10 digital BFCM tactics we already know customers love

Profile photo of author Mae Rice
Mae Rice
10min read
Ecommerce industry
July 9, 2024
On the left side of the image, lemon-colored capital letters on a sage background read, "BFCM tactics we love." On the other side of a diagonal line splitting the image is a photo of two women standing at a conference table, reading a report together.

Black Friday Cyber Monday, the biggest shopping weekend of the year, has gone digital.

The National Retail Federation confirms it: in 2023, on the holiday weekend and even on Black Friday itself—the biggest in-person shopping day of the year—most consumers bought online.

Image shows a vertical bar graph from the National Retail Federation titled “Thanksgiving weekend in-store and online shoppers by day.” In-store shoppers are represented by blue bars and online shoppers are represented by red bars. On every day except Saturday, the red bars are taller than the blue bars.
Source: National Retail Federation

“It doesn’t even make sense for me to leave my house on a Black Friday and fight crowds, if there are any,” says Kristen Tumasonis, marketing director at SuitShop.

Zing! And it’s true—lines outside brick-and-mortar stores on Black Friday are increasingly rare. In 2023, even though a record number of people planned to shop, people didn’t line up outside big box retailers at 6 a.m. like they used to.

“It’s a lot quieter this year,” one frequent Black Friday shopper told Reuters.

What does this shift mean for marketers?

It means that even for omnichannel brands, digital holiday strategy matters. A lot. In this guide, we break down how to get it right, sharing best practices and buzzy BFCM tactics recommended by in-house marketers, consultants, and agency pros.

1. Providing early access (or an extra discount) to VIPs

POPFLEX has done this for the past two years. In 2023, their password-protected early access sale lasted 3 hours—reserved for anyone in the top two tiers of the brand’s loyalty program, plus customers who signed up via landing page.

“I think the key message was making people feel special,” says Jen-Ai Notman, POPFLEX’s VP of marketing. “We used a lot of language like ‘You got exclusive access,’ ‘You’re a VIP.’ When the doors opened for them to shop, they felt like they had first dibs. People converted really quickly.”

The key message was making people feel special.
Jen-Ai Notman
VP of marketing, POPFLEX

In fact, the first hour of early access was POPFLEX site’s highest-revenue hour of the year.

Another way to reward loyal customers during the holidays: a VIP discount. With Klaviyo, it’s easy to create a segment of your most-engaged customers and reward them during BFCM—and as a consumer, Tumasonis always appreciates this.

“Even if it’s an extra 5-10% and it’s not going to affect your bottom line too much, I think it is really impactful,” she explains.

It shows that you appreciate your existing customers, even in a season where you’re acquiring a lot of new ones.

2. Partnering with other brands on promotions and sales

Marketing consultant Grace Clarke sees brands supporting each other as a growing trend.

In 2022, she created a collaboration-heavy BFCM content strategy with olive oil brand Graza—every single element of their Friendsgiving guide, a compendium of recipes and hosting tips, was created in partnership with another brand.

Partners included keto cereal brand Magic Spoon, herbal seltzer brand Aura Bora, sustainable food container brand Inka, and many more.

“It was very much taking a community-driven approach to Black Friday Cyber Monday,” Clarke explains. “The idea was, why not add another megaphone to this?”

Content partners bring in new expertise, Clarke notes, so Graza can publish authoritative pieces on topics outside their brand’s specific niche.

She sees this trend extending into sales, too. Brands can “curate other brands that they know their customers are already shopping elsewhere, or that they think will increase use of their own products and help one-time customers stay,” Clarke explains.

Clarke sees digital cross-selling boutiques popping up on more brand websites during BFCM, monetized via tools like affiliate fees.

3. Incentivizing customers to build a wishlist

POPFLEX did this in 2023 with a fall sweepstakes. Customers who submitted a $1,000 wishlist and signed up for email and SMS marketing got entered to win a $1,000 shopping spree—and nearly 100K people entered.

“The beauty of the wishlist giveaway is it makes the customer engage with your product,” says Notman. “They’re researching, they’re looking at our categories, they’re reading reviews. So we now know the products that they’re interested in, and they have much higher intent going into the holiday season.”

The beauty of the wishlist giveaway is it makes the customer engage with your product.
Jen-Ai Notman
VP of marketing, POPFLEX

It doesn’t have to be a giveaway cultivating this kind of intent at scale, either. Any kind of compelling incentive to create a wishlist can have a similar effect, and generate engagement data you can use to target BFCM email campaigns.

4. Personalizing messaging based on quiz responses

Jones Road Beauty leaned into quiz-based segmentation in 2023, using Klaviyo’s Octane AI integration. This helped them message the limited-edition holiday mini versions of their best-selling Miracle Balm differently to customers at different stages in their buying journey.

If they had taken the Miracle Balm Shade Finder quiz but never purchased, for example, subscribers got messaging about trying different shades to find their perfect color. Meanwhile, repeat buyers got more gifting-focused messaging.

The ease of creating segments in Klaviyo and spinning up personalized emails plays a big part in our BFCM strategy.
Cody Plofker
CMO, Jones Road Beauty

“The ease of creating segments in Klaviyo and spinning up personalized emails plays a big part in our BFCM strategy,” says Cody Plofker, CMO of Jones Road Beauty.

5. Sending daily (or more-than-daily) marketing emails

Frequency matters, especially when you don’t have an ultra-steep holiday discount, says Tumasonis.

“Stay top of mind,” she advises. “Don’t be scared to send an email every day.”

