Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) is a tremendous opportunity for your e-commerce business to make money. In fact, according to TechRadar, U.S. consumers spent a record-breaking $3.34 billion on Black Friday last year, online alone. It’s no wonder more, and more store owners participate every year.
Running a successful Black Friday through to Cyber Monday sale can cause a lot of stress for many store owners as they prepare their business for a massive influx of traffic and sales.
We’d love to help you take some of this pain away. Let us know if we can help you drive sales in this crazy online shopping period.
This 26-point Black Friday Cyber Monday checklist ensures your store is in the best position possible to not only succeed and make a lot of money during the holiday season but also minimise the stress and headaches this season brings to a lot of business owners. This list will also help you cover all of your bases and give you ideas on preparing and running your holiday sale this year.
Go through it, implement and steal the ideas that work for you, and evaluate. Let’s get into it:
Grab Your Notebook Now
1. Customers are looking for information and researching earlier than you might expect.
Prepare your holiday sales as early as you can and begin letting your customers and visitors know about your upcoming sale months in advance.
According to research from NFR, every year, 40% of customers begin researching and doing their holiday shopping as early as October. Not only do you need to start preparing early, but you also need to ensure that customers looking for gift ideas and information on particular products find you.
2. Plan and organise your sales.
Look at all of your products and plan your sales in good time instead of putting on a deal last minute.
One idea is to create a planned sales map in Excel, giving you a simple outline of all your upcoming sales.
Choose the products you want to run a holiday sale on and schedule their start dates and sale prices. This way, when the holiday sale rolls around, you can refer to your plans instead of scrambling at the last minute. You can find help in the Shopify App Store to make scheduling sales easy.
3. Create contingency plans.
Do you have the proper backups in place in case anything goes awry? What happens if your website goes down? Or the shipping company you work with becomes too busy? Can you wake up your developer at 4 am for a quick fix on your website?
Think about the worst case scenarios for your business and come up with backup plans. Hope for the best, plan for the worst.
4. Test or ensure your website can handle a surge in traffic.
Sometimes, too many simultaneous requests to your website can bog it down and potentially crash your site. This usually takes an enormous amount of traffic to occur, but its still a good idea to ensure your host can handle a spike in traffic.
You can test the server load capacity of your store with tools like LoadImpact.com
If youre using Shopify, you wont have to worry about this. Thousands of high-volume Shopify merchants regularly experience substantial traffic surges, including the infamous Shark Tank effect, without any interruptions.
5. Ensure your store can handle increased demand.
If you rely on a supplier for your inventory, or your product is created or manufactured by you or your team, consider the increased demand youll experience during the holiday season. Work with your suppliers and ensure theyre prepared to handle your projected sales for the holiday season. One of the worst things that can happen during a sale is selling out faster than you wanted to and not meeting the demand of your customers.
6. Create banners and hero images to advertise holiday sales.
What better way to promote your holiday sales than with gorgeous graphics and visuals? Whether youre planning to use banner ads to create awareness for your holiday sales or change the header/hero image on your homepage for Black Friday Cyber Monday, you dont need to be a graphic designer to get things done. If you lack the graphic design or Photoshop skills, you could use a template from CreativeMarket or hire a freelance designer to create your graphics.
7. Plan ads and ad copy.
We always like to plan the ads and ad copy we are about to run for a sale or promotion ahead of time so that I can put more thought into copy and ad placement.
Just remember that bids can get more expensive during the competitive holiday season depending on your niche. This means you may need to increase your bid price on specific keywords to increase the visibility of your ads during big holiday sales. If you plan to do paid advertising, its a good idea to prepare your holiday sale ad budgets as well.
8. Build suspense and buzz around your upcoming sale.
Its easy to announce a Black Friday Cyber Monday sale, but building suspense and buzz can help make it a more significant success.
Tease your customers with emails of whats to come, post sneak-peeks of upcoming sales on social media, and start piquing the curiosity of your customers. The sooner you begin doing this, the more momentum you will have during Black Friday Cyber Monday when you finally announce the sale to your customers.
9. Consider creating abandoned cart emails.
According to Barilliance, the average cart abandonment rate on Black Friday to Cyber Monday 2014 was 65%. Of course, youll want to try and keep that number as low as possible.
