Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming up, so that means money is about to be SPENT.
It’s a stressful time for many store owners as they get their sales and businesses ready for an increased influx of traffic, sales, orders to fulfill, and support requests.
It’s a lot to handle, but now’s the time to prepare so you aren’t scrambling during a holiday week or trying to put out fires the day of the sale.
Take the important steps to ensure your store is a bestseller on Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) and achieve the results you’re aiming for.
The goal here is simple: more sales, happier customers, and fewer headaches.
Easier said than done, right?
With this checklist, you can make “done” easier.
Black Friday Cyber Monday Checklist
“Be prepared” isn’t just for Boy Scouts anymore. It’s for small business owners who need to make big sales on the biggest shopping weekend of the year. Make your life easier, and take the preparation steps so you can have a smoother holiday sale for both you and your customers.
1. Prep your holiday sales as early as you can.
If you haven’t already, create an outline for your upcoming sales. Choose the products you want to run a holiday sale on and schedule their start dates and sale prices.
That way, when the sale rolls around, you have a plan in place and you aren’t scrambling at the last minute. The holidays are already a scramble, so make it a little easier on yourself in this area.
Then, let your customers and website visitors know about your upcoming sale well in advance.
Over half of US shoppers plan their holiday shopping before Black Friday Cyber Monday. It’s a huge shopping event! They need to create a plan of attack, and if they don’t know about your sale, you’ll be left behind.
So, not only do you need to start preparing early, but you also need to make sure your customers can find you and know about the sale.
2. Create contingency plans.
Now is the time to think of the worst things that could happen.
What if the shipping company you work with gets too busy with the holiday demands? How quickly can you restock inventory if you end up selling out earlier than expected?
There’s no point in stirring up unfounded fears, but you want to prepare for the worst just in case. Create contingency plans wherever possible while you’re still in the planning phase, so you aren’t scrambling to troubleshoot problems in the middle of the biggest sales week of the year.
3. Test your website to ensure it can handle the surge in traffic.
Too many simultaneous requests to your website can weigh it down and potentially crash it. It usually takes an enormous amount of traffic to crash it, but make sure your host can handle a traffic spike.
46% of shoppers said they’d never return to a slow website. They have to get their shopping done ASAP and get the best deals possible. If your website isn’t making it easy for them to do so, they’ll leave and never look back.
4. Work with your suppliers.
Can your store handle the increased demand? Are you working with a supplier for your inventory or a product manufacturer? Make sure they’re prepared to handle your projected sales for the holiday season.
You don’t want to sell out faster than you expected and end up not meeting the demand of your customers.
5. Formulate your campaign.
Create banners and hero images to advertise your holiday sales
Gorgeous graphics and visuals will get people excited about the sales. Whether you’re planning to use banner ads to promote your holiday sales or changing the hero image on your website for BFCM, it’ll make the entire sale event festive and more exciting.
Plan ads and ad copy now
Planning your ads ahead of time gives you the opportunity to put more thought into the copy and ad placement.
Remember that bids can get more expensive during the competitive holiday season (depending on your niche), and you might need to increase your bid price on specific keywords or for certain audiences to increase your ad visibility.
If you plan on doing paid advertising, it’s a good idea to prepare your holiday sale ad budgets as well. You might even want to hire a digital marketing agency to help you create a paid advertising strategy that is customized to your business (say hi to Digital Strike 👋).
Build some buzz around your upcoming sale
Tease your customers with emails of what’s to come and post sneak peeks on social media. The sooner you start, the more momentum you’ll have when you finally announce the sale.
At the same time you’re promoting your sale, it gives your customers and potential customers the opportunity to integrate you into their BFCM shopping plan.
6. Experiment and optimize for conversions.
Consider creating abandoned cart emails
The average cart abandonment rate on Black Friday 2017 was 74.5%. You obviously want to keep that rate as low as possible.
One of the most effective ways of fixing the cart abandonment problem is to set up targeted abandoned cart emails. That way, when a customer adds a product to their cart but leaves the store before purchasing, you can send them a compelling email to bring them back to complete their purchase.
It’s a little tap on the shoulder saying, “Hey! Remember this? Why don’t you come back and buy it?”
Think mobile first
Shopify stores saw more mobile purchases than desktop purchases throughout Black Friday Cyber Monday for the first time in 2017. That trend will definitely continue and will only increase in 2018.
What is the user experience in your store like on mobile? Is it easy and intuitive to make purchases?
The easiest way to find out is to go through the purchase process yourself. Browse for a while, select an item or two and add them to your cart, and then go through the checkout process. Is it easy?
Ask someone else to do it who isn’t as familiar with it as you are. Did they have a rough time? Ask them what stopped them or created a roadblock for them. Then fix those problems before your big holiday sales.
