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Have You Prepared Your Store For Black Friday & Cyber Monday?

It’s that time of year again! Where shoppers both in physical stores and online all go a little bit crazy for that one weekend in November. Yes, I’m talking about Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Last year, shoppers spent billions of pounds throughout the four-day event, so if you are wanting to get in on the action at this year’s biggest shopping weekend, here is a checklist of all the things you should have got ready.

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Successfully navigating through Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be a stressful and daunting task for a lot of store owners, due to them preparing their campaigns and tidying up their business for an influx of traffic sales and orders that will need fulfilling.

There are always new milestones to reach regardless of where your business is on your entrepreneurial journey so in order to help achieve yours, here is a checklist to hopefully address the bumps in the road that you may encounter over the Black Friday weekend.

  • Prepare For Customers Who Have Already Started Researching

Prepare for your holiday sales as early as you possibly can and also begin informing your customers and visitors all about your upcoming sales well in advance… But don’t leave it too far in advance as they may forget all about it when the time actually arrives.

Over half of shoppers plan to start their holiday shopping before Black Friday arrives so not only do you need to start planning early, but you also need to ensure that customers looking for gift ideas and information on specific products actually manage to find you.

  • Organising your upcoming sales

Take a look at all of your products and from there start to plan your deals and discounts ahead of time instead of just shoving them on sale at the very last minute.

One idea is for you to create your own Sales Map, you can do this really easily in a Google doc or Excel sheet, giving you simple outlines of your upcoming sales. Doing this means you can clearly see all the items you will be putting on sale, for how long and for what price.

  • Create Contingency Plans

Do you have the proper backups in place if there was anything that should go wrong? For example, what happens if the shipping company you are working with becomes backed up and too busy? How quick can you restock your inventory if you sell out of items a lot earlier than expected?

We’re not looking to stir up unfounded fears, but it’s really important to prepare for those tougher situations. Think about the worst case scenarios for your business and create contingency plans wherever possible. It’s a lot easier to handle the planning of these situations now, versus troubleshooting in the midst of the biggest sales weekend of the year.

  • Test or ensure your website can handle a surge in traffic

Sometimes, too many requests at the same time to your site can bog it down and potentially crash the site completely. This kind of downtime usually takes an enormous amount of traffic to occur, but it’s still a good idea to ensure your host can handle a spike in traffic.

There are a variety of tools out there which allows you to test your server load capacity just so you are more aware of just how much your site can take.

  • Ensure your store can handle increased demand

If you rely on a supplier for your inventory, or maybe your product is created by just you and your team, consider the increased demand you’ll experience during the holiday period.

Work closely with your suppliers and ensure they’re prepared to handle your projected sales of the holiday season. One of the worst things that can happen during a sale is selling out faster than you initially wanted to and they can no longer meet the demand of your customers.

  • Create banners and hero images to advertise holiday sales

What better way is there than to promote your holiday sales than with gorgeous graphics and visuals? Whether your planning to use banner ads in order to promote your holiday sales or changing your header image on your homepage to something Black Friday related, you don’t need to be a top graphic designer in order to get these done.

If you feel like you lack in the graphic design department there are some great tools around that will help you. You can easily pick up templates from CreativeMarket or Canva in order to create some cool and eye-catching graphics.

Plan Ads & Ad Copy

It’s always a good idea to plan the ads and ad copy you about to run for a sale or promotion ahead of time so you can put more thought into copy and ad placement.

Just remember that when doing this, bids can become more expensive during the holiday season due to the fact that it’s just a very competitive time of year. You may decide that you should increase your bid price on specific keywords or for certain audiences in order to increase the visibility of your ads during the bigger holiday sales. If your plan is to do paid advertising, it’s a good idea to prepare your holiday sale ad budget at the same time.

TOP TIP: Build suspense and buzz around your upcoming sales!

It’s super easy to announce a Black Friday / Cyber Monday sale, but building up that suspense and buzz for it can help make it an outsized success.

