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Many businesses can profit enormously from the Black Friday/Cyber Monday craze but it’s important to evaluate this opportunity within a larger business context. Not every store should adopt deep discounts as a sales tactic, but this doesn’t mean they can’t ride the Black Friday wave. In fact, there are many alternatives besides discounts you can do to promote your online store or business during the holiday shopping season.

Let’s assume you’re here for the long run and you’d like to stay in business for years to come. This means you’re building a brand and every decision you make will have an influence. Black Friday also influences buyers’ perception of your business and this is where you should carefully consider the long-term effects.

These effects sometimes reflect variations in end-of-year sales results. For example, some stores like Walmart reported a drop in their forecasted Christmas sales because presents were already bought during Black Friday. Also, it may affect next year’s sales, as people delay purchases expecting sales at the end of November.

Some brands skip Black Friday altogether because it doesn’t align with their brand values. They promise to offer affordable products throughout the year, not just during a sale. Others, like Oliver Cabell, have gone even further, and saying that “to celebrate intentional buying, and believe that having fewer, better things adds more value to our lives, we decided to shut down the site for the day.

Keep in mind, Black Friday isn’t a requirement. Take a second to pause and consider if it aligns with your brand and culture and take it from there.

Black Friday can be an opportunity to do something new for your customers. What that looks like is up to you and can vary depending on the type of business, your customers, and your long-term plans.

But before anything, make sure your store is running smoothly and can sustain high traffic peaks. Make sure you carefully choose a reliable hosting provider that won’t let you down when you need it the most.

With your reliable site set up, you’re ready to explore Black Friday ideas that can inspire you to celebrate your brand and customers differently. After all, discounts aren’t always enough to set your apart when everyone else is doing them. Instead, consider focusing on offering something more valuable and more consistent with your brand to get your client’s attention.

1. A new limited edition product

This one is first because it is the hardest one. But it also has the biggest impact. Why not think big and come up with a new product or feature and release it during the Black Friday campaign?

Launching a new model or opening up a new line of products in your store is a good reason for people to visit your shop. You can make it available during Black Friday only. Add a counter to display the remaining stock or the time remaining and make that your Black Friday offer. No discount, no bargain —  just surprising and delighting your customers! If you want to explore this option, be sure to give yourself plenty of lead time and start preparing for Black Friday 2020.

Caption: Black Friday limited edition beauty box by LookFantastic

Caption: Black Friday limited-time tee edition

2. Offer super-fast, free delivery

This one is a great option if you’re selling physical products. It’s also a good selling point for people who want to start using their new purchase right away instead of waiting weeks to receive them.

Black Friday deliveries are often prone to delays (at least in Europe). Take advantage of this known fact to provide a faster delivery to your customers during Black Friday, like next-day shipping if possible. Of course, you’ll be covering the additional costs but you may make many more sales thanks to customer eagerness.

3. Offer live chat support

If you have a small team, offering support during weekends may be a considerable expense. However, live chat support has proven to influence a buyers’ decision, especially during Black Friday when people are doing impulse buying. Having someone to answer questions on the site in real time will influence the user experience. Make sure the people you put on support during this time are well-trained and ready for any question.

To improve the experience even more, you and your team can become available to customers for a set timeframe. Imagine you’re checking Amazon and Jeff Bezos pops up. You’d be telling everyone about it. Just seeing that the owner/CEO is talking to clients does miracles for a brand’s popular perception.

4. Gift card or 2-for-1

Instead of discounts, try offering a gift card or 2-for-1 with every purchase during Black Friday. It’s a good way to reach more customers but keep in mind it can increase your costs significantly. Look into options like segmenting your customers so only return customers get the promo.

A gift card campaign can be easily automated with codes being sent by email. The upside is that new customers will have a reason to return to your store later to redeem their gift.

Caption: Apple’s gift card offer in 2017

5. Send out free samples or swag

Why not surprise your loyal customers with a small gift? We did this a while ago and were really happy with the response for this campaign.

With the help of Printfection, we sent our top users a toy version of our parrot logo. They took care of personalizing the swag and the deliveries. People love freebies. And if you can send out samples of your products, even better.

6. Personalized experiences

Sometimes you need to go the extra mile to win people’s hearts. One way to do this is by personalizing something for them. It can be a handwritten card or a picture with you and the product. Look to crowdfunding campaigns as inspiration as they offer many examples of tailored experiences to their backers.

People want to feel special and receive something unique. Here’s a powerful example:

7. Donate profits to charity

I was inspired by Patagonia for this one. Last year they donated all their Black Friday sales to nonprofits. It’s a bold move but it will bring you lifetime clients. And these clients who believe in what you believe will be talking about you and recommending you to others.

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Last week, when we announced we’d give 100 percent of our global retail and online Black Friday sales directly to grassroots nonprofits working on the frontlines to protect our air, water and soil for future generations, we heard from many of our customers calling it a “fundraiser for the earth.” We’re humbled to report the response was beyond expectations: With your help, Patagonia reached a record-breaking $10 million in sales. We expected to reach $2 million in sales—we beat that expectation five times over. The enormous love our customers showed to the planet on Black Friday enables us to give every penny to hundreds of grassroots environmental organizations working around the world. Many of these environmental groups are underfunded and under the radar, and they are overwhelmed with your commitment. On behalf of these activists and every Patagonia employee, we extend a heartfelt thank you to our customers, friends and community worldwide who showed up to #LoveOurPlanet. You can learn more about the past recipients of Patagonia environmental grants in your community through the link in our profile. This additional infusion of resources will go a long way toward addressing climate change and other serious environmental issues. The science is telling us loud and clear: We have a problem. By getting active in communities, we can raise our voices to defend policies and regulations that will protect wild places and wildlife, reduce carbon emissions, build a modern energy economy based on investment in renewables, and, most crucially, ensure the United States remains fully committed to the vital goals set forth in the Paris Agreement on climate change. We’re encouraged to see the great interest from so many in making buying decisions that align with strong environmental values—and taking steps to get more directly involved as well. Thank you. #LoveOurPlanet

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8. Join Buy Nothing Day

Lastly, you can always do the opposite of selling more by not selling anything! On November 29th, it’s Buy Nothing Day. Going back to what I was saying about long term thinking, if you’re planning for the customers of the future, it’s likely they will be more environmentally aware. While the circular economy is gaining traction, they will be making more informed purchases. So maybe it’s time to be ahead of the curb.

This was the 7th installment of our Black Friday series. Eager for more tips on optimizing your ecommerce performance? Stay tuned for more posts just like this one featuring industry experts and some of our technical partners. Learn how to improve your website design, conversions, online marketing, and more.  

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