Last Cyber Monday was the biggest online shopping day in US history, with $10.8 billion spent online in a single day. In the ecommerce world, Black Friday often refers to the time period of Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, with some ecommerce stores kicking off their mega sales even sooner than Thanksgiving.
The opportunity for short-term sales gains and long-term customer loyalty is at your fingertips on this long holiday weekend. But you’re up against large and small brands with their own well optimized Black Friday ecommerce plans.
In this guide, we walk you through specific tips for optimizing your store, marketing your offers, and giving back. During the holiday season, you can make a great impression on your customers by donating to aligned causes.
Keep reading for all of our Black Friday ecommerce advice.
Why Black Friday is a major ecommerce opportunity
In the US, online shopping between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday totalled $34.35 billion in 2020, with a 21.6% year-over-year growth on Black Friday alone.
While the YoY growth between 2020 and 2021 might not be as high (since COVID-19 lockdowns are over), there is evidence that a lot of consumer shopping habits have shifted permanently online, so we can still expect to see growth this year.
High-net worth individuals, Millennials, and Gen Z in particular tend to prefer online shopping, despite the world opening back up. So if your target market overlaps with those groups, then it’s even more important for your company to capitalize on Black Friday.
How to grow your ecommerce sales during Black Friday
Ready to grow your sales?
Check out our tips for:
- Giving back
An optimized store ensures that customers are able to easily make purchases and that the customer experience is smooth from pre-purchase to post-purchase.
1. Know your CX benchmarks before BFCM
Before heading into your Black Friday ecommerce sale window, you should benchmark some CX metrics. This will allow you to keep a watchful eye on how the website is performing and catch any downtrends. For example, you could use a tool like Hotjar to track sentiment ratings. If the average sentiment drops site wide or on a specific page, then you know it’s time to do some QA.
2. Reconsider the minimum order value for free shipping
During your BFCM sale, you might also want to lower the minimum order value for free shipping. Interestingly, offering free shipping on all orders converts lower than offering free shipping on a minimum order value, according to a test by an ecommerce store owner.
So rather than make your shipping completely free for every order, you might lower it temporarily by 25 – 50% to account for the sales prices.
However, if you have a lot of SKUs, or if customers tend to purchase 2 or more products per order, than you can probably leave your minimum shipping requirement the same. The point is, you don’t want to lose out on orders by having a shipping minimum optimized for your non-sale price, if people tend to buy just one product or package.
3. Optimize your mobile site
In 2016, mobile ecommerce sales accounted for 52.4% of all online sales. Today, mobile ecommerce owns 72.9% market share, meaning that almost every 3 out of 4 online purchases are completed on a mobile device. However, some ecommerce stores still aren’t taking mobile optimization seriously enough. It’s not just about scaling images so that they respond to screen sizes. Mobile optimization entails a completely different design than desktop sites, and should include much simpler UX, easier navigation, and bigger buttons.
Tarte Cosmetics, for example, has a clean and branded menu for their mobile site.
4. Test the checkout flow
Heading into Black Friday, you’ll also want to test and retest your checkout flow, and then test it again. Make sure that all plugins are working properly. Test your checkout with different payment options (credit card, Afterpay, Apple Pay, PayPal etc.), and test it with different device types, operating systems, and browsers.
5. Improve site loading speeds
Every second counts. In ecommerce, this is true.
The first five seconds of page-load time have the highest impact on website conversion rates. Between 0 and 5 seconds, conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42%. After 5 seconds, each additional second for loading time causes conversion rates to drop by an average of 2.11%.
Mobile and desktop website speed optimization is critical. But this is a complex task that typically requires an expert. Consider bringing this talent in-house or hiring a consultant to continually improve your website’s loading speed on both mobile and desktop.
6. Prepare for stockouts
You also need to plan ahead for stockouts (when items go out of stock). You might want to set up a “Notify when the item is back in stock” feature, or at the very least make sure that orders can’t be placed when things go out of stock so you don’t have a mob of angry customers after the long holiday weekend.
7. Turn returns into exchanges
With higher sales volumes comes higher returns volumes. If you’re in a high-return-rate product category like clothing or shoes, the post-BFCM returns could exhaust your resources. Get on top of the problem by converting more returns into exchanges. You can use a platform like Loop to build an exchange workflow into your returns process, instead of going straight to giving a return.
