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5 expert creator tips and tricks for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the biggest shopping days of the year -- we've got 5 proven strategies for creators to make the most of them.

If you’re reading this, you probably already know that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the biggest sales days of the year.

And you may not be surprised to hear that online shopping has become a bigger and bigger piece of the Cyber Weekend pie in recent years, with Cyber Monday 2020 making history as the largest online shopping day in U.S. history .

What does that mean for Cyber Weekend — Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday — this year?

This holiday season, we can expect to see record-breaking online shopping, and people are on the lookout for online deals. That makes this year’s Cyber Weekend a major opportunity for online businesses and creators to sell more on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

If you want to get in on the action — but aren’t sure where to start — here are five proven Black Friday and Cyber Monday strategies for creators to reach more people and make more sales.

5 tips for your best Black Friday and Cyber Monday yet

#1: Use discounts wisely 

Black Friday is known for deep discounts on everything under the sun, but you don't have to follow that tradition to have a successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotion.

In fact, you shouldn't -- especially if you already have tight profit margins. 

Instead of applying a universal discount, only offer discounts on your high-ticket items. For example, offer 20% off a $1000 course, but don't discount your $10 ebook. 

Here's why: It's often easier to get a few people to buy bigger things than a bunch of people to buy smaller things. 

If you sell one spot in your $1000 course, you're still making $800, even with a 20% discount. If you discounted your $10 ebook at the same rate, you'd need to sell 100 ebooks to make that $800.

And no matter which products you choose to discount, setting up coupons in Podia is easy. To create or view your coupons, navigate to the Coupons page by clicking on “Coupons” in the navigation. Click on “New coupon” to create a coupon for your products or memberships.

Next, create your coupon code. You can either choose a descriptive coupon code like BLACKFRIDAYSALE or click on “Generate unique code” for a unique coupon code.

After that, choose your coupon types based on which products or memberships you want to qualify for the discount.

Next, you’ll set the coupon value. You can either offer a percent discount or a set dollar amount.

You can also set limitations on how many times a coupon can be used on your site. Last but not least, you can set an expiry date for your coupon.

Then, just click “Create coupon,” and your coupon will go live.

(Not already selling digital products on Podia? Try it out for yourself with a 14-day free trial .)

As for how much to discount — it all comes back to your profit margins. If your profit margins are tight, go for smaller percentage discounts, explains Mike Moloney , founder of FilterGrade :

“If you have limited margins, I definitely recommend using lower discounts, somewhere in the range of 10% to 20%. These are still incredibly effective at converting new customers.”

Another reason not to go coupon-crazy: Constantly discounting your products can hurt your brand’s perceived value . If you offer discounts too often, people will be less inclined to pay full price rather than just waiting for your next sale to start.

Over the past few years, creator Reuven Lerner has followed this discount strategy for digital downloads . Reuven only offered discounts on his Python online courses and ebooks a few times per year, including Black Friday.

In 2020, though, Reuven tried out a different Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotion-- bundles. 

"I'm going to try something different this year: I'm moving toward creating bundles of my courses, rather than selling individual courses. So instead of 5 different intro Python classes, I'll sell them as an intro bundle.

This is a bit risky, in that it means I won't be selling everything at a massive discount, but rather just a handful of my products. I'm hoping that it'll mean that fewer people buy more expensive products."

Price bundling involves selling multiple products as one package at a single price. Bundles are usually sold at a lower price than if each product was purchased on its own.

Bundles are a great way to boost your average order value without offering a coupon code or sitewide discount. 

Justin Jackson , co-founder of and the MegaMaker community , put together a bundle of his top products for Black Friday 2018

By bundling these products, Justin sold his best content and courses for digital marketers at a much lower price than it would cost to buy each item individually. 

This strategy increased sales and helped Justin bring in new customers :

However, while discounts may be a hallmark of traditional Black Friday sales, you can also create enticing holiday promotions without having to lower your prices. Check out our next tip to see what I mean. 

#2: Offer incentives other than discounts

Not all Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions need to be traditional coupons and discounts. 

Instead, add value without lowering prices by offering incentives -- like free gifts -- during holiday promotions. 

Promotions are likely to influence 82% of holiday shoppers , and people view free gifts as one of the top three most appealing promotional offers:

If you're trying to boost profits this Black Friday, giving away free content might sound counterintuitive. But one study found that consumers are drawn to free bonus items more than they are to discounts, even if the discounts save them more money.

And according to academic and behavioral scientist Dan Ariely , consumers “appear to act as if zero pricing of a good not only decreases its cost, but also adds to its benefits”.

