November 19, 2015

How to maximize sales on Black Friday + Cyber Monday


There's no way that around this time of year, I can't blog about something regarding Black Friday + Cyber Monday.

Black Friday in 2015 is held on Friday, November 27th, and Cyber Monday is on Monday, December 1st. 

Here's why everyone is talking about these two retail holidays:

Black Friday (BF) is called 'black' friday because this is the day historically that many retailers move from being in the 'red' for the year (i.e. not making any profit) to making profit. Seriously. So, if you're making profit right now prior to BF, then go ahead + pat yourself on the back.

Black Friday, which was once a US-only holiday is now gaining global presence. On the day, over 87 million people will go shopping

From Black Friday to Christmas, accounts for on average 30% of a retailers sales

Last year, on Black Friday, shoppers spent an average of $800~ per person, which was up 4% over 2013. Amazing.

Cyber Monday on the other hand is a relatively new holiday focused on ecommerce retailers. In 2014, Cyber Monday sales were $2.68 billion, up significantly over the prior year.

On average, the expenditure per shopper was $361~ per person. Lower than Black Friday, but significant in the online world.

Why you should to get a Share of Black Friday + Cyber Monday Dollars

I find many smaller online retailers eschew Black Friday + Cyber Monday, and as a result end up doing very little, if any sales.

There is NO reason that any small retailer should do this, unless it is part of a completely deliberate strategy (and don't let anyone tell you that REI's anti-black friday store closing is NOT part of a marketing strategy)

Remember. You started your business not only to do what you love, and follow your passion but to make money. If that sounds gross, or greedy. It's not. We're all entitled to make a profit, and have the wealth that we dream of. There is nothing wrong with that feeling. Embrace it.

How you go about maximizing Black Friday + Cyber Monday can be uniquely you.

On a day when people are ONLINE, looking for deals, promotions, and places to spend their hard-earned dollars, it would be short-sighted to not leverage this for sales.

At a presentation last week at Shopify's head office, Vantage Analytics' CFO presented compelling evidence that shoppers you acquire on Black Friday or Cyber Monday are GOOD customers. They may mimic customers that you already have. Although they come for the deals, they're just likely as your other customers to repeat purchase, have low rates of return, and spend well on each order.

How to plan your Black Friday + Cyber Monday Strategy

A common question from clients is what, and how to promote on Black Friday + Cyber Monday.

This is my approach to planning a quick, and easy strategy for BF/CM.

1 // Start with an objective in mind. 

I like to assign two objectives: one very specific financial objective, and one softer 'marketing' objective.

Looking at last year's BF/CM sales, and your current growth rate, set a financial target for that time period (some people start promoting the Wednesday of Black Friday, some earlier). 

{Your Business} will make X$ during the BF / CM Sales Period. 

Now, work that back into how much traffic you'll need to drive during this time period to achieve those goals. This is critical. If you're watching your site on Friday and seeing you are 40% below the traffic needed, it's time to break out more tactics -- maybe you can send another reminder email to anyone who didn't open the email? maybe boost a post on FB?

Last, set a softer 'marketing' objective. Are you using BF/CM as an opportunity to promote a certain product? To promote your brand? To clear out old merchandise? To promote holiday gifting?

Be super clear, as these objectives will affect your tactics and how you implement BF/CM online.


2 // Messaging + Promotions

Once you have your objectives, you need to decide on your messaging  and promotions.

For promotions, a few things to consider:

Are you going site wide discount? Are you going to focus on a few key collections or items? Are you going to do door crashers? Which days will you promote? When will the promotion start and end? Who will get what promotion? Will you have different promotions for BF/CM? How will the promotion be managed (coupon code vs. pre marked down collection vs. other)? How will you reward loyal customers?

In terms of messaging, I recommend keeping it simple on Black Friday/Cyber Monday. I saw a stat the other day that the average consumer will receive 4.8 emails per brand they subscribe to on Black Friday, and the surrounding time period.

Go with the flow instead of fighting it. 

I.e. Black Friday Deals from {Insert your Brand}

Cyber Monday Promotions at {Insert your Brand}

This will also help you come up in google, as people are searching these terms extensively before, on and during BF/CM.


3 // Outreach Plan 

The last step is to map out HOW you will get your messaging and promotions out into the internet universe.

Tactics here will vary greatly depending on your objectives, but I'll brainstorm a few for you below.

    • Reach out to your Affiliates with BF/CM info in advance
    • Plan an email campaign to your list
    • Segment your list and send them different/better offers
    • Do Instagram Flash sales on Black Friday/Cyber Monday
    • Promote your campaign on Facebook with boosted posts or ads
    • Encourage customers to share your deals for referral rewards
    • Tweet your deals to big deal aggregators to share with their networks
    • Contact bloggers who serve similar audiences as your store, and share your BF/CM deals
    • Tell your friends and family about the deals
    • Update all of your banner creative on your website with your BF/CM promotions
    • Update all of your social media banners with the deals/promotions on those days
    • Pin your sales on Pinterest, and onto blog/deal aggregator boards
    • Go one-on-one and contact your best customers with product recommendations based on what they've bought, and your BF/CM promotions

You'll also want to create a timeline for when you need to execute on what (a calendar of sorts), so that you'll be super organized the week of the promotions, and ideally pre-schedule some of your posts on social media to lighten your load.

Now is also a great time to create templates, and graphics -- make sure to save them in case you need to do an extra email/post/extend your campaign. 

I like to dump all of my to-do's into Asana (project management software). Alternatively, you can use something like Wunderlist, or notes, or evernote to keep track of everything and to manage the overwhelm.

So, there's the basic primer on Black Friday and Cyber Monday for retailers. Hope you found it helpful!

A couple of additional resources I highly recommend:

8 Awesome Black Friday Email Campaigns you can steal

What is Cyber Monday?

26 Point Checklist for Prepping your Store for Black Friday

12 Days of Ecommerce. How to Prep your Store for Black Friday


What's your favourite takeaway from this blog post? I'd love to hear. Post your comments below.

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Wishing you much abundance + retail bliss,