The holiday shopping season is a critical period for retailers and e-commerce stores looking to increase their revenues. In 2017, Black Friday and Cyber Monday garnered 7.9 billion dollars in sales—an 18 percent increase from 2016. The average person, meanwhile, spends nearly $300 dollars over Thanksgiving weekend.
With so much at stake, businesses will be vying with one another to offer the best deals and lure more customers to their stores.
“Every retail business in the United States is going to put their best products and offers front and center within the same five-day stretch as everybody else,” says Mike Villar, Growth Rocket’s Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Product Management.
As Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the biggest shopping holidays in the United States, competition for consumer attention has always been stiff. “The same five-day stretch is also when every retailer is most aggressive with their advertising spend and marketing to their proprietary audiences,” Mike added.
Considering the high level of competition among retailers, how can businesses and e-commerce sites prepare themselves for Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
Along with Mike, we asked Rein Sambilay (Senior Marketing Operations Manager) and Bhea Catalan (Digital Marketing Coordinator) to share their Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing strategies to help businesses transition from being “in the red” to being “in the black”.
1. Plan Early
“The only way to really stand out is to put forth the best possible value you can provide to consumers and being smart about how you are going to advertise your products and deals,” Mike said. “It all starts way before Black Friday and Cyber Monday.”
Because every retailer is vying for the same finite consumer attention, the cost to get products and deals in front of consumers is going to shoot up. “CPMs (and CPCs as a corollary) will be more expensive across the board. This is the reason why you should be ramping up your audience-building efforts for your remarketing campaigns.”
As early as August, Mike says e-commerce sites need to have enough foresight to see beyond purchases that happen in the short term. “Supplement the campaigns you run that are meant to immediately convert users with campaigns that measure micro-conversions. Some customers might not end up converting in the short term but that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t further down the road,” he said.
2. Introduce & Re-Introduce Your Brand
Rein says e-commerce sites should focus on introducing new audiences to their brand. “Go for segments that are similar to your target demographic,” he explains. “Put your best foot forward—tell them who you are and why your brand is relevant to them.” He adds that, generally, it takes more than five to seven touchpoints before a consumer recognizes your brand.
For audiences that are already familiar with your products, Rein says e-commerce sites should start by re-introducing themselves, their products, and USPs. “Remind people why they should remember your brand and who you are.”
He, along with Bhea, added that these goals could be achieved by remarketing via social media and email:
Generate a Buzz via Social Media
Bhea said ramping up social media post volume is key to generating a buzz. “If your social media manager posts content on a daily basis, doubling this up on Black Friday and Cyber Monday can help,” she said.
To support high post volume, it’s best to run click-based traffic and brand awareness campaigns for brand acknowledgment. “Substantial and evergreen content can also be boosted to reach more people and eventually convert them,” she added.
“Expand your possible audience for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Achieving top-of-mind awareness can double, or even triple, your brand sales.”
Keep Subscribers Interested via Email Marketing
“Make sure your subject lines are tested and highly relevant,” Rein explains. “Know when the optimal time to send your email campaigns is since you’ll be fighting for inbox placement during those key dates.”
He adds that online retailers should only push the highest discount on those dates. “Generally, people will hold off on buying until the cyber holidays because they know brands will be pushing their highest discounts on those dates. Push too early and you might lose key sales.”
Lastly, Rein reminds marketers to check if triggered emails—abandoned cart emails, cross-sell emails, welcome emails, etc.—are all working. “All of these can save a sale during those key dates. Don’t forget to reflect your discounts on these emails as well since these types of emails generally have high open and click-through rates.”
3. Never Neglect Site Performance
“There are numerous studies that indicate millisecond-level improvements to site speed translate to thousands of dollars in additional revenue captured,” Mike said. Inversely, retailers lose considerable revenue when site speed is neglected.
He provides two examples of the most common low-hanging fruit new retailers defer action on:
- Using a CDN: “A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a group of optimized and globally-distributed servers,” he explains. “CDNs improve site performance by serving your site’s assets from a server that is closest to the user. Given the increasingly global nature of e-commerce, using a CDN has become pretty much non-negotiable.”
4. Avoid Adding New Site Features on the Day Itself
Rein advises to avoid pushing new features during these dates. “You don’t want to have your site crash during Black Friday because you’ve pushed out a faulty enhancement. Every feature should be tested before those key dates. You’re already too late if you’re worrying about site speed and performance during Black Friday.”
Experiment with Different Marketing Strategies
For small businesses, it can be challenging to stand out during this critical period. It might even seem impossible. If you don’t reach your sales goals, even after applying the aforementioned tactics, Mike advises online retailers to do a post-mortem on their Cyber Monday and Black Friday marketing strategies.
“Take comfort in knowing that it’s all about adjusting the right levers,” he said.
Mike advises online retailers to diagnose and address the leaks in the funnel, starting from the top (targeting and advertising) all the way down to the bottom (website and post-purchase marketing).
“You have 11 months until Black Friday and Cyber Monday come around again—and 11 months could very well be an eternity from the perspective of experimenting with a marketing strategy that works best with your brand,” he concluded.