In less than sixty days from now, Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be here again with a sea of sales running online and in-stores across the globe.
Last year, the shopping season that started with Thanksgiving and ended with Cyber Monday saw a cumulative $7.9 billion in revenue. This was huge and one of a kind in history.
Achieving such numbers in holiday sales has largely been possible because of the widespread adoption of online purchasing. Almost 54% of consumers shopped online during the holiday season in 2018. 2019 isn’t going to be any different!
But when every store out there is going to be promoting their deals during this period, how do you make yours stand out?
Hint: It’s not just about the deals.
Well, we got you covered with this BFCM Shopify preparation guide.
BFCM marketing for Shopify store owners
During BFCM, sales are so high that Shopify merchants have reported making around $1 billion USD in revenue. But, hang on. Not everyone could hit that $1 billion sales figure.
The reason? While most stores had some amazing deals and discounts to offer, not all had a strategic approach to their BFCM marketing campaigns.
That’s why we created this BFCM preparation checklist for Shopify stores. Because we want you to make the most out of these sixty-odd remaining days and increase your chances of turning all those enthusiastic shoppers into your customers!
Layout the plan for BFCM
This is the most important and the most detailed stage that will demand 80% of your time. So carefully move through the following points and steps.
Because this time, let’s ensure that your BFCM marketing campaign gets you a lot more sales!
Work with data
The foundation of your plan lies in the numbers. Identify online shoppers who have already started searching for BFCM deals and those who have been proactively asking about when your discounts are going to be disclosed.
Your website analytics is fully powered to give you deep insights into this customer behavior. So, start there!
Now, to understand your store and marketing data from Google Analytics can sometimes be too overwhelming. That’s where using apps like Conversific, Glew, Littledata and RevTap comes into play. They break down all your data, presenting them in an easy-to-consume dashboard so that you can derive takeaways and actionables for your BFCM marketing campaign in no time.
Identify products beforehand
Using your store and marketing data, start identifying the product categories that seem to be popular amongst shoppers. Take into account the pages that are the most visited, those that lead to the maximum number of sales and also those that have resulted in an increase in your subscriber list.
Doing so will help you understand which product ranges your shoppers are more interested in. and more importantly, it will give you an idea of what to run campaigns on during BFCM to see higher conversions – be it in terms of the traffic you draw, the subscribers you get or the sales you make.
Shortlisting products/categories that you might profit from during the BFCM sale can quickly get overwhelming. To keep things organized, always use Google Sheets to maintain the list of items that you wish to slash prices on, or run offers or deals on.
Additionally, you can use the Shopify Apps like Discount Pricing and Prisync to easily manage your sale prices. The apps can help you adjust the pricing of the products going up on sale during BFCM automatically. No last-minute rush!
Have a backup plan
You usually deal with one shipping partner that has never failed you. However, BFCM is peak season and you need to be functioning smoothly. What if the same shipping partner you use is being deployed by multiple Shopify store owners? That’s why you need a backup plan.
If you run a brick and mortar store, you could use a “buy online, pick up in-store strategy” as a backup? This will not leave customers disappointed. And, alongside you’ll get good coverage on your in-store sales too. Otherwise, you could simply avoid the situation by picking up a premium plan with your shipping partners to assure delivery for your BFCM orders, avoiding mismanagement altogether.
If you’re still looking for a shipping partner, read Shopify’s article on everything you need to find the right shipping partner.
Test your readiness for traffic and demand upsurges
Millions of people flock to the internet hunting for deals and discounts on products they want to purchase. During BFCM, these discount-seeking shoppers increase in number and expect you to keep up. That’s why it is important to test and check your readiness for traffic and demand upsurges.
Be search friendly
The keywords you use for your product pages are as important as your store’s layout. Ensure that your product descriptions are optimized with the keywords consumers use to search for them.
Make sure that while you’re optimizing the descriptions with relevant keywords, you’re also making sure the information being provided helps shoppers make an informed purchase.
Check your inventory arrangement
Stock up on those items that are likely to see an uptick in demand. A good AI tool will help you predict the demand for your inventory. Invest in it to avoid running out of inventory during your busiest time of the year.
You also need to work with your suppliers and warehouse managers on handling the upsurge in sales that certain items might witness. Not being able to meet the demands of your shoppers in a timely manner because of low inventory or stock can affect your sales drastically.
If you’re going to run promotions on a set range of products, it is a good idea to organize your inventory smartly. Inventory Planner is one such Shopify app that can help you get rid of those excel sheets. It also offers inventory forecasting to help you stay organized during BFCM.
Prepare your creatives and campaign strategy
All content and campaign planning needs to be completed at least a month before your BFCM sale starts. Don’t leave anything for the last week!
During your last week leading up to BFCM, all you should be doing is making sure your marketing campaigns are up and running on time, optimized at all times and bringing you the expected number of sales.
Get your creatives ready
Figure out the kinds of post formats you need and understand the requirements for the different platforms you share on.
For example, a banner image that fits perfectly well on your website might get cropped when posted on your Facebook page. Similarly, the horizontal images you create to promote on Facebook, may not appear as attractive on mobile.
