Black Friday SMS Ecommerce Marketing Guide for 2023

Your Black Friday Step-by-Step Checklist & Calendar

The challenges of this year’s holiday season couldn’t be greater.

Nor the stakes, higher.

For DTC brands who’ve seen costs rise, sales plateau, and margins erode, you need every advantage you can get. And, you need those advantages as quickly, as profitably, and as light-on-resources as possible.

That’s what this guide contains. Sort of.

SMS marketing isn’t a magic bullet. It’s not a standalone strategy. In fact — compared to honing your Black Friday promotions and Cyber Monday deals — text message marketing won’t make or break your ecommerce business.

What SMS will do is add incremental revenue to every click, visitor, shopper, and customer your holiday campaigns touch. That is what this guide contains … 

One advantage divided into four stages, covering 15 tactical steps in a single checklist.

Each step takes less than 30 minutes; most, around 15 — some, as little as five.

We’ve also planned it all out in four stages + month-by-month calendars with helpful color guides.

Grab everything and you’ll know when to put what into action for the biggest impact.

Black Friday SMS Marketing for Ecommerce: Template, Checklist & Calendar (2022)
Stage 1: Pre-Holiday Set Up & List Growth

ASAP - October 31st

  1. Enable SMS opt-in at checkout
  2. Set up & convert 2X with direct-to-text
  3. Showcase and sell with your Welcome Flow
  4. Seal the deal with cart abandonment
Stage 2: Before Black Friday Cyber Monday

November 1st – November 23rd

  1. Build your list with a pre-holiday incentive
  2. Entice email subscribers with a landing page
  3. Warm up shoppers and test your offer
Stage 3: During Black Friday Cyber Monday

November 22nd – November 27th

  1. Open early with an SMS exclusive
  2. Launch your 🎁 Black Friday offer
  3. Extend the offer into Cyber Weekend
  4. Launch your 🎁 Cyber Monday offer
Stage 4: After Black Friday Cyber Monday

November 28th – Late December

  1. Celebrate Giving Tuesday with a cause
  2. Send shipping cutoff “warnings”: 72 and 24 hours
  3. Come to the rescue with gift cards + a bonus
  4. Give them one last (post-Christmas) chance

Stage 1: Pre-Holiday Set Up & List Growth

ASAP - October 31st

There’s no wrong time to start building your subscriber list and setting up your SMS strategy. But there is a right time.

Now! Before the largest ecommerce sale period of the year.

Preparation is the key to success. This couldn’t be more true for your SMS marketing because the proper opt-in is vital to having an engaged first-party subscriber list.

So get this stage set up ASAP — and don’t leave them later than October.

Your Checklist for Black Friday SMS Ecommerce

1. Enable SMS Opt-In at Checkout

⏰ Time: 5 minutes
📅 Oct. 2nd-3rd

Without enough SMS subscribers, your efforts in setting up campaigns and flows will go to waste.

For quick list growth, start with converting high-intent visitors at checkout. Because these soon-to-be customers are already buying, opt-ins skyrocket.

The best part? This feature is natively available on Shopify Checkout.

You can also customize your SMS opt-in text.

It’s a little-known secret. If you click Customize checkbox label, you won’t actually find it. Instead, Shopify buries the option under Themes > Edit languages.

Search for SMS and edit the Accept SMS checkbox label.

Activating SMS at checkout takes less than five minutes. Plus, those valuable sign-ups can immediately (or, with a short time delay) get sent a post-purchase upsell or downsell via SMS automation.

2. Set Up & Convert 2X With Direct-to-Text

⏰ Time: 15 minutes
📅 Oct. 10th-12th

Below-average list growth eats away at your bottom line. Especially when you’re paying for expensive holiday traffic.

A modest lift in opt-ins from 3.5% to 4.75% doesn’t sound like much. However, at 100k visitors per month, that’s an additional 3,750 people you can sell to during Q4. Double your conversion rate … it’s 10,500.

Sadly, most ecommerce stores kill conversions through complexity, confusion, and too many clicks.

Avoid asking for too much information; instead, keep it simple.

Substantial SMS list growth and, therefore, substantial SMS sales over the holidays come from optimizing three types of popups — each designed to meet visitors natively …

Popup Type 1: Desktop Email then SMS
Popup Type 2: Mobile Email then SMS
Popup Type 3: Mobile SMS Only (Direct-To-Text)
To get the most out of your popups…

3. Showcase & Sell with Your Welcome Flow

⏰ Time: 30 minutes
📅 Oct. 10th-12th

The opt-in journey doesn’t end when you’ve got a new subscriber. Sending a multi-part Welcome Flow is a non-negotiable next step. 

