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9 steps to a successful Black Friday referral marketing campaign

9 steps to a successful Black Friday referral marketing campaign

Olivia Cox
By Olivia Cox — August 8, 2022 -

Read time: 9 mins

After two years of retail turbulence, Black Friday 2022 is going to look different (again). Having made it through a global pandemic, we’re now hurtling towards a recession that’s squeezing budgets tight for marketing teams and consumers alike

Sticking to the Black Friday plan of years gone by isn’t a smart option. To cut through the noise and sustain sales after the biggest weekend in the retail calendar, brands must take a different approach that delivers genuine value to their cost-conscious customers. 

That requires knowing who your best customers are, treating them in ways that keep them coming back, and finding more like them. You already know that. But what you might not know is that your best customers aren’t the ones spending the most.

Allow us to introduce you to Cate and Buck. As his name suggests, Buck is the customer who regularly splashes out the big bucks on your brand. While this gives them a high lifetime value, the true value comes from customers like Cate: the advocates who love your brand and rave about you to others.

Cate might not spend as much as Buck, but she’s got something more powerful than a high lifetime value. By recommending friends and family who go on to make their own purchases (and are 5x more likely to refer others), she’s got a high extended lifetime value.

Engaging the Cates in your customer base through referral will be the key to unlocking your best Black Friday yet. Last year, brands acquired 3.5x more customers through referral on Black Friday than the average day. And as more money-conscious consumers ask their friends and family where to get good deals for the items on their wishlist, referrals are set to have an even bigger impact this year.

Ready to spark a referral chain reaction this Black Friday that will exponentially grow your business? Read on.

9 steps to your best Black Friday campaign yet

1. BE PREPARED

As the saying goes, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Every Black Friday, some retailers find themselves in the bittersweet scenario of outperforming expectations to such an extent that they run out of voucher codes. This means customers miss out on their rewards for referring friends, and retailers lose potential sales — and valuable new customers. Avoid this fate by making sure you’ve got plenty of codes to give out, so as many happy customers can use your offer as possible.

You might still be up against persistent supply chain issues this year. To overcome this, anticipate which products are likely to sell out and have a strategy ready — such as being able to suggest similar available products.

Lastly, make sure your website is ready for a sudden surge in traffic. With virtually every brand running a Black Friday promotion, a website crash (even for just a few minutes) can be a costly mistake. We recommend running tests ahead of 25th November, so you can be confident that everything’s in place to make your campaign a success.

Frugi's referral offer for a free apron last Black FridayFrugi gave out aprons as part of its Black Friday referral offer.

2. MAKE YOUR INCENTIVE IRRESISTIBLE

With almost every brand under the sun offering a Black Friday deal, your incentive has to stand out. Instead of offering a blanket deal across your website, segment your customers and target them with specific offers based on what you know about them. Do your second-time customers prefer a percentage off or fixed-sum discounts? Are referred friends more motivated to buy for the first time by a free gift or a competition entry? Promote your offers via solus emails and push notifications at times you know your customers are likely to act.

To drive up both acquisition and retention rates, segment customers based on their propensity to refer. Invite brand advocates like Cate to refer friends, while giving customers who aren’t yet brand cheerleaders the option to get a discount on their next order, or sign up to your newsletter.

Having a Black Friday referral offer better than your competitors’ is just one half of the picture. To really motivate your customers to tell friends about you, make sure your offer is the best up for grabs on your website. 

Double discounts (offering both referrers and referees money off their next purchase) tend to perform particularly well. Take advantage of the strong ROI a referral channel delivers by offering a generous incentive. With referred customers spending 23% more on Black Friday last year than the average customer, it won’t be long before your incentive pays for itself.

And it’s not only discounts that can encourage your customers to refer their friends. Free gifts, third-party vouchers, and competitions are a few other ways you can drive brand recommendations. For subscription-based businesses, it’s also worth considering incentives like a month’s free service. 

NA-KD's referral campaign from Black Friday 2021NA-KD promoted a competition alongside a generous discount for its Black Friday referral campaign in 2021.

3. GET CREATIVE WITH COPY AND DESIGN

Black Friday is a great opportunity to shout about your brand’s USPs and values. Use your referral campaign to reinforce your brand, from messaging and tone of voice to design. Our Black Friday lookbook is full of examples for this, featuring brands from sectors including fashion, fitness, and food. 

Using Black Friday-themed branding will make your promotion pop. Branch out from your traditional colour palette, adding splashes of black (or another bold colour) to grab attention and show you’re getting involved with the event. You can even put your own spin on it to suit your branding — fashion retailer PrettyLittleThing chose to run a “Pink Friday” promotion last year.

