The Tried and Tested Mobile App Promotion Strategies for Black Friday

The article was updated on November 25, 2020.

Last year’s Black Friday hit an all-time high count of online shoppers, with 142.2 million people in the U.S. alone opting to purchase online, as opposed to the 124 million who went to physical stores. In 2020, this number is only likely to grow.

Experts estimate the total holiday online spend to surpass $189 billion this year. Up to 55% of these purchases will also be done via smartphones. Combined with the COVID-19 pandemic that has already greatly accelerated the growth of m-commerce, the skyrocketing interest towards shopping remotely dictates to invest in a mobile application to stay on top during Black Friday 2020.

If you want to learn about the proven mobile app promotion strategies for Black Friday and get the most out of this holiday season, read on.

But, first of all, let’s make sure your mobile app is ready for Black Friday sales.

Getting your app Black Friday-ready in 5 easy steps

Offering increasingly personalized, contextual, and thus valuable shopping experience, Black Friday deals app is a perfect platform for engaging your customers.

Yet, just as much as a well-designed mobile app can help you grow your sales, poor mobile experience can harm your business big time.

Here’s how to prepare your app for Black Friday sales (and maximize your revenue) in 5 easy steps.

  • Learn from your mistakes: review and analyze the data from last year to draw valuable insights about user behavior and preferences.
  • Conduct a thorough performance audit to ensure the app is running smoothly and performing well – load testing to make sure your app is ready for the increased traffic volume (e.g. scale up your servers)
  • Review and optimize your user experience to streamline the purchase process. To start with, minimize the number of fields in your purchase form.
  • Put any updates on hold and don’t deploy the changes to the app right before and during the Black Friday weekend. Make all of the required changes in advance or wait until the holiday season is over.
  • Stay alert during the Black Friday weekend: make sure to provide 24/7 tech support and be ready to fix any issues that may arise as soon as possible.
  • Optimize your app listing in all app stores by adding screenshots, a spot-on description with keywords, and a promotional text to the listing. App marketing for Black Friday needs to be extremely competitive, and listing optimization is a vital point in your campaign.

As soon as you’ve made the listed steps, you can move on with the app promotion for Black Friday.


How to promote an app for Black Friday deals? 7 proven strategies to fuel your mobile sales

With the holiday season just around the corner, every retailer is looking for new ways to attract more shoppers. Considering the revenue at stake, you should be ready to employ whatever means necessary to get your piece of the holiday shopping cake.

Here are some mobile app promotion ideas to spark your creativity and drive more sales this holiday season.

1. Give people a reason to download your app

One of the surefire ways to drive more app installs this holiday season is to offer special discounts for the people who download your app for the first time. As an option, you can also introduce unique perks for your mobile shoppers, e.g. free shipping for all orders placed via mobile app.

Alternatively, you can start a referral program to attract more mobile customers. For example, you can encourage your users to share promo codes and invite their friends to shop with your app. In this case, both the invitees and the person who shares the invite should be rewarded.

Among others, this strategy worked pretty well for Amazon back in the day. The company offered to pay a $10 reward for each new app user (both, the person who shares an invite and the invitee get $5 each).

No surprise, the number of mobile shoppers using the Amazon app reached 95.4 million in December 2017, according to some estimates (as compared to 37.7 million users for Walmart and 30.2 million for eBay apps). What’s more, Amazon is expected to drive 40% of the total US online sales this holiday season.


2. Reward customer loyalty

One more thing you can do to boost your mobile app engagement before Black Friday is to offer rewards to your most loyal users. You can provide unique insights into the items that will be on sale, and provide the ability to reserve one of the items in advance, or even offer a limited chance to get into the store early. The opportunities are endless.

For example, Sephora has offered a sneak peek of its Black Friday deals to its mobile users ahead of time to drive more installs and reward the current users.

Another smart move was that the brand used Snapchat to notify users about this opportunity. The right message hit the right audience at the right time.

Target also found a way to reward its Cartwheel app users. Back in 2016, the company provided a 50% off deal on one of their top toys every day through December 24. To promote its other mobile product, the Kids’ Wish List app, Target also offered a 10% discount on all items from a user’s gift list.

3. Make use of push notifications

As Black Friday doesn’t start in all stores at once, retailers usually use push notifications to let the customers know when they start their sales. However, there are much more opportunities to tap into with mobile notifications.

The key is to make your notifications as personal as possible. For instance, instead of notifying the user that 10,000 items are on sale right now, you can say that there’s a 30% discount on one of the items from their wishlist (or on some of the items they recently viewed).

Other proven strategies to improve your push notification engagement include the following:

  • send early, stay ahead of the curve
  • be specific and highlight the value you are offering
  • make your copy irresistible (but don’t forget about your brand voice and style)



4. Rely on context

Advanced personalization opportunities offered by context-aware apps can hardly be overrated.

Using contextual information, from personal details such as gender, age, style preferences to behavioral data including recently viewed products, saved items, or abandoned carts; you can optimize your mobile experience and target your users with relevant promotions.

In addition to using tailored push notifications, as mentioned above, retailers can show targeted in-app content, like recommendations or banner ads, based on items a user viewed or re-engage users across other marketing channels (e.g. social media or even SMS).

Personalization can also be introduced across multiple marketing channels. For example, Macy’s used their mobile app to grow their in-store traffic (and sales) during the holidays. They employed geofencing technology to identify when their mobile app users came close or entered a local store and sent tailored alerts about their Black Friday deals.

5. Keep your app fresh

One more way to warm up the users’ interest to your app is to keep it up to date and add more valuable features on a regular basis.

