COVID-19 Business Continuity Insights and Digital Marketing Tips

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How to Prepare Your Business for Black Friday & Cyber Monday

The holiday shopping season is a critical period for retailers and e-commerce stores looking to increase their revenue. This year’s shopping season isn’t an exception, with...

Anissa Maligat
Anissa Maligat November 13, 2020

The holiday shopping season is a critical period for retailers and e-commerce stores looking to increase their revenue. This year’s shopping season isn’t an exception, with customers buying more products online due to COVID-19 fears and physical store closures. In fact, with everyone shopping online, experts foresee that Black Friday 2020 sales might go up by 61%. That statistic shows a clear shift to online purchases during the COVID-19 crisis.

With so much at stake, businesses will be vying with one another to offer the best deals and lure more customers to their online 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, our CEO.

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 adds.

However, this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales will be different from previous years. For example, every business will most likely experience limited inventory and shipping delays because of the increase in online customers.

Considering the high level of competition among retailers, how can businesses and e-commerce sites prepare themselves for Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

To help your business soar above the competition, we’ve listed several tips, insights, and strategies you can leverage throughout this year’s online Black Friday sales.

Plan Early

Planning your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales strategy is essential to obtaining great results over the upcoming shopping holiday. The trick is to get an early start, so crafting an enticing campaign should be your top priority right now. And since data shows that 34% of shoppers in the US have reported that’ll start shopping before Thanksgiving, you might want to run your campaigns earlier.

But how can your Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing strategy top those of your competitors?

“The only way to really stand out is to put forth the best possible value you can provide to consumers and be smart about how you are going to advertise your products and deals,” Mike says. “It all starts way before Black Friday and Cyber Monday.”

Re-Introduce Your Brand

Rein Sambilay, one of our Project Managers, 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.” To take this idea further, he adds that 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 their brand, including their products, and USPs. “Remind people why they should remember your brand and who you are.”

Bhea Catalan, our Digital Marketing Manager, seconded the motion and added that these goals can be achieved by social media and email remarketing.

Generate a Social Media Buzz 

Retailers will be offering discounts throughout Black Friday and Cyber Monday, employing different strategies to boost sales. The most common way for a typical e-commerce business to go about this would be by selling products on their website. However, many retailers have also started using social media to reach more customers and drive greater sales.

Our resident digital marketing expert Bhea shared that ramping up social media post volume is the 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 for you 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,” Bhea added.

So how can you create buzz around for your Black Friday promotions on social media? You can start by looking at trending hashtags. If your competitors are using any of those hashtags, come up with a unique way of using them in your posts.

Facebook ads can help you draw more sales, and Bhea shares more about how to make high-converting ads here. Including quality product photos and crafting compelling ad copy are an excellent way for you to drum up more attention for your products. Just make sure to launch your ads before Black Friday starts for optimal results.

Bhea offers another useful tip: “Expand your possible audience for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Achieving top-of-mind awareness can double, or even triple, your brand sales.”

Partnering with influencers and bloggers to promote your products can help your brand reach more potential buyers. Take Best Buy, for example. One of their ads features influencer Claire Guentz talking about the store’s holiday deals, so you might want to take a page out of Best Buy’s book and start your own influencer campaign. 

Another great way to increase engagement would be to share an influencer’s gift guide of your products on social media.

Spread the Hype via Email 

Email marketing is another effective channel for engaging and attracting customers. After all, a well-executed Black Friday email campaign will make your brand stand out. We suggest luring thrifty customers with an incredible offer that will encourage them to buy.

Compelling subject lines are another important element of your Black Friday emails. “Make sure your subject lines have been tested and are highly relevant,” Rein explains. Personalized emails can help you gain customers during these tough times.

Additionally, sending your campaigns at the right time is crucial. Rein shares this helpful tip for boosting email engagement: “Know the right time to send out your emails since you’ll be fighting for inbox placement during those key dates.”

Lastly, Rein reminds marketers to check if triggered emails — abandoned cart emails, cross-sell emails, welcome emails, and more — are still working.

“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,” he shared.

Boost Site Performance

With an anticipated surge in online sales, it’s best to check your online store’s speed and performance. Early testing will help you avoid slow loading times from increased purchases at peak hours.

Tools like Google PageSpeed Insights lets you test your site’s server capacity, speed, and homepage performance. Your results will give you a closer look at expected site traffic and help you improve your store’s current 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 they neglect the importance of site speed.

Site performance tests can also give you opportunities to leverage other helpful tools. Mike provides two examples:

Use 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.”

Run a Tag Manager

“Every retail site has an inventory of JavaScript tracking tags that can help marketers gain visibility on general analytics and measure the ROI of their campaigns. A tag management system like Google Tag Manager allows you to consolidate your tracking pixels, simplify their implementation, and conditionally fire tracking pixels as opposed to firing the entire inventory even if it’s unnecessary to do so.”

