Preparing your Ecommerce Site for an Epic Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM)

Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) are nearly upon us. Have you considered how best to prepare your ecommerce site for successful BFCM sales?

READ ON!

Preparing your Ecommerce Site for an Epic Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM)

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:

Start Planning now

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:

  • Are you ready to handle the influx of sales?
  • Do you have the inventory on hand?
  • Have you figured out your budget?
  • What do you want to promote?
  • How do you plan to promote your product?

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.

Decide which promos you are going to offer

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:

  • Certain percentage off an entire purchase or single items
  • Discount codes applied at checkout for spending a certain amount or being in the military, etc.
  • Freebie or gift card with purchase
  • Door buster coupon codes to unlock deals
  • Free shipping
  • Special offer for next purchase
  • Bulk discount—the more they buy, the more they save

Know your budget

To make sure that you’re on budget to best handle BFCM, you need to be well informed of the following:

  • Last year’s data and sales.
  • What discounts other vendors (who sell similar products) are offering.

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.

Create an Ad Campaign Timeline and Action Plan

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

Scrub your Email Lists

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.

TEASE OUT your SaleS via Social Media and Email

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.
Black Friday promotion sources

decide where to advertise your sale

There are two important factors to deciding where to advertise your sale:

  • Create a list of places to notify of your sales.
  • Decide where exactly to advertise your sales.

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:

  • Reddit
  • Black Friday.com
  • Retail Me Not.com
  • Best Black Friday.com
  • Nerd Wallet.com
  • Slick Deals.com

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.

Get Creative in how you Promote Your sale

To stand out from the crowd, you need to get creative with how you use both social media and email. Don’t be afraid to use humor or seem quirky. Take this social media post by Amazon as an example:

Amazon promotionCats are such an ubiquitous part of social media, that Amazon’s choice to use them in this ad was a brilliant no brainer.
You can also consider what your company stands for and put it to use. For example, since 1973, Patagonia has made sustainability a hallmark of their business plan. In 2017, they ran the following ad on social media:
Patagonia promotion
In this sense, Patagonia’s customers could feel good about their purchases since a small percentage of the proceeds was going to go to grassroots organizations.

If you’re out of ideas, you can check out some of these remarkable Black Friday social media campaigns from 2017. Just remember that you’re doing this to get your customer’s attention. They have many other ads coming at them, so they need to want to check out yours. You may as well make it fun and on-brand.

Prepare your Site

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!

Have a Contingency Plan

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:

  • Website crashes
  • Shipping issues
  • Lack of inventory
  • Budget constraints

Now think of your business and if there are any other potential issues that could arise.

Are you ready?

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!