If you don’t have a designer, use tools like Canva. You can create all your BFCM campaign creatives using ready-to-use templates that can be edited to give it a bit of your own personality.
Struggling to create BFCM marketing campaign creatives? Subscribe to our blog to receive the BFCM templates in your inbox!
Brainstorm your ad strategy
Writing ad copy isn’t just a creative exercise. It is also, to a large extent, a research-focused activity that requires you to dig out keywords that will get you the volumes, bring in the right traffic, and help you turn that visibility into sales.
During BFCM, bids for competitive keywords are too high. You should be mentally and financially prepared to handle this upsurge in bid prices. That’s why you should always prepare an estimated sales budget before the holiday season.
To manage your ads on Google and Facebook during BFCM, you can use ‘Marketing on Shopify’. Using the platform you can create, launch, and measure both Google Smart Shopping campaigns, as well as Facebook ads.
Wish to learn more about paid ads on Facebook? You might find the following resources handy:
- A Step-By-Step Guide to Facebook Ads for Beginners
- 6 Tips for a Facebook Dynamic ad strategy that supercharges your Shopify sales
For marketing on Instagram, we suggest that you follow this guide from start to end:
Considering running your BFCM promotions on search engines and have a limited budget? Here are some resources:
- How to select the right keywords for your search campaigns on Google and Bing
- How to run a successful search campaign on a low advertising budget
Build a buzz around your BFCM deals
Getting the word out before you actually start your sale is super important. Most people love holding onto curiosity, and that’s why campaigns that begin with a buzz can get you way more sales than those that don’t.
To get your target audience excited about your upcoming offers and sales, start teasing your sale using email, and social media. You can choose to go only with one, just like Dior, which chose Twitter to debut with their buzz creating a campaign for Iconic Colors.
A good strategy to start building buzz around your BFCM sale is to involve your audience and social media followers in your campaign.
For example, you can set up an event around the sale. This will not just help you see how many of your followers are really interested in the discounts you’re going to promote, but also give you a platform to remind them to come back and check your store during the period.
Market your products
Other than ads, you need to utilize a wide variety of channels to promote your products during the holiday sale. Because the bid prices on keywords are way higher around this time, you will have to carefully market products that will fetch you clicks and conversions.
Alongside, you’ll have to be absolutely sure about ‘who’ you want to market to. Targeting a specific segment of the audience with ads might not fetch you huge traffic. However, it will attract only those people who are really sure about buying. As a result, your CTC will remain low. To market your products smartly around the holiday season, rely on the following tactics:
Retarget existing customers
Your existing customer base, especially frequent buyers, are the ones who’ll be most interested in making purchases from you during the holiday season. Since these are people who already trust you with your services and quality of the products you sell, they are highly likely to not switch to the competition.
That’s why your focus should be on building your brand recall with these customers during the holiday season. Fetching engagement from your existing audience base should be something you must work on.
Shopify merchants can easily get started with running Facebook ads – including retargeting ads – by working with Shopify’s own app Kit. Kit, an AI-powered bot, will provide suggestions for starting marketing initiatives which you can set up just by simple replies within Ping, SMS or Facebook Messenger.
More advanced merchants use apps like Shoelace to run sophisticated retargeting ads that make sure the right ad is shown to the potential buyer at the right time of the buying cycle – also creating a brand recognition uplift besides only fulfilling traditional performance marketing goals.
Apart from ads, you can also use web push notifications to reach out to your loyal customers with BFCM offers. Use their favorited or wishlisted products as bait to hook their interest and bring them back to your store to complete the purchase – don’t forget to instill a little sense of urgency in your message to nudge them to complete the transaction instantly.
Bring in new visitors through blog collaborations
Do some reading and research to find out which blogs are talking about eCommerce store sales, Black Friday shopping, etc. Reach out to the ones that have a good Domain Authority and Page Authority score. Any SEO tool like SEMRush will help you find out how a certain website ranks on these parameters. Get in touch with blogs that have a Domain Authority of 40 and above.
Ask them to feature your products and offers within their blog, giving you a link back to your landing page that is running discounts. They might ask for some payment in return, but this shouldn’t stop you from collaborating with them, as most good websites do charge some amount.
You can also write your own post that the blog’s readers will be interested in and feature your products and offers within it, and ask them to publish this on their website along with a link back. Gift guides work great as a promotional content piece. Here’s a complete know-how about what gift guides should look and read like, and how you can create one.
Use referral marketing
An underrated marketing growth hack, referral marketing can quickly help you win a huge amount of footfall plus conversions. Use your existing customer base to reach new ones. Send them an additional discount on your Black Friday deals or an early sneak peek into your offers and encourage them to invite over a few friends to your store.
If you don’t have a referral program set up yet, use an app like ReferralCandy. It will help you create one in minutes! All you need to know beforehand is what your existing customers would love to get from you.
But remember, just setting up a referral program won’t get you more sales during BFCM. Before the sale actually begins, promote this program aggressively. Use web push notifications, Messenger Marketing, email newsletters, and social media to get your customers to start referring your store.