Testing your site is like planning for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so start early. When conducting these tests, don’t leave out your shopping cart and checkout pages since they’re the most crucial parts of your site during the sale.

Avoid Last-minute Site Enhancements

Rein advises that you stray from pushing new features during the sale.

“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,” he states.

Simply put, online store enhancements can wait until after Black Friday. So refrain from rolling out and testing new site features during the shopping rush.

Improve Your Site’s SEO

A good search presence means easier access to your products during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But how can you improve your site’s SEO? Double down on keyword research and creating dedicated landing pages.

Achieving better SEO starts with an effective keyword strategy. Find trending and high-ranking terms for Black Friday, then craft compelling product descriptions using those keywords.

If you want to boost organic site traffic, creating a Black Friday landing page will help. An effective landing page has the power to convert leads. So make sure you create an effective landing page that addresses the pain point on your customers and offers a solution to their problem.

Choose What to Sell Beforehand

Choose which products to sell on Black Friday and Cyber Monday beforehand. This way, you can easily ship out orders once the big week arrives and help your suppliers conduct timely deliveries.

Apart from simply selling the products in your current inventory, you might want to try selling other in-demand products during your Black Friday online sale. For example, home office supplies, board games, and health and beauty products have been in high demand since the COVID-19 lockdown. So offering them at a discounted price during the shopping holiday could gain you more customers.

Ensure Mobile-Friendliness

Black Friday sales from 2019 recorded $2.9 billion worth of revenue from smartphone users alone. That translates to around 39% out of the total $7.4 billion worth of sales. If these numbers teach us anything, it’s that mobile shopping has grown more popular than ever. Hence, you should have a mobile-friendly online store.

With that said, your mobile site should be easy to navigate. In particular, it should let customers zoom into your product photos. More importantly, your site should load instantly on mobile devices. 

If you’re unsure about how long it takes for your site to load on mobile, try Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. It will show your mobile store’s performance and indicate areas of improvement.

Advertising Across Digital Channels

By launching Black Friday marketing campaigns across different channels (like paid ads), you’re expanding your reach. Most businesses typically promote deals on social media or through PPC ads. But in the end, it’ll be up to you to decide what works best for your brand.

However, expect higher bid costs if you’re launching paid ads during the holiday season. But don’t let this put you off — on the bright side, higher keyword and audience bids will expand your online reach. As Mike puts it,

“Costs per mile and costs per click 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.”

Feel Free to Experiment

SMEs are faced with the challenge of standing out during this critical period. Given the cutthroat competition, making your mark may seem close to impossible. 

If you’re a small business unsure of how to reach your sales goals, Mike advises that you perform a post-mortem on your Cyber Monday and Black Friday marketing strategies and identify areas of improvement. “Take comfort in knowing that it’s all about adjusting the right levers,” he shares.

But what does he mean? It’s all about experimenting with different strategies and discovering the right mix. A good way to start would be to diagnose potential issues in targeting, advertising, website performance, and post-purchase marketing.

We’ve provided some Black Friday marketing ideas to breathe life into your campaigns below.

Use Pop-ups

You may encounter customers who will pass up on your offers and leave your store without buying anything. But by adding pop-ups to your site, you can give visitors a gentle nudge to convince them to give into your irresistible offer and check-out.

Newegg is a retailer that uses pop-ups to its advantage. One of its pop-ups encourages email sign-ups in exchange for a 10% discount on new orders. Making this type of offer is a great way to increase engagement and help customers save more.

Promote Deals & Discounts

Making sure your discounted items are visible on your online store. If possible, place them front and center. Offering product discounts will definitely ramp up your Black Friday sales. For greater impact, include the previous price in a strikethrough or show how much customers can save when they buy a specific product. After all, any offer that’s too good to resist can encourage hesitant shoppers to seal the deal.

Boohoo uses this marketing tactic to let their customers know about discounts on their products. When you go to any of the brand’s product pages, you’ll see a sale price and the discount you can get from a specific item. Each page also shows an item’s previous price, with a strikethrough across it.

Include “Suggested Products” 

If you’re lucky enough to reel in a significant amount of customers during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you might see them again on Christmas or New Year. Encourage them to buy from you again by including  suggested products that fit their interests on your site. Conducting

behavioral analysis on their last visit(s) can help you uncover insights so you can show customers relevant items that they’ll feel tempted to buy on their next visit.

A great example of a brand that offers a “suggested products” feature on their site is Macy’s. When you visit their product pages, you’ll see a “Customers Also Loved” section below the page, suggesting similar products.

Start a Flash Sale

Flash sales only take place for a limited time. A flash sale done right could create a sense of urgency and get your customers hyped up for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Who knows, your sales might even go over the roof!

For this to work, offer a short-term deal a few hours or days before Black Friday. Just this year, HP scheduled a flash sale two weeks ahead of Black Friday. The tech giant’s website contained an encouraging CTA and countdown timer, which worked hand-in-hand to encourage visitors to shop while stocks last.

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