This is a guest blog post from our trusted agency partner, geekspeak Commerce, an eCommerce Services Agency focusing on helping its clients sell more online.
Now that November has rolled around, there’s no more denying that we’re about to come face-to-face with the eye of the holiday season shopping storm. For any retailer—especially an e-commerce seller—the beginning of this month can be panic-inducing. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) quickly approaching, online sellers may feel a pang of I-wish-I-prepared-for-this-sooner stress.
Fortunately, the start of November still leaves plenty of time for some last-minute BFCM planning. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 must-dos before BFCM, narrowing it down to some of the most critical steps you should take before November 29th.
And since BFCM is much more than just a two- or four-day event, we’ve also included some tips to take into consideration during and after the sale days.
Pre-Black Friday: Preparation
1. Set a goal
The first thing you want to do when preparing for BFCM is to set a goal for your company.
- Is it to reach a specific sales figure?
- To cross a conversion benchmark?
- To reach a certain number of new customers?
- To see purchases from a certain number of returning customers?
Your goal could be any number or combination of things, so be sure to think about what matters most to your brand.
2. Plan your offer(s)
Planning what discounts and promotions you’ll be offering through BFCM takes more time and thought than one might think.
- Will offering free shipping make sense for my company?
- Will a buy-one-get-one sale be relevant to my products?
- Should I instead go with a percentage off?
- Store-wide or specific products only?
The offers you choose to run with should be profitable for your company and engaging for your shoppers.
3. Optimize product copy and images
A key to traffic and sales throughout the year, but especially during promotional periods like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, is optimized product content.
Audit your e-commerce website before the big day to ensure your product images are clear, high-resolution and appealing. Read your product descriptions to see if they are engaging and do some research to ensure your keywords are relevant enough to bring in BFCM shoppers organically.
For example, turn something like this:
Into a more keyword-rich products description like this:
4. Create engaging digital ads
You may already be advertising on social media, Google, Amazon or any other channel on which you’re selling.
Be sure to plan an ad strategy specifically around BFCM, since the surge in online traffic will also mean a surge in competitor advertisements.
Plan your campaigns wisely and set aside some BFCM-specific budget in order to push that paid traffic. Consider alternative, underpriced media platforms like TikTok and Snapchat for a most cost-effective approach and to reach a fresh audience.
5. Launch an email campaign
Online shoppers who are used to Black Friday are also used to receiving email offers from their favorite retailers.
Try to build your email list by pushing newsletter sign-ups before the event so you have a solid audience to receive your email promotions, and make sure your emails are engaging enough to stand out from the rest of the inbox. Send messages leading up to, and at multiple points throughout the sale.
6. Track stock levels
If you’re about to launch an amazing promotion for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, make sure you actually have the product to back it up. There’s nothing worse for a shopper’s experience than seeing the “Sold Out” badge on a product they were hoping to scoop up.
If you’re worried you may run out of stock during the promotion, make sure you have a backup plan like opening up pre-orders or making sure related products carry similar discounts.
7. Prepare your fulfillment channels
Similarly, it’s important to ensure your fulfillment and shipping logistics are sorted out before Black Friday if you’re expecting a sudden increase in orders.
If you currently handle fulfillment yourself, bring in some family and friends to help with packing and shipping product.
If you utilize a warehouse or distribution service, be sure to stay on top of the orders and work with your contacts to ensure a smooth delivery process.
8. Ensure your website can handle the traffic
If you’re expecting a surge of visitors to your e-commerce website during Black Friday and Cyber Monday (which you should be), it’s critical that you test your site’s bandwidth to ensure it can support multiple visitors. There’s nothing worse than a site crashing during the biggest selling days of the year. Test, report and fix any bugs that may occur before the traffic starts to rise.
9. Test your mobile add-to-cart experience
During BFCM, people will be browsing your deals while on the subway, at lunch, and while curled up on the couch. With almost one-third of e-commerce sales happening on mobile, ensuring the mobile version of your site delivers a positive customer experience is a key to making the most of BFCM. More specifically, the action of making a purchase should be seamless.
10. Set up analytics and conversion tracking
If you’ve put in all the effort of planning and executing a solid BFCM promotion, it’s important to track those efforts and report on them. Make sure your website is set up with Google Analytics, install a pixel, set a conversion goal and be sure to track which campaigns or product pages are receiving the most actions. This will help greatly with future BFCM events.
During Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Execution
1. Offer customer service on-the-fly
With an increase in customers to your e-commerce site, you may experience an increase in questions or customer service requests. Train a team—or get yourself prepared—to take on the role of customer service representative and try to be available on a quicker-than-usual timeline to respond to all customer inquiries.
2. Be active on social media and email
Don’t just set up your promotions and leave them be. Stay active on social media and in email updates throughout the duration of your BFCM sale to keep customers informed of last-minute deals, promotional codes and how much time they have left to purchase popular items.
If possible, target cart-abandoners and those who have dropped off at certain touchpoints on your site. Don’t be shy with the posts or messages—shoppers will expect them, and competitors will also be sending them, so it’s important to stay relevant throughout the event.
3. Make sure IT is on stand-by
Ideally, you have gone through the necessary preparations from our top 10 list, but if site testing and mobile optimization have not gone to plan, it’s a good idea to give your IT department—whether it’s a full department, one person, or yourself—the heads up that support may be required in a pinch should anything go wrong.
Post-Cyber Monday: Thank-Yous
Besides sales, one of the key goals of BFCM is to wrangle in new customers that will ideally become loyal to your brand. Send a thank-you note to everyone who purchased a product during your promotion. This can be an automated email, a follow-up offer, or even a hand-written note in the shipping package. Keep the ball rolling so that you have a higher chance of sales continuing well past Cyber Monday.
Once the high-ticket promotions have ended, the traffic spike has sizzled and the thank-you notes have been sent, it’s time to debrief and discuss with your team what worked, what didn’t and how you can prepare for Black Friday 2020.