Creating Your 2021 Black Friday / Cyber Monday Action Plan
Quick Summary The Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) shopping season is always intense, but this year will be especially demanding. With most shopping taking place online, e-commerce retailers and online shops are going to be swamped. Don’t panic! Prepare the way you should, and you’ll weather this Black Friday season just fine.
The Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) shopping season is always intense, but this year will be especially demanding. With most shopping taking place online, e-commerce retailers and online shops are going to be swamped.
Don’t panic! Prepare the way you should, and you’ll weather this Black Friday season just fine.
How This Year’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday Season Will Be Different
With social distancing restrictions in place for COVID-19, the shopping experience this year is going to be different from any other. There won’t be any tents outside stores for Black Friday, but online sales will be way up on Cyber Weekend.
Most shoppers will buy products directly online. Some stores may choose to have online shopping be the only way customers can get their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.
For those stores that do allow in-person shopping, it’s likely that only small groups of people will be let in to shop at a time. Voice shopping — via assistant programs like Alexa and Google Voice — could also play a larger role in customer’s buying habits this year, as it allows people to stay home.
Some steps you can take to accommodate this shift in customer habits include:
- Trying a lottery system for in-store shopping
- Offering a more in-depth online shopping experience that brings the customer something of what they’d get in your store
- Extending sales periods
- Ditching gimmicky advertising methods and instead going with a more personal message about how you are here to help your customers this season.
- Using social proof to get people excited about shopping with you, even if it’s all online
How You Can Prepare for This Year’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday Season
The more thoroughly you plan, the more likely this year’s Black Friday shopping season will go off without a hitch. First and foremost — don’t wait. You should be planning for the season now.
Data & Analytics
Look at your data/analytics fromlast year. What worked, and what didn’t? See where the biggest portion of potential customers left your sales funnel last year, and make optimizing changes to ensure more people stay this time around. If your website is too busy, for example, consider streamlining the design with a simplified, easy-to-navigate layout and clearer product descriptions.
Messaging & Content
Knowing what deals you’re going to offer is important for obvious reasons, but that’s not all. The messaging and content are just as important in terms of preparation. How are you going to package and distribute your message? What platforms will you use? How will your messaging be different from previous years? Is your content up to date, high-quality, and reflective of the message you want to portray to your customers?
Uninterrupted Customer Experience
You want to get your deals to customers as seamlessly as possible. Consider options like Instagram’s shopping feature if it makes sense for your brand. Make sure you’re ready to provide a great experience to your customers, even with the increased demand. Can you answer their questions across all platforms – email, phone, chat, social media? Can you ship orders promptly?
Seamless Shopping Experience with CX Technology
Make sure your website is running well with no lag, and your checkout page runs smoothly. Take advantage of CX technology like chatbots to help streamline your customer service. It's important during high-traffic times that brands have their support channels, such as email, chat, SMS, phone and social channels, all in one place. For example, Gorgias allows you to aggregate all your channels and couple it with machine learning to drive efficiencies as well as conversions.
“Our AI responses can automate up to 15% of repetitive support inquiries and allow you to allocate your time on more urgent inquiries.” -Nicole Baqai, Gorgias
Providing a superior customer experience is key to customer retention.
Plan for the Long Haul
While it’s great to bring in a ton of sales on Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, don’t just focus on the immediate numbers — think of ways to attract repeat customers to your brand. The customer lifetime value of the people you attract and retain during BFCM will likely exceed short-term sales. Looking at the bigger picture is especially important to ensure being prepared for the holiday season that succeeds Cyber Weekend.
Collect Customer Information
That means collecting emails and phone numbers so you can reach out to people later with promotional offers and tailored product recommendations. Establish a line of communication with a personalized thank-you email, and go from there.
Have Gift Cards Ready
Offer gift cards in case people want to come back later. Even if you don’t make a sale, you can still build up your email list with newsletter sign-ups and coupon codes that can be used later.
We’re already coming up on the start of the shopping season. Have your plan finalized by the end of September and promotions set by October 1. Once November comes around, you should’ve made any final changes and have the plan ready to go.