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You need to tease your customers with emails of what’s to come, post sneak peeks of your best upcoming sales on social media and start to attract the curiosity of your customers. The sooner you do this the more momentum you have during the Black Friday weekend which is when you will finally announce the sale.

Abandoned Cart Emails

The average cart abandonment rate on Black Friday last year was 74.5%, now, of course, you ideally want to try and keep that number a low as possible.

One of the most effective ways of doing this is by setting up targeted abandoned cart emails. This way, when a customer adds a certain product to their cart but then chooses to leave the store, you can use a compelling email in order to try and bring them back to complete their purchase.

Think Mobile First

Online stores are seeing an increase in mobile purchases and we should expect this trend to continue to grow. What this means for you as a store owner is that thinking mobile first is now essential.

What is your store’s user experience like on mobile? Is it easy to navigate and intuitive to make purchases on your store?

While you’re looking at your store on a mobile device, make sure you pay close attention to the checkout process. Filing each and every field required to check out can be a conversion killer, which is why options such as Google and Apple pay can help provide an added boost to your mobile conversions, not only is it a safe and secure way of checking out but it also allows customers to autofill saved information, reducing the keystrokes or clicks required to make a purchase.

Test Your Site & Get Feedback

Imagine if you could get inside the heads of your customers and listen to their thoughts as they navigate around your online store for the first time. There could be issues that you may not have previously noticed or areas on your store that the simplest of improvements can make a world of difference to using the site. A fresh pair of eyes is the perfect way to surface these otherwise hidden opportunities.

There are many ways to get someone new to look through your store and give you good constructive feedback. A good option for this would be UserTesting, which allows you to set parameters about who you’d like to test drive your store then you can sit back and watch a random user fitting your description browse through and listen to their feedback afterwards.

Feedback is valuable. Don’t feel discouraged if you get changes recommended to you as its all for your own benefit at the end of the day. Look for the most common snags or areas where visitors are frequently confused or frustrated and brainstorm fresh ideas to make the journey easier for your customers.

Placing Tracking Pixels

If you are running paid campaigns such as Facebook Ads or Google Smart Shopping campaigns, you should place retargeting pixels onto your site so you can remarket to your holiday sale traffic.

Market & Promote Your Products

In 2017, one ad agency found that on Black Friday, click-through rates more than doubled across all of their client’s ads. Shoppers will generally be more receptive to ads during the holiday season, but because this is an established trend, you’ll find the price of running ads during Black Friday and Cyber Monday typically goes up too.

Even with increased costs, your customers may be paying a little more attention to your ads. Marketing can play a significant role in the success of your holiday sales. As mentioned, the first step to getting prepared is to plan your ads way ahead of time. Here are a few preparations for your marketing you should consider for the holiday season.

Retargeting Past Visitors & Customers

If you have already set up a Facebook Pixel on your store, this is the time to make use of it. When you retarget previous visitors, you’ll reach people who may have forgotten about your store and therefore wouldn’t have checked out your site otherwise.

You can retarget customers that have previously purchased from your store. With existing customers being generally easier to reach and market to brand new customers, shoppers you’ve already sold to in the past should be especially receptive to your latest Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

Start Your Email Marketing Campaigns

Online merchants will generally see their highest conversion rates from email marketing during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period. So don’t miss out on this one!

Online merchants will generally see their highest conversion rates from email marketing during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period. So don’t miss out on this one!

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Email marketing this year will be likely to play an even more significant role in the success of most stores’ holiday sales. Every business owner should have a few email marketing campaigns ready in order to bring customers back to your website so they can act fast on your amazing sale offers.

