It's November—which marks the busiest season of the year for eCommerce retailers. The calendar change means that the holiday shopping season –– Black Friday, Cyber Monday, all of December –– is looming.
Fret not, we’re here to help you prepare. Yeah, yeah—we're a custom t-shirt company. But we also have a lot of industry knowledge when it comes to squeezing the juice out of moment-in-time shopping situations, so we're sharing a few tricks of the trade with you.
With that being said: here are 15 Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Holiday marketing tips, plus a downloadable checklist to keep you organized and on pace.
Editor's Note: This post has been updated for accuracy and freshness.
Holiday shopping by the numbers:
You might be thinking, does my brand really need to bother with Black Friday? Seems like the kind of thing that Best Buy, Target, or Amazon have to worry about, but do I really need to?
Big box stores are not the only ones experiencing sales bumps during the holiday season. eMarketer reports that last year, eCommerce sales jumped 17.8% during the holidays. That's a lot of revenue up for grabs as shoppers are scouring the web for deals.
Other insane stats about holiday shopping:
- Holiday season comprises 30% of all sales during the year
- In some industries, the window between Black Friday and Christmas makes up 40% of yearly revenue
- Mobile spending was up 40% during the holidays last year
- Shopify merchants collectively raked in over $1 billion in sales just between Black Friday and Cyber Monday last year
Takeaway: people are shopping more than ever around the holidays, and in more unconventional places, leaving the perfect opportunity for your brand to rake in sales. All you have to do is make sure you're ready.
Don't forget to download our Black Friday eCommerce Marketing Checklist before you get started!
1. Build trust with easy return policies
This is something that you should always do, but with the holidays around the corner, it's critical. Per UPS' Pulse of the Online Shopper, 66% of online shoppers will look for your return policy before making a purchase. You want to give prospective buyers every reason to feel comfortable buying from you, and having your return policy easily located will give them the peace of mind they need to make a purchase.
2. Offer free or expedited shipping
In the age of Amazon, consumers are becoming more and more conditioned to getting their products fast. Free shipping, or offering expedited shipping on orders of a certain value work really well for getting people through the purchasing process. When customers are weighing buying your product versus a competitor's, something as simple as free or faster shipping can make all the difference.
Look at the icons in the image above, pulled from online retailer Huckberry’s holiday landing page last year. Free shipping, check. Best price, check. Free returns, check. Everything you need to give customers peace of mind, displayed right away.
3. Display your holiday offers prominently on your website
With the ever-growing internet landscape and all of the options people have to make purchases, shoppers are increasingly priding themselves on their ability to find the best deals. People are sifting through information quickly, scanning to see what kind of deal you can offer them. So if your offers aren't immediately clear, they're going to move on. A new hero image or pop-up box with your holiday offers work really well here.
The above image is from Amazon's homepage last Black Friday. The hero image effortlessly identifies what items they're offering, and how much you'll save. Too easy.
4. Use promo codes to encourage bigger purchases
Promo codes are an excellent way to encourage people to fill up their shopping carts.Passing along a promo code that lets customers take a percentage off their order total when they spend a certain amount is a quick and easy way to encourage more and larger sales.
5. Start teasing sales a few days early
Just because sales don't start until Black Friday, doesn't mean you have to start promoting them on Black Friday. If you start promoting your sales prior to the holidays, it'll build anticipation with your consumers, making them excited and ready to take advantage as soon as Black Friday or Cyber Monday hit.
6. Sync your marketing message across all channels
In the lead up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you want to make sure you have a plan for communicating your products and deals. One of the best things you can do is sync up your messaging across social media, emails, and paid advertising (i.e AdWords, Facebook Ads).
A long-standing marketing adage is the Rule of Seven: meaning a person needs to see your message roughly seven times before they take action. Integrating your message over social, email, and paid advertising will ensure that your message is heard loud and clear. Plus, companies who took the time to invest in their social, email, and mobile marketing saw 30% higher sales on average.
Key to success here: make sure your content carries visual continuity across platforms. That way, each time someone comes across your post/ad/email, the image will be instantly recognizable.
Warby Parker released new holiday packaging last year that was bold, stylish, and eye-catching. They displayed the packaging in images across their marketing channels, making their content instantly recognizable and lingering in people’s minds.
