Ultimate Black Friday Guide for Online Course Creators
Your Complete Guide to A Winning Black Friday Promotion
Black Friday can be one of your most profitable promotions of the year… but you need to break through the noise of all the competing offers.
On Black Friday weekend last year, customers spent $7.4 billion online in the United States alone.
What this means for you is that your audience is in the buying mood looking to snap up great Black Friday deals. They’ve got their wallets open and they’re ready to buy.
And studies indicate that because of COVID concerns about 70% of people aren’t planning on going to a brick and mortar store in the near future.
If you sell online then you should expect online buying activity to be even higher than last year.
But don’t assume your Black Friday promotion is going to be a hit just because there’s a lot of buying activity.
You’re competing against everyone else for those Black Friday dollars.
So here’s our definitive guide to help you crush your Black Friday promotion!
1. Start building excitement NOW
You need to take a page from the marketing playbook of the Hollywood movie studios.
Long before a big summer blockbuster is released they build excitement and anticipation. Sometimes the studios start building buzz 12 months ahead of the movie release.
(Remember how much hype and anticipation Marvel created leading up to the release of Avengers Infinity War?)
In the days leading up to your Black Friday event your messages should get your audience looking forward to your special offer so no matter what else is going on at the same time. You want them already aware that you’ve coming out with a Black Friday promotion.
A great way to build up buzz in the days leading up to your Black Friday release is with a feature we call the “Pre Launch” page.
This can be a simple Coming Soon page that will be changed to your Special Offer page as soon as your promotion officially goes live.
With Deadline Funnel you can have the switch from Coming Soon to Special Offer page happen automatically at a predetermined time.
2. Don’t be shy about your deadline
Black Friday is all about special deals that are available for a very limited time.
Nothing says “limited time offer” like a countdown.
So use countdowns on your promotion pages and make sure they get attention.
Here are some tips for making sure your Black Friday sale drives maximum sales through your page countdowns.
Add a face to your floating bar: Studies show that we’re hard wired to pay attention to faces.
Make the most of this biological fact by uploading your photo to Deadline Funnel and adding it to the floating bar.
Use a call to action button: For your special offer page you’ll want to use a call to action button for your floating bar because it’s a wya to drive sales no matter where they are on your page. If you’re using a long sales page the floating bar will float down the page as they scroll and give them a way to purchase as soon as they’re ready.
Tailor your floating bars and countdowns to the page: Choose unique colors, placement, and positioning to work best with each page.
We recommend putting countdowns on each major page of your Black Friday promotion.
Customize your floating bars and countdowns depending on your page navigation, the color scheme, and the layout.
For example, on your main Black Friday salespage you might have top navigation you don’t want to hide, and so it might make sense to position the floating bar at the bottom of this page.
And it would be a smart idea to have a call to action button that links to your checkout page.
But on your checkout page you might want to change up the colors, remove the call to action (because they’re already on the checkout page) and position it at the top of the page.
3. Put a deadline on your checkout page
Keeping with the advice of making sure your audience knows your offer is time limited…
Keep the pressure on when they go to your checkout page.
You want to keep the countdown consistent to your Black Friday deadline. (Deadline Funnel will do this for you automatically).
And not only will adding the countdown to your checkout page increase sales but you’ll prevent anyone from purchasing past Black Friday by keeping your checkout page open.
Pro Tip: Consider adding a floating bar across all the pages of your site or at least all the pages of your blog. Especially if your blog content gets a steady stream of visitors you can alert your readers that you have a Black Friday special going on.
4. Add a countdown to your emails
One of our most popular features is the Deadline Funnel email countdown.
We recommend putting a countdown image in at least one of your last day emails.
By the way, if you’re a Deadline Funnel client make sure you check out the latest email countdown designs we’ve recently added to your account.
Which brings us to the next tip… how many emails to send on the last day of your Black Friday promotion.
5. Send more than one email on the last day
We recommend sending at least three emails on the final day of the promotion.
The last day of your promotion is what we call the “Perfect Persuasion Window”.
Your sales per email and sales per hour are at their highest. It’s the last chance for your audience to get your offer and FOMO working in your favor more than any other time of your promotion.
Take a look at the huge spike in sales reported by Ramit Sethi for one of his launches.
And we’ve seen this pattern repeated across different markets and different promotions.
The last day is almost always when the majority of your sales will come in.
But to get the maximum effect of the Perfect Persuasion Window you need to keep reminding your audience about your offer.
Don’t stop with one email on the last day or else you’ll never break through the noise of competing marketing messages.
The typical office worker receives 111 emails per day.
