Black Friday is a huge promotional opportunity for business owners large and small. But before you launch your own Black Friday marketing campaign, you might want to do some research.
We’ve found that understanding what worked – and what didn’t work – in the best and brightest Black Friday campaigns of years past can help inspire and improve this year’s success. Plus, as more and more customers opt for online orders over in-store deals (and the subsequent emergence of Cyber Monday), paying special attention to digital creativity is a must.
So, let’s dig in. Here’s what you need to know about just a few of the best Black Friday marketing campaigns in history:
Apple is a leader in consumer tech products. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that they are a leader in Black Friday marketing campaigns as well. Take, for example, this email drip from Black Friday’s past. Rather than bombard subscribers with a ton of messaging day of, Apple takes a slow-burn approach. By dropping hints of their sale in the days and weeks leading up to the event, the brand builds anticipation. Now when the sale launches on the day itself, users are already prepped to be on the lookout for deals.
In recent years, this kind of Black Friday sale prequel has become more common – as has simply launching the sale itself in advance. In fact, some brands have even taken to “leaking” their sale days early as an incentive to increase purchases.
Let Patagonia be a lesson to you; Sometimes the best Black Friday marketing campaigns aren’t even Black Friday campaigns at all.
In 2011, Patagonia launched an anti-Black Friday campaign urging customers to stop buying their jackets, thus highlighting the negative environmental side effects of over-consumption. While this may seem counter-intuitive (don’t you want customers?) it’s actually an incredibly smart move. More consumers are growing weary of the ethics of splurge shopping. By positioning themselves as an ethical alternative to the big box realtors Black Friday is known for, Patagonia hopes to scoop up loyal customers that buy jackets on more than just this one day a year. In fact, in 2016 Patagonia doubled down – donating 100% of their profits to environmental orgs.
Similarly, REI’s creative #OptOutside ads capture the essence of alternative Black Friday marketing campaigns. Instead of offering a sale or discount, REI actually closes its doors on Black Friday, asking instead that customers and employees alike use this time to get out of their homes and into the great outdoors (with REI goods in tow, of course).
REI has been using #OptOutside since 2015, creating their own micro-holiday along the way and bucking the after-thanksgiving shopping tradition. Like Patagonia, this kind of tactic helps inspire loyalty from like-minded consumers and ensures your advertising stands out from the crowd.
Plus, the “will you go out with me?” content is very, very cute.
Like Apple, Amazon is a shoo-in for a ranking of the best Black Friday marketing campaigns in history. But the genius of Amazon’s Black Friday marketing goes beyond their inventory alone.
Rather, Amazon’s commitment and attention to digital ads is the reason they fall on our list. By increasing digital spend on Black Friday itself, the weekend following, and Cyber Monday, Amazon increases the chances that users will buy on one of those days. By capitalizing on smart analytics, knowing the value of inventory, and preparing well in advance for site surges and issues, Amazon can take advantage of Black Friday year after year.
Marketing for non-consumer products on Black Friday can be difficult. Tech publication The Verge is a great example of how Black Friday marketing campaigns aren’t just for retail anymore.
Back in 2019, The Verge hopped on the Black Friday hype by offering a mystery bag of their favorite tech gadgets and gizmos as a prize in a social media competition. To enter, users simply followed The Verge’s Twitter account with a widget on their website. While it might not constitute a Black Friday sale per se, this campaign shows that leveraging the holidays is about so much more than buy one, get one type deals. Not to mention their tagline was great: “Why buy stuff when you can win stuff?” – incredible!
In 2016 MeUndies went live on Facebook for Black Friday – hosting a little digital party of sorts for customers, followers, and list subscribers alike. Throughout the live event, MeUndies dropped exclusive deals and codes, offered free gifts, and put on a dance party, rewarding loyal customers for interacting with their feed.
Additionally, in an inspired move, the brand also launched targeted ads inviting consumers who had visited their site but had yet to make a purchase to the live as well. This was a great way to target “abandoned cart” users.
For Black Friday and Beyond
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