Black Friday and Cyber Monday are enormous opportunities for your ecommerce business to make some serious cash.
In 2017, a whopping £1.4bn was spent on online purchases in the UK during Black Friday – representing an increase of 11.7% on the previous year.
2018 is set to be another record-breaking year for online retail across BlackFriday and Cyber Monday.
So, as an ecommerce store owner, ask yourself: can you really afford to miss out?
Black Friday & Cyber Monday: What You Need to Know
Black Friday will fall officially in the UK on November 23rd and Cyber Monday will fall on the following Monday of November 26th.
Black Friday is very much an American import and began as Thanksgiving always falls on the last Thursday in November, and the following Friday is considered as a sort of unofficial holiday. Many people are still off work, so shops drop prices for one day only to kick-start the Christmas buying season.
UK retailers caught on to this trend and imported the tradition, which only really started gathering momentum between 2010 and 2013 and sales have been increasing ever since.
Cyber Monday is a relatively new tradition too, even in the States. In 2005, some prominent figures in the American retail sector noticed online sales spiked on the Monday after Thanksgiving.
Black Friday used to be focused on consumer electronics, with Cyber Monday operating mostly in the clothing and jewellery industries. But, these days you can find a Black Friday or Cyber Monday deal on everything from mattresses to cars and everything in between.
In this blog, we’re going to show online retailers how to make the most of these days to generate significant sales.
Get Started Early
With the holiday season seemingly entering into people’s conscious earlier and earlier with each passing year, it’s essential to inform your customers about your sale as early as you can.
Informing your customers early means that you’ll be the first company they think of when they’re looking for gift inspiration and good value deals.
Organise Your Sales Output
Think hard about all of your products and decide on which deals and discounts will do best during the sale.
Choosing them well ahead of time gives you the opportunity to organise your stock and gives you a plan to refer to rather than scrambling around at the very last minute.
Have a Plan B
Having contingency plans in place is a good rule of thumb for most things in life – perhaps doubly so when it comes to your online business.
What if you experience shipping issues or your best-selling product sells out faster than you forecasted?
Of course, it’s not possible to predict absolutely every situation, but so long as you have rolled out contingency plans, then you should be very well prepared for almost any situation that comes your way.
Prepare For Increased Website Activity
Let’s say your online store sells televisions (something that does very well during Black Friday and Cyber Monday), and you’ve advertised a big sale, it’s probably a good bet that you’ll be receiving a good deal of traffic to your website.
It’s a good idea, no matter what industry you’re in, to ensure that your website can handle increased traffic and sales. It usually takes a massive spike of traffic to cause a site to crash, but this kind of downtime isn’t something you can afford during such a crucial point of the year.
Prepare For Increasing Demand
If your store is reliant on a supplier, or your team create and manufacturer your products themselves, it’s imperative to consider the potential increase in demand.
Work with your team or your suppliers, so they’re prepared for what is to come. Selling out of your stock mid-sale is one of the worst things to happen, as it means you’re not meeting your customers’ needs and you’re losing loyalty and revenue simultaneously.
Prepare Your Advertising Strategy
Create Engaging Visuals
Is there a better way to promote your sales than greeting a website visitor with gorgeous visuals alerting them to your deal? Whether you decide to opt for banner ads on your website or you choose for some nice looking imagery for your social media account, you don’t need to be an expert to create engaging advertising.
How Will You Drive Traffic?
Deciding on your desired traffic driving platforms early on means you can determine on your approach, rather than rushing in with all guns blazing.
Some of the best ways to drive traffic on a short-term basis are through PPC and Social Media advertising. Planning ahead of time allows you to set a budget, since PPC bids may increase in price during the run-up to Black Friday.
It’s all very well and good to say, ‘hey, we’re having a Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale this weekend,’ but for maximum effect, you need to build up a buzz, which excites people a good few weeks before the event.
Send out emails and post teasers on social media. More anticipation means more opportunities for making sales.
