$9.15 Billion dollars. That’s how much money online shoppers are estimated to spend between Thanksgiving and Black Friday 2018. If you own an online business, Black Friday and Cyber Monday could shape up to be the most wonderful time of the year – cue the Andy Williams tune – if your ecommerce shop is prepared. As you have probably noticed, “If you build it, they will come,” simply isn’t true in business. So how can you make sure your online business is poised to grab sales this holiday season?
Read on to learn how to prepare your ecommerce store for Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018. Follow this checklist to ensure you don’t leave any money on the holiday table.
- Plan and organize your upcoming sales and promotions.
- Create all campaigns and creative assets (for your website, social media, email marketing, advertisements, etc.) ahead of time, then schedule and automate everything in advance.
- Prepare for success: Make sure your website, shipping logistics, and customer service team can handle a sharp increase in demand.
- Create contingency plans for inventory, shipping, technology, and anything else that could prevent your business from a successful holiday season.
- Consider working with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider to ensure all orders are shipped out quickly and efficiently. (If your order fulfillment process falls apart during the holiday, your brand could be in big trouble. Make sure to work with a reliable eCommerce fulfillment company that can handle a massive uptick in orders.)
- Ensure Google Analytics is set up on your website, so you can capture and analyze important data.
Website User Experience.
- Offer free shipping (even if you have to set a minimum purchase for customers to qualify).
- Ensure your product photos are high-quality and that they show your products in flattering light.
- Provide expedited shipping options and clear delivery dates.
- Display all pertinent information upfront (such as product details and a shopper’s total order cost after shipping).
- Streamline checkout (and don’t require shoppers to create an account).
- Offer multiple payment methods.
- Streamline your website’s mobile user experience.
- Test your website to ensure it is functioning as expected, then have others test it out to find additional ways to optimize your website.
- Test promotions and discount codes to ensure they work as intended. (Warning: Don’t skip this step!)
- Check for broken links and outdated information.
- Upgrade your boring 404 page to delight shoppers and redirect them if they happen to click on a broken link.
- Set up heatmaps and user tracking to better understand how shoppers are using your website, and make necessary optimizations ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
- Add social proof to your website.
- Ensure your Return Policy is customer friendly and clear to entice first-time shoppers.
- Update your FAQ section to include relevant, holiday-related Frequently Asked Questions.
- If you have a loyalty program, display it proudly and allow customers to opt-in to it after they’ve completed their purchase.
- Set up “low stock” tags to publish on product pages when stock dips below 30 units of a specific item. (This will add urgency and convert more customers.)
- Add a countdown timer to increase urgency and give shoppers incentive to buy now.
Marketing and Lead Generation.
- Determine how you’ll get the word out about your products and sales. Combine social media, email marketing, and paid advertisements for ultimate impact.
- Create mutually beneficial partnerships with social media influencers and businesses in complementary niches.
- Gear up for your big Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales by creating buzz ahead of time.
- Increase your lead generation efforts. Use the weeks prior to these big dates as prime lead generation time, and start collecting email addresses from curious shoppers.
- Give email subscribers a chance to shop Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales early. Use this tactic to increase email sign-ups, then retarget subscribers.
- Install a tracking pixel on your website via Facebook or Google, so you can retarget shoppers and become omnipresent in their digital experience.
- Use your existing customer data to set up Facebook ads with lookalike audiences.
- Build a Facebook Messenger chatbot to streamline customer communications and promote sales directly to shoppers. (Here’s a great article by Neil Patel about how to build your Messenger chatbot in a few minutes.)
- Set up abandoned cart email sequences (or Facebook Messenger sequences) to retarget shoppers who added items to their shopping cart without completing their purchase. (This is one of the smartest ways your business can use automation to recover a massive amount of otherwise lost sales!)
- Create email marketing campaigns to remind shoppers of active sales and promotion deadlines.
- If you have an affiliate program, now is the time to capitalize on it. Ensure your affiliates are aware of upcoming promotions, and equip them with images, swipe copy, and links to generate more sales in a win-win scenario.
- Update product descriptions, blog posts, and website pages with relevant SEO strategies including using highly targeted keywords that are popular for the current and upcoming holiday season.
- Create a holiday gift guide for shoppers, and promote it through all of your channels to inspire gift-giving ideas.
- Consider offering gift cards on your website to increase holiday sales.
- Check on your inventory levels and confirm what date you’ll need to reorder by in order to meet demand.
- Confirm with your suppliers and 3PL provider to ensure you are aware of their holiday hours and potential service blackout dates (especially if you work with manufacturers who celebrate the Chinese New Year).
- Make sure your Customer Service Team is aware of all promotions, sales, and important campaigns so they can successfully handle customer inquiries and close more sales.
- Offer live chat on your website to quickly handle customer questions and convert more shoppers into buyers.
- Update your company’s Interactive Voice Response (IVR) phone system to promote holiday promotions.
- Remember to treat your staff and team members extra well this holiday season! The happiest time of the year can be the most stressful time of year, too. Recognize and reward good work ethic to keep your team motivated. After all, happy employees create more loyal customers!
When the holidays are over, review and analyze all the data you’ve collected. Continue to make optimizations to your website and operations, so you’re ready for the next big shopping holiday. Which of these steps will you be implementing next in your business? Leave us a comment below, and feel free to ask us any questions!