Welcome Flow messages greet your new subscriber and engage them right away. A sequence of 3–5 texts does the job perfectly — each with conditional splits to exclude anyone who’s made a purchase or has an item in their cart:

  1. Immediate

    The discount or incentive you promised onsite
  1. Delay duration: 1 day

    Contact card to improve branding and deliverability
  1. Delay duration: 2–3 days

    Your best-selling product or collection + discount
  1. Delay duration: 5 days (Optional)

    Friendly introduction to your brand or founder story
  1. Delay duration: 7 days (As needed)

    Common objection or an answer to your top FAQ

Remember that SMS isn’t a stand-alone channel. And yet, it does come with its own strategic value. Treat it as such. Avoid creating text message versions of your email marketing campaigns.

4. Seal the Deal with Cart Abandonment

⏰ Time: 10 minutes (each)
📅 Oct. 13th

As your list steadily grows, these automations are what ecommerce dreams are made of. Simple yet powerful, the goal isn’t to merely re-engage your warmest shoppers … but to seal the deal.

They’re also a great way to test your audience’s response to different incentives.

10% discount not working? How about free shipping? No-go on shipping? Try a free sample, address common objections, add a special guarantee, offer buy-one to get-one (BOGO), or roll out gift with purchase (GWP).

Figure out what motivates them to buy, balanced with what works for your business, and you’ll know exactly what deals to offer during BFCM.

Overpaying for your Shopify SMS platform and don’t trust the “results”? You’re not alone.

Welcome to the only text-marketing app that grows your business for you.Add incremental revenue to every click, visitor, shopper, and customer this holiday season with Recart’s fully managed SMS program.

You’ll get a team of world-class SMS marketing experts and designers to hit Black Friday running … without lifting a finger.

Let us convert more traffic, grow your list, and transform subscribers into paying, loyal customers!

Holiday Sprinkle SMS CTA to Book a Demo

Stage 2: Before Black Friday Cyber Monday

November 6th – November 23rd

You’ve set your foundation.

Subscription at checkout and pop-ups are live. You’ve created a Welcome Flow and unleashed abandoned-cart automations. What’s next?

It’s time to expand other list-growth methods while focusing on pre-holiday promotions. This does two things.

One, it tests the potential of off-site list growth. Two, it tests your audience’s engagement with tactical campaigns and incentives (all that delicious data in preparation to crush BFCM).

Grab all the calendars + a one-page, 15-point checklist here

5. Build Your List with a Pre-Holiday Incentive

⏰ Time: 30 minutes
📅 Nov. 6th–24th

Most shoppers won’t buy in the lead-up to the holidays. They know the discounts are coming. What do you do?

You hint at your sale — amping up intrigue and mystery. Or, you go the opposite direction, you tell them exactly what the promotion’s going to be. Plus, you drive home that the best of the best will go fast. In short …

Get your window-shoppers’ sales juices going by previewing your deal in your welcome popup.

Focus on building anticipation. And stress clearly that they should sign-up to be the first to know as well as get SMS exclusives no one else will have access to!

Bonus 🎁 Off-Site SMS List Building

SMS Keyword for Text-In Subscriptions

Keyword opt-in can be a powerful subscription tool and we see it used successfully in three major ways.

  1. When it’s difficult to capture phone numbers digitally: Like brick-and-mortar in-store ads or out-of-home (OOO)
  2. A nudge on social media: Especially giveaways and influencer content when links aren’t available
  3. In social ads: These help with conversions as it doesn’t require clicking away from the ad and creates an atmosphere of intimacy

Keywords take five minutes to set up and can be up to 20 characters — so don’t be shy to create new keywords for different promotions.

SMS Subscription Links for Social Stories and Posts 

Get your deals in front of more people! This is a great method if you’ve got an active and eager social media following. SMS subscription from Instagram Stories and other social platforms create an easy opt-in, requiring only two actions from a mobile phone:

  1. Tapping the link creates a pre-filled text message
  2. Clicking the send button opts them in

6. Entice Email Subscribers via a Landing Page

⏰ Time: 10 minutes (each)
📅 Nov. 9th, 16th & 21st

Odds are, you’re already sitting on a decent email-subscriber base. Well, it’s time to get them over to SMS. 

Why? Because SMS is so direct and customers are picky about what they opt into, text marketing helps your business stand out in a sea of holiday-email spam.

Push email-only subscribers to SMS by including CTAs in two regular newsletters — around the 9th and 16th — and one stand-alone email campaign — on the 21st or right before Black Friday.