In other words, people love and value free stuff, making incentives a great strategy for a Black Friday or Cyber Monday promotion.

When coming up with incentives, figure out what will help your customers get the most out of their purchase, like a free one-on-one coaching call. 

"Take your highest price offer and figure out a way to double down on the value," recommends Ryan of Signature Edits , who used that strategy last Black Friday. "I grabbed my marketing membership and offered it with a free website review for the first 10 customers."

By only offering a free website review to the first ten customers, Ryan encourages people to act quickly so that they don't miss out on the offer. (We'll talk more about how to create FOMO -- the fear of missing out -- later.)

Marketing Showrunners followed a similar strategy, offering a free gift to people who enrolled early in their Showrunner Sessions course :

By offering a PDF ebook by co-founder Jay Acunzo, Marketing Showrunners offered value in exchange for early enrollment. 

If you're still not sure what kind of free gift to offer, check out these examples of printables and free digital downloads

Or, if you're running low on time, Podia's digital download generator lets you create a downloadable PDF in less than 10 minutes.

Whether you offer a free gift, a discount, or a product bundle, you need to get the word out about your Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotion ASAP, and our next tip will help you do just that.

#3: Build excitement with an email drip campaign

Email marketing is one of the best marketing tools out there, especially when it comes to promoting your holiday sales.

“Social media and ads are an option but just not as effective [as email],” explains Ryan at Signature Edits . Compared to paying for ads, email is a low-cost, high-ROI option for creators to spread the word about their promotions.

Instead of paying for ad space or bidding on clicks, your only expense is your email marketing platform (unless you use Podia, where email marketing tools are included).

To make the most of your Black Friday emails, send a series of emails — also called a drip campaign — leading up to the shopping holiday. For example, Constant Contact recommends sending three emails, starting a week before your sale begins.

A drip campaign builds excitement around your promotion and keeps it top-of-mind for your audience.

(If you don’t have an email list, check out this guide to build an email list fast to bulk it up for next year.)

For the most effective email drip campaign, start emailing ASAP. If you don’t promote your sale early enough, it’ll be difficult to break through the noise.

And there’s a lot of noise to break through — ecommerce marketers sent more campaigns around Black Friday than any other day of the year in 2018.

Mindset coach and entrepreneur Becky Mollenkamp can speak to that:

“I’ve only run one Black Friday promotion (in 2019) and it wasn’t particularly successful. I tried discounting my courses and emailed my list about the special.

I made a few sales, but I think it was lackluster because I didn’t talk about it enough.

Mostly, though, I think it’s hard to stand out in the overwhelming flood of emails people get about sales at that time of year.”

To get ahead of the game, Ryan at Signature Edits starts his email campaign one month before Black Friday. He keeps the content of his emails valuable, making his audience more likely to open each new message.

“Provide a valuable email once per week leading up to Black Friday,” recommends Ryan. “Next, drop a big hint the week before the promo that they’re going to want to open their emails and a really cool offer is coming their way.”

The week of Thanksgiving, Ryan sends out two or three educational, helpful emails that tie in his product and offer. “Set up the problem, how to solve it, and how your product makes solving it easier.”

With his list fully warmed up, here’s what Ryan’s drip campaign looks like during Cyber Weekend (Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday):

  • Thursday: Announce the sale with a Friday deadline.

  • Friday: Follow up. Include a 24-hour countdown timer. (An experiment by ConversionXL found that adding a countdown timer led to a 147% increase in conversions.)

  • Friday night: Offer an extra bonus for anyone who purchases (and those who already have).

  • Monday: Surprise! Because you really want them to have the best year ever in 2022, you’re opening the doors for 12 more hours.

  • Late Monday night: Last chance reminder.

The results?

“I’m an amateur and had NEVER done something like this before. But following these strategies, I made about $2k on Black Friday, plus another $2k or $3k over the next couple of days. Compared to my average Podia sales of $150/day, this was amazing.”

If you don’t have a month’s headstart on your email campaign, fear not. Reuven Lerner starts his Black Friday drip campaign the week of.

Reuven has an engaged email list of 19k subscribers who already look forward to receiving his content every Monday.

“I’ll sometimes use the header space at the top of the newsletter to market a new course, or announce that something is happening,” explains Reuven.

A week or two before Black Friday, Reuven uses his weekly email to announce that he’ll be having a sale again this year. Here’s how it looks:

  • Thursday: Tell people to be ready for Friday’s sale.

  • Friday morning: Announce the sale.

  • Sunday afternoon: Announce that the sale is continuing.

  • Monday afternoon: Remind everyone that the sale ends tomorrow.