You can also read this complete guide on how to promote your referral program to boost online sales.
Test and optimize
Keep track of numbers and data throughout the holiday season. Use your insights to optimize anything that’s not giving desired results. It’s a bonus if you can be proactive and use insights powered by automation to optimize your upcoming campaigns. We’ll look at this further; however, let’s first start with testing.
Test your website for usability, and work on the feedback
You might have put all your intelligence, creativity, logic, and know-how into designing your website. However, there still might be a good 30%-40% scope of improvement. Or, even more. This is an opportunity area for improvement that you’ll never discover until you can understand how people are actually using your website. Testing and asking for user feedback on website usability will bring out enormous hidden issues to life.
For example, you might have not included a search bar in your online store because your research says that it will reduce the visibility of other products on your website if people directly search for what they want to buy.
However, people might actually never buy from your store just because they can’t find the search bar. Testing for usability and then utilizing those findings will only help you improve.
Optimize for mobile
People will never sit with their desktops to shop. Desktops are now, mostly used when people are busy with work. For the rest, there is mobile.
Supportive of an on-the-go lifestyle, mobiles make browsing a fun and light activity. Since it supports purchasing too, it has added to the ease and convenience that people always hunt for.
As a result of increased mobile usage, Shopify stores witnessed more mobile purchases than desktop purchases in 2017. This trend will continue for times to come.
Optimize navigation for easy and clear mobile usage. Make sure your checkout options on mobile are optimized. For example, if you have provided a payment by debit card option, enable autofill so that people don’t need to type in a lot of information on their mobile devices. Shopify payments help you with the number of keystrokes or clicks required to fill form fields, to make autofill faster and smarter.
Apps to consider: Shopify Merchants use apps like Plobal Apps to build a native app for their store almost instantly without any hassle. Provide an individualized shopping experience with AI-based predictions that help you boost engagement and revenue. Having an app for your store lets you increase loyalty among shoppers and repeat purchases. Develop a mobile app launch marketing strategy with app-specific BFCM deals.
Optimize for cart-abandonment
Cart abandonment rates can shoot up during BFCM sales because of the numerous choices and deals that people have access to. In 2017, cart abandonment rates went as high as 75%!
That’s why you need to plan ahead to optimize for cart abandonment. Begin with email workflows that will help you win back those shoppers who have added products to cart, but haven’t visited again for a while. Alongside email, you can also make use of web push notifications to win back their attention.
A practical tip here would be to make use of FOMO tactics. For example, on a lipstick that someone has added to the cart, you can offer an additional 20% discount on making a purchase within the next 24 hours.
A few good reads to help you optimize your cart abandonment rate during BFCM:
- The ultimate guide to reducing shopping cart abandonment
- Abandoned cart retargeting: 3 must-have strategies to win back your customers
- 5 free push notification templates to ace your abandoned cart reminders
Subscribe to our blog to get our guide on preparing for BFCM abandoned cart recovery, straight in your inbox!
Supercharge your support process
Customer support is the lifeline for eCommerce merchants. Any grievances or challenges that your customer is facing comes in via support. That’s why this should be one of the best experiences for your customers.
During the holiday season, a lot of people are highly likely to call in, to enquire about anything and everything. Someone might have purchased a new electronic item and would have zero ideas about how to use it.
Gear up for queries coming in from the user’s end. Similarly, people might also call in just to confirm whether the item that they saw online on discount is actually available in that price. First-time queries about your shipping process are also common. Such an influx is best handled using Live Chat.
Live chat and Messenger communication
Bots can be present 24/7, 365 days. Humans cannot. And, bots are just like humans when it comes to interacting, just in case you were thinking machines can’t talk like people do. AI has enabled live chat support bots to imitate how humans speak.
All you need to do is set the bot up initially to give a certain output when a specific query comes in, and it handles the rest of the work. There’s even proof of how effective live chats are!
Fast and accurate responses have made live chats a favorite medium of communication between businesses and customers. In fact, 79% of consumers prefer to interact with live chats because they offer instant responses. To add to this, in 2018, the average first response time was 48 seconds. For more stats on live chat usage and popularity, check out these insights and trends from 2019.
Shopify apps like Tidio will make this really easy to implement.
Alternatively, you can also use Messenger Marketing to offer timely support to shoppers during BFCM. The Messenger automation will also help you keep up the quick turnaround time to queries when the footfall on your store increases drastically! Apps like Flashchat, OctaneAI, and others can help you get started in minutes.
Start your BFCM prep early!
BFCM is the one time you can really go all out, promoting different products from your store across multiple channels.
But that also means you’ll be driving all the more traffic to your site than usual, and at the same time, need to be ready to make more sales during this period. That’s why it’s important to ensure that before your BFCM marketing campaigns begin, your Shopify store is all set to handle that traffic and be optimized enough to turn those shoppers into customers.
Use this guide to ensure your Shopify store is all set for BFCM.
We’ll also be sharing a list of must-have Shopify apps to increase shopper engagement, conversions, and sales during BFCM. Stay tuned for the post by subscribing to our blog!