Consumer Experience

How to Create Winning Black Friday Promotions

Black Friday Promotions image

Which Black Friday marketing ideas drive the most sales? There are quite a few out there: gift guides, free products, longer sales periods, and many more. However, one marketing tactic has stood the test of time, and for good reason: the promotion.  

Shoppers won’t know your excellent sales if you don’t promote them. Promotions are one of the best ways to communicate your discounts, sales periods, and other crucial information to your target audience. You risk losing business to your competitors without them.  

But what makes for effective promotions? Let’s look at some examples to figure out how to create winning Black Friday promotions for this holiday season. 

Black Friday Winners 

 This past Black Friday was another excellent reminder of what works and what doesn’t during this critical holiday season for brands and retailers.  

According to Adobe Analytics, more than $5 billion was spent online alone on Black Friday 2017. That is up from $4.3 billion in 2016. The data showed several products that were heavily discounted around this time, with the leaders including appliances, jewelry, tablets, and televisions. The latter two categories were each discounted by 24 percent on Black Friday.  

Overall, winners around Black Friday were consumer electronics, apparel, and appliances. Other top performers included toys and games, and furniture and bedding. Outside of specific products, winners were mobile shopping, which drove 46 percent of traffic during the 2017 holiday season, and online shopping in general, as 61 percent of purchases were completed via a desktop computer.  

More than $5 billion was spent online on Black Friday in 2017.

Playing Catch-Up on Black Friday 

On the other hand, brick-and-mortar retailers and department stores, such as Macy’s and J.C. Penney, are playing catch-up around Black Friday due to the popularity of eCommerce.  

In a statement to Retail Dive, Ricardo Rubi of consulting firm Simon-Kucher explained how Macy’s and J.C. Penney’s holiday promotions struggled to compete with online retailers last year.  

“We would have liked to see Macy’s being a bit more strategic about their promotions,” Rubi told Retail Dive. “They just revamped their loyalty program, they need to brickwall consumers, it would have been good to see promotions that encourage the sign-up and usage of their new program.” 

He added that J.C. Penney’s strategy was to promote extreme discounts on nearly every product for existing shoppers and a social media campaign to attract new customers. 

Consumer electronics and apparel are top-selling products on Black Friday.

What Goes into Black Friday Promotions 

So, Black Friday promotions that are for consumer electronics, apparel, appliances, and similar products may have a leg up on the competitors. Promotions that are available on digital channels are also positioned well, as an increasing number of consumers are shopping online. 

However, this isn’t the full picture of quality Black Friday promotions. You should also consider: 

  • Which channels are used to deliver the promotions 
  • How competitors craft their promotions 
  • Which promotional tactics are favored 
  • Language used to describe the promotions 

For example, Black Friday promotions can be a Buy One, Get One deal, a percentage off, a free gift, a product launch, an extended sale, or something else. 

Black Friday Promotions Channels 

Of course, channel matters when it comes to successful Black Friday promotions. There are three major ones to utilize this time of year: email, homepages, and Twitter.  


For instance, one effective Black Friday promotion was from Walmart, which leveraged one of the tactics above—an extended sale—to attract shoppers before Black Friday officially hit. 

Walmart Black Friday Promotions

The subject line of this email read—“Pre-Black Friday DEALS are here!”—which clearly states what recipients can expect inside and highlights the biggest value-add of this specific deal: an extended sales period. 


Over on homepages, Dick’s Sporting Goods went with the tactic of a percentage off. In this case, up to 50 percent off select products, with a promise of hundreds of deals available on the site.

Dick's Black Friday Promotions  

The promotional text for this homepage read: “Black Friday Prices + More! Up to 50% Off!” This emphasized the key selling point of the Dick’s promotion—the percentage off—and the tie-in to Black Friday.  


Social media remains an excellent way to connect with shoppers during the holidays. Of the many platforms, Twitter is often used for marketing thanks to its concise messages, ease of use, and embedded imagery.  

Bonobos Black Friday promotions

Bonobos used Twitter to promote an extended sale after Black Friday had officially ended, as well as share its percentage-off deal, a link to the website and a playful image. The deal also had a small window of availability, another tactic that could increase traffic. 

What Comes Next? 

It’s no secret that Black Friday is one of the most important drive periods in retail. It’s the heart of the November-December holiday shopping season, and it’s the unofficial kick-off to the Christmas buying rush.  

Promotions are a core part of any brand or retailer’s strategy this time of year. As you craft your Black Friday promotions, keep in mind what makes them so effective among consumers: 

  • Multi-channel promotions across email, homepages, or Twitter 
  • Promotions that emphasize the key value-add 
  • Promotions well before and after Black Friday 
  • Eye-catching subject lines and promo text 
  • Discounts on top-performing products, if possible 

Need more insight into promotions? Wiser Solutions tracks promotional strategies throughout retail. Our goals are to identify trends and provide screenshots and text of promotions so you can develop stronger holiday marketing initiatives. Contact us today to learn more, and best of luck this holiday season! 

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