Preparing Your E-Commerce Store for Black Friday & Cyber Monday
It's nearing holiday season again, meaning the two busiest shopping days of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, are just around the corner, promising huge profits to those savvy e-commerce stores that play their cards right.
Gone are the days when Black Friday was the sole prerogative of shopping malls and stop-in-shops. More and more customers are turning to their computers, smartphones, and tablets to make their Black Friday purchases. On top of that, last year’s Cyber Monday shattered records to become the single biggest online sales day in U.S. history, generating a whopping 7.9 billion in online sales.
With this upward trend showing no signs of slowing down,
ensuring that you have prepared your e-commerce store to make the most out of Black Friday and Cyber Monday has never been more important (and beneficial!).
The competition is tough, with one survey showing that 54% of online stores have prepared their Black Friday/ Cyber Monday marketing strategy as early as October 1st, so here are some steps you can take to optimize your e-commerce store’s performance on these big days.
1) Old Faithful: The Holiday Newsletter
A well-crafted email campaign is still one of the best ways to attract customers to your e-commerce store. With 45% of consumers planning on doing holiday shopping before November and customers looking for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals earlier and earlier, you may want to start updating your customers on your promotions over a month in advance.
To create an effective email campaign, e-commerce stores must walk the thin line between informative (even exciting) and annoying newsletter practices. A great way to stay on the right side of that line is by personalizing your newsletters. If done right, personalization will make your customers feel like you care about them, and in turn, will increase their loyalty to your brand. In anticipation of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, many e-commerce stores will use some variation of this strategy, so it is important to craft emails that make your brand stick out. Luckily, the holiday season provides great opportunities to write personalized newsletters that go far beyond a simple greeting as this, by now, no longer feels personalized enough.
One such strategy is to give your best customers early access to Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Your best customers may be those who are the top spenders and largest purchasers at your store. This recognition will make them feel appreciated like they have been granted access to something exclusive, and will increase the likelihood that they will buy your products. Moreover, since your best customers are those who are the top spenders, these are precisely the customers you want to feel special.
Another strategy targets the opposite consumer demographic, those customers who haven’t shopped with you for a while. There’s hardly a better way to remind an old customer that you exist than with a great holiday discount created just for them. Though it is important to remember that customers who you win back through low price points alone are typically fickle, this is still an effective strategy. Especially during the holiday season when fewer than two out of ten shoppers have decided on the brand or retailer for items they are thinking about or have been actively researching before Black Friday or Cyber Monday. A little push in the right direction might be all it takes to get these old customers to jump back on board.
2) Drawing in Customers Via Social Media
Spreading brand awareness on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have become essential to the success of many e-commerce stores. This is especially true during the holiday season. In the lead up to Black Friday or Cyber Monday, create ads with stellar product imagery that feature your best deals. When it’s time to shop, these great deals will draw customers to your site, exposing them to your other products as well. On the day of Black Friday or Cyber Monday, create a sense of urgency in your promotions by titling your posts or tagging your images with phrases like ‘selling out!” and “only a few left!”
Above all else, you want to make sure that you are reaching your target audience. You don’t want to waste advertising money trying to sell products to unreceptive consumers. Perfecting your social media marketing strategy can be tricky, but can be very beneficial if done right. We encourage you to check out our social media marketing solution or check out our great article on books any e-commerce seller should read to increase the effectiveness of their social media marketing.
3) Optimize Your Website
For many e-commerce store owners, learning the ins and outs of search engine optimization (SEO), such as creating appropriate titles, using search-friendly URLs, and formatting your text correctly, can seem daunting. But with so much competition surrounding Black Friday/ Cyber Monday from other e-commerce stores, improving your SEO is one of the most essential steps to bring potential customers into contact with your products. Therefore, you should update your SEO in accordance with the given holiday or shopping day. For Black Friday/ Cyber Monday, this could mean that the keywords you use are tailored towards people who are looking for products like yours and great Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sales.
Increasing your knowledge of both on-page and off-page SEO techniques well ahead of this holiday season, or enlisting the services of professionals, will prove highly beneficial to any e-commerce store owner hoping to make the best of the biggest shopping days of the year.
4) Stay Up to Speed
Okay, so you’ve sent out some amazing newsletters, blown peoples’ minds with the deals they have seen through your social media outreach, and updated your SEO. Potential customers, filled to the brim with Black Friday and Cyber Monday adrenaline, are coming to your site in droves. Is your site prepared?
In this fast-paced world, a site that can’t keep up with consumer expectations of speed can be disastrous. Some reports show that 53 percent of consumers abandon sites that take more than three seconds to load, and 25 percent of consumers say that they would drop a brand due to unacceptable page load times. Give your products a chance this Black Friday/ Cyber Monday and make sure that your website is up to speed.
5) Get Ready for a Season of Mobile Shopping
Of course, for Black Friday or Cyber Monday in 2019, having a smooth working online website is no longer enough. In the 2018 holiday shopping season, mobile orders outpaced online orders for the first time ever. Mobile shopping is the new norm, and by 2021 is expected to comprise nearly 75% of all online orders. If you haven’t hopped on the mobile train yet, now is the time.
There are two options on this front: The first is to have a mobile-optimized website and the second is to create a mobile app for your store. While many e-commerce stores have mobile-optimized websites, a large portion of these websites are not up to scratch. Just because mobile shopping is still relatively new terrain does not mean that the same people who abandon sites for slow load times on their computers won’t do the same on their phones. In addition to speed, consumers expect mobile websites and apps to function independently, allowing them to do everything they could do on a normal website, from researching to returning items.
Standing out from the crowd means having a sleek and functional mobile website or mobile app. In cases like this, seeking out professional help can be well worth the time and money.
6) Increase Your Conversion Rate with a Stellar Website Design
On Black Friday and Cyber Monday, consumers are coming to your site looking for deals. It will be well worth your time to make sure they have no trouble finding them. Displaying discounts on the homepage will make sure that your customers clearly see what they stand to save by shopping on your website. If different discounts apply to different products, make sure that customers have no trouble figuring out which applies to which. The key to Black Friday/ Cyber Monday web design is to combine a sense of urgency with a sense of ease.
One great way to create excitement on your website is to highlight products and deals with pop-ups, while great ways to create urgency are countdown pop-ups and banners. Some special discounts need not even apply for the entirety of Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Customers who come to your site and find that they have stumbled on a limited time deal may feel an increased desire to buy your products for fear of missing out.
7) Prepare for the Long Game
While drawing many customers with Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and discounts is a great start, what will be most valuable to your e-commerce store is to create recurring customers. Existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products and spend 31% more than new customers. Therefore, you will want to make sure that your customers have the best shopping experience possible.
The increased amount of traffic on your site on Black Friday and Cyber Monday means that more potential customers will need help, whether that means having questions about products and deals answered, troubleshooting, or assistance handling a return or exchange. To prepare for this, you may want to have more customer service staff available, especially if you have a “live chat” feature on your website. Moreover, you will want to update your FAQ section on your website to reduce the pressure on your staff, and additionally, consider adding a specific Black Friday/ Cyber Monday FAQ list in your FAQ section.
In order to make the most out of all the new Black Friday and Cyber Monday customers, make sure that you have an engagement plan in place.
Encourage each new customer to subscribe to your email list, follow you on social media, submit a product review, or join your loyalty program to earn discounts in the future. Black Friday and Cyber Mondays are exciting, but it is always important to always keep your eyes fixed on the long game.