10 Takeaways from Ezra Firestone’s 2021 Black Friday / Cyber Monday Training

Hey! Did you miss my 2021 Black Friday Training

Or maybe you came to the event but got overwhelmed by all the information (which is understandable — it’s a lot to process!). 

Well in this article, I take all the content from my jam-packed, 90-minute training and boil it down into my top 10 takeaways to help you have a successful holiday season.

Let’s get started.

Get Ready for a Record-breaking Holiday Season

For a long time now, Black Friday / Cyber Monday has been one of the biggest revenue opportunities for small businesses. 

But ever since the pandemic sent more buyers (and businesses) online — the size of this sales event has gone into the stratosphere. 

According to Shopify, the ecommerce platform did $5.1 billion in sales over BFCM weekend in 2020, with sales peaking at $1.13 million per minute.

Data from Shopify about Black Friday 2020.

That’s a 76% increase compared to 2019!

Personally, my brand made $10 million in Q4 last year, and $4 million of that was just in November.

My goal for this year is to generate $750,000 on Black Friday alone. 

Let me show you how I plan to do it. 

First, Let’s Address the Elephant(s) in the Room

Between the chaotic state of global production and transportation and the recent changes to Facebook and other marketing platforms, this holiday season will also bring new challenges.

So let’s start by looking at what makes BFCM 2021 different for online merchants. 

Broken Supply Chain

If you are struggling with a broken supply chain and you don’t have any product to sell, you can still take advantage of BFCM by running a pre-order campaign.

This is when you run a promotion for a product that is not currently in stock but that you will deliver at a later date.

The keys here are to focus on building anticipation and to make sure to offer a discount. (I will dig into anticipation campaigns later in this article.)

My brand runs this type of campaign all the time, as do a ton of other brands on websites like Kickstarter.

iOS 14.5 & 15 Updates

There’s no way around it: with these new updates from Apple, tracking ads and emails will be much harder.

Here’s the bright side: while these are big issues, they’re issues that affect everyone. (What you don’t want is something that only affects you.)

The marketers with the best tactics and the best storytelling will still win, and just by reading this article you’ll probably be ahead of most other sellers.

Delayed Shipping

Shipping will also be less reliable this year. But again, this affects everyone equally (more or less).

The solution here is to start your sale early so you can get products out the door before the shipping volume ramps up.

More on that in a second.

10 Tips to Help You Have a Successful Black Friday / Cyber Monday

Let me start this section by saying that I covered a ton of info in this training — and to toot my own horn a little, I think it is all super important. 

So if you have the time to watch the full 90-minute session, I highly recommend you do.  

But in the meantime, here are 10 takeaways from my presentation that will help you have a successful holiday season this year (I even threw in a bonus tip at the end of the article). 

I divided these takeaways into 4 categories: Sale Strategy, Offers & Offer Pages, Ads and Email.

Sale Strategy

1) Use “Engage & Filter” Method to Monetize Customers

It’s important to understand that your main goal for Black Friday / Cyber Monday should be to monetize the customers you already have. 

Acquisition isn’t easy this time of year: the ad auction is really crowded so it’s expensive to get your message in front of cold traffic. 

Plus, everyone’s social feeds are packed with offers, so if someone doesn’t already know your brand then it can be hard to break through the noise.

But if you already have audience assets — like an email list or pixeled audiences — then this is the perfect time to take advantage of the holiday buying frenzy.

Want a tip for building remarketing audiences? 

Try using the Engage & Filter Method. 

Before the holidays start, amplify a piece of content (we use video) on social platforms targeted toward cold traffic. This builds first-party data.

Then, take the people who consumed your content, create an audience around them, and hit them with ads.

This is a great way to pre-filter your audiences and introduce new prospects to your brand while avoiding the high ad costs that come with direct-to-offer ads during the holidays. 

Left: Instructions on how to create a custom audience of video viewers in Facebook / Right: More instructions on how to create a custom audience of video viewers in Facebook.

2) Use “Mini-campaigns” to Avoid Fatigue 

Some people think they can just create a few generic ads and bada-bing bada-boom, they have their creative done for the holiday season.

But the truth is, if you want to run an aggressive marketing campaign (which you should) without fatiguing your email list and Facebook audiences, then here’s the secret:


These are quick campaigns — usually only a few days long — that focus on different chunks of the holiday season. 

