Thanksgiving week is upon us, and with it comes Black Friday and Cyber Monday, where consumers can find some of the best online shopping deals of the holiday season. Considering this is one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year, it’s important that businesses are ready to take advantage of the potential increase in website traffic and online sales. Below, we’ll walk you through some tips and recommendations for readying your marketing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday!
- Prepping Your Website for Black Friday
- Prepping Your E-Commerce for Black Friday
- Prepping Your Social Media Advertising for Black Friday
- Prepping Your Email Marketing for Black Friday
- Prepping Your PPC for Black Friday
Prepping Your Website for Black Friday
Step one in any Black Friday or Cyber Monday marketing plan should be to ensure that your website is ready to handle any traffic increase.
Add an SSL Certificate
First and foremost, the most important “safety signal” that customers look for on a website is a secure connection. Most websites today have added SSL certificates to their domain, meaning their URL is led by “HTTPS://”, which is a strong indicator of secure browsing.
Adding an SSL certificate encrypts the actions of customers on your website, protecting information they share when making a purchase, such as their name, address, phone number—and most importantly—their credit card information. With the understanding that their information will be secure, customers are more willing to shop, share their information, and complete purchases.
Check Your Return Policy
It’s not always the first thing you’d consider when putting together a marketing plan for your website, but customers want to know how they can return items, should they need to. If you have one currently, ensure that it’s up-to-date with the latest information, including your correct mailing address, phone number or email address, and any links to contact forms or FAQs providing additional information.
If your website doesn’t have a return policy yet, Shopify has tips for how to put one together, including what it should cover, templates that you can easily adapt for your business, and tips on where you should place a return policy on your website.
Adjust Your Hosting Plan
Hoping to get a boost in website traffic during Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Make sure you double-check your current hosting plan. Many new websites are on shared hosting plans that can accommodate small surges in website traffic but can’t handle surges for sustained periods of time. And unfortunately, shared hosting also means that your website is hosted along with other websites—so if someone else’s website goes down, it’s possible yours could as well.
If you’re anticipating (or at least hoping for) more traffic this holiday season, upping your hosting plan to a more robust offering, such as business hosting or a dedicated server, is best. This will allow for more traffic to flow through your website and lessen the chance for website response delays or complete shutdowns to your website.
Update All Website Plugins
Last but not least, you need to make sure that every plugin you use on your website is updated. Out-of-date plugins are more susceptible to breaking or not working when customers visit your website. Additionally, bad plugins can wreak havoc on a website’s functionality, creating user experience issues that can ultimately drive traffic away and keep sales down.
Prepping Your E-Commerce for Black Friday
Updating your website’s functionality and ensuring there’s no loss in response time is only one half of creating a successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing campaign. In conjunction with your website, you need to put an emphasis on your e-commerce program.
Take Account of Available Inventory
There’s nothing worse come Black Friday than not knowing exactly how much of any item you have available to customers. Do an inventory check as quickly as possible so that you can be ready to make strategic decisions on the items you sell.
Without knowing what you have, you could accidentally promote an item you have a limited quantity of, which could backfire when customers come to find it’s sold out instantly.
Implement Pop-Up Offers
Once customers are on your site, you’ll need ways to keep them there. One way is to implement pop-up offers and CTAs that offer additional discounts applicable to a few items you want to sell or that can be applied to items across the entire site.
Providing customers with free shipping incentives when they purchase a select group of products or when they spend a certain amount of money can all work to your benefit, not just in convincing someone to purchase an item, but ultimately leading them to tell others about your deals as well.
In the event you don’t have a vast number of certain items on hand, it could be to your benefit to use scarcity as a means to sell an item out. On product pages in question, add headers on the page alluding to “Only a few [item name] are left!” Consumers are often quick to react with items they want when presented with the fact that they may not be able to get one.
Scarcity can be overused, however. Too much can leave customers thinking that it’s only being used as a marketing tactic (and they would be right). So be specific with which items you truly want to push to sell out and which items you can live with still having on hand following the holiday weekend.
Prepping Your Social Media Advertising for Black Friday
Relying solely on your website and e-commerce to do the heavy lifting may mean missing sales opportunities. That’s why we recommend utilizing your social media presence for paid advertising, too.
