Be Ready for Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) this holiday shopping season!
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the largest internet shopping days of the year. Back in 2017, shoppers in the US on Black Friday and Cyber Monday spent over $19.6 billion dollars from the five-day period of Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. (Source: Adobe Analytics.)
Same Black Friday Goals, New Tips To Get You Going
Black Friday goals are usually the same: more sales, happier customers, fewer headaches. With these tips, execution will be easy and we’ll help you make this holiday shopping season one of the most profitable yet.
1. Start Planning Now
If you haven’t already started planning, you should get started now. According to RetailMeNot, over half of US customers will begin holiday shopping before Black Friday. Not only do you need to start preparing early, but you also need to ensure that customers looking for gift ideas and information on specific products can find you.
2. Organize Your Upcoming Sales Events
Make sure the deals you plan on offering your customers throughout the holiday season are worked out. Details should be decided and recorded in a spreadsheet or some other file format that’s easy to share with your team.
Some of these details should include: sale prices, the sale duration, the type of sale (e.g. flash, coupon), the promotion method (Instagram stories, email, Facebook) and other relevant details you think are necessary.
3. Have a Backup Plan
Murphy’s Law states everything that can go wrong, does. This is especially true at the worst possible times. Your sales and promotions are going to tax all of your existing systems from web servers to payment processors, shipping and sales, customer service and support. Be sure all critical systems have a backup and your staff is trained on what to do when something inevitably goes awry.
Creating a backup plan will help you keep your mind at ease and let you focus on the real work of promoting your products.
Prepare For The Uptick
4. Make Sure Your Website is up to the Job
Too much traffic will slow your site and can even take it down. This will certainly impact your sales and irritate your customers. Be sure your site is ready to take on the additional capacity of your holiday traffic. We recommend having a discussion with your web host if you’re not sure if your website is up to the job.
Free and paid tools exist to test your websites’ performance.
5. Be Sure You Have Inventory and Supplies
There is nothing worse then running a great promotion, generating tremendous sales and not being able to deliver product. Be sure you have adequate inventory or your suppliers do.
Don’t forget about shipping supplies like labels, packaging and tape. If you include printed return instructions or other shipment inserts, now would be the time to make sure you have plenty on hand.
Prepare Campaigns and Creative
6. Get Images Ready For The Holiday Sales
A picture is worth a thousand words and there is no better way to advertise your promotion than with beautiful images. Use banner ads and hero images when possible to promote your deals.
7. Get Your Ad Copy Ready
Getting a head start on your ad copy lets you give it more thought and placement. Review things that have been successful in the past and research the best practices.
Be aware that bids and overall costs get more expensive in the holiday season as competition heats up. You may need to increase your bids to stay relevant in your niche. Bids may need increased based on keyword, audience or time frames to improve visibility. Now is a good time to get your holiday paid ad budget worked out.
8. Build Suspense. Get The Buzz Going Around Your Sale
Generating suspense for your sales and promotions can help take your sales to the next level.
Send customers emails about what’s to come, post sneak peeks of what’s to come on social media. The sooner you do this the better, as this will provide more momentum moving into Black Friday when you finally annouce the sale.
Optimize. Optimize. Optimize.
9. Shopping Cart Abandonment
In 2017, nearly 3 out of 4 shopping carts were abandoned during checkout. We want to keep that number as low as possible.
One of the most effective ways of preventing abandoned shopping carts is to set up targeted abandoned cart emails. This way, when a customer adds a product to their cart but leaves your store, you can use a great email to bring them back and complete their purchase.
Remember to do this, you must have the customer’s email addresses already. So this means your customer must already have an account with your store, or you have already collected the address from the customer entering in their details. If you’re not sure how to collect this information prior to the abandonment, speak with your webmaster.
10. Mobile is King.
It is safe to expect this trend to continue. Mobile wallets, faster phones and improved mobile sites are driving theses sales. Make sure your mobile site is up to the task of Black Friday.
Be sure to test your sites’ checkout process on your mobile device. Is it as easy as it can be? Review mobile site conversion data and optimize where you can. Be sure to implement payment types like Paypal that make it easy for the mobile user to checkout. Paypal saves all the users data, they just have to sign in. This makes it that much easier and faster to complete checkout.
11. Place Tracking Pixels
If you run paid campaigns from Facebook, Google Shopping campaigns or others, you can place tracking pixels on your website so you can remarket to your holiday sale traffic.
Marketing Your Products
Customers tend to pay more attention to ads during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping season. The first step we already talked about – planning and getting your creative ready. Here are a few other marketing preparations you should consider.
12. Retarget Past Visitors and Customers
If you already have a Facebook Pixel or Google Remarketing Tag placed on your site, now is the time to use it. When you retarget past visitors, you’ll reach people who may have forgotten about your store and wouldn’t have checked out your sale otherwise.
We also recommend targeting existing customers who have previously made a purchase on your site. Existing customers are generally easier to reach and market to than brand new customers. Existing customers will especially be more receptive to your Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals and promotions.
13. Begin Pitching to Blogs and Gift Guides
It can take weeks to work out the details and finalize a partnership or sponsorship agreement. Get started contacting relevant blog sites and sites with gift guides in your niche.
Find websites that focus on Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and promotions or have gift guides that focus on your niche. Get in touch with them to feature your products and planned sales.
14. Start Your Email Marketing Campaigns
Email is still the channel that produces the highest conversion rate on average when you consider email, search, direct visits and social. You should have at least a few email campaigns ready to go for your special deals.
