5 Strategies to Remember From Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018

November 21, 2018

By Justin Biel(opens in new tab), trends editor at Grow Wire

In short:

  • Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a stellar time to study retail sale strategies, as marketers fire on all cylinders to capitalize on increased customer interest.

  • This year, a special focus seems to be “giving and getting,” as retailers respond to shoppers’ desire to give back, especially in the wake of natural disaster. 

  • Other holiday sale tactics to consider implementing include: eye-popping emails, “non-sales,” hourly giveaways and and pre-sales. 

This holiday retail season is set(opens in new tab) to be the biggest in years, making Black Friday and Cyber Monday an even more fascinating time to survey retailer sales strategies. 

Black Friday is historically the busiest in-store shopping day of the year, a title experts say it’ll maintain in 2018(opens in new tab). And since its debut in 2005, Cyber Monday has emerged as a huge opportunity in its own right. Last year’s Cyber Monday cleared $6.5 billion in digital transactions(opens in new tab), making it the largest single shopping day in U.S. history by revenue.

This year, the two retail holidays come on the heels of the deadliest wildfire in California history, making it a salient time for brands to pitch “getting and giving” to a millennial audience especially primed to respond. Brands of all kinds can learn from their tactics, as well as from classic Cyber Monday strategies retailers are deploying once again this season.

Strategy #1: Combine getting and giving 
Along with the holiday rush to “buy buy buy” (cue *NSYNC(opens in new tab)), companies often give consumers opportunities to give back. This especially plays to the millennial generation who have a combined spending power of over $600 billion(opens in new tab) and believe capitalism and causes go hand-in-hand, according to an Accenture global market research survey. 

But millennials aren’t the only ones(opens in new tab) who care about the relationship between business and social causes, a Cone Communications CSR survey showed. The survey found that 78 percent of Americans want companies to address important social justice issues, while 87 percent will purchase a product because a company advocates for an issue they care about.

Dovetailing holiday shopping with donating is especially relevant in the wake of natural disasters. As California’s deadly wildfires continue to dominate the news, major retailers including Apple and Kmart are featuring donation widgets on their homepages alongside holiday product announcements. 

Apple's current homepage (credit: Apple) (opens in new tab)

Other brands are taking a less timely, but still relevant, approach to getting and giving. Another top Black Friday retailer(opens in new tab), Stage, is featuring giving opportunities(opens in new tab) right above the “must-have” items on its site. Meijer’s site(opens in new tab), meanwhile, offers shoppers the option to donate to local hunger relief amidst its other deals.

Still other retailers are using an app called Pledgeling(opens in new tab), which integrates with e-commerce sites to contribute parts of their proceeds to charity year-round. These integrations stand to drive an extra volume of donations on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when brand sites see more traffic than usual. Women’s clothing brand SWAK Designs, for example, gives a portion of its profits to charity Dress for Success(opens in new tab) year-round. The brand’s homepage(opens in new tab) currently advertises its Black Friday sale alongside its giving-back efforts, making for a “give-and-get” effort that has holiday site traffic on its side.

It’s worth noting that as consumers, we don’t have to buy in order to give. Plenty of organizations(opens in new tab) offer the opportunity to donate to charity, no product purchase necessary.

Strategy #2: An eye-popping email 
Cyber Monday and Black Friday inspire some marketing emails(opens in new tab) worth learning from. Last year, fashion brand Fossil sent a Cyber Monday email including digital confetti that fluttered down-screen when users opened the message. The pre-promotion advertised a massive 70-percent-off discount and built anticipation for a “one day only!” event. The email ended with clickable gift guides sorted by person and price. See the full email here(opens in new tab).

Fossil's Cyber Monday email from 2017 (credit: Fossil)(opens in new tab)

Strategy #3: A clever “non-sale”
Sustainable clothing brand Everlane chose to highlight its already-low prices in last year’s Cyber Monday send. It labeled its message, “This is not a sale,” then followed up with low-cost product recommendations, building value by comparing their prices with competitors’. See the full email here(opens in new tab).

Everlane's Cyber Monday email from 2017 (credit: Everlane)(opens in new tab) 

Strategy #4: Hourly giveaways 
Chubbies, a San Francisco-based men’s short-shorts startup(opens in new tab), makes the free-gift model an integral part of its Cyber Monday strategy, including free gifts with qualifying purchases throughout the day. Customers can pre-select their favorites and get notified when the deal goes live. It’s a smart way to pre-promote a sale and encourage email signups.

Chubbies' free giveaways page (credit: Chubbies)(opens in new tab)

Strategy #5: Pre-selling
Who said Cyber Monday has to focus on deliveries for the actual holiday season? Consider using the day to pre-sell forthcoming products or event tickets. L.A.’s Anime Expo is offering Cyber Monday ticket deals for the 2019 show, which doesn’t occur till July 2019.

The bottom line 
The holiday shopping season tends to see retail marketers pulling out their best strategies, and this one is no exception. Take note of these moves from the recent past and present, and consider using them in your sales throughout the year.

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