Folks, it’s time.
Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, it is time that we are thankful for special deals and record-low prices worldwide the day after the holiday season.
This fateful date is, of course, Black Friday.
Though we all have our strong opinions on the infamous consumerism celebration day, it is not something a SaaS business can turn a blind eye to.
And I’m here to tell you how to open up that blind eye and stare into your biggest revenue opportunity ever.
Here’s the quick video in case you don’t have the time ⬇️
Today we are talking about:
- What Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) is,
- How Black Friday can benefit SaaS businesses, and
- How you can make the most of this Black Friday with 13 tips
Unless you want to set up a tent right here, let’s get to it!
What is Black Friday?
Black Friday is the first Friday right after Thanksgiving and is deemed the starting date of the Christmas shopping season, though it is not considered an official holiday. It marks the day most big companies in the US and worldwide record their highest sales of the year, often followed by Cyber Monday. Among the companies getting the biggest revenues during Black Friday are Amazon and Walmart, as they attract buyers throughout the weekend and on Cyber Monday.
Now you are thinking, “I already know what Black Friday is.”
👉 But did you know that in 2020, the estimated revenue for Black Friday was $184 billion, and it ended up being $188 billion? And that it was a new record?
👉 And did you know that in 2021, 155 million Americans shopped on Black Friday, which is around 60% of all adult Americans?
But what about this year?
Let’s switch our perspective a little.
What about SaaS businesses?
How can Black Friday benefit SaaS businesses?
So, if you’re in SaaS and trying to devise your Black Friday campaign, I can tell what’s on your mind…
There is no denying that Black Friday is associated most with the holiday shopping season, and it is one of the biggest shopping days of the. Entire. Year.
Still, a SaaS tool isn’t necessarily on my Christmas gift list.
Especially when it is B2B, the stakes are even higher, and as always, the number of potential customers you have is naturally lower.
The entire chemistry of online sales, the marketing strategy to use, marketing channels, marketing campaigns (including all email marketing campaigns and social media campaigns), and even price reductions and deals can differ completely from retail sales and other B2C companies.
But still, there are 3 reasons that make Black Friday and Cyber Monday the perfect time of the year to sell your SaaS product:
1- Free Advertising
In 2023, almost the entire world population is aware of what Black Friday is.
The good news is, that means people also know when and where it is. And the chances are, a big majority of buyers will come to you themselves before you even start advertising your software.
Moreover, if your discount rate is good enough, your tool might also end up being featured on Black Friday deals listings and articles. (like this one)
Sounds like a big old win-win to me 😎
2- Huge Audience
On Black Friday, literally, everyone could be a potential buyer.
Not to mention that more and more Gen-Zers (the ultimate game-changers of consumerism and the spearheads of subscription culture) get access to bigger sums of money every year.
That means your audience is getting increasingly available for marketing, especially through social platforms (looking at ya, TikTok)
Moreover, because people are aware that any and every product could be on sale, they tend to be on the lookout for any and every product.
Even for SaaS tools.
Ultimately, it all depends on the discount rates and how well you handle your Black Friday campaign.
So, keep it as appealing as possible!
3- More value
Just like every other product ever, SaaS also gains value when on sale.
Especially on Cyber Monday, software sales reach a peak, and let me tell you, that’s not something you want to miss out on.
👉 Speaking of value, Black Friday also boosts customer lifetime value since Black Friday buyers want to use your tool to its full potential and end up getting retained for longer than a regular customer on some occasions.
Sounds like a great way of creating loyal customers from scratch to me 🤷
Now, these are the benefits.
But how exactly do you achieve them?
Here are my personal top 13 tips to make sure your Black Friday Campaign is a success:
13 Black Friday Best Practices for Your SaaS Product (Examples)
1- Don’t be late to the party (don’t leave too early either)
The saying is pretty clear: the early bird gets the worm.
It may not be a first-come, first-serve situation, but the earlier you start preparing for BFCM, the better your chances of creating a better campaign.
Moreover, if you start spreading the news early enough, you also start creating hype around the upcoming deal.
