Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) are nearly upon us. Have you considered how best to prepare your ecommerce site for successful BFCM sales?
No matter what your company sells, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are considered the best shopping days of the year, and annually bring in billions of dollars. In 2017, Cyber Monday alone brought in a record $6.59 billion in sales, representing a 16.8 percent increase from 2016. (Don’t forget Small Business Saturday and Sunday, too, which also brought in a significant profit of $12.9 billion last year!) The point is this: the weekend of November 23–26 is a monster sales weekend of which you should take advantage. Just imagine what percentage of the 2018 sales could be yours with a little planning and preparation!
Here are ten easy steps that ensure you’re ready to get the most out of the busiest shopping days of the year:
First and foremost, you have got to have a plan for BFCM. If you haven’t come up with one, or even considered what might do, you need to get going on it RIGHT NOW. BFCM ads started dropping in early October. This should not be a surprise, given how much money can be made from the weekend, but it should also serve as a reminder of how important it is to plan ahead for this momentous sales weekend.
As you think about how to plan for BFCM, you should consider the following questions:
So, while you should have started planning months ago, you can rest assured that it’s not too late to get started now.
“You can still pull off an epic BFCM sale with only a few weeks to go. From one last-minute junkie to another, a tight deadline is a great motivator.”
—Dayna Winter, “The Procrastinator’s Guide to BFCM Marketing,” Shopify.com
Yes, tight deadlines are good motivators, but many of the things on this list do take time, so you want to get as early of a start as possible. Do not try to accomplish all of this the week of the sale! You’re setting yourself up for failure if you do that.
Lastly, as you start to plan your BFCM, you may want to consider compiling a checklist in preparation. Just make sure that you cater it to your specific goals.
Deciding which promotional offers you’re going to do needs to be considered right away. You cannot just pick a product to discount willy nilly. The discount you offer needs to serve your company and the customer, so make sure what you can offer doesn’t break your bank.
“The best Black Friday sales are designed to raise awareness and encourage visitors to go through with their purchases.”
—Gary Nealon, Forbes.com
Luckily, you’ve got quite a few options to choose from. Some types of discounts you can consider are:
To make sure that you’re on budget to best handle BFCM, you need to be well informed of the following:
First, you should be well aware of where your customers came from last year. If you weren’t in business this time last year, then that’s fine. But, you should be keeping up with who your current customer is by using Google Analytics.
Second, you should have a good idea as to the types of discounts that other similarly-sized companies plan on offering. This will give you a good idea as to what you can and should be offering. Remember that you’re not WalMart or Amazon and nobody expects you to offer the types of discounts you see there—nor will your budget allow for such deep discounts. So, be smart and offer what you can without going broke! Knowing your budget will allow you to do just that.
If you’re still not sure what your budget is or how to best figure it out, check out these ten tips to building an effective budget.
After you have an idea of your budget, you need to come up with an ad plan by choosing where to advertise and ensuring that your ad campaigns are queued up and ready to go. For example, if you plan on using email, Instagram, Facebook, and Google Ads, set up a timeline as to when each ad will hit, how much it will cost you, and when you plan on sending out the next ad.
“Write down what exactly you’re going to do and when. It doesn’t have to be elaborate but writing it down will greatly increase the chances that you follow through and give you records to use when you go to evaluate the success of your marketing campaign.”
—Susan Ward, The Balance Small Business.com
Your timeline can be as simple as the following:
September: look into all ad options and budget, decide which platforms are best and what cost is, scrub email lists
Mid October: send email and Instagram tease about online Black Friday sales
Early November: start Facebook ads
Mid November: focus heavily on Google Ads, posting to Instagram every day with hashtag
Before doing any teasers, make sure you’ve cleaned up and segmented your email lists! Removing unengaged subscribers from your list ensures that you’re only marketing to those who are interested in your product. The benefits to cleaning up your email lists are three fold: you will have better open and click rates, fewer spam complaints and bounces, and a reduced cost, since most email marketing services charge you according to the number emails you send.
Studies show that social media and email are the two most important channels for promoting BFCM. For example, in 2017, social media was the most important platform to use for BFCM promotion:
One way you can use social media and email to your advantage is by rewarding your fans and subscribers. Include different discounts for this group of customers and always include a #BlackFriday or #BFCM hashtag as part of your promotion.
There are two important factors to deciding where to advertise your sale:
First, and in addition to teasing out your BFCM plans and promotions via email and social media, you should also create a list of places that you plan on notifying of your sales. This might include any of the following:
Second, when you do advertise, make sure your choices of where to do so are effective for your company. For example, let’s say you’re trying to decide between Google Ads, Facebook, or Instagram—and possibly want to use all three. Up until recently, all three were solid choices. But, if you choose to use Facebook, then you have some things to consider, such as the fact that Facebook ads have changed since 2017, which require some work by you on the campaign you aim to use. Do you have the time to consider some of the recent issues with advertising with Facebook? If not, then go for the other two options.
After doing all of the above, you’ve got to make sure your site can perform under the pressure of so many customers hitting it at peak traffic times. No customer wants to see an error message when they’re ready to make a purchase!
“Year after year, outages continue to send retailers into panic mode and customers into frustration mode, but it’s all about being prepared.”
—Brett Sanderson, Bazaarvoice
Check out these five mistakes from Black Friday’s past and make sure you don’t repeat any!
Even our best laid plans can fail. But, having a contingency plan in place is always a great idea. It’s best to be prepared for all possible issues. Consider what you might do if any of the following happens and make sure you have a plan in place for how to deal with these issues:
Now think of your business and if there are any other potential issues that could arise.
Now that you’ve read these ten steps to a kickass BCFM, how ready are you? Contact Activator Studios for help with any aspect listed above!