Online stores should get ready and prepare for Black Friday, Cyber Monday (collectively abbreviated BFCM), and all the shopping holidays beyond. Seasonal sales are great for eCommerce merchants. Here are ten tips for how to prepare your store for Black Friday, divided into two sections — getting your store ready, and reaching out to customers.
How to Prepare For Black Friday / Cyber Monday (for eCommerce stores!)
- Preparing Your Store for Black Friday Cyber Monday – Steps 1-6
- Bringing Customers To Your Store For Black Friday / Cyber Monday – Steps 7-10
Preparing Your Store for Black Friday Cyber Monday
Getyour store ready so your customers are ready to shop
1. Start early – Customers start looking for deals in October
Start planning for Black Friday now if you haven’t started. A survey found more than half of consumers begin their holiday shopping or researching for Black Friday as early as October. This is the time to entice with coupon codes and special offers. The holiday weekend consumers will be in line and shopping, so don’t wait until Thanksgiving weekend.
2. Check Your Site Speed and Checkout Process – Slow Site Means No Sales
On the internet, a lack of speed will turn customers off. In fact, 46% of shoppers have said they’ll never return to a slow website. You want to make sure that doesn’t happen on your website.
Make sure your checkout process is as good as it can be. Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers are fickle. They have thousands of stores to select from and a limited amount of time. They will leave your store if your checkout isn’t running smoothly.
Taking a day to improve your checkout process could pay off for you on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You may consider adding extra payment options including Bitcoin or Paypal.
On average, about 69% of customers abandon their shopping card.
Here’s how to prevent shopping cart abandonment for your Shopify store.
3. Back Up Everything
Ensure that you have backups for everything from site code to product images. Black Friday only comes once a year. You don’t want to miss out on sales because your site went down. Having a back-up is liking having insurance for your site. If it goes down for some reason, your back-up can get it up and running in no time. Here are some additional resources on backing up your store:
- 6 Reasons Why You Need To Back Up Your eCommerce Store – and How to – via Rewind.io
- Pointers on Choosing a Backup Solution for your eCommerce data, from Practical eCommerce
- How to calculate the true value of your store: It’s not just lost sales, but also lost reputation, opportunity cost and more.
4. Optimize your products
7 in 10 shoppers are uncertain what they’re going to buy, so it is essential that you give your products every chance of standing out. You want to make sure that your products are search engine optimized and easily discoverable on your website. Some aspects you may wish to focus on:
- Keyword Research Strategy to boost Traffic and Sales
- Strategies to drive traffic to your eCommerce store
- Simple Ways to Build Backlinks to your Store
- Plus, an Ultimate Guide to Shopify SEO (with Templates!)
If you had promotions last year, you will want to review your sales data to see what went well. This information can give you ideas on making alterations to existing products.
Plan ahead and create a product schedule which will determine the products that go on sale and the price. Get ahead of the game and make slight tweaks rather than making it up at the last minute.
Write product descriptions that sell and instil urgency. Pop-up reminders can help instill urgency and remind people they only have a limited time to buy with a huge bargain. Use the following phrases:
- Limited time only
- Only one left
- In high demand
- Sold out soon
You may want to run a keyword search on Google and Google trends to discover some Black Friday related keywords for your products. These can be included in your descriptions to give your website an SEO boost.
5. Apply the right discounts
For Black Friday and Cyber Monday, most people are looking for at least 20 percent off the items they buy. You want to be competitive. In order to stand out, you may want to consider offering a free gift with your products as a way to sweeten the deal. Shopify allows you to add gift cards to your store free.
During this weekend, the bigger the discount, the better. Most retailers are offering at least 20% off on Black Friday. How many will be offering 50% off for first time buyers or 30% off 5 or more items. Get creative with the discounts that you offer.
Here are some tips for your Black Friday discounts:
- Display discounts clearly on the homepage – this helps your customers clearly see what they will save during Black Friday and Cyber Monday
- Add a countdown banner – A countdown banner adds urgency and builds excitement. You can create one with a tools like Powr in a matter of minutes.
This is a great time to up your cross-selling game. Don’t expect that your customers will purchase the thing that they want and leave your site. If you have a customer that is making a purchase, you should refer them to something that will naturally fit together. Think socks and shoes, paper and pencils, yoga mats and yoga straps. If someone is making a purchase, is there something else that they may need in addition to it?
You may want to create distinct Black Friday and Cyber Monday pages with related products for customers. This can consolidate your efforts.
If you currently have a SALE section in your website, it is easy to alter the text to make it a special Black Friday and Cyber Monday navigation bar. You should road test your site before the sales weekend. Have your friends give you feedback about your site’s shortcomings as well.
