The leaves change colors. The air gets crisper. Surplus Halloween candy finds a new home in secret caches throughout your office.

If this sounds like the beginning of November in your house, then your house is a lot like mine.

But this auspicious month isn’t just great for parades, overeating, and family get-togethers.

It also has two of the biggest shopping days of the year packed into a single weekend.

And if you’re selling digital downloads or online courses, that’s great news.

Because you don’t have to battle the lines to turn a tidy profit and reach more customers than ever before.

In fact, if you prepare your storefront ahead of time, you can spend your Black Friday like it was intended:

Sleeping in, shopping online, and arguing about who gets the last of the pumpkin pie.

Today, we’ll prepare you with actionable strategies for getting your products polished for the holiday shopping season and selling more.

But before we get started with that, let’s take a quick look at the facts.

What’s the deal with Black Friday?

For Americans, Black Friday is a holiday so synonymous with Thanksgiving that they’re at times simultaneous events -- albeit there’s some contention about whether that’s a good thing.

If you’ve never heard of Black Friday, though, here’s what you need to know:

And although Black Friday owes its origin to retailers in the United States, it’s an international event. Just check out these figures for the sales period in 2017:

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So regardless of whether your customer base will be celebrating Thanksgiving on that Thursday before or reside clear across the world, Black Friday is an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

Not if you want to sell online courses like never before and capitalize on the busiest part of the Christmas shopping season, anyway.

After all, the internet is the second most popular destination for shoppers on Black Friday.

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And Black Friday isn’t a strictly one-day event, either.

Its sister holiday which is catered specifically for online shoppers, Cyber Monday, packs even more of a sales punch.

To see how much of a punch, check this out:

The four day period between Black Friday and Cyber Monday accounted for the highest sales points in all of November last year, by far outperforming anything seen in December.

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So what’s the deal with Black Friday?

Shoppers everywhere are on the hunt for a bargain, and if you market your storefront correctly, that bargain might just be yours.

Though tread carefully, because not all bargains are made equally.

The coupon conundrum

It’s an unpleasant reality, but a truth that you can’t avoid: with everyone from big-name retailers to your competitors rolling out the discount carpet, you’re going to have to cut your prices down to stay in the running.

That said, coupons and discounts are a fickle art to master. Offer too good of a deal, and you might accidentally train your customers to expect a slashed-down price all of the time.

Or, even more perilously, your discounts might actually hurt your brand’s perceived value.

Which isn’t to say that coupons aren’t a powerful tool at your disposal.

In fact, discounts and promotions make people downright happier.

How much happier? About 11% more, says science.

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And it’s a happiness that people are willing to chase. 53% of price-conscious consumers spend as much as two hours a week looking for coupons.

Add in the fact that coupons increase customer loyalty and you’d be hard pressed not to see the value of a good discount, even with the potential risks to your brand.

Mitigating those risks is surprisingly simple, too.

Because while you can’t prevent them altogether, you can curb bargain-hunting behaviors with your regular customers by limiting your use of coupons overall. Except for special events like new product or membership launches and Black Friday, you should be stingy with your coupons.

The rarer they are, the more effective they’ll be -- and the less likely they are to eat into your bottom line.

A coupon that gets a new customer in the door is a positive, but coupons that get customers in the door who won’t stay without more coupons will wither your profit margin.

Use them sparingly, however, and you’ve got a golden opportunity on your hands. Media items -- like your online courses and digital downloads -- are a popular product with over half of coupon users.

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Bottom line:

Keep couponing to a minimum to make them effective sales-boosters without permanently discounting the value of your products.

Join a live demo to see why Podia is the best platform to sell your online course

See how Podia works and get all of your questions answered in an upcoming webinar on Tuesday at 4pm EST.

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3 strategies for holiday promotion

With that out of the way, let’s dig into the fun stuff. Here are three sales strategies you can use leading up to and on Black Friday to make the most out of the year’s highest sales day.

#1. Bundle your products to sell more

When people hit the streets -- or internet, in this case -- on Black Friday, they’re ready to make big purchases.

Nintendo Switch levels big.

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So if there’s ever a time to increase the average order value, it’s on this shopping-spree-friendly day.

And there’s no simpler way to do that than through product bundling.

Justin Jackson, who has pulled in over $100,000 through his storefront, uses Podia’s bundling feature every Black Friday to increase his sales.

It’s super quick to create a bundle. Let’s run through it now.

As usual, start out on your dashboard. From there, head to your products page.

Click the purple “new product” button.

Select the third option -- also purple -- titled “product bundle.”

Fill in a name and a short description. Since this is a Black Friday sale, you might want to let people know that it’s your lowest prices of the year.

At least, that’s the approach Maddy Osman, successful content strategist and entrepreneur, recommends you take:

“Offer a legitimately unmissable deal at a price point that you don’t offer during any other holiday or sales event of the year,” she says, adding that, “Buying from you will feel like a no-brainer.”

So something like this should do nicely:

(Need help putting together your description? Check out our guide for online course sales copywriting.)

Once you’re satisfied, click “create & continue” to move to the next screen.

From here, you can edit your URL, change your descriptions, set your price, create a payment plan, and add products to your bundle.

Note that you can only add a product to a bundle that has already been published. If it’s still in draft mode, you’ll have to launch it separately and come back.

Now, all you need to do to create a bundle is scroll down and click on the products you want to add.

Anything highlighted in green and yellow is part of your bundle. If it’s purple, it’s been excluded from the bundle.

To set the price, just keep scrolling down the page.

You also have the option to create custom coupons for your product bundle a little further down.

