There are two ways to approach your Black Friday promotion.

You can do what most merchants do… 

… You can mark down the store. 

Pump the shit out of your humungo discount. (Just like everyone else will.)

And hope that your promo cuts through the ruckus of deals bum rushing your customers eyeballs.

OR, you can do a little bit of smart prep work.

  • Prep work that gives you leverage in the battle for your customers’ attention on the noisiest shopping day of the year.
  • Prep work that helps you outmaneuver your competitors.
  • Prep work that can increase your sales totals by 25 to 50%..

The latter option, the smart little moves that lead to big results, is what this checklist is all about.

In fact, you’ll find there are only seven items on this checklist.

And it’s not really a checklist in the traditional sense.

It’s more like a quickie guide with checkmarks scattered here and there for “ambience.”

That said, after five tours of duty pulling the levers behind the scenes on Black Friday, I can tell you without a doubt… the tactics on this list DO produce outsized results.

I’ve also taken care to explain every item on the list in detail so you know how and why it will help you gain an advantage.

I even threw in a little story about my biggest Black Friday screw up at the end. 

Not sure there’s much to be learned from accidentally insulting all your best customers… but at least you'll get a chuckle at my expense.

Alrighty then.

With that primer out of the way, how ‘bout we get to the business of priming your store for a record beating BF/CM promotion.

Give it away, give it away, give it away (early) now!

Wanna really improve your BF/CM sales? 

Then, follow Anthony Kiedis’s advice… and prime your lead lists with a pre-holiday giveaway. (That’s what the song was about, right?)
Give Away Meme

Executing a pre Black-Friday giveaway will do two things that set you up to capitalize on the big day.

One - you’ll attract an influx of new leads.

Two - you’ll re-engage a lot of the dormant subscribers who are hanging out on your lists.

Remember, the filters and algorithms and such that control access to your subscribers and followers are influenced by behavioral signals.

When you toss your not-so-warm audience a “giveaway” bone, you'll get many of them to take action.

And that behavior signals a desire to engage with your messages and content...

... which means, you're increasing the likelihood that your BF/CM messages will land in the primary inbox and show up on the social feeds of your audience.

Think of it like planting "visibility seeds."

Now, maybe it feels a little late in the game to run a giveaway. 

I would argue to the contrary.

Giveaway promos are pretty simple to run.

Assuming you’re reading this in October, pick a week this month or early next.

  • Throw something out there your audience will love, for FREE

Preferably one of your products. (Giving away your own product as opposed to Jeff Bezos’s works best for attracting quality leads.)

  • Require all freebie seekers to sign up with their email addresses to enter your giveaway.
  • Spend a week pumping your giveaway across any/every marketing channel you use.
  • Announce the winner early the following week.

BUT also… for those folks who don’t win your “Big Prize,” let ‘em down easy by giving them an exclusive promo on your… 

Black Friday Gateway Offer

Yes, just like the neighborhood pusha man… you should have a gateway offer.

A Gateway Offer is a no-brainer opportunity for your brand-curious prospects to become customers.

Typically, this offer is low-priced compared to the rest of your catalog. Yet, it’s also high on value.

In the info marketing space, people often refer to this type of offer as a “tripwire.”

But I am not into tripping up or detonating customers.

I prefer a kinder metaphor.

You know, one that uses drug trafficking lingo as opposed to war terminology.🤦‍♂️

Your gateway offer should work for you all year round.

However, during Black Friday/Cyber Monday, it will convert new customers so fast that you’ll want to silence your sales notifications so that the constant pinging doesn’t rattle your phone to pieces. (This is no joke. I have lived through it. It’s awesome for like a couple of hours… until your phone starts to feel like it’s gonna vibrate a hole in your pocket.)

What I am getting at here is, Gateway Offers attract loads of new customers leading up to and on Black Friday.

If you don’t have a Gateway Offer yet,  here are a couple of tips to help you whip one up:

  • Bundle two products together, and offer a killer price on the combo.


  • Take the one product that gives your customers the best “taste” of your brand, and offer an unbeatable deal on it.

The aim of your Gateway Offer is NOT to toss your best seller out there for pennies.

Instead, the goal is to offer a steal-of-a-deal on a product that only makes your bestseller more desirable.

Moving on to item #3…

Make it stupid-easy to redeem your BF/CM promo

I am not trying to talk down to you here. 

Yet, because I’ve actually had to debate this point with a client's web team… I am just gonna say it.

During Black Friday, don’t make customers work to redeem your discount or promos.

Do NOT ask them to dig through their email or texts for your promo code.

Make whatever the big promotion is on your site AUTO-FUCKING-MATIC.

Discount codes are fine for the other 51 weeks of the year. But NOT on Black Friday.

Customers are making lightning-fast choices with their dollars. 

When they hit your site, they want to KNOW they are getting a good deal.

So make it happen.

  •  If you’re marking down your products, the discount should be clear as day. (Don’t ask the customer to do the math.)
  • And your discount, free gift, bonus, free shipping, etc., should appear instantly in the cart.

