Some events are so powerful, they bring the country together around a shared activity. The Super Bowl is one of them. Black Friday/Cyber Monday is another.
At the shopping event’s peak, Shopify was processing more than $500,000 in orders a minute. “We see traffic at stores across the board go through the roof,” says Daniel Patricio, a senior product manager at Shopify.
This year, Black Friday falls on November 24 and Cyber Monday on November 27. To reap these rewards, it’s important to get the word out about your site and the great deals you’ll be offering. Below, Patricio provides tips for maximizing and prolonging what is, hands down, the most important online shopping opportunity of the year.
“The worst thing you can do is only send out an email on Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” Patricio says. For one, these days are incredibly noisy, with virtually every site on the Internet competing for attention. Perhaps more importantly, waiting until the last minute means you’ve missed out on the valuable opportunity to interact with and grow your customer base during a period when shoppers are already engaged.
Because many consumers begin to search for deals in mid-October, consider starting your email marketing campaign then, Patricio says. For companies operating on a tight budget, he recommends buying ads that promote your Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals in late October or early November. Not only will you get the word out early, but you’ll avoid higher media costs, which steadily climb the closer you get to the shopping event itself.
Grow your email list.
Email marketing might sound old-fashioned, but it’s one of the best ways to build and maintain buzz around your Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Customers often decide what they’d like to buy long before the shopping extravaganza kicks off. By regularly highlighting deals and promotions in advance, you can help make that decision for them.
Business owners who haven’t started collecting email addresses should do so immediately, Patricio says. If you’re at square one, start by reaching out to friends and family who can serve as your list’s foundation, and add email signup boxes to your site.
Iron out the details.
Make a checklist of the items you need to complete before November 24, including when you plan to send out emails, run online ads, and promote deals on your site, Patricio recommends. The process encourages troubleshooting.
For example, Patricio often sees business owners advertise deals on Facebook and Google that they haven’t featured on their sites yet. By laying out a master plan, you can spot and fix such mistakes in advance.
That said, don’t be afraid to make adjustments. If Facebook ads are more expensive than anticipated, try moving your marketing budget to another platform. If people aren’t opening your emails, send another message with a different subject line. Keep track of what is and isn’t working, and change your plans accordingly.
“You aren’t going to win by being the hottest deal in a flyer,” Patricio says. Leave the cost slashing to the big-box retailers and focus on offering more tailored deals, such as limited-edition items, discounts that are tied to spending, and offers of free shipping or a free product for purchases above a certain amount. “Leading up to the holidays, people have money to spend,” he says. “They will spend more if you incentivize it.”
Get creative about your marketing strategy, too. Instead of purchasing ads on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Patricio recommends running them on the Saturday or Sunday when ads are typically less expensive.
Keep the conversation going.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday’s impact can extend into the holiday shopping season and beyond. “It’s a huge opportunity to reach your past, present, and future customers,” Patricio says.
He recommends setting up a retargeting app that enables you to serve ads to people who visited your site but didn’t complete a purchase. Likewise, emails to customers shouldn’t taper off just because the shopping weekend is over.
“It’s not just about who bought from you on Black Friday or Cyber Monday,” Patricio says. If you continue to engage with consumers through targeted ads and emails, “they’re likely to buy from you eventually.”