Create Multiple Target Audiences
You should have a target audience created for each social media ad or promoted post based on the product you’re offering, your local market, and the demographics of your customers. By getting more specific with your ad targeting—rather than using a “spray and pray” approach—you’ll be more likely to get your ads in front of customers who will convert.
Saving these target audiences will also make retargeting those customers throughout the holiday season—and beyond the holidays—easier, too.
Keep Posts to a Minimum
The worst thing you can do with paid social advertisements is oversaturate your customers’ news feeds. Social ads, while part of a consumer’s daily life online, can still be an unwelcome sight for those who would rather see posts from friends and family.
But that can be remedied by keeping targeted ads to a minimum. Facebook, for example, allows you to set a schedule for when ads will be seen, ensuring that people won’t see your ad 24/7 and potentially hide future posts from your brand.
Double-Check Your Ads
Before pushing an ad, make sure the offerings you’re promoting are correct and match up with what’s on the landing page where you’re sending social traffic. Telling customers that they’ll receive a certain amount off of a product only for them to be met with a different product or discount could result in abandoned shopping carts and fewer sales.
If you don’t already have one, creating a spreadsheet for your team that describes the different products and discounts you’re promoting with target audiences for each will make it easier for everyone to stay on top of advertising. This way, you can check off completed ads and reduce the risk of mistaking one offer for another.
You can easily expand the reach of social media posts by using simple hashtags that match up with the weekend’s events. These can be as simple as:
While it doesn’t seem like much, consumers are on the lookout for the best deals throughout the weekend. By connecting your business’s offerings to these hashtags, you can reach potential customers without having to spend extra capital to find them.
Prepping Your Email Marketing for Black Friday
Another way to generate sales during the holiday season is through effective email marketing. Whether you’ve been A/B testing emails throughout the year or you’ve been waiting until now to put together a campaign, you’ll want to do the following before Thanksgiving.
Clean Up Your Email Lists
Before getting started with email campaigns for your upcoming sales, you need to clean up your existing lists. There are few things worse than sending emails to a list filled with email addresses that were previously undeliverable, have marked any previous emails as spam, or who have requested removal and were kept on the list.
Try to organize the lists if you haven’t already. While sending emails to your entire list isn’t exactly a bad thing, it can result in lower open and click-through rates. Putting together groups based on location, previous open rates, and new subscribers can help you achieve better open rates and complete more sales.
Send a Primer Email
Sometime early in the week, put together and send an email that gets your customers ready for the week ahead. Let them know of some of the smaller deals you have going on while alluding to larger discounts that are “coming soon.” You want your customers to be aware of the fact that you’re offering discounts during Black Friday but leaving them with information that keeps them invested for later.
Push a Reminder Email
On Thanksgiving Day, it’s important to send an additional reminder email ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts going live. This reminder email should get into the details you left out in the previous primer email, building more anticipation for the coming days of shopping.
And don’t worry too much about people possibly not seeing your email. Even though Thanksgiving is a day away from work, customers are still connected to their phones. For those who are looking forward to these deals, this reminder email can be the difference between them shopping with you and not.
Prepping Your PPC for Black Friday
Don’t forget to put some focus on pay-per-click advertising campaigns for Black Friday, too. While this shouldn’t be your only holiday marketing tactic, it can help you gain some traction in search engine results pages and drive more traffic to conversion pages on your website.
Seek Out Low Competition Keywords
Because Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the two craziest online shopping days of the year, there will be tons of competition for keywords around these events. Costs per click on keywords related to Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be much higher than you anticipate.
Instead of depleting your budget by going after competitive keyword sets, try seeking out lower competition keywords more closely associated to what you’re selling, rather than focusing on Black Friday deals or discounts. This can both save your budget and put you in a better position to garner new traffic from your paid ads.
PPC budgets can quickly get erased if you don’t put enough emphasis on understanding how the costs have fluctuated for your chosen keywords. If your focus is on more competitive keywords, be sure to overestimate your budget with those keywords so that you aren’t surprised. This can save you some headaches on the Tuesday after Cyber Monday and leave you with some PPC budget for the end of the year.
Setting your business up for success this holiday season doesn’t have to be a major investment. These preparations are all designed to be accomplished quickly and put your business in a position to succeed as we close out the year. Happy holidays—and go get those sales!