The BFCM tactics consumers loved (and loathed) this year

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The ecommerce industry experienced wild growth numbers when customers shopped online for the holidays during Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) in 2020. While in-store shopping crept up during 2021, it’s still far below pre-pandemic levels. Total Cyber Week sales (Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday) fell 1.4% compared with last year, according to Adobe Analytics.  Meanwhile, the brands that invested in owned marketing channels leading up to Cyber Weekend 2021 had the advantage of stronger customer relationships on their side, resulting in a 32% increase in sales from last year.

It’s never too early to start thinking about next year’s BFCM. And the brands that will succeed in 2022 will spend the next 11 months preparing by building better relationships with their customers. And your customers aren’t shy—they’re letting you know exactly what they’re expecting from your brand on social media. 

Without further ado, here’s our list of dos and don’ts to prepare for Cyber Weekend 2022:

1 | Don’t: Leave room for miscommunication about your deals

Be honest in your communications—don’t try to “fool” your audience into visiting your website 

❌ Misleading creative. So many emails I received mentioned a ‘free gift’ in the email but failed to mention the requirements (over $150, etc).

You got me to your site. But now I don’t trust you.

— Molly Becker 🤝 (@m0llybecker) November 30, 2021

It’s not worth getting someone to visit your site if they lose trust in your brand in the process. Instead, give the customer everything they need to know in order to qualify for the deal up front. It’s fine to tease a deal—but it shouldn’t be difficult for customers to figure out that they need to spend $200 in order to get a 10% discount on their purchase.

Don’t pretend it’s a “final sale” when it’s not

Good morning to everyone except brands trying to convince me they spontaneously decided to extend their sale today

— Alex McPeak (@almcpeak) November 30, 2021

In this example, the brand created urgency around its early Black Friday sale—and then extended the sale for another day. 

When customers get something like this in their inbox, they learn that they can’t trust your word.

Over-communicate about your early Black Friday deals.

If your pre-Black Friday deals aren’t getting better by the time BFCM hits, make sure that you let your customers know what to expect. Otherwise, they may not know to shop early—and may not shop with you at all.

Goes without saying, but brands started “early black Friday” week(s) before. Some *ended* their sales before BFCM really started.

This threw me off. In most cases, I was expecting better deals, but nope. They just wrapped it up early in fear of shipping delays.


— Kristen ✨ (@kristenxjones) November 29, 2021

Hot tips from a brand with effective communication

Give complete instructions on how to redeem your offer

To keep the sales rolling in even after BFCM, Girlfriend Collective offers a free beanie with purchase.

The brand says explicitly what is required to get the deal—and how to redeem it. This is also a great offer because it doesn’t minimize the 50% off sitewide sale the brand had on BFCM. Customers who shopped the BFCM sale will still feel like they got the best deal.

2 | Do: Build trust by asking customers what they want—and delivering on it

When customers leave feedback for a brand, typically they don’t get any sort of response. But when a brand takes a customer’s feedback seriously enough to change their products or how they do business—then customers feel like the brand really cares about them.

Give your customers what they asked for

Ekster met its customers’ desires by introducing new bundles that they requested.

The brand used a plain text email, which stands out among the flashy BFCM emails in customers’ inboxes. It also gives a more personal touch.

Poll your customers

Fish Society let their customers choose their own Black Friday deals.

Fish Society’s customers saw the real effect of telling the brand what they wanted after taking a poll. Listening to your customers and showing that their voice matters builds trust and makes them more excited to shop with you.

3 | Don’t: Treat previous customers the same way you treat new customers

It’s easier to get your existing customers to buy again than spending time and money acquiring new customers, so don’t leave your existing customers in the lurch. Give your loyal customers a unique experience so they’ll keep coming back.

Don’t use the same deals that you’ve used before

The customers who have been shopping with you throughout the year—or shopped with you during the last BFCM—have already seen your promotions. Repeat customers need fresh offers if you want them to get excited to shop with you over BFCM.

The biggest point here: If I love a brand and shop all year, I’ve been *waiting* for a sale and feel super let down that the discounts offered aren’t really suited for me!

To those reading, keep this in mind when building your deals. Keep high LTV shoppers happy!


— Kristen ✨ (@kristenxjones) November 29, 2021

Hot tips from brands that create great experiences for their loyal customers

Give your VIP customers early access to your Black Friday deals

Represent gives early access to their VIP customers based on what tier they’ve achieved in their loyalty program.

Give your loyal fans exclusive deals.

Living Proof not only gave early access to their repeat customers—the deal was an extra 5% off compared with their sitewide sale.

This helps to encourage customers to stick with the brand that they already know and love—instead of trying something new and cheaper.

4 | Do: Use your channels wisely

Email, SMS, organic and paid social channels are all unique. Keep in mind that the conversation is happening across different platforms when creating your content calendar. Tune in to what your subscribers and followers want on each channel to provide a unique experience.

Segment your subscriber list

You can start with a mass email to announce your sale—but once someone converts, they don’t need another five emails to remind them about it.

❌ Brands that continued to send me promotional emails after I’ve purchased.

This can work. People can buy again — but the messaging has to be different and not as often.

— Molly Becker 🤝 (@m0llybecker) November 30, 2021

If you do continue sending customers BFCM content, offer them something new—or personalize it based on what they’ve already purchased.

Email and SMS are meant to complement each other, not echo each other

If you use the same messaging in texts as you do in your emails, your customers could feel like you’re pestering them.

✅ SMS messages that continue the conversation, instead of saying the same thing.

— Molly Becker 🤝 (@m0llybecker) November 30, 2021

According Klaviyo data, the median time between an email being received and getting clicked is two and a half hours. For texts, it’s just one hour. Use this immediacy to your advantage. Text your customers to remind them of a time-sensitive deal or to pop in after browse abandonment.

Use social media to showcase your products and directly engage your audience

Going live on Instagram or Facebook is a great way to showcase your top products—and it’s another channel to share details about your BFCM deals.

✅ Using Instagram Live to talk about the sale and highlight/sell some of your top products.

— Molly Becker 🤝 (@m0llybecker) November 30, 2021

You can answer your customers’ questions in real time or respond to behavioral trends. For example, if a lot of customers are emailing customer support with the same questions, it might be helpful to host a live product demonstration or question and answer session.

Bonus Tip | Do: Reduce your reliance on discounts

Discounts are down, but spending is up 

The average discount was 27% over Thanksgiving, which is down 7% from last year, according to Retail Dive. Meanwhile, average order value increased 11%. If you focus on building relationships with your customers, you don’t have to rely on deep discounts to maintain revenue. 

In summary, I spent a lot of money this weekend but probably would have spent a lot more with brands I love had they not tried to get ahead of the sales or paid more attention to their loyal customers.

Also, I didn’t need to keep getting ads after shopping.


— Kristen ✨ (@kristenxjones) November 29, 2021

Brands that offer fewer discounts—even if they have higher price tags—often have a higher perceived value. And when BFCM rolls around, customers are willing to accept a smaller discount because of that perceived value.

Some brands are ditching discounts altogether and offering other promotions instead. Brands are getting creative, offering customers free products, loyalty points, early access to new product launches, and invitations to exclusive events.

Build a trusted brand by strengthening customer relationships

A trusted brand means a better BFCM in 2022

If you take the time to build a better relationship with your customers, it will pay dividends by the time BFCM arrives next year. Spend the next 11 months actively listening—and thoughtfully responding—to your customers, you’ll find that your brand will stand above the competition.

A personalized Cyber Weekend is fueled by Customer-First Data™. Learn how to navigate data privacy changes and start collecting the right data to power your marketing efforts in 2022.

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