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5 Tactics to Get Digitally Prepared for Black Friday Weekend

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Online or offline, Black Friday and Cyber Monday can mean big bucks for your business. Regardless of where you sell your goods or services primarily, a little advanced digital preparation can help you take advantage of "Windfall Weekend."

Here's how:

Related: To Compete With Big-Name Brands, Here's How to Market Your Black Friday Sale Online

1. Engage followers to build suspense.

In the days leading up to Black Friday, engage with your followers and connections on social networks. Use Twitter to run contests and promote upcoming discounts.

For example, pick two items and tweet out a challenge: Whichever item receives the most votes by midnight on Black Friday will be the featured item for the weekend. Followers can vote for item A by "favoriting" it or they can vote for item B by retweeting it. Twitter will do the counting for you by tallying the totals for everyone to see.

2. Email your loyalists and prospects.

This is where all that meticulous email-list cultivation finally pays off. For the customers who have signed up for your email updates and shown loyalty to your brand, email them a special savings discount.

They deserve it. Send prospects you've been targeting a list of the popular items you're promoting. The return on investment for email marketing is significant even at non-holiday times, so it should be seen as a low-hanging-fruit delivery system for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

3. Use tight time windows.

On one holiday your storefront will be the focus of your website, and on the other your website will be the focus of your storefront.

Put together a sales strategy that reflects this. After Thanksgiving, post coupons on your website for special in-store Black Friday discounts that last only through the weekend (and have special treats on the day itself). Over the weekend, offer customers a special code that can be used for additional online savings on Cyber Monday.

Related: The Holiday Mobile-Marketing Strategy That Retailers Really Need

4. Employ indoor beacon technology.

Wouldn't it be nice if you walked into a business and immediately received a greeting or coupon on your phone? With indoor beacon technology, it's that easy. Apple championed the idea recently with its iBeacon technology, and now even smaller businesses can afford to do so.

Beacons are inexpensive pieces of hardware that attach to a wall or counter and use low-energy Bluetooth connections to transmit messages and prompts to personal mobile devices. While it requires Bluetooth to work on the customers' devices, studies show most consumers use their mobile phones while shopping anyway. Get ahead of the beacon curve before it becomes mainstream.

5. Optimize and track.

The rush of customers and online visitors sparked by the holiday offers a fantastic opportunity to do some informal market research for the future. Be sure to install analytics on every page of your site, and make sure your physical checkout process is tied in to your virtual accounting programs.

Understanding who and where your buyers are and their general buying habits will help you determine how best to market your services down the road. Plus, you can track which operating systems are being used to visit your site most often, so you can optimize the experience for users. Cashing in on Black Friday and Cyber Monday is one thing. Using Windfall Weekend to leverage sales well into the future is quite another.

While the Black Friday shopping spree has been a remarkable post-Thanksgiving ritual for years, the introduction of Cyber Monday has also created tremendous opportunities for modern retailers. The trick, however, is not to get hung up on labels and use cross-promotion to have your cash register ring in sales all weekend.

Related: 5 Ways to Prepare Your Website for Cyber Monday

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