Your Last-Minute (But-Not-Too-Late) Black Friday Ecommerce Checklist & Mistakes to Avoid

Melissa Rosen

by Melissa Rosen

Nov. 11 2022

The family is gathered, the turkey is roasting, there’s a crisp chill in the air … and you’re sitting at your desk panicking about all the things that could go wrong with your Black Friday sale.

The best way to deal with that overwhelmed sensation? A checklist.

We put together 20 must-follow tips in the only Black Friday, Cyber Monday checklist you’ll need for ecommerce holiday success.

2022 Black Friday Checklist

We made this list, checked it twice. Now it’s time for you to take all of our advice …

1. Kill Your Usual Onsite Offers

Scour your pop-ups, banners, and visual merchandising apps (including personalization) then kill anything that’s not related to your holiday offer.

If you’re updating manually on Black Friday, make a list and have someone not on your team check it twice.

In the below examples, Cubcoats’ 50% BFCM offer is GREAT … but the popup brings your attention to the standard 10% discount. Similarly, Fulton’s BFCM BOGO deal is only visible in the small top-bar, whereas the evergreen 10% off popup steals the screen.
Black Friday checklist: popup offer mismatch
Don't let your evergreen offers steal the spotlight from your BFCM offers

Big brands and DTC darlings aren’t immune to cross-offer mistakes either. Even Ruggable confused its visitors with competing 15% and 10% offers.

Black Friday offer mismatch

2. Test Various Browsers & Devices

If you thought Apple was the bane of your advertising existence, just wait ‘til iOS devices start messing up your text and visuals onsite. Or worse, your pop-up and cart-to-checkout process.

Go incognito on three different mobile OSs the whole way through.

And if you’re not sure where to start, check your site’s analytics to understand your most used traffic sources.

Google Analytics common devices
(Above) Identifying device usage on your site; (below) Finding your site's most common browser
Google Analytics common browsers

3. Set Up Gift Cards

Catch indecisive gifters with a product everyone loves — gift cards. Bonus points: use a platform that automatically adds the gift card option to sold-out products. 🤑

4. Optimize Shipping Rates

Nothing kills conversion rates like bad shipping-rate rules. In particular, test any new products or bundles synced to your fulfillment as well as shipping-related SKUs (like a carbon-offset fee).

Free shipping can tip the scales, especially in a competitive marketplace, for both conversion rate and AOV.

Impact of Free Shipping Incentives: 30% higher AOV; 61% likely to cancel orders without free shipping; 93% would buy more to hit free shipping thresholds
Source: Invespcro

5. Edit Email & SMS Flows

Turn off — or disable through Smart Sending — evergreen sequences, especially your welcome series. If your abandonment series has editable text, remove any incentives and add holiday shopping language instead.

EXTRA POINTS: Update your transactional emails with custom holiday templates and a “hidden” offer 🎁

Black Friday SMS checklist

6. Use Plain Text Emails

For your final sends on Black Friday and Cyber Monday … make them simple, clear, and urgent:

“This [deal] ends at [specific time or countdown]. Click here for [holiday lander or best-selling collection].”

BFCM checklist: send plain text emails on black friday

7. Stagger SMS texts

Stagger your texts so they aren’t sent at the same time for redundancy. Ensure the copy isn’t repetitive from one SMS to the next since (unlike emails) they display in a thread.

Lastly, using the format “X hours left” works like gangbusters.

8. Get Your Ads Approved

Load and pause all your Black Friday ads to get them approved now ⏰ like … right now. This goes for social as well as your shopping promotions in Google Merchant Center.

9. Keep Your Evergreen Ads On

Unless they feature a lower-than-your-holiday-sale discount or offer, leave your evergreen campaigns on.

Evergreen ads are often, surprisingly, the best-performing ads during Black Friday, Cyber Monday.

test your ad creative, and check if holiday ads underperform standard evergreen ads prior to black friday
Pupsocks’ holiday-themed ads (left) didn’t perform as well as their evergreen ads (right)

10. Holiday-ify Your Evergreen Ads

Add holiday-offer-only sales copy — description, headline, etc. — to top-performing evergreen creative for additional lift!