These CTAs should all drive to a landing page highlighting the benefits of SMS messages such as early access, sneak peeks, or updates on low stock.

On your landing page, consider featuring:

7. Warm Up Shoppers & Test Your Offer

⏰ Time: 15 minutes
📅 Nov. 14th or 21st

Warm-up campaigns familiarize your audience with SMS marketing.

And bring results.

They are also a great way to test engagement and segment your audience — which means campaign personalization (which means 1.5x-2x more sales).

Use AI SMS to make this process faster and more efficient. Automating segmentation, optimizing send times, and transforming a single campaign into multiple text in just a few clicks.

By the time BFCM arrives, you’ll know exactly what works for each customer!

Elements to test when setting up your campaigns and audience segments:

Stage 3: During Black Friday Cyber Monday

November 22nd – November 27th

Two days of BFCM does not equal two campaigns. As you’ve seen above, this period is basically a season in itself. What’s more, Friday and Monday are just the tippy top of the revenue hill climb.

Warm-ups that run weeks or days before, tend to be more generic.

When the main event descends, shoot straight! Clear beats clever: Buy this product at this price for this limited-time period.

Download the full Black Friday SMS calendar and checklist

8. Open Early with an SMS Exclusive

⏰ Time: 10 minutes
📅 Nov. 22nd or 23rd

Get your audience excited with an early access text marketing campaign. These not-so-sneaky promotions are show stoppers.

The day before Black Friday has people ready to buy and anxiously waiting for the clock to strike. That’s where you come in with a pre-madness, highly-exclusive drop. 

It can even be as big and exciting as your Black Friday deals because you want people to shop right away.

Align your popup, Welcome Flow, and onsite offer

Remember to turn off your evergreen pop-ups and Welcome Flows during BFCM weekend. 

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. The flood of special offers and confusion of the holiday online shopping season can overwhelm even the most experienced bargain hunter.

Consistency demands providing the same content and information across all your touchpoints.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a pop-up or Welcome Flow. You should. As long as they match your other campaigns and offers.

9. Launch Your 🎁 Black Friday Offer

⏰ Time: 10 minutes (each)
📅 Nov. 24th

Campaign 1: Start

The moment your deal kicks off, your text should hit. But don’t expect to be the only message your customers receive. How can you stand out?

Start strong and open with your main discount or offer and include some limited deals — so your customers know they must act fast.

Campaign 2: Mid-Day

A gentle reminder that Black Friday is already halfway done. This text message is a great opportunity to stress scarcity and urgency.

For example, you can let your customers know that half of your stock is sold out, that specific products or collections are almost gone, or that time is ticking away with a simple countdown clock.

Campaign 3: Final-Hour

The last call. A chance to let your customers know time is going, going … about to be gone — and so are your products. How can you give the last hour a much-needed boost?

Try a few creative angles …

Drive 1.5x-2x more SMS sales with AI campaigns

Personalized texts out perform bulk sends. That’s why Recart’s AI transforms a single campaign goal into multiple texts.

All based on brand guidelines, custom personas, and your subscribers’ past behavior — including the time of day they click + buy.

10. Extend the Offer into Cyber Weekend

⏰ Time: 10 minutes
📅 Nov. 25th–26th

People are still eager to shop. So let them!

But be careful with what you offer between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You want to keep some exclusivity for the actual sale days as well as a little mystery of what’s to come.

You can achieve this with:

When sending, always use purchase-exclusion lists.

While it can feel counterintuitive to exclude anyone from your promotions, doing so reduces the risk of spam and improves customer satisfaction.

Also, keep pushing on your abandoners.

With so many active shoppers, there’s no better time for Cart Abandonment Flows. Update your messaging and discounts. Set your delays for shorter periods than year-round flows so customers don’t miss out on BFCM deals.

Align your popup, Welcome Flow, and onsite offer

While making Black Friday and Cyber Monday feel unique, you’ve also got to stay consistent. Align all popups, opt-ins, deals, and specials with each other in a way that feels cohesive.

11. Launch your 🎁 Cyber Monday Offer

⏰ Time: 10 minutes (each)
📅 Nov. 27th

Remember to make Cyber Monday feel a little different from Black Friday. This makes shoppers feel like both days are worth it.

(They’ll remember that next year, too.)

Using unique coupon promo codes, imagery, products, or deals will help you achieve this.

Campaign 1: Start

Just like Black Friday campaigns, you want to hit hard… first thing.

Keep it short, simple, and direct. If you changed your offer, tell them. If you kept it the same, tell them (again). Amid all the fury of Cyber Weekend, they probably forgot anyway.