On to Numero quatro…

Double Dose Your Cart Abandonment Emails

Just so we are on the same page here....

... A cart abandonment automation is a series of automated emails that are triggered when someone adds a product to their cart but doesn't complete their checkout.

i.e., they abandoned their purchase.

Now - for some reason, sending two automated emails to cart abandoners seems to be the accepted status quo internet-wide.

I like to use four.

Why twice as many?

Well, the people who left something in their cart are the closest to converting.

So why not give 'em’ a little extra help?

“But Kyle, aren’t you worried you’ll annoy the shit out of your shoppers!”

No. I am not.

Because I am not talking about repeatedly sending your customer the same vanilla “you forgot this”  message.

Instead, I am suggesting you send:

  •  One hour after abandoned cart, send -  “I admit I was spying on you while you were shopping, but I noticed you left this behind” message.
  • Five hours after abandoned cart, send -  “Funny but short story related to the product your shopper left in their cart” message.
  • 24 hours after abandoned cart, send -  “Funny story about how you're riddled with anxiety waiting to see if your shopper will checkout and seal the deal” message.
  • 48 hours after abandoned cart, send   - “Here’s a little extra ‘sweetener’ discount” message.

The bottom line is whatever your philosophical opinion about cart abandonment emails... on Black Friday/Cyber Monday, you can use a four-message sequence.

No one will notice you’re “over emailing…” even though if you do this right, you’re not.

And you’ll give yourself twice as many opportunities to recover the sale.

Also, by-the-by… 4% is considered a good recovery rate for cart abandonment automations.

My cart abandonment automations hover around a 7.5 to 8% conversion rate.

You see how that works? Twice as many emails, twice as many sales

Browse Abandonment Too

Browse abandonment automation is similar to your cart abandonment.

Except it’s triggered by an email subscriber looking at a product page as opposed to adding a product to their cart.

There are a lot of merchants who feel browse abandonment automations are annoying.

They are wrong.

You can send browse abandonment emails without annoying shoppers as long as your emails aren’t annoying.

Make sense?

And on Black Friday/Cyber Monday your browse abandonment flow will pay bigger dividends than usual.

Generally, eCommerce browse abandonment emails convert .5 to 2% of customers.

During BF/CM week, expect to see more like 4%.

Yup, that’s a pretty easy 4% bump!

So no need for extra explanation here…

  • Set up your browse abandonment automation!

Hey speaking of bumps…

Order Bumps = Big Bucks

Just so we are square on this one, order bumps are those little add-on offers that pop up when your customer is checking out.

During the holiday season, order bumps are fun for your shoppers. 

And they deliver big bucks for you!

Typically, order bump conversion rates are between 4 and 20%.

During the BF/CM, your order bumps conversion rate will go way up!

I have seen it double for some merchants.

Think about that for a minute.

If your order bumps increase your average cart value by 15 to 20%...

… And then, your take rate on your order bumps doubles… well, that would mean your average cart value would increase by…

… all right, all right, this isn't a math lesson for marketing geeks.

The caveat to this recommendation is that setting up an order bump is 90% technical.

If order bumps  aren’t a native feature in your online store, you’ll have to plug in an app to make it work.

For physical goods, Zippify is the most popular order bump tool.

HOWEVER, if you’re adding a new app to your online store, you don’t want to wait until the last minute.

The potential for a mishap that breaks your store on Black Friday is too big a risk to take


  • Get your order bumps integrated and tested pronto!

Let’s move on to the grand finale!

Be the Santa Clause of Segmentation

 Lists are a digital marketer's best friend!

The better the list, the better your offers perform.

And the cool thing about BF/CM is your shoppers have been building your list for you all year long.


If your store is integrated with your CRM, come BF/CM you might as well put on your Santa suit.

 Because you’ve got all sorts of lists in that CRM.

  • You can see who looked at which products, how many times, and how recently.

That right there is your recency-frequency-monetization (RFM) data.

  • Now all you gotta do is build some segments to target the hottest prospects.
  • Then whip out a couple of banger emails for these people, and BOOM!.

You’ve got conversion dynamite on your hands my friend.

If you’re advertising, you can also throw some additional ad spend at targeting the top prospects on your RFM lists.

This extra investment should produce like crazy for you!

Sound good?

Okay, so that’s what’s in my bag of tricks for this BF/CM.

Nothing crazy.

Just a few extra moves to help you win  this holiday! 

This will be my sixth BF/CM working behind the scenes.

I like to think I’ve come a long way since my sophomore BF/CM when I accidentally sent out a pre-Black Friday email inviting subscribers to a “fiends and family sale.”

The fiends loved it.

The friends felt slighted.

And the family made sure to tell me about my typo.

I’ve always maintained that I am a professional working copywriter, not a copyeditor.

Oh well.

Every holiday season, I learn something new about the marketplace.

And I don’t expect this year to be any different.

Best of luck to you with all your holiday promos.

Hope this checklist helps out a little bit!


Advertising, Copywriting, Digital Marketing, Full Funnel Nudity

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