11. Switch to Lifetime Budget Campaigns

Duplicate your campaigns and swap the budgets from daily to lifetime. Leave the duplicate campaigns turned off.

If you see massive success with any one particular campaign, you’ll be able to turn on those duplicates without disturbing your current performers.

Scale. Scale. Scale.

set your facebook ad campaigns to lifetime budget

12. Check Your Payment Methods

Few things crush Black Friday excitement like a declined credit card … in your ad account 🤬

Clear your present balance and have a second MC or VISA on backup — AMEX has a higher probability of blocking a charge from Facebook than the others.

13. Increase Account Spend Limits

If your account is newer, you might have a spend cap. And not even know it. Contact Facebook support directly to increase your spend limit before the big day(s).

14. Prep for SEM

Schedule your Google ads and extensions to turn on (and turn off!) with Rules.

If your sale ends Cyber Monday, set ‘em for the next day. If you use the day itself, they’ll turn off and not run when it matters most! Google is particular on dates and times. We recommend spot checking in the morning, too.

scheduling your google ads prior to black friday
Checkmark the campaign > click Label > create new > go to Tools and Settings > ad Rules to pause or enable Labels at certain times of the day

15. Monitor SEM Day-Of

If your conversion tag is anything but last-click attribution, then data will be too delayed to take action.

Solution 💡 Monitor Google Analytics for spend and revenue pacing. This is a far better day-of indicator for whether to push or pull.

16. Ask for Help

It's last-minute, but it's not too late ... to join ADmission! CTC's membership service for growing DTC brands gives you immediate, on-demand access to growth experts on our team.

In addition to guidance, coaching, and networking, you'll also get access to templates like this pre-built hourly tracker for BFCM performance. 

ad performance tracker for ADmission members
Join ADmission to get access to this sheet, plus real-time DTC guidance for Black Friday

17. Alert Customer Service

Make sure your customer support team knows your offers and has thoroughly reviewed your landing pages for common concerns.

They’re often the best equipped to tell you how your offers may be misinterpreted because … they’ve seen a thing or two.

18. Set Up Emergency Communication

Don’t wait for an error or mistake to start building a communication plan. Have a text-based email template already set up that you can easily customize and send in the case of a site outage, broken coupon code, etc.

19. Make Go-Live & Take-Down Checklists

Make it available to everyone … but assign each task directly through a RACI chart:

  • Responsible
  • Accountable
  • Consulted
  • Informed

Always remove content promoting an offer before removing the offer itself.

20. Get Drunk on Eggnog …

Then, do everything all over again. Don’t drink alcohol? No problem. Get some kids to throw stuff and yell at you.

Either way, you’ll accurately simulate the actual holiday shopping experience!

Bonus: Black Friday Mistakes to Avoid

These brands made the greatest mistakes of them all … probably because they didn’t have our checklist!

1. Check Your Dates

When everything’s riding on one day out of the year … make sure it’s the right date. You might think it’s obvious, so obvious in fact that you completely miss a glaring error.

example offer ends on Monday Nov 2th, but Nov 2nd was a tuesday

2. Look for Typos

I know you’ve looked at your copy a million times. But, that’s often the problem. Get someone, anyone — a family member, a friend, a neighbor — to do a quick review for typos. Especially in your coupon code! 🤦

example offer misspells holiday in the coupon code as HOLIADY

3. Simplify Coupon Codes

With so much competition for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we really suggest just going sitewide with a discount. But if you must use a coupon code, please keep them streamlined!

streamline coupon codes to avoid a common mistake on Black Friday

Your Black Friday, Cyber Monday Checklist Awaits

CTC’s worked with thousands of ecommerce brands over several years of Black Friday madness. Each takes a unique approach to their holiday offer, but the same set of best practices apply each year.

Grab the BFCM checklist to harness all our experience in one easy-to-use, interactive list.

Preview image of the 20-point Black Friday checklist
Download your BCFM checklist now

If you’re craving more BFCM content, read all of our posts on the topic:


Melissa Rosen

Melissa Rosen is the Director of Marketing and Content at Common Thread Collective. Based in San Diego, California, she has spent the last decade exploring how to create engaging content that inspires, teaches, and entertains. Melissa can be found on Twitter and LinkedIn talking all things content, marketing, and ecommerce.