Since it is harder for SaaS companies to reach their leads (we don’t really do TV anymore, do we?), a couple of months is an optimal time period for good hype.
Keep in mind: early start, big hype, huge rewards 🙌
You can even start in July as Best Buy did a couple of years ago. If it works, it works.
Just let your imagination – and marketing team – run wild!
Oh, but then, you don’t want to spend all your energy on the Friday; you can’t be winning the battle and losing the war.
You have to hold out with tempting deals and good support for Cyber Monday.
And if possible, longer than that.
It’s a good strategy to extend the sale as well or give the impression of an extension by extending to Cyber Monday – which is also an expected date for deals. Win-win!
2- Optimize your website for SEO
In SaaS, we don’t really do physical stores.
Decorating our stores to get the attention of potential customers doesn’t really work for us.
What we can do, though, is decorate our online stores (eCommerce stores and websites) with good copy to help users find us through Google and other search engines.
Before the time when users actually start looking products up, it is important to make sure that you are on par with your competitors in Google’s ranks.
Just like we’ve been doing at UserGuiding – and it does pay off 👇
Remember, you can’t pay your way into getting users’ trust and business every time with ads.
Make sure your SEO does the job for you.
3- Create a tempting deal
Remember when Pretty Little Thing came up with a 100% off campaign and ended up getting backlash in return?
Deciding the discount rate and building the campaign around it can be very tricky.
Yes, we want lower prices.
But you can’t tell me that you have never seen a product on a big sale and thought: “Wow, great deal, but why so cheap?” 🤨
The truth is, you can’t just reduce prices and expect 500% returns in the long run.
That would mean inflated margins, which will come back to bite you when your competitors copy your technique and lower their own prices.
So, what should be the optimal discount rate & plugin price for black Friday?
Try the shoe seller technique.
It’s quite simple. When it comes to shoes, most people are happy with any deal as long as they get an OK product. What happens is that customers with high demand will simply buy it used or wait for a Black Friday sale.
With SaaS tools, it is more or less the same thing.
Since each tool is unique, most people will find it hard to tell which one offers better features, and that is why they will simply take the first offer they find on Black Friday.
So, what rate to go with?
That leads us to the magic Black Friday discount rate that will boost your Black Friday sale:
👉 30-50% off seems to be the sweet spot, according to many Black Friday experts.
But you might want to experiment with different rates on your own since there are no strict rules when it comes to SaaS Black Friday.
4- Make things exclusive for loyal customers
As a SaaS company, it is obvious you are not selling gaming consoles or shoes.
Your product is most likely subscription-based, and unless you are starting out with it on a Black Friday (not recommended), you already have a customer base consisting of users, some of which you can call loyal customers.
Now, loyalty in SaaS is hard to come by since there is a potentially better product launched every day. So let those folks have a taste of what they’ve been giving you.
With exclusive discount codes, gift cards, heads-ups for hourly deals, or even a simple personalized email in your email campaign, you can get your users to be grateful that they chose you all that time.
Once again, Best Buy gets me.
5- Create the promotion material with CX in mind
Customer Experience is everything.
And during Black Friday, it can be a make-or-break situation.
When it comes to creating the landing pages and the visuals for a Black Friday deal, a lot of consumer psychology comes to the stage.
The funny part is, especially if you are a B2B business, your buyers will know what is up when you play around with the promotion material to manipulate them into buying.
So, be subtle.
Create urgency 🏃
Creating a sense of urgency is probably the oldest trick in the book, and it can take on many forms.
For example, a simple “running out” microcopy or a “sale ends in 2 days” can instantly turn your potential buyers into customers.
Let them actually see the deal 👀
Preparing the visuals and the copy for a Black Friday deal must have one simple goal first and foremost.
That the buyers can actually see and interact with your campaign.
You simply can’t go for a “accept cookies” type of banner. Make it big, bright, and attention-grabbing.
In 2021, AppSumo really nailed it:
Be easy on the eye 👁
Yes, I know what I said.