Test & Refine
Who’s Abandoning Their Cart?
According to this infographic by Barilliance, on average 70.7% of shoppers in the UK abandoned their carts on Black Friday, and one of the most effective ways to bringing them back is through abandoned cart emails and retargeting (covered in more detail in a later section). This ensures that when a customer doesn’t complete their purchase and leaves your store altogether, they’re shown advertisements for your product and an email asking them to come back and complete their purchase is sent out.
Mobile First is Here
Over half of all ecommerce purchases made in the UK now come from a smartphone. This trend will only continue into the foreseeable future, with mobile increasing its majority share as the go-to device for purchasing online.
So what does mean for you?
Well, back in December we wrote about the upcoming move to mobile first, where we explained that store owners would need to prioritise mobile users over that of a desktop.
Guess what? The time has come – mobile first has been rolled out to websites all over the globe, and as a business owner you must change your mindset to really reap the rewards this sales season.
This process starts with asking yourself a few essential questions:
- What is your store like to use on a mobile?
- Is the purchase process simple from start to finish?
- Is the design responsive and fitting well on mobile?
Sit and attempt to perform a dummy purchase on your mobile – think like a customer and complete the whole process. This is the best way to spot any flaws or potential roadblocks in your process and will enable you to potentially shave the process down to fewer clicks.
Market Your Products
In 2017, Sumo published a case study in which it found that click-through rates more than doubled across their clients’ ads. People surfing the internet around this time are far more engaged and receptive to the ads they’d perhaps otherwise ignore.
This trend is due to continue this year, which means your ads will probably cost more than usual, however, you’ve got a captive audience ready and willing to buy. Which means your marketing can play a significant role in the success of your sales.
Reach Out To Previous Visitors
You might have already installed a Facebook Pixel onto your store, and now is the time to use it to its full potential.
When you retarget previous visitors, you’ll be reaching out to even those who may have forgotten about your company and would’ve otherwise had no idea about your sale.
It’s also possible to retarget customers who’ve previously purchased a product from you. Many store owners like this option as it’s generally considered to be easier to market to current customers than brand new ones, and they’ll be especially engaged with your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales if they’re a frequent purchaser.
We’ve mentioned Social Media and PPC as an excellent avenue for driving traffic during your sale, but by no means should you forget about email marketing.
A recent study on Black Friday from Omnisend Research tells us that, although November has one of the lowest email open rates of the year, it actually has excellent click-through rates. This is because you’re already tapping into an audience that knows who you are and are actively looking to buy.
It’s a good idea to have a few different email campaigns agreed upon and a few different designs mocked up to denote the varying stages of the campaign, for example:
Template #1: Announcing Your Sale
It’s important to alert your customers as to when your sale will begin ahead of time; you can send another reminder when the sale officially starts.
Template #2: Reminding Customers When The Sale Ends
Giving those last minute on-the-fencers a bit of a nudge with a “last-minute” expiry deal is an excellent way to convince those who didn’t get around to buying yet.
Template #3: Exclusives For Email Subscribers
One way to wade through the tonnes of Black Friday/Cyber Monday emails to stand on top of the pile is to offer exclusive deals to your email list, in addition to those you advertise publicly. Ensure to tease this exclusive deal across social to entice further subscribers.
Plan Your Sales Strategy
An effective strategy many retailers have been using for many years is to run a ‘jaw-dropping’ sale on an item that customers simply cannot ignore.
Once you get customers where you want them, there’s always a chance they’ll pick up another couple of items on their way to the checkout.
Decide what item you might use to draw folks to your store. This product can then form the basis of your advertising, instead of shouting about every single discount on the site
Once you’ve enticed the customer to the site, employ some old-school tactics to increase the value to the customer, such as adding bundles and free delivery. That way, they’ve got just that little extra incentive to pull the trigger.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a hotbed of frenzied activity as shoppers scramble desperately for those last-minute deals, who can forget this after all:
But, offers come and go and customers are always quick off the blocks, so don’t be shy about telling your customers when your deals are due to end. This lends a certain exclusivity to your offer, telling customers that not everyone will be lucky enough to take advantage.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are about spontaneity and snap-decisions. The very last thing you want to do is lose a sale to a competitor because you can’t serve the customers’ needs promptly.