A good example of this strategy is represented by Walmart. One of the major US retailers, it is widely known for its advanced use of technologies. From geofencing to mobile self-checkout and augmented reality features, the company has been very serious about its push to mobile commerce.

Yet, introducing such add-ons just before the Black Friday sales can be an even better investment. Take Home Depot for example. This large US retailer always strives to keep up with the market demand. That was the reason for the major app redesign they made last year, just in time for the holiday shopping season. The company added a number of useful features, including barcode, voice and visual search, and plans to add AR capabilities in the future.

As a result, Home Depot’s online sales grew by 19% in the third quarter of 2017 with mobile accounting for over 50% of the total online traffic.


6. Establish partnerships and use cross-promotion

In addition to promoting your own Black Friday deals with an app, you can team up with other brands (not necessarily retailers) to offer additional perks and cross-promote each other’s products.

Take for example the Walgreens’ and Starbucks’ partnership. Among other Black Friday app discounts, the pharmacy store chain offered mobile coupons for Starbucks’ Doubleshot Energy Coffee products to all app users. This was a good idea to reward its app users as well as make their shopping experience a little more pleasant.

Another example of a notable partnership, 5 Days of Giving, was introduced by Uber. The leading ride-hailing app teamed up with a number of retail brands, including VINCE and L’Occitane, to offer special gifts to chosen users. Considering Uber’s popularity, the benefits of such a partnership for the retail brands seem pretty obvious.

7. Retain users with gamification

Retaining your users when the Black Friday craze is over is just as important for your business as attracting them before the holidays.

To keep your users engaged, consider adding fun gamification features to your app or introducing recurring promotional events and challenges. Plus, it is a great way to boost app usage and repeat visits.

For instance, one of the US leading retailers, Sears, came up with an idea to integrate a game called the Wheel of Fortune Holiday Puzzler into its mobile app. By playing the word puzzle game during the holiday season, their users had a chance to win special gift cards. This smart move was intended to encourage app downloads and repeat visits (as the game can only be played once a day).

8. Launch email marketing

Seconding emails may feel like a slow method for 2020 Black Friday marketing, but it can be incredibly effective, particularly if you give your campaign some time to work before the sales begin.

Advertising your products by email has a general return on investment (ROI) of $56. It means that for each dollar you spend on Black Friday email advertising, you will receive 56 dollars on average.


The main target groups for your email marketing efforts will include the existing clients and potential new customers.

  • Your previous customers are more likely to buy from your brand again, since they already trust it. To encourage this group of clients to shop with you during Black Friday 2020, email them several offers with special discounts. Pay attention to customers who purchased something up to a month ago and consider their feedback if it’s available. Satisfied customers who have a fresh impression of your services are more likely to return.
  • Gaining new customers via email relies on providing your potential clients with the most relevant and hot offers. Gather the products that are only available for a limited time and make sure to offer them to your target groups who might find these items interesting. Also, let people view product pages by clicking on the corresponding images in the email. Don’t forget to write subject lines with a hook but avoid making them overly promotional—such letters tend to lend in the spam folder.

9. Collaborate with Instagram influencers

If you want your promotion to look fresh and engaging, investing in simple ads is not enough this time. During the holiday season, consumers are bombarded with ads every time they go online, and most people are already used to filtering promotions out. To get through this barrier, you need a personal touch.

Among all Black Friday marketing ideas, partnering with influencers is one of the most creative and potentially effective methods. They have the trust and admiration of your potential customers. Statistically, 71% of people are more likely to buy something when they see a social media endorsement for this product from a person they like and look up to.

Contact Instagram influencers in your niche beforehand and offer them the products you’re planning to put on sale for an honest review. During Black Friday, they can create promotional posts or Instagram Stories for these items. Alternatively, if they already trust your brand, influencers can post unboxing videos or host live sessions displaying your products and discounts to their audience.


10. Offer app-exclusive discounts

With 3.5 billion smartphone users in the world, there is rarely anything holding your customers back from installing your app other than the lack of motivation to do so. App marketing for Black Friday can give you a perfect opportunity.

Create several discounts that will only be available through the application. Make sure to notify your clients via email, social media, and all other promotional channels that you use. Since the concept of Black Friday revolves around discounts, your customers are looking for the best ways to reduce prices, and they may be more inclined to install your app when it’s all that’s needed to get a discount.

11. Extend the sales until Cyber Monday

One of the most effective Black Friday ideas for app promotion is extending your sales all the way through to Cyber Monday. In 2020, it’s difficult to find retailers who end the campaign when the clocks beat twelve on Black Friday. Although stretching the sales over four days may seem like an inhibition to the sense of urgency in customers, statistics show it’s actually beneficial to give consumers more time to shop.

In 2019, the revenue from Cyber Monday amounted to more than $9 billion. Moreover, that day, customers spent over $3 billion via shopping apps on their smartphones. That day represented a huge milestone for e-commerce, and 2020 will only see a surge in online shopping due to the pandemic.

To get the most out of this strategy, offer the best deals on Black Friday and supplement them with discounts on best-selling products the following days. You can also magnify the effect of the marketing campaign for Cyber Monday with app-exclusive discounts.

Stay ahead of the game with Eastern Peak

As online revenue from Black Friday sales continues to grow, the competition among online retailers is only going to get fiercer. That is why having a proper app marketing strategy is so important. It can help you stay relevant to your audience and stand out among your competitors.

Luckily, there are many mobile app promotion strategies you can employ. All you need is a reliable tech team to help you implement them.

So, whether you need help preparing your mobile app for the holiday season or are looking to implement some of the listed Black Friday app strategies, Eastern Peak’s team is here to help you.

To get professional advice on how to prepare your app for Black Friday and grow your business over the holidays, book a call with one of our senior project managers now.

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