Big, bright, and attention-grabbing. But hey, don’t make it look hideous.
It is pretty easy if you test the campaign before going with it. I cannot be the only one who skipped deals because the banner annoyed me
The countdown ⏰
The countdown is a fool-proof strategy that many try to pull every BFCM.
There are a few tricks to make it more appealing and less anxiety-inducing, like putting it on a landing page and not at the top of your website banner, but you got it.
For example, look at this Black Friday banner by Hugo Boss:
Classy and not that annoying.
More or less what you’d expect from Hugo Boss.
6- Promote in-app or on website
Promoting deals and discounts on the website of a product works for retail, alright.
And there is no reason for it to not work for the SaaS and software industry.
Popups and announcement modals, despite being annoying to users (when done wrong), might work well if you have a good deal that they wouldn’t mind seeing instead of the website contents 👀
Here’s a cool in-app modal from Genially:
AND it takes less than 5 minutes to create this using UserGuiding.
But, if you ask me, these kinds of announcement modals might be less engaging, especially if you’re not sure all your customers would be interested in your offer.
A less annoying and attention-grabbing but super-functional alternative we used and I can suggest is an announcement banner that you can display on top or the bottom of your website:
Here’s a bit more zoomed-in version of this announcement banner created in UserGuiding:
These UI/UX elements can be a good way to get your website or business blog visitors exposed to your product and your offers.
You can also use tools such as UserGuiding to target specific pages on your website and blog to make sure you’re getting your content to the right visitors.
Don’t forget to keep the UX/UI elements as simple as possible.
If your deal is good enough, you have nothing else to worry about.
7- Promote to your followers
The truth is, promotional emails are still a big part of marketing ideas for Black Friday.
But there is no way you will reach your full potential without utilizing a few social media platforms for higher visibility.
If you are not the type of SaaS business focusing on Black Friday and Black Friday only, you probably have at least a few people following you on social media.
Well, this is the moment they have been waiting for.
Give your loyal followers a heads-up that your Black Friday deal is around the corner, and maybe go a step further and turn your campaign into something they might want to share.
For example, when giffgaff and LadBible collaborated for the “Check Your Drawers” campaign on YouTube, it had many people hyped up about it and actually sharing it.
The deal with the campaign was that people kept old phones in their drawers and giffgaff offered cash in return.
Moreover, if you can get some of your customers to promote for you, it’ll be the best social proof strategy of the year.
What is stopping you from coming up with a fun little concept for Black Friday that will rule the internet?
Or if you can afford to be more aware this year, you can always take a stand and donate to environmental charities to make sure the excessive nature of the holiday sales doesn’t actually destroy the world 🌎
The iconic IKEA Bring Back Friday campaign is a good example for a more sustainable Black Friday campaign ⬇️
8- Promote through Paid Advertisements
We all do paid ads; no need to be embarrassed.
Whether it is a gift guide on your blog you are promoting or the product itself for direct sales, paid ads are a huge part of the customer experience during Black Friday.
The bottom line is, use Black Friday to your advantage, and the paid ads will pay off.
You will get the most out of your Black Friday if you are using Google Adwords or Facebook Ads.
Of course, Black Friday keywords are very competitive (duh 😉), so although your CPC will be high, the quality score might not be as good as you were expecting.
But that’s okay because Black Friday is a sale, so people are going looking for Black Friday keywords just to have a look, and only the ones that really want to buy will actually perform a Black Friday search.
Just get in that SEM mindset and go crazy.
9- Promote through outreach
It wouldn’t hurt to poke those cold leads again with your great offer.
Prepare a Black Friday email list and show no mercy. Even better if you can get an influential persona on your email list and get their attention.
Then there is the timing factor.
👉 If you send them out too soon, your emails will bounce because the Black Friday deal isn’t out yet.
👉 But if you wait too long, your potential customers might have made other plans, including buying from your competitors.
The good part is, you can keep the campaign and the outreach going for as long as you want.
What about the content?