We’re bombarded by 5,000 ads per day according to Forbes.
And mobile apps compete for attention with 65 to 80 phone alerts per day.
If you just send one email on the last day of your promotion you’re letting your message get lost in the noise and the distraction.
At the 2018 Copy Chief Live event, marketing thought leader Todd Brown detailed how one of his most successful promotions used 5 emails on the last day.
This is part of what he said from the stage during his talk:
“What is amazing to me… an insane percentage of sales will come on the last day. Every single email that went out produced more sales. It was insane. Don’t be afraid to mail. Mail more on the last day.”
Even if you don’t want to go as far as sending 5 emails like Todd’s team did you need to send more than one email on the last day (and ideally at least three) to maximize the Black Friday sales you’ll generate from the Perfect Persuasion Window.
Pro Tip #1: Pre-load the last day emails before your Black Friday promotion even starts so you eliminate any chances of getting too busy to send enough emails or you let fear and anxiety get the better of you when it really counts. Once your last day emails are “locked and loaded” you’re far more likely to send enough emails on the last day.
Pro Tip #2: Make sure you have automation triggers in your email software that move Black Friday buyers off or your promotional list and onto an “onboarding email sequence” that helps them start to get value from what they just purchased.
6. Make your emails stand out
If your brilliantly written Black Friday emails go ignored in the inbox you’ve wasted your time.
You should study data driven ways to get your emails opened more often.
I want to save you time and suggest a few simple tips you can use immediately.
First, focus your effort on your subject lines.
A study by Convince and Convert found that 35% of email recipients open emails based on the subject line alone.
For Black Friday, make sure to use “scarcity” keywords in your email marketing campaigns to hint at the uniqueness of these offers, including:
- “New.” When testing a post with the word “new” in it, marketers found it drew 422% more clicks. Admit it: when you see a headline that says “NEW:” at the beginning, you perk up, don’t you? That’s urgency at work.
- “Limited.” Limited has the added benefit of hinting at social approval and prestige, associating your online course with higher value. When one Ecommerce outlet–offering free delivery in any case–added a caveat of limitation on product delivery, sales increased 226%.
- Time-related words. Increasing the scarcity of time available always seems to have a dramatic effect on how people perceive your course. “Fast,” “Hurry,” “Approaching,” “Seconds,” “Never,” “Again”–these buzzwords hint at an exclusivity in time. And with a Black Friday promotion, there’s nothing deceptive about these words. They’re absolutely true.
The second most important factor in getting your emails open is the pre header that’s shown as a preview in your inbox, especially on mobile.
Notice how much Ronnie from PLR.me is packing into this short pre header. He’s using my name. He’s creating a mini cliff hander by hinting that there’s more than one thing he’s sharing. And he’s appealing to my curiosity by asking if I saw something.
All humans are hardwired to want to resolve cliffhangers. The psychological term is the Zeigarnik effect.
If the subject line and pre header trigger my curiosity then I’m compelled to open the email.
You can write your own custom pre header inside many of the popular email service providers, such as ActiveCampaign.
Usually only 5 or 6 words of your teaser message are shown, so use them well.
If you want to see some examples of what you do NOT want to use for your pre header text, search your email inbox for “having trouble” and you’ll see lots of examples of what to avoid.
Did you also notice how Ronnie’s email uses an emoji in the subject line?
Some studies suggest that using an emoji in your subject line can increase open rates by over 50%.
If you want to use an emoji in your Black Friday email subject lines, here’s how:
- Windows: Use the WIN + . (actual period punctuation mark) to open the emoji keyboard.
- Mac: Hit Control + Command + Spacebar to open the emoji window.
Or you can check out GetEmoji and copy/paste your favorite emoji.
Just don’t overdo it. We recommend sticking to one well picked emoji.
Finally, make sure you schedule your emails to coincide with the highest Black Friday open rates:
- Open rates tended to be highest during the business hours of 10 a.m. through 4 p.m. The second best segment tended a little later, from 12 noon to 6 p.m.
- You might want to consider making your promotion end on a Thursday, according to research from Omnisend.
Don’t become overly obsessed about “the perfect time” to send your emails or end your promotion.
Perfectionism can derail a profitable promotion if you’re not committed to “get it done instead of getting it perfect”. (More about this at the end of this guide.)
Pro Tip: Resend a modified version of your morning email to anyone that didn’t open your first email.
7. Consider an upsell… and use a fast countdown
Adding an upsell after your Black Friday special offer is a sure fire way to boost sales.
In the world of ecommerce stores upselling can increase sales by 10% to 30%.
As long as your offer is congruent to what they just purchased there’s a high probability they’ll say “yes” to the upsell too.
