Marketing for Black Friday weekend can be a daunting task. With so many shoppers looking for the best deals, and practically every brand getting in on the mayhem, it can be tough to stand out from the competition.

And, like the last few years, BFCM looks a little different this year. Supply chains are still disrupted, and many shoppers will continue shopping online more than before the pandemic. But there are new challenges too. Inflation has increased costs for brands and slimmed customers' wallets.

The good news, though? That means shoppers are all the more eager to get their hands on deals this Black Friday.

To stand out from the competition, try these nine Black Friday marketing strategies to boost sales and make this holiday shopping season your best yet. There are even a couple of tactics in here you can implement if you're late to the planning game.

1. Start your Black Friday sales early

Many brands are offering deals for the whole month of November. Starting your sales early has been the tried-and-true advice over the last few years because it works. Customers haven't forgotten about the shipping delays from previous holiday seasons. Many buy holiday gifts as soon as the leaves change colors to ensure they have the perfect items for friends and family in time for the holidays. So meet your customers where they are and support their early gift-buying habits by incentivizing them to shop with you.

Save your best deals for your Black Friday sale, but use special offers earlier in the month to catch early buyers and get other shoppers excited for the big day. Seeing deals improve as the month progresses could make your Black Friday offers look even better.

2. Use SMS to reach customers

Savvy marketers have already integrated SMS into their marketing plans throughout the year. With a 3.8x higher open rate than email, your subscribers are more likely to see your text and take action on it.

Plus, only 55% of brands use SMS marketing. So you'll see less competition on Black Friday by popping into their text messages compared to their overcrowded email inbox.

SMS also allows you to reach shoppers instantly. Text messages are estimated to have a 95% open rate within three minutes of receipt. So you can reach them while they're having leftover pie for breakfast or lounging in front of the TV. It's perfect for time-sensitive communications you might want to send shoppers on Black Friday, like flash sale announcements, reminders about limited-stock items, and last-minute deals.

3. Segment and personalize your messages

Because BFCM marketing is all about standing out from the competition, you'll want to segment and personalize your Black Friday marketing campaigns to attract customers. Personalizing your marketing efforts is already a best practice for the rest of the year. But when you're competing against thousands of other online stores for your customers' attention, you can't afford to blast your whole list with a message that will only resonate with some of them.

Now's the time to capitalize on the first-party data you've been gathering all year. Segment your subscriber lists based on previous purchases, buying behavior, or interests to send targeted offers on Black Friday. By showing customers products and offers they're likely interested in, they'll feel like your deals were chosen just for them, and you increase your odds that they'll buy.

4. Boost cart values with better deals on bundles

Discounting on Black Friday also means eating into your profit margin. But logistics costs, like shipping, won't change much. The more a customer buys from you in one order, the greater your profit.

So instead of just discounting single items, consider offering special bundle deals to boost cart values and incentivize customers to buy more from you. You could provide deeper discounts on current bundles. Or create new bundles just for the holiday season. After all, your existing customers have likely already taken advantage of your bundles throughout the year. So you'll want to provide something new to encourage them to buy.

For example, if you sell beauty products, create a bundle of your bestselling skincare products. Or, if you sell kitchen gadgets, you could consider offering an exclusive "holiday cooking bundle" with everything your customers need to bake festive holiday treats.

If you sell products often bought in multiples, you could make them cheaper the more someone buys. For example, if you sell socks, you can offer customers 10% off when they buy three socks and 20% off when they buy six socks. Or if you sell something like makeup, you can do something similar to encourage holiday shoppers to buy multiple shades of the same product.

5. Offer exclusive deals to your loyal customers

You'll probably get plenty of new customers on Black Friday, but that's not the place to focus. You've already done the work to build trust with your existing customer base and get them to fall in love with your brand. So they're more likely to shop with you on Black Friday. Consider offering your most loyal customers special deals just for them as a thank-you for their continued support.

These could be loyalty program members, newsletter subscribers, or even past customers who have made multiple purchases from you throughout the year.

The trick with crafting Black Friday promotions for your loyal customers is to offer something you haven't offered throughout the year. Don't offer your new subscriber discount. Don't promote the same bundles they likely already have. And don't offer the same deals as your Labor Day sale. Your customers expect more on Black Friday, whether that's a better discount, new bundles, or exclusive sale access.

6. Consider special offers beyond discounts

While shoppers have grown to expect deep discounts on Black Friday, they can quickly make your brand blend into the sea of other online retailers offering similar deals. Plus, that eats into your profit margins when inflation and supply chain issues have already wreaked havoc enough. So consider offering special offers beyond just discounts.

You could offer a free gift with purchase or bundle in a complementary product with a larger purchase. For example, if you sell tech gadgets, you could bundle in a free phone case with the purchase of a new phone. Or, if you sell dental products, you could offer a free toothbrush for customers who spend over a certain amount on Black Friday.

You could even launch holiday-exclusive products, like new colors of your bestsellers that shoppers can only buy during the holidays.

7. Create a gift guide

One of the biggest reasons for Black Friday shopping is to find gifts for friends and family. So make it easy for customers to shop for their loved ones by creating a gift guide featuring some of your top products.

This is an excellent opportunity to partner with other brands, too. For example, if you sell clothing made of recycled fibers, you could partner with other value-aligned brands like an ethical jewelry brand and an organic bedding brand to create a gift guide that will speak to all your customers.

Spread the word early in the month via email, SMS, and social media platforms so customers can plan their gifts. And consider linking to your gift guide in your site's navigation bar or banner.

8. Adopt a "buy now, pay later" model

Offering payment plans is a great way to draw in customers who may be hesitant to drop a lot of money all at once on Black Friday, especially given the strains of inflation.

There are plenty of services that make it easy for ecommerce businesses to adopt risk-free payment plans like Afterpay, Affirm, and Klarna.

You could even give that model its own Black Friday special. For example, you can remove interest fees for the first six months.

9. Offer a generous return policy

With Black Friday sales often come impulse purchases, buyer's remorse, and, ultimately, returns. And while it's a pain to deal with on the business side, offering a generous return policy can increase customer confidence in purchasing from your brand.

Plus, since many sales are gifts for loved ones, a generous return policy can alleviate stress for the gifter if their recipient doesn't like the product.

Consider extending your usual return window or offering free returns during the holidays. This will make customers feel more comfortable buying from your brand, knowing they won't be stuck with a product they're not happy with.

Maximize holiday sales with SMS

There you have it! Nine BFCM ideas to boost online sales this year. If you were late to planning this year, just remember: Next year's Black Friday starts now. Start a holiday marketing calendar so you can implement more tips next year. And pay attention to your customers' habits throughout the year to inform your Black Friday campaigns.

In a world where shoppers are more connected than ever, mobile messaging has become an essential component of every Black Friday marketing plan for ecommerce brands to reach customers.

With SMS, you can enhance your Black Friday marketing strategy and drive more engagement and sales -- leading to a stellar Q4 for your brand.

Learn more about how to get the most out of this year's holiday sales with SMS.