It depends on your target audience, email subscribers, and whether you wanna reach out to a wider audience or keep it exclusive.
Some good practices include:
Personalized exclusive deals
Personalization is something you CANNOT skip in 2023.
And a 760% increase in revenue that can be achieved thanks to personalized emails sounds rewarding.
This black friday email from Dell is a great example 👇
Adding reviews & testimonials
Adding reviews and testimonials to your Black Friday email campaign, especially if you are no Walmart or Amazon, and even more importantly, if you are a SaaS company, can do wonders.
I mean, here’s our newsletter from last year with our Black Friday deal and a bunch of our top success stories.
You already know the click-through rates on that deal were crazy 😜
The point is, however long you want to keep your campaign up, or whatever you want to include in it, don’t forget to reach out to the relevant people, and who knows, you might get more than you anticipated.
10- Get your AI game on
If you are not utilizing the biggest technology that has graced the tech world yet, what are you doing?
AI can draw the line between a good campaign and a bad campaign this year more so than ever.
Some cool ways you can start using AI in your campaign:
- Brainstorming for campaign ideas ✅
- Calculating the best discount rate and adjusting pricing in real time ✅
- Customer support via chatbots ✅
- Campaign success forecasting ✅
- Segmenting and personalization on the go ✅
- Automation for logistics and tracking ✅
And any other creative cause – like me creating this list 😎
11- Get SaaS-oriented
There have been many campaign tactics in circulation for years now, but not many focus on SaaS, given that we register BFCM as a holiday for online retailers and other major retailers like Amazon automatically.
But if you are doing BFCM for SaaS, you gotta do it right. This includes:
👉 Extended free trials
Extended free trials are perfect for 2 reasons:
One, customers automatically think, “more free stuff!”
And two, you get to show off your product’s capabilities without making customers give the trial a try. When they see it’s extended, they are more likely to try.
It’s not an archaic practice either; even Apple did it last year fro Apple News+:
👉 Bundle sales
We are all familiar with bundle sales at Walmart matching up sad movie DVDs with napkins or Playstation Store’s bundle from last year bundling discounts on Playstation Plus for existing members.
But when it comes to your SaaS product – and I’m guessing it’s probably B2B – what might you possibly bundle?
It can be anything from features and functionalities to memberships and upgrade options.
You get to be the one deciding depending on your unique product.
👉 Free premium feature unlocks
And another good option for SaaS products on Black Friday is unlocking some premium features for free.
Now, this can also work as lowering the prices of some of your bigger plans, but some unique products might be offering features in big plans that might be wanted by all.
If that’s you, this is your strategy!
12- Get on a Black Friday Deals list
If you are a SaaS business with a cool Black Friday SaaS deal in the making (or, better, active already), you have one last stop to go.
Campaigning, enhancing your shopping experience, paid ads, and promoting on social media can get you places, but putting your Black Friday deal on a big directory of deal lists can give you the edge. Because:
- You will get more exposure,
- Your product will be easier to compare to others,
- Your deal will shine through (or die down if you are greedy)
Case in point: you will (out)shine many unless your campaign is a lame one. Go put that deal on a Black Friday Deals list!
13- Create a BFCM playbook for next year
This is for when Black Friday is over, but it’s important you keep it in mind from the start.
You will need a Black Friday playbook.
Your Black Friday marketing strategy was flawless; you had a sitewide sale, you had the lowest prices for the best value, your promo code quotas were full, and you didn’t even use your entire marketing budget!
Kudos to the team for a great Black Friday campaign!
You know what comes next?
It’s time to get insights into what actually went on during your holiday campaign with everything under a magnifying glass.
What was performed right, what could have been better, and what to watch out for next year are just some things to pay attention to.
Create a playbook, and don’t repeat your mistakes. You’ll regret it if you don’t.
Campaigning on Black Friday as a SaaS company can be seriously stress-inducing. So don’t put yourself through that.
Instead, make use of this article and show everyone what a great opportunity Black Friday can be for SaaS companies.
And don’t forget to put your deal on the list!
Best of luck!