If you have the time and ability to put an upsell after your Black Friday purchase you can increase sales by putting a short countdown timer on the page.
8. Consider a limited quantity deadline
In one study, researchers asked participants to rate cookies in two different jars.
In the first round of the experiment, both jars contained 10 identical cookies. Then researchers removed eight cookies from one of the jars. The two lone cookies in one jar were still the same.
The difference? Now they were scarce. Researchers asked participants to rate the cookies again.
Guess which ones people preferred? The jar with only two cookies.
As soon as the participants in the study sensed the supply of cookies in one jar was close to disappearing they perceived the cookies as more delicious.
We’re hard wired to value scarce resources.
So how can you use this quirk of human psychology to your advantage?
You could place a quantity limit on your entire Black Friday promotion by limiting the number of sales.
As the remaining number approaches zero you should see a spike in demand.
But you’ll also be limiting your overall sales volume.
What I recommend instead is to consider having a mid-promotion fast action bonus and a deadline.
For example, on the second day of your Black Friday promotion you could announce a fast action bonus that you’re giving to everyone who’s already purchased… and the next 15 new buyers.
A little bit later in this guide I’ll show you how other digital course creators have used fast action bonuses to drive sales higher in the middle of the promotion.
And I’ll also specific ideas for quickly creating new bonuses from existing courses.
9. Choose a deadline that maximizes sales
Think about your audience and when they’re doing the majority of their shopping.
For example, if you sell to the United States market you should consider setting your deadline to midnight Pacific time, so the largest group of your audience has an opportunity to purchase your Black Friday offer.
“We expire all of our[launches] Pacific time so we get the extra three hours.”Todd Brown, Founder of Marketing Automation
Common Black Friday Questions – Answered:
Now we just covered 9 actionable tips you can use right away to make your Black Friday promotion a 5 figure success.
But you might still have a question or two about how to pull off an amazing Black Friday promotion.
Here are some common questions we get frequently:
- Can I have a winning promotion WITHOUT discounting my digital course?
- How do I avoid upsetting clients that paid more?
- What should I do with people that miss my deadline and beg me to let them into the Black Friday deal?
Let’s start with the question about discounts.
“Can I have a winning promotion WITHOUT discounting my digital course?”
Some digital course creators are committed to never offering a discount because they’re worried it could damage the perceived value of their product.
But you probably realize that having a powerful offer is a critical part of making sure you have a killer Black Friday promotion.
Yes, giving a one-of-a-kind discount on one of your most popular products is an surefire way to generate sales.
But it’s not the only way.
The key is to think of your entire offer – and price is just one component of that offer.
Here are some ideas you can use to design an offer that gets your audience saying “Yes!”.
Bundle two or more products into a new offer:
When you combine two or more of your products into your Black Friday offer you have a higher retail price to then discount downward to create an irresistible offer.
Many course creators prefer to bundle several products together to make a powerful Black Friday offer instead of giving a deep discount on one single product and risk hurting the perceived value of that product after the sale is over.
Something to consider when you bundle – one study suggests that you should avoid bundling an expensive product with an inexpensive one because the inexpensive product could reduce the perceived value.
Add new bonuses into your offer:
A great way to add additional value and create new bonuses quickly is to offer more access to you.
Here are some specific ideas you can use to quickly create bonuses your audience will desperately want… and you can build them into your Black Friday offer immediately.
Bonus idea #1: Consultation calls.
Consultation calls have a very high perceived value with your audience, since you’re the thought leader they’re following.
The downside is that consultations take your time. And you only have so much time to devote to consultations.
You can use this to your advantage since everyone understands you can’t offer a consultation to everyone.
It’s a natural fit for you to offer a consultation with you as a “fast mover” or “quick action taker” bonus that expires after a predetermined number of orders.
And Brian Harris of VideoFruit.com documented that his launch sales increased dramatically by adding a mid-launch bonus (aka, fast action taker bonus).
And something to consider is if you have talented team members who can help with consultations you might be able to offer 1-on-1 consulting to more of your clients. Just know that what your audience really wants is time with you.
Bonus idea #2: Assignment Reviews and Feedback
You can offer your Black Friday buyers an opportunity to get feedback on the way they implement your training.
Reviews have a very high perceived value and best of all, you can provide review on your own time using screen recording software like Zoom, UseLoom.com, or anything similar.
Batching your review work into concentrated blocks of time is an effective way to deliver feedback for your students.
Peter Freeman is a top online tennis instructor and one of his most popular components of his high end offer is video feedback on his students’ tennis swing technique.
