Yup, Black Friday season is almost upon us, and this year it will be accompanied by plenty of fresh challenges. Fortunately, with those challenges come unique opportunities. The increased eCommerce traffic that is bound to take center stage this holiday season could be a blessing or a curse — it all depends on whether or not you’re ready for it.
If you haven’t quite started organizing your campaign and optimizing your website yet, don’t worry! There is still time (unless you’re reading this while preparing your turkey) and we’re going to help you capitalize on this year’s virtual shopping frenzy.
HOW MUCH DIFFERENT WILL THIS YEAR BE?
Holiday shopping seems to start earlier every year, and 2020 is certainly no exception. Arguably, it started in mid-October with Amazon’s delayed Prime Day. Not to be outmaneuvered, other big box retailers even launched their own early sales between late October and early November, throwing us into full-blown Black Friday – Cyber Monday (BFCM) season. Due to COVID-19, much of this year’s shopping will be done from couches instead of crowded malls, so the forecasts for online sales are staggering. Let’s look at some predicted stats for 2020 to see what we should be prepared for.
- $189 billion- total online shopping sales this holiday season (Nov 1 – Dec 31). 33% increase over 2019.
- $10.3 billion – online sales generated on Black Friday alone. Up 39.2% from 2019.
- $12.7 billion- sales racked up on Cyber Monday. 35.3% increase from 2019.
- 42% of all online shopping will be done on smartphones. Up 52% increase from last year.
- ⅓ of all consumers will complete their holiday shopping by Black Friday.
Source– Adobe Analytics
Clearly, this season is going to be busy. More importantly though, let’s focus on those last two stats. Close to half of shopping will be done on phones this year, so let’s get that mobile site optimized. And, a third of shopping will be completed even earlier than usual. That means there’s no time to waste.
“42% of all online shopping will be done on smartphones.”
Set Your Goals
The first step in forming your BFCM strategy is deciding on what you specifically want to achieve. Of course you want to drive sales, but if you can get a little more specific than that you will be able to better form the rest of your strategy. Some possible goals could be:
- Increasing Average Order Value
- Reducing Bounce Rate
- Increasing Leads
Whatever your goals are, they should be realistic and achievable, as they will ultimately serve as the foundation for your approach.
Key Performance Indicators
Now that you have established your goals, you can set your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These serve as the metrics you use to track your progress towards your goals. During this time of year, your KPIs will most likely be based around sales, so Average Order Value and Conversion Rate are both good metrics to start with. You may also want to keep an eye on indicators like Cart Abandonment Rate, Traffic Source, and Bounce Rate.
It is also important to note that things like CPC and CPM tend to be more expensive during the holiday season. This is simply due to the overall increase in advertising, so don’t stress if you see those metrics jump.
BUILD THE HYPE
Well before Black Friday begins to approach, you want to focus on capturing new leads and engaging with your existing audience. That way, by the time you start sending out those Black Friday emails and posting to social media, you are reaching as many people as possible.
As you probably know first-hand, everyone’s inboxes will be flooded with emails on Black Friday. Due to this extra competition, it is imperative that you make your emails stand out.
To start, we highly recommend segmenting your email list. According to Epsilon, 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when their experiences are personalized. This doesn’t mean you have to handwrite everyone their own letter, but breaking up your contacts into three or four groups can go a long way. Segmenting your audience allows you to craft more relevant messages for each group, which ultimately leads to higher engagement and a better ROI.
How you slice up your contacts will depend on your goals, but here a few safe bets to start you off:
- Loyal Customers– Sending your best customers a little something extra will show your appreciation and help to strengthen your relationship. This could be early access to your sale or an extra discount on top of what you are offering everyone else.
- Cart Abandonment- Cart abandonment rates have shot up the last few years, currently sitting around 70% on average. This is due to a number of reasons, like shipping being too costly or the checkout process being too lengthy. However, anyone who has gotten to the point of putting your products into their cart has shown that they are very interested, and might just need a little nudge to follow through with a purchase. Give these individuals a little extra attention and they could certainly become customers.
- Inactive Subscribers- This group includes individuals who signed up for your emails but stopped opening them, or never opened them to begin with. Before you remove them from your contact list (which you may want to do eventually) try to engage with them once more. Black Friday provides the perfect opportunity to entice consumers with a sweet deal and bring them back to your site.
Regardless of who your emails are going to, make sure they include some actionable CTAs that will inspire the reader to click over to your site. Keep in mind that during Black Friday, your emails have a lot of competition in your recipient’s inbox. So make those subject lines stand out from the dozens of ‘Black Friday Deals!’ emails that everyone will be receiving. Spice it up a bit — your recipients will appreciate seeing something different.