Campaign 2: Mid-Day

A mid-day campaign can serve as a friendly countdown reminder that your sale is halfway over and your customers should buy while they can.

Feature an image of your top sellers to entice shoppers. Extra points if you personalize this based on previous data.

Campaign 3: Final-Hour

Send your last chance SMS wisely. Encourage shoppers to use their discounts and highlight that it’s a limited-time deal to create a sense of urgency.

As with Black Friday, give your campaign a boost with these creative angles …

Stage 4: After Black Friday Cyber Monday

November 28th – Late December

Deep breath because you’ve done it. The madness is over. 

However, the work and the revenue aren’t.

If you’ve followed all the steps, you’ve likely got tons of new subscribers, lots of valuable data, and a queue of abandoned carts. Don’t stop now. If you do, you risk losing all the momentum you’ve created.

This is your chance to focus on remarketing, retargeting, and re-engaging…

Don’t forget to grab you checklist and full calendar

12. Celebrate GivingTuesday with a Cause

⏰ Time: 15 minutes
📅 Nov. 28th

While BFCM is a sales period focused on online shopping, deals, and online sales revenue, this time is also an opportunity to do some good.

Get involved with GivingTuesday, a global generosity movement for organizations and people to support and transform communities around the world. It’s the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. You can be supported and celebrated in various ways

We’ve got two suggestions if you’re new to the cause:

  1. Include information about donations throughout your campaigns. And let your customers know that their purchases are making a positive impact.
  2. Pick a cause your business and founder believe in then use SMS marketing to let subscribers know the total raised or the final impact had.

13. Send Shipping Cutoff “Warnings”: 72 and 24 Hours

⏰ Time: 10 minutes (each)
📅 Dec. 15th–22nd

Because BFCM rolls straight into end-of-year festivities, your customers are likely to purchase gifts right up until they can’t get them delivered in time for giving.

This makes shipping cutoff days important to your shoppers and therefore vital in building customer relationships.

Normally, it’s around ten days for USPS Retail Ground (Dec. 15th) and as tight as two-to-three days for expedited. More detailed information is available at ShipStation’s FedEx, UPS, and USPS Holiday Shipping Deadlines and ShipBob’s Weekly Updated Shipping Carrier Data.

Announcing your last days for guaranteed fulfillment is likely part of your advertising and merchandising strategy. So, add it to your SMS strategy as well … with a 72-hour (Dec. 20th) warning followed by a last-day text (Dec. 22nd).

14. Come to the Rescue with Gift Cards + a Bonus

⏰ Time: 10 minutes
📅 Dec. 23rd (or earlier)

Once your Christmas season shipping cutoffs have come and gone, you’ll need a strategy for those last-minute shoppers.

The solution? Gift cards!

While Shopify offers native options, our favorite provider is Govalo. With Govalo, you can create gift-card-specific landing pages, fully branded cards and emails, as well as add “Send a Gift Card” options to your sold-out products.

Take this step even further by incentivizing it: Buy one (for them), get one (for you).

15. Give Them One Last (Post-Xmas) Chance

⏰ Time: 15 minutes
📅 Dec. 26th or 27th

Immediately after Christmas, the vast majority of ecommerce businesses go silent. They turn off ads; they stop sending emails; they hunker down to review last year and plan the next.

Retail, on the other hand, goes into overdrive, taking full advantage of dissatisfied holiday gift-givers and gift-getter alike.

You should do the same, with one (data-heavy) twist.

By now, you’ve probably compiled so much information you don’t know what to do with it. From open rates to revenue, you’ve seen exactly which campaigns yield which results.

Employ this data to identify your best-performing elements and create one last campaign to end the year with a bang:

Optimize Your Strategy for the Best Results

Monitor the results of your SMS message efforts and identify the aspects to optimize. If you are not seeing positive ROI, consider the following:

The Channel That Will Boost Your Black Friday Is Waiting

With both the challenges and stakes greater than they’ve ever been, your Black Friday Cyber Monday must be profitable.

SMS marketing won’t make or break your business. But it will make every visitor, click, and customer worth more.

Of course, even a simplified 15-point checklist and month-by-month calendar can feel like just another task on your already heavily loaded holiday schedule.

If you want to reap the rewards of higher conversion rates, more new customers, and better retention — but just don’t have the time…

We’ll set up this these tried and tested SMS strategies for your business before the sales period hits.


Schedule a 30-minute demo of our SMS platform and get started within 48 hours.

Grab the full checklist and calendar to drive more sales this Black Friday

Download Your Black Friday SMS Checklist + Calendar

Make every visitor & customer worth more to your business this 🎁 holiday season

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