Stay top of mind. Don’t be scared to send an email every day.
Kristen Tumasonis
Marketing director, SuitShop

For example: Little Sleepies sent email campaigns at least daily during BFCM. Some days, they even sent two campaigns—one in the morning to their full list, and one in the evening to people who had engaged with the first email, but hadn’t purchased.

It worked: they more than doubled their BFCM revenue from email YoY.

Including an element of personalization with this tactic can go a long way—if a subscriber clicks on pajama sets in the first email, for example, send them similar recommendations in the follow-up.

6. Trying a countdown clock in your emails

A countdown clock creates a sense of excitement and urgency. Proof: one appears onstage before Taylor Swift’s grand entrance on the Eras Tour.

Countdown clocks can work in Black Friday marketing, too, from email campaigns to sign-up forms.

Last year, Little Sleepies embedded a clock counting down to the end of their holiday sale in many of their sends in their daily campaigns—and it helped drive 138.2% YoY growth in their email revenue during their BFCM sale.

7. Sending a last-minute offer to active-on-site shoppers

Maternity and baby boutique Caden Lane took an interesting approach to final-hours messaging during BFCM: they sent out a last-minute discount to customers currently active on their site who hadn’t yet purchased.

“That one email pushed us over the finish line,” says Caden Lane CMO Bryant Jaquez. The boutique hit their revenue and margin goals for the holiday.

8. Running hybrid abandonment flows, plural

Before BFCM 2023, POPFLEX integrated SMS into 3 of their abandonment flows—for browse, cart, and check-out abandonment.

It meant SMS subscribers got mobile-native reminders to complete their purchase before the sale’s end.

This helped generate major revenue lift—POPFLEX’s revenue from automations during their 8-day BFCM sale jumped 3.3x YoY in 2023, and their revenue from SMS during their sale grew 172% YoY.

“SMS is a really interesting emerging marketing channel,” Notman says. “It’s the future—it’s where people are and it’s the device that they’re on.”

These people subscribed, so we should feel empowered to text them.
CJ Palmer
Implementation consultant, Klaviyo

During BFCM, it’s also a great re-engagement channel, points out CJ Palmer, implementation consultant at Klaviyo.

“If someone clicks and then abandons earlier in the day, send them an SMS later as part of the abandonment flow to drive more conversions,” Palmer suggests. “We sometimes view SMS with kid gloves, but it’s important to remember that these people subscribed, so we should feel empowered to text them.”

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9. Offering a photogenic surprise gift with purchase

Clarke worked with Graza on this during the holidays, helping the brand send out free illustrated menus and place cards with orders, designed to echo Graza’s branding.

“Graza is an ingredient, so it’s not visible when it’s being used,” Clarke explains. “These place settings helped people set their tables and create a stylistic meal while increasing the odds we’d be photographed and posted about on social.”

Graza got glowing feedback on their Friendsgiving campaign, and did indeed see social posts about the gifts—which helped the brand expand its reach without relying on paid advertising. In fact, Graza only ran one paid promotion during the 2022 holidays.

10. Taking a proactive approach to support

Last year, Tumasonis had an amazing experience with customer service at Cay Skin that guaranteed she’d buy from them again.

She placed an order over BFCM, and the shipment was delayed—though not so much that it arrived after Christmas.

The brand apologized for the delay and sent her a $20 coupon. Then, in March, they followed up with another apology: a full-size free product and another coupon code.

Cay Skin impressed Tumasonis by “proactively getting ahead” of negative sentiment around the delay, and going “above and beyond in terms of making me a fan again.”

“I will 100% shop with them again,” she adds.

Get ready for the holiday rush where it happens—online

It’s not just Cyber Monday anymore. The whole BFCM weekend is now digital-first.

You can’t surprise and delight customers with epic in-store holiday displays or bargain basement doorbuster deals. Today, doorbuster deals are most likely discount codes sent out via email, anyway.

But online BFCM is winnable. You just need to start planning early, build on what’s already performing well for your brand, and take a few big, creative swings—like a free gift, or an all-new custom email design.

If you’re a marketer, ’tis the season to hit your goals and sharpen your competitive edge.

Related content

BFCM marketing FAQs

How do you create urgency and drive more sales for Black Friday?

Embed countdown clocks in your emails, and send out final-hours messaging to customers who’ve engaged with your sale emails, but haven’t yet purchased.

For extra urgency, you could try a series of shorter-term deals, instead of a constant 8-day sale. More final hours to count down to!

How do you plan for increased website traffic during Black Friday?

Use Google’s PageSpeed Module to identify elements slowing down your site’s load speed, like too-big images—and optimize pop-ups and sign-up modules in advance, to maximize your odds of staying in touch with visitors that don’t convert.

How do you track and measure the success of Black Friday marketing campaigns?

Look at YoY growth in holiday revenue, but also track your margins—monitoring coupon code redemption and average discount rate.

You’ll also want to track how customers who bought during Black Friday—especially for the first time—behave during the year ahead. If they’re coming back again and again, it can justify lower—or slightly negative—BFCM margins.

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Mae Rice
Mae Rice
Senior content marketing manager
Mae Rice is a senior content marketing manager at Klaviyo, leading case studies and writing customer-focused blog posts. A longtime journalist and content marketer, she has covered marketing, technology and the ways they intersect since 2019, and her freelance work has appeared in Insider, Vox, Buzzfeed Reader and beyond. She graduated from the University of Chicago and lives in Chicago.