Whenever we talk about social media campaigns we suggest choosing quality over quantity, and this time is no different. It might be tempting to try and take advantage of every single social media site, but that will almost certainly come at the expense of your content. Instead, focus on the few channels that you already have the highest engagement rates on to make the best use of your time and marketing dollars.
In the weeks leading up to Black Friday put your social media pages to use by teasing the great deals that you will be offering. This is a great way to build up some excitement, but don’t give away too much information just yet. Withholding exact prices and discounts will give your audience good reason to open your emails and go to your website on the day of.
To the marketer’s delight, Black Friday comes with its own sense of urgency. But you can reinforce this with tools like Instagram’s countdown sticker, or by communicating that stock will be limited.
Keep It On Brand
As always, be sure to keep your content and messaging in line with your brand. Don’t chase away your existing audience by bombarding them with spammy social posts or multiple emails every day. While it is important to capitalize on holiday season spending, you shouldn’t be sacrificing your brand image to do so.
PREPARING YOUR WEBSITE
The prospect of having a huge influx of visitors to your website is exciting, but it carries some risks. As long as your website is properly optimized, though, it shouldn’t have any problem handling the increased traffic. We have discussed website optimization at length in this previous article, but let’s lay out the main elements you should focus on for BFCM specifically.
- Homepage: Your homepage should serve one main task — leading your visitors to where they want to go as efficiently as possible. During BFCM, get rid of anything distracting from your homepage, as well anything that is going to eat up bandwidth and decrease the load speed. This includes videos, product carousels and GIF files. These guidelines also apply to any other designated landing pages.
- Mobile Optimization: We mentioned earlier that 42% of all online shopping will take place on smartphones this holiday season. Ensure your mobile users receive the same smooth experience that they would get on a desktop or you will be missing out on valuable traffic. 53% of visitors will leave a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load, so trim down that load time by removing unnecessary content, optimizing images, and enabling caching.
- Search: Does your website have a Search Box? If not, it should. And if you do have one already, make sure it has auto-suggest enabled. The ability to quickly search your site for something specific enhances the user journey for all visitors, especially mobile users. Also, make your Search Box easy to find. The top-right corner is the most common location.
- Photos: While you don’t want tons of photos on your homepage, you do want them on your individual product pages. The better idea a customer has of your product, the more likely they are to make a purchase. Great images make your products seem more real to everyone viewing them on a screen from their living room.
- Social Proof: 61% of customers read reviews before making a purchase, so placing reviews and testimonials alongside your products will instantly help to build trust. Incorporating reviews directly into your website will also keep your visitors from leaving your site to search for them. You can also display awards or other recognitions to help increase your credibility.
- Checkout Page: What’s worse than filling out long forms? Filling them out on your phone. To increase your conversion rate, condense your checkout process into a single page. Many browsers and content management systems support autofill now too, which makes the checkout process even easier. Your customers should be able to complete the checkout process with as few clicks as possible.
CAPITALIZING ON TRAFFIC
Instead of seeing Black Friday weekend as a standalone event, frame it as the beginning of the long holiday shopping season. The goal of this time is to not only drive sales, but to make good use of the increased traffic.
Once your website is optimized, there is one more element that it needs — a sign-up form for your mailing list. This should always be on your site, but it carries extra importance during this time of year. The sign-up form should be highly visible, simple to fill out, and include some sort of incentive, such as early access to future sales. If you can turn Black Friday shoppers into returning customers, they will be gifts that keep on giving.
After Cyber Monday, reorganize your email contacts once again based on their BFCM behavior. Anyone who made a purchase should be properly thanked with a follow-up email that is separate from their sales receipt. You can also begin sending this group relevant content to help them feel even more involved with your brand, as well as emails about upcoming sales that will be taking place through December.
For anyone who abandoned their cart, or didn’t make it quite that far, sending them another offer after Black Friday can entice them to revisit your website. This group has already shown some interest in your brand and will likely continue shopping throughout the holiday season.
Once Black Friday and the holidays are behind us, there will still be a lot to keep up with. Hopefully you will have added plenty of new contacts to your email list that want to learn about your brand. And the earlier you can begin to engage with them, the better.
Now that you have expanded your audience, it’s time to connect with them. A strong marketing strategy is necessary to turn all those new leads into repeat customers and, eventually, loyal advocates. Without the right strategy in place, you risk losing the relationships that you formed over the course of the holiday season. Thankfully, all those new customers also offer valuable data that can be used to optimize your buyer personas.
Your new and existing customers will all be looking forward to what you have to offer in the new year. That means fresh content and new social media strategies on top of new products and services. And as busy as you are already, starting the new year without those could cost you your competitive edge.
If your brand could use a refresh or your marketing team needs a boost, shoot us a message! We specialize in everything from brand identity to marketing strategy and are ready to propel you into the new year with style.
Want the condensed version? Hear it right from our Marketing Director, Sarah Hetrick!