By isolating individual sales opportunities, you can run campaigns throughout November and December while using different messaging and not overwhelming your audiences with repetition. 

Here are some mini-campaign ideas: 

Ideas for holiday mini-campaigns.

Since I started using mini-campaigns, some of my biggest revenue days of the year aren’t even on Black Friday or Cyber Monday!

And one of my very favorite mini-campaigns is…

3) Run an Early Bird Mini-campaign to Build Anticipation

An Early Bird Campaign can increase the effectiveness of your sale considerably.

The marketing funnel for an Early Bird holiday campaign.

Why do big companies use product announcements and buzz-builder campaigns? Why do movies release trailers? 

Because it’s fun to anticipate! It’s human nature.

For our Early Bird Campaigns, we use ads and emails to get people to opt-in to be the first ones notified about our sale. 

Then we send these leads a handful of warm-up emails before the sale drops to build even more anticipation: 

Emails sent to opt-ins of the Early Bird holiday campaign.

Last year, this campaign generated about 35,000 leads for our Early Bird List, and those people — who were a small segment of our overall list — accounted for half of the revenue we made over BFCM weekend. 

We use the same strategy for our ad audiences. We use Early Bird ads to get people to opt-in to our sequence, then follow up with them as the sale approaches. 

And we’ve found you don’t need a fancy page for this campaign. 

We created a simple, lightweight opt-in page and thank you page using our Shopify landing page builder, Zipify Pages

Opt-in and thank you pages for the Early Bird holiday campaign.

For a full breakdown of the Sale Strategies I’m using in my holiday promotion, go here to get the full Black Friday / Cyber Monday training:

Get Full Training

Offers & Offer Pages

4) Optimize Your Offer Pages  

Your brand faces more competition during the holidays.

You’re competing for your customers’ inboxes and social feeds, and even when a prospect gets to your website, the competition isn’t over.

If a visitor finds that your page is slow to load, it looks unprofessional, or your offers aren’t compelling, they’ll happily abandon the sales cycle and continue their product search elsewhere.

You can’t let that happen. 

Once you’ve done the hard work to get a visitor on your site, it’s so important that all of your pages are optimized for conversion.

To do that, make sure your pages work well on all devices — meaning they look good on desktop but are also lightweight and fast-loading on mobile. 

This year, we’re sticking with clean, simple pages that use only the most necessary elements:

Minimal landing page used for holiday campaign.

Sometimes, we even include some content on desktop that we hide on mobile. This is a simple feature available on all landing pages made with Zipify Pages.

Also make sure that your pages use conversion-driving features like countdown timers and social proof.

To see everything I do to optimize my holiday sales pages for conversion, check out the full training here.

One of the most important features you need on your pages are order bumps.

5) Maximize Order Value with Bundles & Order Bumps 

Because this time of year is so competitive, not only do you want to convert as many customers as you can — you also want to get the highest possible order value. 

And the best way to get your visitors to buy more products is, not surprisingly, to make them more offers!

I suggest you do this with bundles and order bumps.

Make sure you leverage pre-purchase order bumps on your offer pages (left) as well as when someone clicks add to cart (right):

Left: Offer page order bumps on Shopify. / Right: Order bumps triggered by add-to-cart click on Shopify.

And one of the most effective ways to increase order value is with post-purchase upsells on both an upsell page and on your Shopify thank you page.

Post-purchase upsell page made with OneClickUpsell on Shopify.

(It’s easy to create these offers for your store with our Shopify upsell and cross-sell tool, OneClickUpsell.)

Also, if your store has multiple products, make sure you offer a product bundle that is discounted even heavier than the rest of your sale:

Examples of order bump cross-sells.

For a full breakdown of the Offer & Offer Page Strategies I’m using in my holiday promotion, go here to get the full Black Friday / Cyber Monday training:

Get Full Training


6) Retarget Sale Visitors (Non-buyers)

During the holidays, attention spans are even shorter than normal and it often takes more than one touchpoint to close a sale.

That’s why you should run retargeting ads to people who visited your sales page or engaged with your ads. 

Our favorite template for retargeting sale visitors is a simple customer testimonial ad with a customer talking about how much they love our brand:

Example of ad creative used for Facebook retargeting.