If you’re not able or ready to provide staff for your chat feature, then there’s a couple of strategic things you can do to wring as much from the feature as possible.
You can enable your live chat feature:
- As soon as your first round of emails are sent out ensure you’re available to cater to those clicking through.
- On your product pages which feature your deals, customers looking for a quick response aren’t likely to hang around for long.
- During key purchasing phases, this could be when someone is passing through the checkout for example – if something goes wrong you need to be there.
Most chat features will give you the control you need to make sure you’re there at the exact time a customer needs you, without overstretching your staff.
There’s nothing worse than attempting to get hold of a company with an urgent issue only to hear back from them days later. This time of year is a pretty hectic time for customers as it is and part of providing a memorable service that will keep your customers coming back to you is dealing with a query efficiently, respectfully and all in a timely manner.
Training your team and brushing up on the fundamentals of dealing with irritated customers can be the difference between their appreciation for your efforts or losing them forever.
Perfect The Returns Process
If you’re selling more products, then the chances are you’ll have a few more return requests than you’d usually receive. We’re all busy at this time of year, and from the point of view of a customer, a difficult returns process can be super stressful.
Don’t make things difficult – write a fair, transparent and no quibble ecommerce returns policy. Quiet confidence in your product can sometimes push on-the-fence customers over the edge since you’re removing the potential risk factor.
Track, Analyse & Report
Study Google Analytics
As an ecommerce business owner, if you’re not using Google Analytics, then you’re more than a step behind. Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful and free tracking tool that ensures you can keep your finger on the pulse in regards to everything that’s going on with your website.
If you don’t already set it up, check out this comprehensive guide.
Understand What You’re Up Against
Understanding your competition and their marketing efforts can give you a leg up with your own sales. Subscribing to email lists is the easiest way to keep an eye on what they’re doing and how often they’re doing it.
If you prefer more a detailed overview, then consider software like Ahrefs, SEMrush or SpyFu. Through this you can also understand the kinds of keywords they’re targeting and when new content is uploaded.
What Happens After Black Friday & Cyber Monday?
Turn Occasional Consumers Into Frequent Customers
Who says that you can’t continue a blossoming relationship after Cyber Monday is over? Why not take steps to encourage and develop customer relations, so that when Black Friday rolls around again, they’re still a loyal friend?
Stay active on your social accounts and keep sending out mailshots, even after the sale is over. If these one-time shoppers don’t sign up to your email list, then setting up retargeting is the next best scenario. Entice them with exciting offers, engaging copy and relevant news.
Recouping customers post – Black Friday Cyber Monday is incredibly important since we’ll be moving into December and Christmas is just around the corner.
Separate What Didn’t Work
If any of life’s endeavours are to succeed, you must understand what failed in your pursuit of that success in order to work out how best to side-step it in the future.
Sure, this time of year is a great time to make some money and could represent a sizeable chunk of your annual revenue. But the things you’ve learnt have a distinct value of their own, which is why tracking and data will help you to understand what worked and what didn’t.
As you implement your strategies and ideas, make a note of them and once the dust has settled, take the time to sit down and sort through them to decide what plans should be carried forward.
Preparing, planning, and getting a head start are the absolute foundations of success during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Our blog is a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know for this year’s upcoming sales and should put you in a position where you can succeed in the goals you’ve set yourself.
If this is your first foray into Black Friday and Cyber Monday, just remember that it takes time to get things right and even if you don’t achieve quite what you wanted, keep working hard and remember: Christmas is just around the corner.
If you have any questions about Black Friday and Cyber Monday or any of our other services, then why not contact us on 01455 560 338 or drop us an email using our contact form?
Also published on Medium.