Since we’ve been talking about the need to keep coupons scarce, let’s create a limited coupon. This type of coupon can only be used by a set number of customers before they expire.

After you select the second option, you’ll be asked to designate how many customers can use the coupon before it expires and how much -- as well as what type -- of discount it creates.

28% of consumers are more likely to dish out extra cash if your offer includes a percentage (as opposed to a flat fee), so let’s keep ours with the default setup and limit it to the first 50 customers.

Ready to go? Hit “create coupon.”

And like that, you’ve got an exclusive coupon ready to share on your social media feed without your discounts spiraling out of control.

If you’d prefer to create a coupon that anyone can use, but that expires after Cyber Monday, check out our other post here on launching a membership site for a quick walkthrough on timed coupons.

You’re almost done with your bundle. Before you get ready to kick back with your leftover pie, though, scroll back to the top of the page and switch over to your sales page.

From here, you can add all sorts of extra goodies -- a thank you video, a product cover photo, and most importantly, a FAQ.

Including a FAQ on your bundle serves the same purpose it does for a profitable course launch: it increases user trust when they’re considering taking the plunge.

And since as many as 40% of shoppers on Black Friday end up regretting their purchases, it’s even better if you give them the run-down on your refund policy on your FAQ.

No one likes to handle returns or refunds, but if you make it easy for them to find the information they need, you’ll have a better chance of retaining the customer for future purchases.

If you have to choose between losing a one-time sale and losing a customer for life, the former is definitely the lesser evil.

That’s all you have to do at this stage. Once you switch out of draft mode and publish, you’ll get even more options for promotion and sales tracking.

Your bundle is ready to go for sales day. But if you want to make it even more appealing, consider using our next tip.

#2. Create niche-ready gift guides

Why is the weekend period between Black Friday and Cyber Monday such a hot spot for sales?

It’s less about the days themselves and more about the mission of the shoppers. Expecting great deals, many consumers tackle their shopping list with a goal.

Chiefly, they’re trying to clear off as many gifts as possible for Christmas.

Capitalize on that mission by giving them a helping hand on your blog ahead of time. Blogging and SEO should already be part of your sales strategy, but if they’re not, creating gift guides is a great place to start.

And the earlier you start, the better. Only 32% of US shoppers planned to get their gift lists cleared out during December last year. The rest of them were ramping up in the period before Thanksgiving and shopping through to Cyber Monday.

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Keep in mind that when you’re creating a gift guide, you should include more than just your products. Think about your audience: do they have families? Are they in a specific industry or interest group?

For instance, if your products primarily cater to people who want to learn visual design, there’s a good chance that they -- and their friends -- are interested in the arts.

Your gift guide could focus on providing artistic gifts on a budget and talk about your planned Black Friday promotions for relevant products.

Or, you could create multiple guides by price points and relationships like Anthropologie does.

Alternatively, you can always just focus on gift guides that cater strictly to your audience.

Penguin Random House does this really well while selling the benefit of their products with clear, catchy value propositions.

Who doesn’t want to impart a little curiosity to their loved ones?

What could your products and gifts related to them provide for those same people?

Make that your selling point and motivation for the gift guide. And remember, it doesn’t have to be tangible to be valuable or sell well.

Because while the gift of knowledge doesn’t have a price point, the products that offer it -- like your online course -- do.

#3. Run a drip campaign about upcoming promotions

Gift guides are a great way to drum up interest, but they’re passive. They’re not actively engaging leads and bringing new people into your sales funnel.

But if you combine them with email marketing, they can.

In addition to providing visitors with information about your products and planned promotions, direct them to a landing page with the promise of keeping them up to date with exclusive sales information.

Landing pages capture more email addresses than signup boxes, popups, and wheel of fortune type boxes combined.

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For every new signup and current user on your email list, run a pre-Black Friday promotion drip campaign. Think of it as a teaser for what’s to come.

AVON does. In fact, they used a popup box over the course of five days by offering users an exclusive peep at new offers and scored almost 4,000 new leads.

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Just imagine how much more their list could have grown if they’d combined it with a landing page. Remember, popup boxes like the above only have an average signup rate of 3%.

So this tactic? Ultra powerful.

And, AVON isn’t the only retailer who uses this strategy. Amazon, whose Black Friday deals start earlier and get bigger every year, regularly runs drip campaigns leading up to and through the sales period.

Notice how they include a gift guide as part of their campaign, as well.

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Amazon claimed 54.9% of online purchases on Black Friday last year, so their strategy is definitely one to copy.

Most experts recommend starting your campaign at least a month ahead of time around Halloween.

They also suggest making your offers clear -- don’t just tell people that you’ll be providing a discount, tell them what you’ll be discounting -- and keeping faithful to your brand style.

But the take-home advice for this strategy?

Above all else, know the people you’re emailing. What are their goals and motivations for being on your list?

“We have best practices and rules of thumb,” explains Nate Wright of Small Biz Triage who has created hundreds of Black Friday drip campaigns for clients, “But at the end of the day you have to do the groundwork way ahead of time to understand what your subscribers want.”

If they signed up from your landing page, you already have a strong starting place.

They want deals no one else is getting.

So that’s exactly what you should give them.

Getting your turkeys in a row

November has a special place in the entrepreneur’s heart and the online consumer’s budget. Here’s what you need to know to make the most of it for your sales:

Sure, following these tips will help maximize your sales without hurting your profit margin, but more importantly?

You’ll get that last piece of pumpkin pie and time off to enjoy it, and if that isn’t something to be grateful for, I don’t know what is.

Written by

Len Markidan

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