In 2019, this strategy — along with offering a discount code for every product in his store — netted Reuven $20k in Cyber Weekend sales. “Beyond Podia and credit card/PayPal fees, I didn’t have many other expenses, so this was pretty great,” he says.

If you want to send Cyber Weekend campaigns like Reuven and Ryan, it’s easy to schedule emails ahead of time with Podia’s email marketing tool.

First, navigate to the Email page by clicking on “Email” in the navigation. Click “Create,” then select “New broadcast”.

Set your email subject line and who you want to receive your email.

Then, write out your email copy. If you’re not sure what to say, check out these Black Friday and Cyber Monday email templates . Once your email content is ready to go, you can preview your email within Podia, or click “Send test” to send a test version to your inbox.

Finally, you can schedule your email to go out at a certain time — for example, the week of Black Friday — by selecting “Send later”.

Set your send time, click “Schedule broadcast,” and you’re good to go.

Of course, when you send your Black Friday and Cyber Monday emails out, you need to give your audience a link to your website. And while you could link to your homepage, it makes a lot more sense to link to a page focused only on your promotion. Let me explain.

#4: Create dedicated landing pages for your holiday promotions

Your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales only come once a year -- so it makes sense that they should have their own special landing pages. 

Landing pages are dedicated destinations that focus on one product or service -- in this case, your Black Friday promotion. Your landing pages are where your visitors "land" after clicking on a link in an email or social media. 

So, what makes a great landing page? 

First and foremost, make your offer super clear. A landing page should tell your audience exactly what you're promoting and why they should buy it.

You don't have a lot of time to get that message across.

From the moment someone lands on your page, you have around 15 seconds to grab their attention .

That's why your headline is the MVP of your landing page.

Take it from the man known as the "father of advertising," David Ogilvy : “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

Create a clear and attention-grabbing headline. Like your email subject line, your headline should include information about the discount or promo offered.

Another way to grab attention quickly is by keeping important details and your call to action (CTA) above the fold , meaning people don't have to scroll down the page to find that information.

Both above and below the fold, your sales copywriting for your landing page should focus on the value and benefits your customer will get by taking advantage of your fantastic Black Friday offer.

Take this landing page for No-Code MVP's online course , for example. The top of the page features a description of the course, two purchase options as CTAs, and a video telling viewers more about what they can expect from No-Code MVP.

Farther down on the page, No-Code MVP goes more in-depth, with details about who can benefit from the course and what the course includes.

The design is simple and easy to follow, and the additional information helps customers who may be on the fence figure out if the course is right for them.

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Another great way to ease your customers' minds is by including sales page testimonials , like Becky Mollenkamp does on her coaching page .

Reviews work especially well for higher-priced products, like expensive online courses and annual memberships. Research shows that conversion rates rose by 380% when reviews were included on a higher-priced product’s landing page:

We're trained to seek out and trust the opinions of our peers before buying something. That's why customer testimonials can be more effective than even the most beautifully written sales page copy -- and 89% of consumers check reviews online before making a purchase. 

For even more tips on creating your best Black Friday and Cyber Monday landing page, check out these 9 landing page essentials .

In the meantime, we've got one more proven strategy to make your Black Friday and Cyber Monday a success.

#5: Use FOMO to your advantage

Scarcity and urgency are powerful motivators, especially when it comes to sales. That's what Black Friday and Cyber Monday are all about -- offers that'll be gone in the blink of an eye, so shoppers better pounce on them fast.

These sales tap into the concept of scarcity , which is one of psychologist Dr. Robert Cialdini’s universal principles of persuasion. Basically, people want more of the things they can have less of.

One iconic study found that people have a higher perceived value of scarce things:

  • 200 people were asked to rate cookies

  • 10 cookies were placed in one jar

  • 2 of the same cookies were placed in another

Scarcity won out: The cookies in the two-cookie jar were rated 2x higher than the 10-cookie jar.

That same principle is behind FOMO, a.k.a. the fear of missing out. We're scared of missing out on a positive experience that others have access to.

Let's apply this to marketing and sales -- when a promotion is only available to a select group of customers or for a limited amount of time, people want it more. 

In fact, 89% of Americans say that an exclusive offer would make them likely to shop with a brand, and 48% say an exclusive offer would make them purchase sooner.

So, how can you leverage the power of FOMO to make more sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

"Create both value and scarcity. A motivation to act, and act NOW," recommends Ryan at Signature Edits. Make sure that your customers know that your offer is only available for a limited time, you have a limited number of offers available, or both.” 

Take this Black Friday email from Readdle , for example:

The email copy reminds readers that the party is almost over -- and who wants to miss out on a great party? Research shows that limited-time offers increase “ anticipatory regret ” (aka FOMO), which drives people to purchase things they otherwise wouldn’t. 