Amazon does a great job of cross selling. After you click on an item, they refer you to other items that may be of interest to you. In the example above, I had clicked on a New Balance shoe. The related products that popped up included some insoles and other similar brand shoes. Heel protectors and insoles are often purchased along with tennis shoes for greater comfort. The high heel recommendation may be a bit off, but the products that they pulled are sponsored. However, seeing the insoles as a customer is purchasing new shoes may trigger a reminder to buy new insoles as well.
Bringing Customers To Your Store For Black Friday / Cyber Monday
Bringing customers in the door will be especially important at this time of year
7. Use Social Media
Social media can be a great boon to your eCommerce business. Keep in mind that if you run advertisements on Facebook, the more engagement that you get through your advertisements, the better they do. Therefore, you’ll want to create Facebook campaigns that are very engaging and shareable. Keep in mind that you don’t just want to get your ad in front of eyeballs, you want to get those ads out to your target market.
“Sending an advert for your vintage soccer shirts to a person who loves ice hockey would be like trying to ram a square peg in a round hole.”
As Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach, keep an eye out for hashtags that you can piggyback on. What hashtags are your consumers using and figure out how you can incorporate them into your boosted posts. Make sure that your social media plug-ins are integrated with Facebook and Twitter, so consumers can share your deals with their friends.
For eCommerce stores, Facebook has demonstrated that it is the most effective in driving traffic to eCommerce sites. In 2016, the purchase rates increased 42% for eCommerce companies on Facebook.
The best way to market product on Facebook is to select a quality product image and add your logo and some text advertising your deals. Ensure that you start circulating that advertisement at least a few days in advance to build the excitement. If you don’t advertise until the last minute, customers will only see your ad once and they’ll be unlikely to click through. Remember, there are many retailers demanding their attention during this big shopping weekend.
A great example of Facebook marketing is the Jeulia Jewelry ad below. They created a great video of their product rotating 360 and simply added some classical music to it. Clicking on the ad takes you to the product page on their website.
8. Email Marketing Campaigns
Custora reports that over 25% of Black Friday sales begin with email marketing. Therefore, it pays to create your email marketing campaign well in advance. Email marketing gives you an opportunity to directly connect with your loyal customers and those who have joined your email list.This gives you the opportunity to provide them with a special discount for their loyalty.
Start your email marketing campaign at least a week prior to Black Friday to whet your customers’ appetite. You want to pique their interest for the sales you’ll be offering. Richard Lazarra, eCommerce expert said:
“Because emails are so critical and deliver huge ROI, prepare your emails well in advance. Have the copy ready, the images ready, and the email prepped to go. Give yourself plenty of time and lots of opportunities to review everything prior to the big day.”
You may want to start a month in advance and send weekly emails for four weeks until Black Friday. Send out an email the night before Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Finally, send out an email about the discounts on the big day. This will ensure that your list is well aware of the discounts that you’re offering.
But don’t stop there. Follow up after Black Friday and Cyber Monday to request feedback and invite them to revisit your store. You may want to add an automated abandoned cart recovery email to prevent customers from slipping away. With abandoned cart emails, they’ll receive a follow-up email if they get to the checkout and fail to make a purchase. Shopify includes this feature as standard.
9. Write Interesting Email Headlines
While starting your email campaign early is important, you want to be sure that those emails are being opened. Bland headlines won’t cut it. A traditional discount only approach will likely be deleted before being opened. Add creativity and uniqueness to your Black Friday offer and you’ll likely drive more sales to your Black Friday offer.
In your headline you’ll want to be as personalized as possible. People are more likely to open something that they can tell is pertinent to them. You can include their name in the headline and a detail about the email. Write a headline about how to solve a common problem that your customers may face. Be as descriptive as you can in your headline to catch the readers attention. Too many emails get ignored because they are copies of the industry. Get creative as you come up with headlines for your Black Friday deals.
10. Make Use of Social Proof and Word of Mouth (like Referral Programs)
Here’s a problem you’ll find: during this season, everybody will be flooding the same channels your consumers will be checking.
As a consumer yourself, you’ll also suddenly find your email inbox full of promotional emails, ads all over Instagram and search and Facebook and display. Even your mall is probably decked out in Christmas decorations right now, as retailers start promotions earlier every year to stand out from the crowd and outcompete the rest.
Even on a regular day, consumers are rejecting traditional marketing and advertising;
- 94% of consumers skip pre-roll videdo ads
- 91% have unsubscribed from mailing lists
- 44% of direct mail is never opened
While bigger brands are increasing their media and ad spend, you can make use of a more personal, intimate channel: conversations. That’s a channel that’ll cut through the noise and bring you extra traffic during this over-exposed season.
Many people have talked about our great word-of-mouth infographic with facts and zombies
11. Pitch Gift Guides for Black Friday Preparation
Gift guides for the holidays are a great way to increase sales. It helps you to get ahead of the curve and position your products early. Holiday gift guides are very popular with bloggers. Connecting with influential bloggers and sponsoring one of their gift guide posts is a great place to start. You could also create a gift guide for your own store.