Your eCommerce Guide to Mastering Black Friday 2018

Black Friday is one of the most important days of the holiday season for retailers, and quite possibly one of the most profitable days of the entire year. According to BigCommerce, Black Friday sales account for one-fifth of all holiday shopping, a period that often spans across two months. Since 2008, Black Friday eCommerce sales have consistently increased year after year, reaching an all-time high in 2017 at $7.9 billion in revenue.

While millions of people across the country are still willing to venture out of their homes after Thanksgiving to get the best Black Friday deals sometimes even choosing to camp outside stores just to be the first few hundred in the door online shopping is beginning to take center stage.

Online shopping allows consumers to stay in the comfort of their home while still taking advantage of the major sales offered on this holiday. And, in the last decade, Black Friday has shifted from a one-day event to an entire weekend-long extravaganza with the rising popularity of Cyber Monday deals.

As an eCommerce business, you should begin planning your Black Friday strategy now. Though brick-and-mortar stores still make up the majority of retail sales by a minor margin, eCommerce companies can have an additional edge over the competition with the ability to offer enticing Cyber Monday deals. In preparation for the 2018 Black Friday madness, try implementing some of these strategies in your holiday planning.

Build a Holistic Marketing Plan for the Entire Event

When creating a marketing strategy for Black Friday, you should be thinking about the bigger picture and developing a plan for deals that you can roll out the evening of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, the weekend after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Because the eCommerce space is so crowded and thousands of companies are turning Black Friday into a four-day event, having a plan ready to execute will allow you to keep up.

Consumers are all about promotions, especially when shopping for gifts around the holidays. They expect to get special treatment during Black Friday, and are usually more willing to make purchases when given the right incentives.

However, offering just one blanketed promotion over the course of an entire weekend is no longer sufficient. When designing your holiday marketing strategy, you’ll want to create several promotional campaigns to roll out over the course of several days. Choose which specials you’d like to run on Black Friday, whether that means offering discounts after shoppers meet a certain threshold of spending or including a free gift with purchases.

The sales offered on Black Friday and Cyber Monday should be the steepest discounts to attract the biggest draws for customers. But, since you don’t want to lose sales steam between that Friday and that Monday, you should still promote discounts and specials, such as free shipping, throughout the weekend.

Make Offers Compelling and Actionable

While free shipping has been proven to be a successful promotional offer, retailers need to do more for Black Friday. Consumers expect to discover significant discounts and perks during Black Friday sales. If they don’t see your promotions as enticing enough, they will quickly move on to a site with better deals, leaving you with a decrease in sales during the most important time of the year.

Your holiday promotions should offer compelling deals that will appeal to your consumers, but they should also be simple. Coupon codes for discounts should be displayed clearly at the top of your website. Or, if it’s a social media exclusive offering, the code should be included in the image and text you post.

Avoid asking shoppers to take too many actions in order to get the deal. Another easy and attractive way to highlight promotions is by displaying the discounted price on product pages next to the original price. When customers are reminded of the sale, they are more likely to buy because they feel as though there are taking advantage of a special deal.

Offer Extra Incentives for VIP Customers to Build Brand Loyalty

It costs nearly five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain existing ones. And yet, a lot of companies are more focused on reining in new business than retaining their existing audience.

While it’s certainly important to bring in new business during the holidays, rewarding your loyal customers can bring in additional business and establish a better relationship. Consider offering additional incentives to these consumers through social media or email campaigns .

Because you likely already have their contact information and user data, you can send an email campaign to any consumers who have previously purchased from your eCommerce site and let them know that they are receiving a special offer only given to select customers.

Referring to your customers as “VIP members” is a great way to make them feel special, and when people feel as though they are receiving something exclusive, they are more likely to make a purchase. This is true across many industries. Consider why people enjoy being regulars at their local coffee shop or restaurant.

Consumers like feeling as though a company or business notices them and offers them  incentives not given to the general public. Fostering this connection with VIP customers will build brand loyalty and help retain shoppers long after the holiday season has passed.

Plan for “Black November”

You may have heard the term “Black November” being thrown around the eCommerce world recently. This phrase refers to the notion of extending your Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals to span the entire month of November.

Because this is one of the most popular months for holiday shopping, enticing consumers to visit your site through deals and promotions is an excellent strategy for attracting customers and increasing conversions. If you’re going to design a marketing strategy for Black November, keep in mind that your steepest discounts and most attractive promotions should still be rolled out on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Free shipping is consistently listed as a top priority for eCommerce shoppers. Because of the rise of Amazon Prime which offers free two-day shipping to its members online consumers have become accustomed to free shipping and will often abandon their cart if they are hit with an unexpected shipping charges during the checkout process.

If your eCommerce business doesn’t offer free shipping year-round, this is an easy and attractive special you can offer in November. Begin promoting your deal through social media, email and on your site’s homepage with a catchy tagline about an entire month of free shipping.