One of the more accessible and most effective ways of doing this is by setting up awesome abandoned cart emails. This way, when a customer adds a product to their cart but leaves your store, you can use a compelling email to bring them back to complete their purchase.
10. Think mobile first.
Last year, IBM claimed that mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic on Thanksgiving for the first time. Additionally, according to Custora, the last (2016) Black Friday Cyber Monday weekend saw over 26% of orders originated from a mobile device.
We should expect this trend to continue and possibly increase. What this means for you as a store owner is that thinking mobile first is critical.
What’s your stores user experience like on mobile? Is it easy and intuitive to make purchases on your store? Is your website mobile responsive?
All of Shopifys themes are responsive and mobile-friendly, but if youre not using Shopify, test how your store looks on a mobile device.
11. Test your site and get feedback.
What if you could get inside the head of a potential customer and listen to their thoughts as they navigate your store for the first time? There could be things you do not see or areas of your online shop you could be optimized, and a fresh pair of eyes can help you iron out those kinks.
There are many ways to get someone to test your store and give you feedback, but one of our favourite tools is UserTesting. UserTesting allows you to watch a random user go through your website and listen to their feedback. You can also use Peek UserTesting to get a free 5-minute video of a random person using your site.
Listen carefully to the feedback you receive on your store but also dont be too quick to make changes. Implement changes on your website when more than one person complains about the same thing.
12. Place tracking pixels.
If you use paid advertising through Facebook Ads or Google Adwords, you should place retargeting pixels on your website so you can remarket to your holiday sale traffic. Heres how to find and generate tracking pixel code for your website with Facebook Ads and Google AdWords:
- How to create a Custom Audience pixel on Facebook
- How to tag your site for remarketing on Google AdWords
Youll need to place the pixel code snippets into the tags of every page.
According to Nanigans, in 2014, Facebook ad click-through rates were up 66% on Thanksgiving and 36% on Black Friday compared to the Monday before Thanksgiving. This means people are much more receptive to ads during the holiday season.
Since your customers may be paying more attention to ads during this time, marketing can play a big role in the success of your holiday sales. As mentioned earlier, plan your ads and ad creative in good time. Here are a few other marketing preparations you should consider for the holiday season.
13. Retarget old traffic and customers.
If youve already set up a retargeting pixel on your store, nows the time to use it. When you retarget previous visitors, youll reach people who may have forgotten about your shop and wouldnt have checked out your sale otherwise.
Exclusive to Shopify merchants, Kit is free to use and helps you run Facebook and Instagram retargeting ads. Kit automatically sets up and uses the Facebook pixel. If youve not had a chance to meet Kitnow is a great time to hire your first employee.
You can also retarget customers that have purchased from your store previously. According to Clarity.fm, its 50% easier to sell to existing customers than it is to brand new customers. What this means is that people youve already sold to in the past will be much more receptive to your Black Friday Cyber Monday sales.
14. Begin pitching to blogs and gift guides.
Sometimes it can take weeks of back-and-forth with a website before any kind of sponsorship or partnership agreement is reached. That isnt to say last-second sponsorships or partnerships arent possible, but its always better to contact blogs and gift guide websites earlier than later.
Find websites talking about Black Friday Cyber Monday deals or running gift guides in your niche, and get in touch with them to feature your website and planned sales.
15. Start your email marketing campaigns.
According to Custora, email marketing drove over 27% of last years holiday sales for online retailers. This year, email marketing will likely play an even more significant role in the success to most stores holiday sales. Every business owner should have impressive email marketing campaigns that bring customers back to your website during your holiday sale.
Begin planning, creating and scheduling the emails youll be sending out during your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Here are some ideas for email campaigns you can put together:
- Announcing Black Friday Cyber Monday sale
- Last reminder before sale ends
- Exclusive sale for email subscribers
- Tease/anticipation email, sneak-peek of what sales are to come
16. Consider having at least one door-buster sale.
A strategy many retailers use is to run a jaw-dropping sale on a popular item to lure customers to their store. Once customers come for the doorbuster, theyll likely pick up a few other items on their way to the checkout.