7. Market and promote your products.
Shoppers are generally more receptive to ads during the holiday season, and because of that, you’ll find the price of running ads during BFCM typically goes up too.
Even with the increased costs, customers will be paying more attention to ads during this time. They have shopping and finding the best deals on the brain. Marketing can play a huge role in making your holiday sales a success, so don’t wait to start promoting.
Retarget past website visitors and customers
You can retarget customers that have previously purchased from your store. Existing customers are generally easier to reach and market to than brand new ones because they’ve already bought something from you. They’re more likely to recognize your brand and be more receptive to your BFCM sale ads.
Pitch to blogs and gift guides
It can take weeks of back-and-forth communication with a website before you finalize a sponsorship or partnership agreement. It’s always better to start that process earlier rather than later.
Find websites talking about Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals or running gift guides that apply to your niche. Get in touch with them to feature your products and planned sales.
Start your email marketing engines
Email marketing plays a significant role during BFCM. Every business owner should have a few email campaigns planned to bring customers back to your website so they can act on your holiday sale offers.
Here are some ideas for your Black Friday Cyber Monday email campaigns:
1. Announcing BFCM sale
Send the details of the sale ahead of time to existing subscribers and then send a reminder email when the sale officially begins.
2. Last reminder before the sale ends
There is an increased volume of emails sent over BFCM, so it can’t hurt to remind subscribers that your sale is almost over to make sure they’re aware of it. Plus, you’ll inevitably get a few procrastinators jumping on the expiring deals.
3. Exclusive sale just for email subscribers
One way to capture their attention is to send a deal that is only available to them because they’re on The List on top of your publicly-posted deals.
Make sure to tease it on social media and let people know to expect the subscriber-only offer. You just might get more subscribers that way too as an added bonus.
4. Sneak peek of upcoming promos
Whether your Black Friday Cyber Monday offer is a discount, an exclusive product, free shipping, donations to a charity, or a completely-unique-to-your-store promo, start teasing it early to your subscribers. Send sneak peeks in the weeks leading up to the sale with hints and teasers so they’re on the lookout for the beginning of the sale.
5. Get creative
The last thing you want is your email lost among all of the other BFCM emails because it’s too similar. Make your promotion stand out. Offer something unique to your store to pique interest.
8. Update your support process.
You need to be easy to reach by customers (and potential customers) during Black Friday Cyber Monday. You don’t want to lose a sale because they couldn’t get an answer from you quickly enough.
Set up a live chat
If you aren’t able or ready to commit to having a live chat monitored all year, there are still ways you can use live chat strategically as a small business during the big sales like BFCM.
To get the most out of your live chat, consider enabling it:
- Right after sending emails or launching promotions. Make sure you’re available when you know there will be people clicking through from their inbox or social media.
- On product pages featured in your BFCM deals to address any questions customers might have before they click “purchase.”
- During key purchasing moments like when someone is viewing their shopping cart, and they might have a last minute question about shipping or the product.
Offer easy and hassle-free returns
The holidays aren’t just stressful for business owners. It’s a frantic time for shoppers too. Be the business that cares and goes above and beyond for their customers. They just might come back or tell their friends and family about how nice you were.
Make sure your return policy is clear, fair, and well-communicated on your store. It could convince customers who are on the fence to click purchase since you’re showing confidence in your product and removing potential risk.
9. Track everything and analyze results.
When Black Friday Cyber Monday is over, you want to be able to say “This sale was better than last year’s and here’s why,” or, if things didn’t go as planned, you can examine what went wrong and adjust for future sales.
You’re putting a lot of effort into your marketing to make sure this sale is a success. When you track everything you do, you can see what worked and what didn’t.
Set up Google Analytics
If you haven’t already, set up Google Analytics for your store and your email campaigns. It’s a powerful and free traffic tracking tool that every business owner should be using.
Set up heat maps
Where are visitors clicking? How do they read your product pages? With a heat map, you can see where people are clicking the most and what are likely the most important sections of your website.
The insight you can get from a heat map will help you in the future. If website visitors aren’t going where you want them to go, then you can adjust the design or your calls to action to increase conversions.
Keep an eye on the competition
Pay attention to your competition’s marketing efforts. It can help you gather ideas for your own BFCM deals. The easiest way to sleuth on your competitors is to subscribe to their email list.
Study the types of emails they send and how frequently they send them. It probably goes without saying, but you shouldn’t copy them. It’s always a good idea to know what the other guy is doing and see if you can offer something better than they can.
Set yourself up for success on Black Friday and Cyber Monday
It’s better to be prepared than scrambling. Start planning earlier and put yourself in a position to succeed this holiday season. If this is your first Black Friday Cyber Monday, take it as a learning experience. Stay motivated and ambitious, but set realistic expectations. And remember to enjoy the ride.