Also, make sure you do multi-channel retargeting

Facebook and email are a great start, but you want to be everywhere your customers are — including Instagram, YouTube and other social channels.

7) Make Ad Creative for Every Mini-campaign

You really don’t want your ad creative to fatigue during the holidays.

A great way to avoid this problem is with mini-campaigns, which we already talked about in Tip #2.

Examples of ad creative used in holiday mini-campaigns.

Refresh your ad creative for every mini-campaign you run. This will help you avoid bombarding your audience with repetitive messaging and give you a greater chance to connect with your prospects.

Someone seeing your Black Friday ad might not be compelled to buy, but that same person might connect with your ad for Small Business Saturday.

So make sure to switch it up!

For a full breakdown of the Ad Strategies I’m using in my holiday promotion, go here to get the full Black Friday / Cyber Monday training:

Get Full Training


8) Send More Emails (Especially on Peak Days)

It always surprises me to learn how few emails most brands send during their holiday promotions. 

When I ask the owner why, the answer is usually the same: “I don’t want to annoy my customers!”

That’s understandable, and honestly, I used to feel the same way.

Until one day, I thought, “What if I send two emails a day and see what happens?”, and the result was surprising: 

My unsubscribes didn’t go up! 

Then I tried sending 3 emails a day, and the same thing happened. People weren’t annoyed.

Here’s the takeaway: send more emails!

Last year, we sent out 45 emails during the sale, with an average subscriber receiving around 30–35 emails. 

Every single email made money, and it didn’t fatigue my list.

The secret is to have compelling offers and strong messaging, and to avoid repetition by leveraging mini-campaigns like I’ve mentioned throughout this article.

In particular, you want to mail aggressively on the peak days of your sale: like on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Green Monday — whatever your audience resonates with most.

Examples of "peak days" for email marketing.

Email has the highest conversion rate and will usually drive the bulk of your revenue over the holidays, so you don’t want to miss out by being overly cautious. 

But every audience is different, so make sure you keep an eye on your unsubscribes to see what your threshold is.

9) Don’t Settle for 1 Purchase

So someone bought from your sale — that’s great!

But that doesn’t mean your job is over. I’ve learned that you can get these buyers to purchase again (and again).

We created special messaging for folks who had bought once already and communicated differently with them than we did with people who had yet to buy.

Here are 2 emails we sent to customers who purchased from our holiday sale:

Emails sent to buyers to encourage additional purchases.

See that? We incentivized them to make a second purchase by offering them an extra discount. 

We were able to get nearly 10% of purchasers to make at least one additional order, and this was a huge win for the campaign. 

(And nearly 10% of two-time buyers came back and bought a third time!)

10) Deadlines Work!

Over the last 2 days of our holiday sale, we did about $300,000 in revenue from people who had not bought up until that point.

In other words, these people had received about 20 emails and still had not made a purchase decision — so what finally got them to buy? 

The deadline!

They received an email saying that the offer was going away or that the shipping deadline was fast approaching, and that pushed them over the edge.

Examples of using deadlines in holiday emails.

Remember to highlight the deadline heavily in your emails and in your ads, and even update your landing page if you can. That way, site visitors can actually see the deadline while they shop.

11) Adapt Your Email for iOS 15 “BONUS”

I already mentioned iOS 15 earlier in the article, but I wanted to give you some bonus advice on how to adapt your email marketing to deal with Apple’s new updates.

iOS 15 affects your email in 2 important ways:

It Inflates Email Open Rates 

This means you should no longer use open rates to measure engagement. Instead, use site browsing and clicks. 

Here’s how we updated our segment of Engaged subscribers:

Example of updates made to email marketing strategy due to Apple's iOS 15.

It Obscures Location Data by Blocking IP Addresses

This will affect any automations that rely on time zones or other geographical segmentation. 

(For example, it will now be hard to control exactly when a subscriber receives your email.)

For a full breakdown of the Email Strategies I’m using in my holiday promotion, make sure to watch the full BFCM training.

At the end of the video, my Marketing Director Laura Palladino does a whole segment on this topic.

Get Full Training

Those were my 10 takeaways from my Black Friday Bonanza training! I hope these tips help you have your most successful holiday season yet.

For more in-depth training on all these topics, as well as a bunch of other useful info from my presentation, make sure to watch the full 90-minute training.

This has been Ezra Firestone — thanks for reading!

Watch Full Training

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