Black Friday

What should you A/B test before Black Friday?

You should begin from standard tests verifying which incentives and program rules work best:

  • Incentive type – amount, percentage, credits, loyalty points, free items, or free shipping.
  • Time limits – a short activity period typically increases the subjective value of an incentive.
  • Redemption limits – for instance, the minimum ordered volume helps you secure your budget and push customers to spend more than they initially intended. 

How to approach multi-level workflows for Black Friday?

Referral programs are only one of the many actions you can schedule with a modern promotion engine to optimize your Black Friday strategy. Now, I’d like to show you a combination of different incentives and automatic cross-channel distribution. Together, they create a multi-step, trackable campaign building sense of urgency before the Black Friday and Cyber Monday finale. The goal is to catch consumers’ attention who search for deals much earlier and keep them into your funnel until Black Friday.

Campaign description: Shop before 27. 11 with a 10% #BlackFriday coupon and get exclusive #BlackFriday gift card active only on November, 27th.

Redemption rules: The first 100 customers, who use their unique code, get a gift card active only on Black Friday and for orders above 100$.

The workflow:

  • Place a banner on your landing page or online store. You can also send a personalized email or SMS message to inform your opt-ins about the upcoming promotion.
  • First 100 customers who redeem the code (before Black Friday) get an automatic email with a unique gift card code. Sending an email results in assigning a specific code to the customer profile.
  • Gift cards are active only on Black Friday. They let their owners save 20$ on orders above 100$.

Email coupons for Black Friday

For most businesses, email coupons are the most appropriate way of reaching customers with their Black Friday offers. The combination of email and voucher expands a tracking path from the moment customers receive an email to the very end of the sales funnel when they finally convert (or don't). The essential email campaign parameters, such as the open rate and click-through rate, will be enhanced by coupon data showing how the email content affected revenue. For example, if you noted high OR and CTR with a low number of redeemed coupons, you probably need to focus on the discount itself. Likewise, complex email tracking helps you define reasons and hacks for future reference if your campaigns did not perform well this year. 

What’s also essential in emails is their design. Take your time to test different colors, 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 graphics, then the message itself).
  • When the Black Friday and Cyber Monday are getting closer, you can send dedicated emails and mention that special offers are coming. The key is to design the final Black Friday message based on insights from testing reminders.
Coupon reminders can siginificantly increase the engagement of your audience before Black Friday

Geo-located Black Friday promotions

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

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

Campaigns based on the CRM geolocation data need to be equipped with solid limits that secure your coupons from misuses and fraud, e.g., you need to ensure that NY Black Friday coupons can be redeemed only in New York. Plus, you have to ensure your workflows and infrastructure align with new and always changing 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.

Takeaways to rock 2021 Black Friday and Cyber Monday with coupons

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

  • Knowledge about channels and third parties that generate the most significant traffic allows you to optimize the distribution process to build 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 your sales results.
  • Email campaigns with the highest CTR show you what kind of discounts and promotions are the most wanted amongst your opt-ins.
  • Customer data acquired during Black Friday and Cyber Monday redemptions enables you to extend your regular audience and define new target groups (recent locations, subscribers, etc.).
  • Field-tested Black Friday campaigns show you which combinations of redemption 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 your coupons’ efficiency to turn interests 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 Black Friday traffic and for scheduling your field-tested strategy for the future.


Build an outstanding Black Friday campaign with a flexible promotion engine

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