What’s your Black Friday party like? Follow these guidelines and you’ll be dancing to the music for the rest of the holiday sales season.

The narrative about Black Friday being the day when businesses go from operating in the red for the year to operating in the black may not be true. The myth of its being the largest retail day of the year is definitely false (that honor falls to the Saturday before Christmas, by a long shot – more on that later).

Still, though, Black Friday’s the party that kind of starts the ball of holiday shopping rolling, and if you’re on your game for Black Friday, it’s that much easier to keep the ball rolling throughout the season. Indeed, if you use Black Friday as the first of several iterations of the same strategy throughout the holiday season, by the end of it you’ll likely find your business far ahead of where you started out.

Why They Come: The Sale

The first thing you need to decide about the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend is what are the parameters of your sale going to be? When will it start? Traditionally Black Friday sales have started at store opening on the Friday after Thanksgiving, but as an online store your website is likely always up, so you’ll need to decide if your sale starts at midnight, 8AM or 9AM, or when?

Does your sale last just until Saturday, or clear through the weekend until Cyber Monday? Or being an online retailer, do you skip Black Friday and build hype through the weekend and only have your sale on Monday? Apart from that, do you have a sale on particular items or store-wide? Do you require a code, or is it universal for anyone who comes to your store?

Once you figure out the particulars of your sale, you’ll want to set it up in your ecommerce back end, or in an app. All our examples of how to do this will come from Shopify, as we find it the most compelling ecommerce provider around. If you use a different ecommerce provider, though, the steps will likely be similar.

Unfortunately, we can’t even give you the single path in Shopify for achieving this ahead of time since Shopify doesn’t have a built-in option to schedule a sale. Instead, you’ll have to use an app like Easy Sale. Fortunately, with the prevalence of sales, there are plenty of of apps to choose from, and most of them will have easy instructions to follow, like these from Easy Sale:

Sending Out Invitations

With your sale all set up, it’s time to let everyone know what they can look forward to. Put that email list of yours to good use by sending out an announcement of your sale ten days before (though it’s already be too late for that this time around by the time you’re reading this), and again a few days before, and finally when the sale itself starts.

Even better than doing this through email, though, is doing it through SMS if you’ve gotten your customers’ permission for it. Read more about that in Fly SMS Marketing Into Your Business.

If you’re really feeling fancy, you can tap into some video marketing, per How Video Marketing Can Add Value to Your Business. Also make sure to put your announcement out in your social media channels so people can learn about it from multiple sources and have it fresh in their minds when they’re making their Black Friday and Cyber Monday plans.

Party Time

When the day of the sale comes, it’s time to make it abundantly clear on your site what the deal is and any requirements it may have (minimum purchase, discount code, etc). You could do this through an informational banner that appears at the top of every page of your site, if your theme allows for that.

You could include it in sales promotion messages in sidebars or other spots throughout the site. Or of course you could put it in the ubiquitous hero image at the top of your homepage. Just please don’t hide it in a slider and hope it’ll have the sort of impact you’re looking for (see Slippy Sliders for more on why).

If you didn’t set an app up to automate your sale, you’ll have to put the sale in manually at the right moment, and take it down after it’s over. Hopefully this won’t be too onerous for you, though I still say setting it up ahead of time is the way to go.

The After Party

Just because Cyber Monday is over doesn’t mean your efforts on this front are done. You should definitely take advantage of the event to send a special thank you message to everyone who bought something from you in the event. In the days following your big sale, your communication efforts, especially with your purchasers, should redouble.

A thank you message is great, but it’s also a wonderful time to ask for a product review that you can use on your product, on your site generally, or even in marketing materials. As we argue in Using Reviews to Prevent Freefall Fright, reviews are a great way to help new customers feel safe, and also to help old customers feel appreciated and important.

The Next Bash

An important thing to realize is that though Black Friday and Cyber Monday are sort of seen as the start of the holiday shopping season, they’re by no means the end of it. Indeed, according to a study by Groupon, only a fifth of people plan to be done with their holiday shopping by the end of November, and nearly half again as many (28%) plan on finishing their shopping in late December. We love to procrastinate, don’t we?

The numbers bear this out, as according to HowStuffWorks, in 2021 Black Friday sales totaled an impressive 7.4 billion dollars, which isn’t nearly as impressive as the 34.4 billion dollars spent on Super Saturday, the Saturday closest to Christmas. All of this points to the fact that although Black Friday is a big deal, it can really be seen as prelude to other big sales you can have through December.

The good news is that now that you’ve put the time and effort into refining your Black Friday processes of setting the sale up to run automatically, announcing it, running it, and dealing with the aftermath, you just have to use the same familiar processes again and again.