Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means more than just turkey and mashed potatoes to the savvy shopper: Black Friday sales are almost upon us. Retailers can win big on the biggest shopping day of the year by offering enticing deals -- and knowing how to get them in front of the consumer.

These six entrepreneurs share tips for increasing sales this upcoming holiday weekend. Remember: With more and more e-commerce stores entering the fray, Black Friday isn't just for brick-and-mortar retail anymore.

Create a sense of urgency with a countdown timer.

As consumers rush to score the best deals on Black Friday, brands can play into the hype by counting down the minutes with them. Syed Balkhi, co-founder of conversion rate optimization software OptinMonster, displays an online timer to encourage customers not to miss out on the best deals.

"Many big brands create countdown timers with deals for their stores around Black Friday. This helps create scarcity and an urgency to buy the products before the deal expires," he says. "We have added a countdown timer to our site and made them available for customers to add to their sites as well. We even created theme-specific timers for the holidays."

Reward loyal customers.

Despite the hectic pace of Black Friday, Corey Eulas, founder and CEO of digital marketing group Factorial Digital, doesn't lose sight of the customer. By rewarding loyal customers with special deals, you can cultivate even more holiday sales and attract customers to your loyalty program.

"Reward your most loyal customers with an even better offer to buy during the sales period. It provides non-loyal (or new) customers an incentive to join a loyalty program," he says. "Some examples of this include Amazon giving exclusive offers to Prime customers and Best Buy opening sales early to members."

Break through the noise.

"When others zig, try to zag," says Jessica Gonzalez, founder of cellphone charging station product InCharged. Sometimes breaking free of traditional Black Friday sales language is all it takes to capture the attention of inundated consumers.

"Last year, while my inbox was being held hostage by every company's Black Friday specials, I decided I wasn't going to do the same," she says. "We sent out an email titled 'Not a Black Friday sale,' which had a record number of views and replies."

Donate part of your profits to charity.

It is the season of giving, after all, so make your customers feel warm and fuzzy by donating part of the proceeds you earn from their sales. Bryan Kesler, founder of CPA review site CPA Exam Guide, suggests not only tapping into the charitable spirit of the season, but also making it easy for customers to share the good deed.

"Promote that you will be donating a portion of your profit to a charity during the checkout process. The next step is to give your customers an opportunity to share on social media that they just donated to the charity," he says. "Remember that charitable donations are tax deductible for small businesses, so be sure to discuss with your CPA."

Create SEO-friendly landing pages.

Jimmy Page, president and CEO of digital marketing agency Inseev Interactive, recognizes that today's Black Friday traffic is more than just foot traffic -- much of it comes from online shoppers. That's why it's important to optimize your landing pages.

"Create SEO landing pages that target specific Black Friday terms, like '[brand name] + Black Friday deals,' to cultivate an online experience that allows users looking for these deals to immediately land on a page that converts well," he says. "We have seen many brands lose out on significant amounts of traffic to generic coupon sites because they did not have pages optimized for branded Black Friday keywords."

Offer free shipping.

"If you're in the e-commerce business of physical goods, consider offering free shipping on Black Friday," says Jared Atchison, co-founder of WordPress form builder WPForms. If your customers can't -- or don't want to -- make it out to a physical store that weekend, you can entice them to make an online purchase without added expenses.

"According to the Walker Sands' Future of Retail report, four out of five people said free shipping is a top incentive to shop online more," he says. "It makes customers feel more confident about shopping online because it won't cost them more than shopping at a brick-and-mortar store."

Published on: Nov 13, 2017