Begin planning, creating and scheduling the emails you will be sending out during your sales. If you are in need of some ideas here are some campaigns you can put together:

  • Announcing Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sale: You can send details of the sale ahead of time to already existing subscribers and with that a reminder email when the sale is set to officially begin.
  • The last reminder before the sale ends: With the mass volume of emails being sent over the weekend, it really won’t hurt to remind subscribers that your sale is almost coming to an end, just to ensure they’re aware. Of course, you will inevitably get some procrastinators jumping on the expiring deals too.
  • Exclusive sale for email subscribers: One way to capture the attention of a crowded Black Friday / Cyber Monday inbox is to send a deal that is only available on your subscriber’s list, on top of your publicly posted deals. Make sure to tease it on your other channels such as Instagram as a way to attract a few more subs.
  • Sneak Peek of Upcoming Promotions: Whether your Black Friday offer is a discount or exclusive product, free shipping, donations to a charity or even a totally unique promotion, start teasing it early to your subscribers, just so they are on the lookout for the announcement. Send emails in a couple of weeks leading up to the big event with hints and teasers.

Planning Out Your Seasonal Sales

Consider having at least one doorbuster sale

A strategy that many retailers use is to run a big draw dropping sale on a really popular item to attract customers to their store.

Once customers come for the item they will more than likely pick up a few other items on their way to the checkout. Very occasionally this product serves as a loss leader, with the difference being made up by customers adding more to their cart than they would have without the flagship product’s deep discount.

What can’t – miss sale will draw the most attention and customers to your store? If you’re sending an email to your subscribers, consider focusing on the one sale product you feel is the most enticing instead of promoting all of your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales all at the same time.

Once you have their initial attraction, employ a few proven approaches in order to boost that average order value. A good example of this would be offering free shipping above a certain threshold or offering seasonal product bundles. This way, you’ll nudge people to add more to their cart beyond the initial offer that convinced them to your store in the first place.

Rewarding Your Loyal Customers

Black Friday and Cyber Monday is an opportune time to build up stronger and more meaningful relationships with your previous customers to get them back if they have disappeared for a bit.

Customer marketing is an opportunity to email and retargets your past customers with your very best deals. Provide existing customers with the chance to access a sale much easier on or offer them the more exclusive sales just for being a subscriber on your email list. Exclusive deals also act as an incentive for shoppers to leave their email before potentially leaving your site.

Build In Scarcity Where Possible

The holiday shopping season naturally attracts many frantic shoppers looking for the best deals at the last second. Offers will disappear fast, so don’t be shy about letting shoppers know when a deal is just about to finish or when a particular product is just about to sell out. Consider including countdown timers or “left in stock” alerts on your site for when items are getting limited.

Update Your Support Process

Integrate Live Chats

You should be easy to reach by customers during Black Friday. The last thing you want is to lose a sale because a potential customer couldn’t get an answer quick enough.

If you don’t feel that your ready or able to commit to having live chat staffed and monitored at all times, there are still ways to integrate live chat strategically. As a small business in order to get the very most out of your live chat during the busiest times, consider enabling it:

As soon as you send out emails or launching new promotions, make sure you’re available when you know there will be a lot of people clicking through from their inbox.

On Product pages that you are featuring in your deals, to address any questions customers have before they actually make the purchase.

During key purchasing moments, for example when someone is hovering around their shopping cart but not quite yet pressing ‘Buy’

Your live chat tool should be able to give you the control that you need to make sure you’re displaying the chat window to the right people, at the right time but still works best for you.

Ensure your responses are quick and courteous

The holiday period is a very hectic time for customer support, whether its managed by you or another member of your team. Part of providing a fantastic experience is having a quick response time, the other part is being courteous and respectful, even to the most uncourteous and impatient customers.

Having a few standard phrases and replies already planned will enable you to deliver more reliable and consistent service with minimal effort required.

It’s also worth brushing up on just how you handle those customers who aren’t exactly happy and what makes for genuinely delightful customer service. Getting all this information out of your head and written down somewhere will make it so much easier to share with your team members and any extra help that you may have potentially hired for the holiday rush.

Offer Easy & Hassle-Free Returns

The holidays aren’t just stressful for the owners of the business; they are also very frantic for shoppers too. Be the business that cares and goes that little extra with their customers.

Make sure your return policy is clear, fair and well communicated on your store. It might just convince those on the fence customers to pull the triggers since you’re showing confidence in your product and removing potential risk.