7. Make sure your email journeys are ready to deploy
Email may not sound like the sexiest marketing option in 2018, but it's effective! Per Shopify's 2017 Black Friday Cyber Monday Report, Email had the highest conversion rate when compared to search, direct mail, and social.
MailChimp says that 67% of online shopping carts are abandoned before a customer completes a purchase. That's a lot of revenue walking out the door! One of the most effective ways to turn those website visitors into sales is to reach out to them.
An abandoned cart email flow will help keep you in the customers’ mind, and if done right, nudge them towards purchasing. Try giving the customer some extra value in this email by offering them some additional incentive, like 10% off their order.
8. Create email opt-in deals
Another effective email use is to offer opt-in deals –– meaning giving your website visitors some value, say 15% off their order, if they sign up for your newsletter. Not only is this an incentive to purchase now, but it will also set you up for success down the road, as they will now be subscribed to your mailing list.
9. Create curated gift guides
Gift guides are a great way to guide your customers towards gifts intended for the people they’re shopping for. By curating your products into lists generated for people with specific interests, it will make the shopping experience easier for your customers.
Rifle Paper Co. makes it easy to search for gifts by personality, pattern, and price, making it fun to browse the specific lists, and convenient for shopping for whoever you have in mind.
10. Use a countdown clock
Black Friday through Cyber Monday is a short window, and making sure your customers know that is a really good way to get them to make a purchase. To create a sense of urgency with your customers, a really good practice is adding a countdown clock so they know how long the deal lasts.
Or, include text on your website that makes it clear that your holiday deals won’t last long.
11. Make sure your site is optimized for mobile
In 2017, online retail brands can no longer get by with a poor mobile website experience. For the past few years, even though mobile traffic was steadily on the rise, an overwhelming majority of purchases happened on a desktop or laptop. However, as people adapt to their phones, the number of purchases happening on mobile is rising.
Last year, Black Friday sales came out to $5.03 billion, with mobile accounting for over $2 billion of those sales — up from $1.2 billion the year before. Moreover, one of the biggest reasons people are migrating to mobile is convenience. If your mobile experience isn’t convenient, there is a huge piece of market share that you could be missing out on.
Allbirds’ site is equally pleasant to scroll on mobile as it is on a desktop, making it easy to purchase from any device.
Luckily, most e-commerce platforms make it easy to edit and optimize your mobile site, so make sure you review it before the holidays roll around.
12. Set up a live chat
As discussed, you want to eliminate as many potential barriers or roadblocks. One easy way to help out your customers is to have a live chat feature up on your site.
Being able to answer questions while someone is currently browsing your products is huge. Questions about fit or feel of a t-shirt might deter someone from buying, but if you’re there to answer, this could give them the confidence they need to purchase.
LiveChat, Intercom, and Drift are all good options for assisting your customers as they shop.
13. Check your internet speed
You may not think this is a big deal, but your customers sure do. 46% of shoppers have said they’ll never return to a slow website. Don’t let it be yours.
Use Pingdom Tools to check your internet speed. If your site is running slower than it should, try using a tool like compressor.io to make your image sizes smaller without losing quality.
14. Consider giving or donating time to a charity or cause
Donating a small portion of sales, or even simply donating your time to a cause or charity is a great way to stay grounded in what the holidays are really about. Not only will it be good for your own company culture, but you will also get to show customers a more human side of your brand.
Adventure brand United by Blue is choosing to spend their Black Friday leading a nationwide cleanup movement, and inviting you to do the same! They’re known for their responsibly, sustainably produced goods, so this initiative is very on-brand for them, and resonates with their customers. Plus, by inviting people to join in and share what they’re doing, they should get some strong social media exposure.
15. Start early, and don't stress too much
The holidays are an incredibly important time for retailers, and it can be easy to let that pressure get you, but don't get overwhelmed! If you start planning and checking things off your list now, you'll be perfectly prepared and ready to go by the time Black Friday and Cyber Monday roll around.
We hope this list serves as a great launching point as you prepare for the holiday season. Did we miss anything in our 15 eCommerce marketing ideas for Black Friday and the holidays? If so, let us know! We’d love to hear your holiday secrets, and what you do to make the holiday season a successful one.