You’ll want to plan, create and schedule these emails in advance, so when the time comes they’re ready to send. Here are a few ideas for your emails.
- Announcing the Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals: Send the details of the sales out ahead of time to existing customers, and then a reminder when the sale officially begins.
- Last reminder before the sale ends: WIth the volume of emails sent over Black Friday/Cyber Monday, it can’t hurt to remind subscribers that your sale is almost over. This is likely when you’ll pick up those procrastinators jumping on the deal before it’s too late.
- Sneak-peek of upcoming promotions: It doesn’t matter if your promotions are discounts, donations to charity, free shipping or something totally unique; start teasing it early. You want your subscribers to be on the lookout for the announcement. Send these emails in the weeks leading up to Black Friday.
15. Consider At Least One Doorbuster Sale
Most retailers use a strategy where they place one or more deals that are so great, customers just can’t pass it up. This is treated as a loss-leader. The hopes then are customers will pick up some other things during their visit to your store to pump up your margins and make their purchase worthwhile for your business.
We’d suggest sending the email to your subscribers, but don’t include all of your deals. Perhaps try focusing on one really great deal to draw the crowd in and then let them discover the other deals at your site.
If you have many segmented email lists, it may make sense to pick the doorbuster product that will best fit the email list. Picking a relevant doorbuster to the email list demographic will net you higher sales for sure.
Be sure your site is ready and well-merchandised for this holiday traffic. Do what you can to boost your average order value by offering free shipping over a certain dollar spent or offering seasonal product bundles. For the most successful and profitable Black Friday, you must have a hidden agenda to sell products other than your doorbuster deals.
16. Reward Your Loyal Customers
Black Friday/Cyber Monday is a great time to build relationships with your previous customers and get them to revisit your site.
Consider giving your existing customers early access to special deals or offer them an exclusive subscriber-only deal. Give them a reason to make that buying decision right now.
17. Scarcity is Necessary
The reason people snap up deals in a hurry is because they are limited. Be sure to let customers know that you have a limited amount or the deal ends in a very limited amount of time. Consider countdown timers or “left in stock” for your site. This ‘impending doom’ motivates buyers and gets them to grab the deals while they last.
Update Your Support Processes
18. Live Chat
If your site still doesn’t have live chat, now is the time to consider it. We want to make sure that all the preparation pays off, and the customer’s buying experience is painless. If they have any questions, you’ll want to be able to address them as quickly as possible to ensure buying momentum.
19. Be Fast, Be Nice
The holidays are a hectic time for most people. Your customer support team should be ready to provide a fantastic experience. To do this, setup processes that enable fast response time to customer inquiries. Make sure you’re courteous and respectful to even the most hurried or frustrated customer.
Templating (or the idea of having canned text ready) can help! Keep a text document around that has polite email and chat greetings, closings and other explanations already written so you can just copy and paste. This helps you move along faster and provides a better customer experience.
Be Memorable This Year and Customers Will Remember You Next
20. Offer Easy, Hassle-free Returns
The business that offers the easiest returns usually gains the reputation for doing so. If you really want your customers to think of you highly, make it super easy to return a product. Making it more difficult will often prevent the sale from taking place.
More sales are lost with a bad return policy than a hassle-free one.
Track Everything and Analyze the Results
21. Set up Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a fast, free way to measure your websites’ traffic. If you are not already using it, now is the time to start.
While Analytics is not difficult to use or setup, if you’re not familiar with the process or what you’re trying to measure, contact an Analytics expert like Werpl. You can also reach out to independent contractors on services like Fiverr.
Google Analytics can help you see where folks are going on your site, where they are coming from, the path they are taking around your site, and much more. Heat-maps and other tools allow you to see what’s popular, but we stress, it takes a good understanding of Analytics to know what and how to measure. Set yourself up for success by contacting someone for help if you are not sure on how to get the most from Google Analytics.
22. Be Mindful of Your Competitors
Watching your competitors marketing efforts can help you gather your own ideas to apply to your marketing, and helps keep you competitive. We recommend signing up on their email list to stay up-to-date with their current offers.
After the Big Sale
Black Friday/Cyber Monday provides a great opportunity to gain insight on what marketing your customers respond to best. Use this knowledge moving forward to grow your business.
23. Turn Black Friday Shoppers Into Year-Round Customers
There is no need for your relationship with your customers to end after the holidays. Be sure you perform well during the holidays as this gives you an opportunity to nurture this relationship moving forward.
Keep your customers engaged year-round by staying active on social media and sending out post-sale emails to your subscribers. If those seasonal, one-time shoppers didn’t sign up to your email list or follow you on social media, retargeting might be a way to bring them back into the fold.
24. Reflect on What Worked and What Didn’t.
There is no better time to learn about your ecommerce business than around the holiday shopping season. There is so much going on, that while most things will work out, some things might not live up to expectations. Pay attention to your problem areas and try to improve, but be sure to recognize your strengths as well. These lessons you will learn are incredibly valuable and will aid in your future success.
As you implement the new strategies you learned, be sure to take notes, screenshots or anything else you deem necessary to document your decisions and their outcomes. Next year you’ll use this as your benchmark for Black Friday/Cyber Monday promotions and marketing tactics.
You’ll Have Big Success on Black Friday/Cyber Monday
Prepping, planning and starting early are the keys to a successful Black Friday shopping season. We hope this list puts you in a better position to achieve your business goals this holiday season.