PrettyLittleThing celebrated "Pink Friday" with a referral competitionPrettyLittleThing added its own twist to Black Friday to reflect its branding.

4. PROMOTE IT

Now you’ve come up with a brilliant Black Friday referral campaign with an enticing discount and on-brand design, it’s time to get your customers to take notice. 

Black Friday is highly competitive, so your campaign needs to be easily visible and well-promoted at touchpoints throughout the customer journey to make an impact. 

Feature it on your homepage, display it as a post-purchase pop-up, shout about it on your socials — wherever your customers are looking, make sure they see it. Use your findings from A/B testing previous referral campaigns to optimise your promotion. Display at the touchpoints you know your customers most engage with and use wording that resonates (for example, ‘give’ a reward rather than ‘get’ one, or vice versa).

A screenshot from our Black Friday lookbookOur lookbook presents the essential touchpoints for an effective Black Friday campaign

5. RETARGET CUSTOMERS

With so many brands competing for attention and shouting about their unmissable offers, it’s easy for customers to feel overwhelmed on Black Friday. They may well visit your site to browse, only to end up being distracted by another brand’s tempting offer.

This is when retargeting becomes important.

Strategically use ads to retarget visitors to your site who are yet to complete their purchase. This is even better if you can personalise the messages (e.g. ‘Hey Jo, it’s not too late to get 30% off’). You can complement these ads with follow-up emails, featuring recently viewed items or a reminder of the products they left in their basket. Customers will often shop around for the best deal, so they may well have realised the value of your offer and be ready to buy at this point.

Only Curls promotes its referral offer for Black Friday 2021Only Curls used vibrant, eye-catching visuals to promote its deals.

6. CREATE A BUZZ

Black Friday is intense, with every brand doing its best to cut through the noise and reach its target consumers. Take advantage of the fact that a friend or relative’s brand recommendation is the most trusted source of advertising by encouraging existing customers to spread the word about your brand.

Referral isn't the only way to do this — you could launch a competition encouraging user-generated content on Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok. It’s easy for a potential customer to scroll past an advert, but if they’re following numerous people (friends or influencers) all sharing content related to your Black Friday campaign, it’s bound to grab their attention.

Boux Avenue's Black Friday referral competition from last yearBoux Avenue ran a competition to encourage its customers to refer their friends last Black Friday.

7. KEEP IT EXCLUSIVE 

Resist the temptation to extend your campaign to the end of December. It may keep your orders up, but it risks hurting your brand’s reputation and long-term profit margins. Continuing to offer discounts long beyond Cyber Week sets the expectation that customers don't need to pay full price, and risks alienating customers who thought they'd got a good deal in your Black Friday sale.

By keeping your campaign exclusive to Black Friday, you're strengthening your brand reputation and reinforcing the value of special events. Plus, returning to full-price means you can continue to recover profit margins, especially if you’re offering brand new products for the Christmas period.

8. MOTIVATE CUSTOMERS TO RETURN

Avoid the dreaded post-Black Friday sales slump by engaging with your customers throughout their journey. New customers are likely to have different characteristics than your existing ones — tailor your interactions to reflect this.

Animal Friends promoting its Black Friday referral offer

Animal Friends tempted customers to refer with a voucher offer.

Shoppers may have landed on your site on the hunt for a Black Friday bargain, but engaging with them in the right way can significantly increase the likelihood they'll return and buy again. Invite customers, for example, to sign up for your newsletter in exchange for exclusive access to new products. Ask for NPS feedback to gauge customer satisfaction and pinpoint areas where you can improve. Feed referral data into your marketing automation platform so you can segment your referrers and give them the VIP treatment.

Rather than push the next sale, look to build meaningful relationships with your customers. This will keep you at the front of their minds as they continue their Christmas shopping.

9. MEASURE, MEASURE, MEASURE 

We've said it before and we'll say it again: measuring is key. Track how different elements of your campaign influence customer behaviour. Use segmentation and A/B testing to learn more about your customers and what most effectively drives desired actions throughout their journey and lifecycle. You can then use these insights to optimise your performance and craft future campaigns that acquire even more loyal customers.

Looking for more ideas and insights as you prepare your Black Friday referral campaign? Download our lookbook for brand examples, stats, and tips to help you drive long-term customer advocacy. And if you're ready to get your referral channel set up in time for the big event, Talk to Sales.

GET THE LOOKBOOK

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