The Black Friday Blueprint

We’ve done the hard work for you and drawn out the ultimate blueprint for a sell-out Black Friday. And the best part? It’s based entirely on data from consumers who have told us what their perfect BFCM looks like.

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Follow these specifications and you can’t go wrong. Ready to deliver your best Black Friday customer experience yet?

Grab your tool kit, let’s do it.

How long should you run your Black Friday promotions?

What was once a short-lived one-day event has turned into a month-long affair of high-intensity price wars and relentless discounts both online and in-person. Retailers feel the need to keep up with competition and so BFCM snowballs year on year - the sales are longer, the budgets are bigger, and marketing teams try to reach customers through more and more avenues. Anything to stand out from the crowd, right?

While ecommerce stores charge forward with this bigger = better mentality, shoppers are facing weeks worth of Black Friday bombardment. But the truth is, they don’t like it.

In fact, your BFCM sale should last no longer than a week. 41% of consumers say they want a sale to start 1-6 days before BFCM, while 23% say they would prefer sales to last for just the BFCM weekend.

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And those long Black Friday sales that last over a month? Steer clear of them - just 1% of shoppers think that these are a good idea! 

Less really is more when it comes to the duration of your Black Friday sale, so forget about what your competitors are doing and keep your customers happy with a week’s worth of activities at the max. Rather than turning them off, you’ll keep them opted-in for longer and give yourself more opportunity to reach out to them again in future. Win!

How should you communicate Black Friday promotions?

With the opt-out era making customer data more invaluable than ever before, the last thing you want to do is give someone a reason to unsubscribe. You can bank on the fact that your customers will be hit repeatedly with marketing messages during the BFCM period, so how can you differentiate from your competition? 

First and foremost, your customers want emails, and they want them to be personal. 65% of consumers want to hear about your sales via email, and 69% will be more likely to buy if they get personalized promotions or offers. Make your messaging as tailored as possible and use existing customer data to make product recommendations based on previous buying behavior. Generic <insert First Name> tags don’t cut it anymore. The more you can show your customers that you understand and value them on an individual level, the better. 

Following emails, 46% of consumers want brands to communicate their sales via social media. But here’s the catch. Only 25% want to hear about sales through Instagram ads - so if you’re thinking of increasing your ad spend, proceed with caution. A safer option would be to focus advertising efforts on higher intent campaigns, for example Google Shopping Ads which only display adverts to consumers when they search for the product in question. 

The final thing to consider when planning the communication of your BFCM sale is consistency. 72% of consumers say it’s important to them that stores run the same promotions online and instore, so your omnichannel promotions need to be synced up from the get-go. A shopper who likes a discounted item online then finds it full price when they go try it on in-store is bound to be disappointed, so prioritize consistency across all channels.

What kind of incentives do people want around BFCM?

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that people like discounts. And we’re not here to dispute that! People still want discounts (76%), and it’s likely that they always will. 

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But there are alternative incentives that appeal to shoppers just as much as discounting, if not more!

The takeaway here is that shoppers value free or discounted shipping above all else, and while you might not want to ditch the discounts entirely, you could protect your profit margins by shifting your focus away from money off and towards these alternative incentives.

What should your shipping and returns policies look like this BFCM?

We now know that shoppers value free or discounted shipping incredibly highly when it comes to Black Friday, so these policies need to be a well thought out part of your strategy. But while consumers certainly care about the cost of shipping, their standards are not as high as you might think. Let’s go into more detail. 

75% of shoppers say next day delivery would have a positive impact on their likelihood to make a purchase - not surprising - but 76% say quick delivery (within a week) would have the same impact. So rather than worrying about offering next day delivery for everyone, reserve this as an incentive for your most valued shoppers. A standard 3-5 day shipping option is more than enough for everyone else.

There’s a great opportunity here to use shipping and returns as a way to provide a differentiated service to your most valued customers. 50% of consumers said that getting their return items collected would influence them to make a purchase, so if you have the ability to offer collected returns you should definitely explore this option. 

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You can also use loyalty program tiers to reward your top tier members with the best returns options – like free return pick up – making it far more desirable for shoppers to carry out the actions needed to reach this level.

Returns are really important to consider -  when it comes to sending back their sale purchases, consumers are ultimately looking for clarity this Black Friday.

How much should you communicate around environmental factors over BFCM?

Conscious consumerism is nothing new, but how many shoppers are still influenced by your environmental impact during the sales season? 

Our research shows that while it’s not the biggest factor, it is something that around half of your customers will respond positively to.

  • 56% of consumers say they’d be more likely to purchase from brands considering or negating the environmental impact of their sales.
  • 62% would be more likely to purchase from a brand that aligns with their values this BFCM.

Brands should focus on communicating the positive actions they’re taking that reflect the beliefs of their customers. For example, if you’re a pet food brand you could partner with an animal charity as you know that your customers care about animals. 

This Black Friday, think about what actions you can take to show your shoppers that you share the same principles and are willing to go the extra mile to do some good. 

What should your BFCM post-purchase communications look like?

The good news is that most of your customers do want to hear from you after they’ve made a purchase, but the key component to getting it right is the timing. Across all communication formats, it looks like faster is generally better. So when do people want to hear from brands after the sale?

To get maximum impact from your post-purchase communications this Black Friday, we recommend sending an email to your customer 1-3 days after the sale has been made.

Should you prioritize loyalty this BFCM?

YES! The data doesn’t lie - your customers want to act as advocates for you this Black Friday.

There is a brilliant opportunity to convert seasonal shoppers into long-term customers, but just like with post-purchase communications, timing will play a huge part in your success or failure here. So how can you get it right? 

Our key piece of advice here is to schedule things ahead of time, because the likelihood of a consumer carrying out an advocacy action depletes with time. Most notably, 41% of your shoppers are most likely to join a loyalty program within a day - so get this messaging out straight away!

  • 78% are likely to refer a friend or family member
  • 62% are likely to leave a review
  • 54% would join a loyalty program
  • 66% would follow a brand or join its community 


Our research shows that consumers are looking forward to Black Friday this year, so it’s really important that you act on this opportunity and use our blueprint for maximum impact. 

We’ve seen that shoppers value alternative incentives more than the discounts themselves, so prioritize developing new ways to reward your customers this BFCM. And remember that your customers want to act as advocates for you -  but interest declines if you wait too long to contact them. Plan your loyalty messaging ahead of time and get it out straight away so that you hit your customers when they’re most interested. Your BFCM comms need to be short and sharp - just like your sales period. 

To get the most out of your loyalty strategy this Black Friday visit

About the research

This research was conducted by Censuswide, with 4053 consumers in the US and UK who made an online purchase during the Black Friday Cyber Monday sales period in 2021 and expect to make an online purchase during the same sales period in 2022, aged 16+ between 19/07/2022 - 26/07/2022. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which are based on the ESOMAR principles.

About LoyaltyLion

LoyaltyLion is a data-driven loyalty and engagement platform, powering sustainable growth for over 10,000 ecommerce businesses around the world. Use LoyaltyLion to create a loyalty program that goes beyond points and rewards, driving greater customer lifetime value and more cost-effective acquisition through better customer relationships.