Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the biggest days of the year for online retailers. Last year, Black Friday alone brought in $2.4 billion in online sales. With so much riding on one weekend we know that operating an effective Black Friday campaign can be stressful, so here is a 10-point checklist to help make your holiday season a success.
With about a month to go before Black Friday you should start preparing for it now. Many people start doing their research for what they will buy on those days as far as a month in advance, so get ready for those shoppers now.
1. Create a Catchy Homepage
Your homepage is a critical component in enticing potential customers to browse around and ultimately make a purchase. Make sure that anyone that finds their way to your homepage knows exactly what big sales are currently happening or are coming up.
Visuals are much more engaging than text. There is no better way to show off your deals than with creative and engaging advertisements. You don’t even have to be a graphics designer to pull this off. Sites such as CreativeMarket or Canva can help make it easy. Fashion retailer Argos used a simple image with text overlay to create this eye catching banner.
2. Think Mobile
For many online shoppers, mobile has become their most important channel for researching and purchasing products. IBM released a study of last year’s holiday season found that mobile accounted for 45% of all online traffic and 22% of all online sales during the holiday season.
So think about your mobile customer experience. Is it convenient for them to shop? You can help to make it as convenient as possible by optimizing your site’s layout for mobile browsing, by reducing the amount customers have to type on their phone, and by creating a streamlined checkout.
If you aren’t sure, test how your site looks on mobile phones.
3. Plan Your Promotions
Planning is helpful for ensuring that any promotion runs smoothly, and this is especially true for Black Friday. When will the promotion start and end? How big of a markdown? Will you offer it through a discount, coupon, or another method? Planning out all of these things ahead of time will save you the headache of ambiguity later on, and help ensure you don’t have to do any last minute scrambling.
Before you actually release a promotion, build some buzz around it and let the suspense increase customer interest. You can start to generate interest by giving customers little snippets of what is coming soon.
4. Start Your Email Campaigns
Email marketing is an essential tool for an ecommerce retailer and there are several different ways to make remarkable email campaigns. If you’re not convinced by the importance of email campaigns, then this might persuade you: Custora found that email marketing was “by far” the most important channel for generating online sales on Black Friday with 27.3% of sales coming through email campaigns.
Include your email strategy in the planning process and think about how emails can support other promotions and further drive sales. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Announce the start of a promotion
- Last-minute reminders before promotions end
- Member-exclusive special deals
- Sneak peaks at upcoming discounts
5. Go Social
A study by CrowdTap found that 67% of holiday shoppers purchased a gift they found on social media and 65% used social media to find someone they know the perfect gift. So don’t overlook the value of your social media following! Post select deals to your social media network to give customers an opportunity to engage with the promotion and buy at any time. Social media can also be used as a form of social proof, so increasing the number of “likes” or “shares” a product has can help drive sales.
6. Ensure Your Website Can Handle Increased Traffic
Too much traffic can actually cause your site to perform poorly or even crash, and on Black Friday a bad site (or worse a crashed site) can mean the difference in a huge amount of sales. You can test your website’s ability to handle a jump in traffic with sites such as LoadImpact.com or Blitz.io.
7. Packaging, Shipping, and Fulfillment
Many Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers are actually looking for gifts rather than making purchases for themselves. For those people, fast shipping is hugely important and failing to keep a promise of 2-day or overnight shipping can cause serious damage to that customer relationship.
Black Friday is a challenge because a surge in orders could be a burden on your ability to keep up with your shipping promises. If you do the packaging and shipping in-house, make sure you can keep up with orders and consider hiring help for the weekend if you can’t. If you use a third-party shipping provider, speak with them to ensure they can handle a large boost in orders, and maybe even eye out a suitable backup provider.
Also look into if your site has backorder capability. In the event that inventory runs out, backorders allow customers to purchase an item with the retailers promise to send it once the item is restocked. This can serve as an effective backup solution in the event of a stock out.
8.Check Page Load Times
We’ve written before on the impact of page load times, and this will be especially important during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You can use sites such as Pingdom to test page load times and figure out if you have any pages that need to be improved. The causes of slow load times vary widely but some of the more common reasons include unoptimized images, a lack of compression, and multiple CSS background images.
9. Ensure Quick Responses
Holidays are generally the time of year that retailers receive the most questions from customers, so you can make a positive impact on those customers by responding to their questions or concerns quickly. The faster you can respond the better.
You might even consider setting up an instant chat function on your website, which allows you to engage with customers in real-time and answer their questions while they shop. If this is a bit too much for you, dedicating someone to look after your social media accounts for the day and respond to any questions or comments quickly can act as an effective substitute.
10. Plan for the Worst
I don’t want to make you nervous, but even some of the most thoroughly planned campaigns still encounter hiccups along the way. Its difficult to predict what kinds of trouble you may or may not run into, but here are some questions you can ask yourself to help identify any weak spots:
- Do you have all the necessary backups?
- What will you do if your website crashes?
- Or what if your shipping provider becomes too busy to keep up with over-night delivery?
As the old saying goes: hope for the best, plan for the worst.
Cheers to a Successful Black Friday!
Pulling off a successful Black Friday campaign isn’t easy. But starting your preparation early will make it as smooth as a ride as possible. And between adequate planning and this checklist, you should be positioned to succeed this holiday season.
When it is all said and done, reflect on what worked well and what you would do next time. This will be an excellent opportunity for you to gain insights on the strengths of your business model, the behaviour of your customers, and your relationships with suppliers and distributors. This is a learning experience as much as it is a big day for your business, so look beyond just the financial gains. And who knows, maybe you’ll feel that a little after-sale celebration is in order too!
If you have any questions, comments, or would like to share another point for the checklist then post them below, we’re always keen to hear your tips.