You can also add a countdown timer on your landing page or email for a visual representation of how much time customers have left to buy, like in this email from Designmodo :

In some promotions, time isn't the only thing that's scarce. If you run an online course or membership community, let people know that there are only a few spots left. 

A study by Wageningen and Tilburg Universities on product scarcity found that shoppers chose the scarce item over the non-scarce one because they believed those limited-supply items were more popular. 

The Workshops Collective uses this technique on the landing page for The Space Camp workshop :

Workshop leader Erin lets people know that only four spots remain and explains the value in having such a small group, making that "Join the Adventure" CTA even more appealing.

Before we move on, there is one big caveat to using the scarcity principle in your Black Friday marketing: it has to be genuine. If you plan to extend your sale more than once or open up a bunch more spots in your online course, don't mislead your audience.

Your customers will eventually catch on, and it can deal a big blow to their trust in you. To paraphrase Abe Lincoln, always err on the side of honesty. 

OK, with that out of the way, you've got a toolbox full of Black Friday and Cyber Monday strategies at the ready. 

You're all set to take on the biggest shopping days of the year. 

Unless, of course, it's just not for you.

Bonus tip: If it doesn't feel right, don't do it

Yes, it’s a big sales holiday. But taking care of yourself and your business comes first, and if you can’t make a Black Friday or Cyber Monday promotion work for you, that’s okay.

You can’t always make everyone happy — especially during a hectic season in a stressful year. So, if you’re not in a position to prioritize Black Friday this year, give yourself permission to sit this one out.

Minessa Konecky is a pro at running a hustle-free life — literally. As the founder of Direct to Success , Minessa helps her clients create healthy, sustainable, and profitable businesses without getting “stuck in the hustle”.

For Minessa, that mindset means choosing not to offer Black Friday promotions.

“I don’t usually run Black Friday promotions or discounts. I have anxiety, and honestly, planning for Black Friday has always given me so much of it that when I stopped selling clothes and moved into coaching, I decided to let them go.

It’s been amazing for my mental health and productivity. I also encourage my clients not to run them if it doesn’t fit in with the way they want their business to look.

The way I figure it, if eventually it becomes more of a priority or a necessity, I’ll find a way to work it in, but in the meantime, I don’t want to think about selling when I’m hanging out with family.”

If you do choose to pass on Black Friday this year, remember that it’s not your only opportunity to run promotions.

“I would rather offer sales at less predictable times when I have a better chance of having people see it,” advises Becky Mollenkamp, who chose to stop running Black Friday promotions in 2019.

If you do want to dip a toe into the Black Friday and Cyber Monday excitement, but are nervous about the time commitment or work involved, start small and scale. That’s how Ryan at Signature Edits found his success with the shopping holidays:

“Don’t try to do EVERYTHING. Just do ONE thing. Create ONE offer and focus on ONE marketing platform. Beginners chase a million different ideas and make no money. Pros focus on getting one great offer and scaling the heck out of it.”

At the end of the day, listen to your gut and do what you need to do to avoid burnout . If a Black Friday promotion seems like it’ll be more stress than it’s worth, skip it this year.

Do what’s right for you and your business — always.

How creators can tackle Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are on the horizon, offering an exciting opportunity for creators who want to take part in the biggest holiday shopping days of the year. 

Here are our favorite tried-and-true Black Friday strategies for creators: 

  • Use discounts sparingly. Only offer discounts on specific products -- higher-ticket items, if you have them -- instead of on your entire site. You can also use bundles to bump up your average order value.

  • Offer incentives other than discounts, such as free content or a one-on-one coaching call. This lets you add value without lowering your prices.

  • Build excitement for your Black Friday promotion with an email drip campaign leading up to the big day.

  • Create landing pages for your promotions. Emphasize the benefits of your products, keep your design simple, and use testimonials to convert even more customers. 

  • Leverage the scarcity principle to encourage customers to act quickly. FOMO is a powerful tool -- just make sure it's genuine.

And, last but absolutely not least:

  • If participating in Black Friday doesn't feel right, don't do it. Prioritize taking care of yourself and your business.

Whether or not you choose to take part in Black Friday and Cyber Monday, wishing you and your business an excellent rest of the year, shopping holidays included. Happy holidays!

A portrait of Rachel Burns

About the author

Rachel is a content marketer for Podia, an all-in-one platform where online courses, digital downloads, and communities scale with their creators. When she’s not writing, you can find her rescuing dogs, baking something, or extolling the virtue of the Oxford comma.