You can also incentivize exchanges with bonus credits to increase customer participation.
Marketing and optimization are obviously intertwined, but let’s take a closer look at some of the revenue-boosting activities that typically fall in marketers’ wheelhouses.
8. A/B test the products featured on your home page
Heading into BFCM, make sure to test different home page options. You could spend the 2 or 3 days leading up to your big sale testing various brand shots and product features. If you have the bandwidth to test during your BFCM sale, feel free to do so. But at the very least you can go into BFCM knowing that your current site variation won a couple experiments.
9. Rescue more abandoned carts
A 2- or 3-email abandoned cart sequence can increase cart recovery rate by 50%. In this guide from Privy, you can find exact details on what to say in your emails and how many emails to send out.
Email reminders are effective at recovering carts, but offering a 10% or 15% off discount can boost effectiveness even more. Of course, there’s branding consideration at play here, because you don’t want to train customers to look for coupons whenever their cart is abandoned. But abandoned cart coupons could be a limited-time strategy during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
10. Launch special prices on key channels
Do you sell on Amazon or other marketplaces where you’re in control of pricing? If so, you should consider creating a special deal on those marketplaces. This can help you capture new customers who may turn into repeat buyers. Your special prices might also help you increase discoverability on the platforms, if your deal gets featured.
11. Consider offering low DTC prices before Black Friday
Of the top 50 online retailers in the Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000 list, 76% of them offered their Black Friday deal starting at least on the Monday before Black Friday in 2020. By offering great prices well in advance of the holiday, you can capture attention and sales before your competitors. So consider starting your sale a few days before Thanksgiving.
12. Set up branded order tracking pages
A branded order tracking page is a great way to upsell customers and increase customer loyalty. Check out this example built with Aftership, a post-purchase software that discovered that order tracking pages are visited an average of 2.6 times per order, making this type of page a huge opportunity.
You can showcase related or popular products on the order tracking page, or set up unique coupon codes to inspire another purchase.
13. Ditch coupon codes for new customers
For new customers, you might get better results by ditching coupon codes. If you’re going to offer a sale, simply offer the sale, without requiring new customers to enter a code. This can help boost your conversion rates on those critical few days during and between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
14. Offer unique coupon codes for returning customers
However, for your most loyal customers, you might consider offering them a unique coupon code. For example, you could give them an additional 15% off site-wide, or you could give 25% off a new product line that you’re launching for the holiday shopping season.
15. Create segmented email campaigns for DTC sales
When it comes to increasing your ecommerce sales during Black Friday, you’re most likely looking to boost DTC volume. This is where segmented email campaigns come in. You can combine your BFCM messaging with unique data about your customers.
For example, with Privy, you can take the past order history into account. Maybe for customers who haven’t ordered in 30 days, you showcase your most popular product in the email, but for customers who have ordered in the past 30 days, you showcase a different product, maybe something new or complementary.
16. Be ready to upsell and cross-sell
You also need to be ready to upsell and cross-sell. A well-optimized “Shoppers also viewed” can work well for helping shoppers snap up more of what they’re looking for. Check out this example from Missguided:
If your store is built on Shopify, you can use an app like Also Bought or Upsie Related Products to make this an easy addition to your site. A cart page upsell app like iCart might also be a smart way to boost sales. During BFCM, you could feature low-priced products on your cart page like gloves, scarves, holiday gifts, or specialty holiday foods.
17. Watch out for high ad spend during BFCM
During BFCM, Facebook and Instagram ads will likely cost more per click, so make sure that the customer acquisition costs during this time period are something you can live with. This goes back to an earlier point about starting your promotion sooner. You might have better results running BFCM themed ads a week before Thanksgiving and then turning them off during BFCM if your budget doesn’t allow for the higher ad costs. Instead, you could spend only on retargeting, and focus your efforts on email marketing and social media.
18. Get your retargeting ready
Whether you continue running ads to brand new customers during BFCM or not, it’s wise to keep your retargeting campaigns on. You can use Facebook Ads to retarget shoppers on Facebook and Instagram. And with Google Ads, you can retarget people on other websites they visit, such as news publications and blogs. With both platforms, you can show the exact products that shoppers were viewing to entice them to complete their purchase.
