Black Friday – love it or loathe it, there is no denying it is here to stay. In fact, this post-Thanksgiving sales bonanza set a US online sales record last year with a total spend of over 2.4 billion! The question is, how do you make the most of it? If you have a physical store the answer is probably extra security with the muscle power of a full-back football player but what about the digital world?

Here are five simple but effective tips to get your online store ready for the big day!

1. Build anticipation

You may think that last thing a black Friday crowd needs is whipping into a frenzy but while these shoppers may be primed and ready to go, there is no guarantee that it is your site that they will be storming the virtual doors of. Remember, discount shoppers are savvy and so chances are that they will be constructing a game plan way before the day is here. And you need to make sure that they put your store on the playlist. How? With a pre-Black Friday marketing strategy. If you haven’t already, now is the time to launch a social media and email campaign to generate excitement. Give real examples of the type of discounts customers can expect so that they know to put you on their list. But remember, you aren’t going to be the only one employing this strategy – now is the time to stand out from the crowd- put time and effort into engaging copy and design (Econsultancy did a great blog on some of the best examples from last year), A/B test email headlines and where possible personalize your efforts so that they are relevant to your target audience.


2. Give Black Friday a red makeover

It may sound obvious but some companies focus their efforts so much on the discounts they are going to offer that they forget to dress their virtual window for the day. And while they may call it Black Friday this is one time you actually want your customers to see red. Why? Because, as we all know, color is emotive and red signifies urgency which, in turn, encourages action. And of course, Black Friday is a day when you want your site to see lots of that. How should you go about it? Create red hero banners announcing your sale. The urgency connotations will trigger the most basic of consumerist urges by reinforcing the idea that this is a special but time-limited offer. And remember, the presence of your sales should be seen throughout your site- whatever the landing page.

Bonus Tip: If you really want relay urgency don’t feel you have to rely on color alone – now is not the time for subtlety! FOMO is the flavor of the day (that’s Fear Of Missing Out for anyone who isn’t up on their millennial slang)- play on this with a countdown timer highlighting how long customers have left to buy. Unbounce took a good look at Autozone used timers to announce Flash sales (and how you can do it better) in their blog.


3. Display your discounts

Let’s face it, during the sale period customers expect a great deal on your inventory without having to actively search out the discounts. It goes without saying then that every part of your website should have discounted items and that these should be pushed to forefront, but what’s the best way to display them? The key is to drive the discount home- amend your styling to include the crossed out full price or even show the exact percentage that would be saved. It sounds simple but really driving home the potential discount will motivate shoppers that are unsure.

Bonus Tip: Use “show only discounted” filters on recommendation elements to further give the impression that everything is on sale. Even better, break them down by the biggest savings leaving people with the firm impression that you are the go-to for big discounts!


4. Retarget, retarget, retarget

Black friday shoppers have incredibly short attention spans and will compare deals across multiple vendors and price comparison sites. The good news? Someone leaving your site doesn’t mean your chances to woo them are over. Give them ample opportunity to conclude their purchase by retargeting through email, Facebook and display advertising. But remember, this is a one day deal so adjust your retargeting cycle accordingly, using the the lowest time-frame possible. It may go against your (hopefully) normal best practice of not bombarding people but this is Black Friday! Shoppers expect it to be chaotic and the competition is fierce- only the brave and the bold will win. Take abandoned cart emails for example – where normally you may wait a few hours or a few days to remind abandoned cart owners of the goods they were about to buy on Black Friday lower this to five minutes to avoid them going elsewhere.


5. Don’t let them get away

Of course there’s always going to be those shoppers for whom the sales, the fancily dressed website and clearly labelled discounts are not enough. For whatever reason they go to leave your site. But don’t fret! Exit intent technology allows you the chance to win back their affections before they go. Keep those shoppers on their way to the till by using pop-ups, triggered when someone goes to leave your site, to offer them the sweetener that will seal the deal. Whether that be a discount code for extra savings or free shipping, it is a great way to maximise the return you get from the traffic going to your store that day.

So there we go, a last minute checklist to make sure you are ready for the big day. But now that you’ve mastered the basics how can you make sure the impact from Black Friday keeps you in the black for the rest of the year? In the next few weeks we will show you how to capture the long term value of Black Friday traffic that aims to visit  once and never return.