Strategies for Getting the Most Out of This Black Friday Season
Social proof is a big strategy to use this sale season. Encourage customers to post on their social pages and create a hashtag for features. That user-generated content (UGC) will drive more awareness of your brand.Encourage customers to share their stories on social media, and share reviews on your homepage. Brands that do this see a 167% increase in engagement, so get in on that action.
Things to consider when using social media and social proof to drive conversions:
- Find positive comments to use in your branding, ads, and website.
- Use UGC to get customers involved and provide testimonials on your homepage and social channels to generate buzz for your product.
- Leading up to sales, integrate social proof into your early email campaigns to increase click-through rates (CTR). There is about a 75% increase in engagement when email and social proof (e.g. reviews, UGC from Instagram) are integrated.
Content is king. Social proof, one of the most important forms of content, will be more important this year than ever. People will be looking to others for input on whether they should buy since they can’t go into stores to try products. Beyond social proof, copy and images that live on your e-commerce store are all crucial elements to giving off a good impression and a great user experience.
Things to consider when optimizing content:
- Invest in high-quality photography. All the images on your homepage and product pages should be reflective of the type of brand you are and your product quality. These two pages are often the first and perhaps only things customers will see when landing on your website.
- Messaging is super important. Despite the era of 15 second videos, people still read – websites, emails, texts, blogs, etc., invest in good copy that sparks emotion and conveys your brand’s value propositions and product offerings.
This is the season to integrate upsells and cross-sells into your sale strategy. Cross-sells are additional products to add to an order. Upsells are upgrades/replacements to a product. These are a great way to increase AOV and make your customers feel like they’re getting more bang for their buck.
Things to consider when cross-selling:
- Help new customers or gift-shoppers pair items together that they don’t have much knowledge about.
- Use AI tools like Bold Brain to help you target unexpected yet great cross-sells.
- The paradox of choice is real. Keep choices limited, ideally to 1-2 items.
- Create a sense of exclusivity with limited deals or limited-run items.
- Aim for 10-25% of the product value for any upsell or cross-sell items.
- Include social proof using tools like Yotpo to show how products are enjoyed together.
Things to consider when upselling:
- Though cross-sells are often used more than upsells, upsells convert 20% greater than cross-sells.
- Think strategically about what products you offer that are upgradable.
- People see themselves as a premium person, a thrifty person, or somewhere in the middle, so offer similar products in that range (10-25% of the original product price) that allow them to self-identify and choose.
- Offer social proof of how real customers enjoy the upgraded version of a product.
Focus on loyal, repeat customers to increase customer lifetime value (CLTV). Having loyalty programs and incentives in place for your VIPs will create a sense of community and encourage them to become brand loyalists. This will increase chances of them making repeat purchases and referring your brand to friends or family.
Don’t just rely on sales and special discounts. There are many other ways to entice people to buy—some of which can even be paired with a discount. Consider:
- Bundles: Packing multiple items together for a discounted price makes the customer feel like they’re getting an item for free or receiving more than they paid for.
- Loyalty programs: Repeat customers get special deals. VIP customers get exclusive deals.
- Expedited shipping if you can provide that option as a discount alternative or added bonus.
- Exclusive access to products. This is especially useful for luxury brands.
Look at what your customers are saying about your brand. When coming up with discount alternatives, find out what they consider valuable, and figure out what you can provide that gives them that value in forms other than a discount.
Start planning for the Black Friday season now. Make it clear on your website that you’ll have deals available, and people should keep an eye out either by following you on social or signing up for emails for first access. Use clear messaging on your social channels advertising your deals.
Once you’ve gotten the word out, roll out your deals and specials all throughout October and November, a little at a time to keep up interest. You can use this time to gather information on your customers if they’re willing to give it — have them sign up for an SMS or email list to get notified of deals.
One last thing you can do to plan for the Black Friday season: a conversion rate optimization (CRO) audit. Every site has weak points or could just be doing better at converting visitors to customers. Get in touch with our e-commerce agency and let’s talk about giving your site a review.