They record a video of their tennis strokes and send them to Peter by email. He and his team watch the video and record detailed feedback with frame by frame analysis and on screen drawing to show exactly what needs to change.
Bonus idea #3: Group Coaching
Group coaching is another high value bonus you can add that requires almost no up front preparation.
The keys are to
- Know what your market really wants
- Don’t over promise your time
- But over deliver on your coaching
You’ll most likely want to set up your group coaching bonus as a fixed period of time. At the end of the group coaching you might give students a way to continue with coaching for a monthly fee.
Bonus idea #4: Live Training
Live training is similar to group coaching but with less interaction.
For example, you might envision a 4 week training course you deliver live by webinar.
At the end of each training session you might open up the webinar so students can ask questions live or you might not. Or maybe you request questions on the session topic ahead of time by email.
Bonus idea #5: Community
A lot of students love online communities where they can meet like minded student from around the world and interact with each other, learn from each other, ask questions, and get advice.
Decide ahead of time how much you’ll participate.
The more you commit up front to being available in the community the more value your students will assign to it.
Creating a community can take a lot of work.
But be open to the idea that a community done well can be a tremendous Black Friday bonus and you don’t need to do much ahead of time to turn it into a bonus. Creating a community can be as simple as creating a new Facebook group.
Managing your community is where the work comes in.
But communities don’t have to exist forever.
You could commit to a fixed period of time for the community.
That way you can shut it down after you’ve met your promise or you could decide to keep it going if you find it suits your style.
Split your core product apart:
You can take the opposite approach from bundling several products together and instead take a high priced comprehensive training course and carve out a smaller piece of the training as a stand alone product you’ve never offered before.
Or you can take a bonus that’s part of the normal offer for a high ticket training course and offer it as a new product that normally can’t be purchased separately but is only available for Black Friday.
Offer a different payment option:
Irresistible offers aren’t just built around what you’re selling but also how your audience can pay for access.
If you’re selling a subscription service, consider a longer free trial. Or maybe a deeply discounted annual rate instead of monthly payments.
If you’re selling a high ticket course or product bundle, you can offer a series of payments to give Black Friday buyers a chance to get access with a smaller up front commitment.
You might even try a low initial “day zero” payment of $1 or $7 for the first 14 or 30 days before the monthly installments start.
Allow yourself to get creative with how your Black Friday buyers can get access to your training course or coaching or membership in ways that normally you don’t offer.
“How do I avoid upsetting clients that paid more?”
One of the trickiest challenges of a Black Friday promotion can be walking the line between making your offer irresistible and possibly upsetting existing clients that paid more for the same product.
We just covered specific ideas for making your Black Friday offer different from anything your existing clients have purchased.
But another solution is to segment your email list into two different groups: leads and clients.
And then send a different promotion to your clients than the subscribers on your list that haven’t purchased from you yet.
“What should I do with people that miss my deadline and beg me to let them into the Black Friday deal?”
No matter how many emails you send on the last day of your Black Friday promotion you’re going to get emails the morning after with a wide variety of excuses from simple “I meant to purchase but forgot” to more detailed “I spilled beer on my laptop”.
I strongly recommend you politely explain that you understand how much they wanted to get access to your Black Friday promotion but you have to hold true to your promise. And for that reason you can’t give them the expired promotion.
Planning ahead of time how you’ll handle these requests will reduce your stress and help you honor your long term goals.
Pro Tip: Consider taking a screenshot of your client’s request for a deadline extension and your polite but firm refusal. Obscure the client’s name and details. You can use the screenshot as part of you next deadline enforced promotion as a final day warning that you strongly enforce your deadlines.
Final Thoughts: Getting it done is more important than getting it perfect.
Black Friday is a huge opportunity for you to turn prospects into new clients and existing clients into repeat buyers.
But only if you take action.
Don’t wait until you’ve implemented every idea in this guide before you start your Black Friday marketing.
It’s far better to pull off an average Black Friday promotion than miss the chance because you were trying to make it perfect.
“Perfect” is not a destination. Just like you can never travel far enough to reach the horizon, you’ll never achieve perfection.
Keep these quotes in mind:
“The best is the enemy of the good” – Voltaire
“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” – Confuscious
“A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.” – General George S. Patton
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” – Zig Ziglar
“Imperfect action beats perfect inaction every single time.” President Harry S Truman
If you’re getting a late start to this year’s Black Friday promotion, use whatever time you have to get a bare-bones offer out to your audience.
Perfectionism is often just a shield we use to protect ourselves from criticism and judgment.
Get your promotion finished and launched even if you know you can do better.
You’ll be glad you did!