Other popular offers might include a free gift when customers spend a certain amount of money. Consider starting November specials early to maximize your revenue returns this year.

Use Social and Email Campaigns to Build Anticipation Naturally

Creating a plan for Black Friday specials is not enough anymore. Once you’ve determined what your promotions will be and you’ve identified the best method for offering these specials, you need to spend a lot of time promoting them to build excitement about your Black Friday campaign.  

If you’re planning to offer Black November deals, you should have a strategy for all of these discounts ready to roll out by the start of October. If you’ve decided to just focus on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, get your marketing plan together by the last few weeks of October and start promoting early in November.

Building anticipation is one of the best ways to get consumers to remember your brand. Roll out several social media campaigns with staggered posts letting people know what to expect come Black Friday. If you don’t want to reveal all of your specials at once, you can run a teaser campaign and promote bits of information slowly, letting people know there’s more to come.

This will create a sense of urgency in consumers as they anxiously await your seasonal promotions. You may also build desirability in your customers if you’re promoting products you anticipate to be popular this holiday season. When potential shoppers view your social media channels, they’ll not only learn about your upcoming deals, but they’ll get a preview of your products and may begin virtually window shopping in preparation for Black Friday.

Email marketing is another great way to promote your specials. Your existing customers are more likely to buy from you if they’re aware of your sales in advance, especially if you decide to offer exclusive VIP discounts.

Building a sense of urgency is key when it comes to boosting conversions, and email marketing can give consumers the extra push they need to make a purchase. Using catchy email subject lines, like “Have You Started Your Holiday Shopping Yet?” or “Holiday Gift Guide 2018,” will remind customers that they need to begin buying gifts while also providing them with useful information when they begin the shopping process.

Segment Your Audience by User Data and Behavior

While blanketed campaigns were commonplace in eCommerce for a long time, segmented marketing is beginning to take over the market, for good reason. Analyzing your user data and behavior can reveal a lot of information about your buyers and can help you to retain them as customers. In fact, segmenting your audience by demographics and user data can boost your email open rates by 203 percent!

Not only is segmentation useful to eCommerce companies, but it benefits the consumer as well. People do not want to spend hours browsing products they’re not interested in just to find the perfect gift. When you examine their purchasing history, you can send out targeting campaigns displaying items you think will appeal to customers. This makes the shopping process simple for shoppers and boosts your chance of making a sale during the busy holiday season.

Check Site Performance and Speed

Before the rush of the holiday madness season, it’s imperative that you check and double check the many components of your eCommerce site. Don’t make the mistake of assuming your site is performing well, only to have it crash in the middle of the biggest shopping event of the year. Site speed is extremely important when it comes to providing a great customer experience.

Internet users are accustomed to getting information quickly. If your site is taking too long to load or pages are not functioning properly, a consumer will not take the time to try to resolve the issue or wait out the extended load time — they will simply bounce to the next site.

Optimize for Mobile

We can’t emphasize the importance of mobile eCommerce enough. While it continues to gain domination with eCommerce sales, people are using their mobile devices more for product research and shopping. Industry research suggests that consumers using mobile devices will spend roughly $2.44 billion during Black Friday 2018, which means if your site is not optimized, you will lose out on sales.

To ensure that users are getting a great experience on your mobile site, first test the site as a buyer — including running through the checkout process. Consumers want a site that operates smoothly and insures a seamless checkout process.

While it’s important to offer an easy checkout on your desktop site, making this process even more simple and quick on mobile is important because people are less inclined to type out private information on a hand-held device. Consider testing out features like one-click purchasing, but make sure that this new addition is working effortlessly before the holiday shopping season arrives to avoid issues.

Optimize the Checkout Experience

Along with optimizing your site for mobile, you should review and update your checkout process. As mentioned above, consumers value a quick, simple checkout experience. This means your eCommerce site should ask for the minimum amount of information you need from customers so they don’t need to spend much time completing their purchase.

With an average cart abandonment rate at 69.89 percent, it will behoove your eCommerce site to provide a streamlined experience to reduce bounce rate. You can offer the option to create an account to reward returning customers with a streamlined buying experience, but it’s more important, especially with seasonal customers, to give them the easiest path to purchase.

As more shoppers use digital payment options, you may also want to offer other payment methods at checkout, such as PayPal, to allow users to quickly check out without the need to fill in long strings of credit card numbers.

With Black Friday fast approaching on November 23, it is imperative that your eCommerce site has a powerful marketing strategy in place to capture seasonal revenue and grow your brand presence online. Our guide identifies some effective ways to rise above the competition and secure a record-breaking year in conversions and traffic.

If you need more resources to make this holiday season your most profitable to date, check out our curated holiday resource guide to reduce juggling and put more jingle into your seasonal marketing plan.