What jaw-dropping sale will get people to your website? If youre sending an email to your subscribers, consider focusing on promoting one sale product that you feel is the most enticing, instead of promoting all of your Black Friday Cyber Monday sales at the same time.
17. Reward loyal customers.
Black Friday Cyber Monday is an opportune time to build relationships with your previous customers and get them to come back.
Send emails to (and retarget) your previous customers with the best deals. Give existing fans and customers the opportunity to access a sale earlier or give them exclusive sales just for being a subscriber on your email list. This also allows you to encourage email signups by offering exclusive sales they won’t have access to otherwise.
18. Build in scarcity where possible.
With the holidays come many frantic shoppers looking for the best last-second deals. As many come to expect scarcity during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, dont be shy about working some scarcity into your store. Consider including countdown timers until sales end and using language on your website such as limited time or limited quantity.
19. Integrate live chat.
Its important to be easily and readily accessible by customers (and potential customers) during Black Friday Cyber Monday. The last thing you want is for someone to leave your website because they couldnt get an answer quickly enough.
20. Ensure you have quick and courteous responses.
The holidays are when youll be receiving the most questions from customers. Part of providing a fantastic customer service experience is having a quick response time. The other part is being courteous and respectful, even to uncourteous and impatient customers.
One thing you can do is have a few canned responses prepared in Gmail to save yourself some time. Also, refresh your knowledge on kickass customer service practices and share it with your customer service team. Be memorable this year and customers will remember to come back next year.
21. Offer easy and hassle-free returns.
The holidays arent just stressful for business owners; theyre also a hectic time for shoppers. Be the online retailer that cares and goes above and beyond the call of duty for their customers. Make their shopping experience an enjoyable one and give them peace of mind knowing that returns are hassle-free.
22. Set up Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is a powerful, free traffic tracking tool that every ecommerce business owner should be using.
23. Set up heatmaps or advanced user/traffic tracking services.
Where are visitors clicking? How do customers read your product pages? While Google Analytics is sturdy and good enough for most businesses, you might want to have additional user-tracking tools setup to gather more detailed data during Black Friday Cyber Monday.
24. Keep an eye on the competition.
Keeping an eye on the competition can help you to stay ahead and gather ideas for your own Black Friday Cyber Monday deals. The easiest way to spy on competitors is to subscribe to their email list. Study the types of emails they send and how frequently they post them.
Additionally, keep tabs on competitors on social media and use Google Alerts to see which websites are talking about them. Lastly, VisualPing is a great way to monitor competitor websites for changes. When your competitors make a significant update to their website, youll be the first to know.
Post-Black Friday Cyber Monday
25. Turn those seasonal, one-time shoppers into year-round customers.
Why does your relationship with deal-seekers need to end after the holidays? Take steps to maintain and nurture your relationship with new customers you acquired during Black Friday Cyber Monday.
Keep your customers engaged year-round by staying active on social media and sending out regular emails to your subscribers. If those seasonal, one-time shoppers didnt sign up to your email list or follow your social media accounts, then retargeting might be your next best option.
Because you set up those retargeting pixels, those one-time shoppers can wind up being a group of customers you can advertise to year-round. Bring them back to your website and continue to expose them to your brand!
26. Reflect on what worked and what didnt.
The holiday season is also an excellent time for your business to learn from its mistakes, failures, and successes. The lessons you learn are worth more than any amount of revenue you make during this period. Thats why its important to track everything and reflect on what worked and what didnt.
Whenever we try anything new with our business, we document it by taking screenshots and notes that we can review later. Doing this will give you a benchmark for next years holiday while also allowing you to see whats working for your business so that you can do more of it.
Here’s to a Successful Black Friday Cyber Monday
Preparation, planning and starting earlier rather than later, are all keys to a successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale. This checklist should cover most of what you need to know about for this years upcoming sale events. Hopefully, its has put you in a better position to succeed this holiday season.
If this is your first Black Friday Cyber Monday for your business, treat it as a learning experience. Stay hungry and be ambitious but don’t set unrealistic expectations for your business. Enjoy the ride.
The Tee Tree Group currently manage digital marketing successfully for many online stores and content heavy websites and blogs. Why not pick our brains about this stuff?