Madison Reed, maker of at-home hair color kits, does a great job putting all of their unique selling propositions in their retargeting ads, including ease, results, and ingredients.
19. Leverage influencers
Every year, brands devote more and more of their budget into influencer marketing and away from paid advertising. YoY growth of influencer marketing campaigns isn’t slowing down. That’s because it works. Ecommerce companies yield an average of $5.78 for every dollar spent on influencer marketing, with some companies pulling in $18 in sales for every dollar spent.
In advance of BFCM, research the best influencers and micro-influencers for your brand and negotiate prices per content created. Make sure to review influencers’ individual statistics on views, engagement, and if available, sales and coupon code usage.
20. Create a post-Black Friday loyalty campaign
You’ll want to turn your new Black Friday buyers into loyal customers. After Black Friday and Cyber Monday, take a look at your sales data. What products were snapped up the quickest? If these have recurring order potential, then offer a special deal on these products. If not, consider what other SKUs compliment your top sellers.
Now, this is advanced stuff, but with Namogoo, you can use individualized customer journey behavior and intent-based algorithms to set up promotions tailored for each customer. This way, they receive the right offer at the right time (such as 10% off, being shown a new product with no discount, a 1+1 offer, or a gift offer). This is great for ecommerce stores that are ready to tailor their promotions to the customer journey, rather than risk overexposing customers to irrelevant or unexciting offers.
Thanksgiving has a very different meaning to Native Americans, and the future of the holiday is rightfully up for discussion. At its best, the holiday is meant to offer thanks for the blessings we have, particularly our abundant food. It’s a great time to align your brand with important causes and deepen the relationship you have with your customers.
Here are some smart ways to give back with Givz:
21. Give to charities that align with your brand values
LOLI Beauty uses Givz to donate 10% of every purchase. The company makes sure that none of their products harm the planet, people, or animals. They continually align their brand with planet-protecting organizations and nonprofits fostering ethical social change.
22. Donate to organizations in the spirit of the holiday
Sakara, a Givz customer that offers healthy home-delivered meals, uses Givz to highlight timely organizations. Last Black Friday, they encouraged customers to donate $30 to Feeding America.
23. Allow your customers to donate after qualifying orders
For best results, giving should be triggered after a qualifying order is complete. This way, the giving process doesn’t interfere with your optimized checkout process whatsoever. With Givz, you can set order minimums to qualify for donations, or allow customers to donate after any order.
On your donations page, you can spotlight relevant nonprofits, while also letting customers search the name or EIN of any 501c3 organization. Customers can choose to donate to whoever they want, and you’ll get the analytics behind their decisions, which will give you unprecedented visibility into what your customers care about the most.
24. Replace discounts with donations for better brand perception
Are discounts not your style? Donation incentives are a great replacement for discounts. In your marketing, you can put your favorite charities front and center instead of your product.
Your social media and email marketing copy can be “Donate $30 for every order over $75” instead of “Save $30 on any order of $75.” This will set your brand apart. Plus, not every customer will complete the donation process, so you’ll save money too.
25. Use donation incentives to increase your average order value
Donation incentives are a unique way to ramp up your AOV. Encourage customers to place a larger order by offering them the chance to donate. For example, Kencko offers customers the ability to donate $50 to a charity of their choice when they subscribe to a 60 pack of smoothies.
This resulted in higher order volumes for the 60 pack than usual.
You can use donation incentives to strategically increase the conversion rates of higher priced products or to increase your average order value site-wide.
Boost your ecom sales this Black Friday
Black Friday is a major opportunity for ecommerce stores. There’s a lot that digital teams need to accomplish in order to prepare. Make sure that you’ve benchmarked important CX metrics so you can spot issues in an instant. You’ll also want to optimize your website’s navigation, loading speed, and the products you feature on your home page.
But Black Friday shouldn’t just be about selling more of your products. It should also be about furthering your company mission and improving your corporate social responsibility. You can rely on cause marketing strategies like donation incentives to improve your brand perception, give back, and sell your products all at the same time.
Offer donation incentives with Givz
Want to stand out from the crowd this Black Friday and Cyber Monday? The answer might be donation incentives. Givz offers low monthly pricing, and pays for itself because of increased AOVs. Use Givz to set up a donation page that triggers post-purchase.