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Checklist to Prepare Your Business for Black Friday

How to Prepare a Black Friday (or Cyber Monday) Campaign

October 1, 2021
8 MINUTES
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Stefanija Tenekedjieva

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The holiday season is upon us and with it two of the most important days for online retailers: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Read this checklist to prep your marketing campaign and web performance for what could be the biggest sale of the year for you.

Online shopping has never been as popular as in the past year. Even though it was steadily growing in popularity, the covid-19 pandemic has solidified buying online as a reliable, useful and contactless experience for many shoppers worldwide.

And the numbers confirm this: according to Adobe Analytics, on Black Friday 2020, online shopping surged by 22%, reaching a record spending of $9 billion in the USA alone.

Cyber Monday in 2020 also had its best year ever, with spending reaching between $10.8 billion and $12.7 billion, which represents a growth of 15% to 35% from the year earlier.

So, if you were having second thoughts about participating in the wildest shopping weekend of the year, this is your sign that you shouldn’t. And here is how to prepare to make sure you will make a lot of Black Friday sales or Cyber Monday digital deals.

Plan and optimize early

Quite often it happens for businesses to miss out on potential customers because they started the preparation process a bit too late. Although Black Friday is the fourth Friday of November (and Cyber Monday right after that weekend), it is not a bad idea to start your preparation process as early as September.

From brainstorming to prepping social media ad graphics, all the way to optimizing the website and cleaning out the email list, there are many many things to be done before the actual campaign is launched and the sale starts.

So, make sure to set a meeting with your marketing team or anyone involved in the planning, and create a roadmap and clear schedule for all your actions. Try your best to stick to the planned time frame, and create a plan B for every small thing that could backfire, from A/B ad testing to an alternative shipping service if the original one falls short.

Make sure your website is loading fast and handles a lot of visitors

If you are expecting a lot more traffic because you offer discounts and have a more aggressive marketing campaign before Black Friday, make sure you test how your website will handle that.

Up to 46% of shoppers say they wouldn’t come back to a slow website in general. Now, put on top of that products that are sold out very quickly, and large traffic that can cause the website to crash. A lot of shoppers can lose track of the products they were eyeing, especially if they didn’t manage to put them in the shopping cart yet.

So, the shopping experience for all customers should be flawless. They have thousands of other small businesses and online stores to shop from and find suitable alternatives. Make sure yours offers a good checkout process.

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Optimize for good SEO and mobile use

In a sea of Black Friday deals, now might be the time you should make yours rank the highest on browsers. For this reason, you should do search engine optimization. Check the most relevant keywords, provide useful content in the months leading up to the sale, and make sure to acquire relevant backlinks from other blogs and business websites if possible.

Another thing you should do is to check if your website is optimized for mobile use. The mobile commerce share of total e-commerce retail sales in the US is expected to hit 53.9% by the end of 2021. Up to 79% of those smartphone users have made an online purchase through it in the last six months before April 2021. That is a large number of people visiting from a mobile device, that could potentially bounce off your website if they have a bad experience shopping.

Write good product descriptions

Writing an honest, vivid and persuasive product description can really help sell a product. It doesn’t need to be extremely salesy and flashy. Sometimes people prefer actually reading exactly what they are going to get.

oh.my Example of a good product description. Photo credit: Neil Patel

However, one good way of making products more desirable is to focus on their scarcity. Limited time only, unique and soon to be out of stock products sell much faster. Add a number of products left next to their description (you can also manipulate this number, of course), and see how fast it sells out.

Improve your email marketing game

If you were irregular in your emails, make a proper plan and improve your email marketing strategy. Consistent emails in the months leading up to Black Friday will remind your newsletter subscribers about your business, but also help them remember some of the products and services you offer.

With catchy subject lines and good product shots, you will have their attention and hopefully, they will visit your website and use the offers you have.

Create abandoned cart emails

For the shoppers with second thoughts, an abandoned cart email might be of use to give them that last push to complete their purchase.

People abandon their cart for multiple reasons, from putting them there to see the final cost of all products or simply to save them in one place while looking through other websites at all, or to a more technical issue like a credit card that didn’t work or lost connection.

Whatever the reason, you can help them make a decision by reminding them of what they were planning to buy.

oh.my An example of a good abandoned cart email from my personal inbox

Consider a cross-selling strategy

Black Friday is an excellent opportunity to improve your cross-selling skills. Expect your clients to leave your site without purchasing the item they want. If you have a consumer that is making a purchase, you should suggest something that will go along organically.

For example, if someone is buying organic tea, why not add a pop-up ad for a tea strainer? Or they are looking for a yoga mat, so you can pitch them dry-fit shirts for working out. Gift card buyers? Add a nice greeting card to the mix.

Other ideas are offering gift pairings: go through your product page and offer some items in pairs for a better price.

oh.my McDonald’s burger and fries: one of the best and most successful cross-selling pairs in marketing

Make sure you have social proof

Even the most gullible of shoppers would find it weird if you don’t have any reviews from users. Social proof is incredibly important for online businesses.

  • Today, 92% of consumers read online reviews;
  • 80% of shoppers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations;
  • most people will read up to ten reviews before making a purchase decision;
  • 54% of respondents will visit a website after reading positive reviews.

So, this is the right time to ask a nice word or two from your loyal customers and update your testimonials page.

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Add discounts or buying in bulk

As in other cases, when you give shoppers the feeling that they are saving a lot more money when buying in bulk, they will feel like they are missing out if they don’t seize the opportunity.

So, before you launch your Black Friday sale, make sure you calculate which products are best to be discounted and to which extent, as well as if those discounts and bulk sales are going to do more good or harm.

Usually, Black Friday shoppers will expect nothing less than a 20% off discount on everything. And a classic trick to raise the spirits and offer some excitement with a countdown clock and a banner that displays the most catchy prices and items on the homepage.

Run a social media campaign

This might seem too obvious, but you shouldn’t forget to use all your social channels for targeting the right audience and gathering as many leads as possible.

Design a well-targeted social media campaign with clear and catchy copywriting and product shots, that will be sure to attract the attention of viewers into your Black Friday sale.

Make sure shipping is affordable and well organized

If you’re an e-commerce business, reliable shipping can make or break your company. Especially if you sell your products worldwide, it is crucial that you offer affordable, or even free shipping.

From the perspective of a buyer, I have often chosen to pay a bit more for a product that has free shipping, than one that is cheaper but has a million unforeseen issues with paid shipping (note that in some countries the only delivery option is DHL, which is expensive, or national post which can be slow and unreliable).

So, measure up your cost and risk of having affordable shipping, and make sure to organize it well with a shipping company that you trust.

Analyze and draw learnings for next year

The most important step after your sale has ended: document everything! Analyze it, compare it with other years’ findings, draw conclusions and learn from it for the future.

A big sale can teach you many things about your customers, your assortment of products, your website and its design and functionality, as well as how you perform as a team under pressure.

As much as you’d want to unwind and forget about all the Black Friday stress after it’s done, analyzing the situation should be one more step to do before you rest and start the preparations for Christmas.

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Stefanija Tenekedjieva

October 1, 2021

Journalist turned content writer. Based in North Macedonia, aiming to be a digital nomad. Always loved to write, and found my perfect job writing about graphic design, art and creativity. A self-proclaimed film connoisseur, cook and nerd in disguise.