While supply chain issues become less of a problem, but gas, utility and cost-of-living prices rise, Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2022 promises to be unpredictable at best. A recent Washington Post article states “big discounts could offset some of the upward pressure on prices from food and fuel. Too much caution, though, would usher in the same sort of supply shortages we saw during the last two holiday seasons.” BlackFriday.com also predicts that spending will be down in 2022 from recent years.
So what to make of this? If you’re running an eCommerce business and relying on a holiday shopping bump, you may have to work harder this year than in the past. On one end, product availability and price point are key. On the other, you need to have solid Black Friday marketing strategies in place.
Building your eCommerce shop on Shopify makes the process so much easier, but one thing your storefront needs that won’t come from basic site buildout and maintenance is your own Black Friday Shopify plan, including checklists, strategies, goals and tactics. This way you can ensure your apps have been chosen properly, your site, inventory and shipping are set and your marketing plan will be bringing the right customers to your store.
What Is Black Friday?
Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving. This day marks the beginning of the long holiday season for US consumers. Initially, retailers held a one-day Black Friday sales event, both online and offline. Later, Black Friday sales were extended to a four-day sales session, continuing until Cyber Monday and beyond into Cyber Week.
When is Black Friday online this year?
Black Friday starts online as well as at brick and mortar stores at the same time. In 2022, Black Friday is on the 25th of November.
Black Friday & Cyber Monday: What’s the Difference?
Black Friday had its start in traditional brick and mortar stores that would look to take advantage of the day after Thanksgiving (always a Friday) being a bonus weekend day when potential shoppers wouldn’t have other plans. Early openings and deep discounts resulted in shoppers flocking to stores in order to get the best deals imaginable.
With the advent of eCommerce, marketers discovered that most people have a hard time getting much done the day after a long holiday weekend. Taking advantage of those able to shop online during their workweek and the momentum built up from a weekend of shopping for the next holiday (only 4 or so weeks away), Cyber Monday became the logical follow-up to Black Friday.
What is Cyber Week?
In another extension of BFCM, Cyber Week also includes Giving Tuesday (the day when non-profits use the boost in holiday buying to encourage philanthropic giving). Many eCommerce companies extend their BFCM marketing through to the final Friday of this week. By the time Cyber Week ends, there will only be 22 days left until Christmas Eve, which can cause a lot of stress for many gift givers. Taking advantage of the energy created from Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Giving Tuesday, as well as the pressure these events create to get the best deals on the most gifts in time for the holidays is becoming a common tactic for many eCommerce Shopify businesses. Wrapping up sales at the end of Cyber Week also creates better timing for stores to ship items to the customer, with less rush shipping requests (and often subsequent late deliveries).
Detailed Black Friday Website Checklist
What is the first thing a visitor notices when they enter your eCommerce site? The store itself. So, you need to make it Black Friday-ready.
Confirm your website is hosted in the right place, on the right plan.
Is your eCommerce store under a shared hosting plan? Remember that Black Friday and Cyber Monday will cause a sudden traffic surge to your store. So, make sure that your store can handle this traffic surge. Shared hosting plans often have some limitations. So, what you can do is consult with your hosting provider and discuss these pointers in detail. If your site crashes in the middle of a shopping session, users are not likely to return.
Evaluate your store’s load balancing
Expect BFCM to drive huge traffic to your store. With proper load balancing initiatives, you can distribute this excess traffic through a network. That way, the chances of a store crash will be less. Again, this requires a check-in with your hosting company - ask them to double-check on the load balancing when you confirm you’re ready for any surge in traffic.
Execute speed and stress tests
Do you want to offer an unmatched user experience for each store visitor during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2022 shopping season? Start with testing your store’s speed and stress.
For speed testing and optimization:
- Reduce the number of resources available on your website. This will take the load off your web pages and your store’s loading speed will increase. 39% of users will give up on your store if the site pages take too long to load.
- You can also reduce the image sizes of your store. Furthermore, remove any unnecessary plugins from the store. These can also speed up the eCommerce store.
- Do a quick speed test from here. This will help you understand how you should move ahead.
For stress testing:
- Performing a stress test is also a good idea. A stress test or load test helps you drive hypothetical traffic to your website. That way, you can check how your store is performing under excess traffic and take corrective actions. Do the stress test here.
Work on website navigation
You don’t want to confuse store visitors and make it difficult for them to move around, right? Go for simple navigation that leaves sufficient opportunities for store visitors to explore your store and make their purchase decisions. Here are some tips to improve the website’s navigation:
- For each product, use clear images and descriptions. Add product categories to each item so that users can search and find them conveniently.
- Add powerful search functionality. Make sure that customers can filter their searches based on color, size, price, availability or any other relevant factors. Filtered searches can reduce customer frustration,helping them find their desired product quicker.
- Add clear navigation buttons, so customers can navigate different categories anytime and return back to the homepage whenever they want.
Make sure product recommendations are organized properly
Regardless of how much is spent, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the week after will be the BIGGEST shopping season for the US consumers. As an e-retailer, it is your time to ensure that you drive maximum sales during this window. Don’t limit your offerings to only what the customer is searching for. Offer relevant recommendations for each product to increase the chances of cross-selling/up-selling/down-selling.
See what top online retailer ASOS did here. Along with the search result of a mini dress, the store shows two kinds of recommendations to the buyer. The first type is “similar products” recommendation where they display dresses close to the user’s search.
The second type of recommendation is called “Buy the look” where they’re cross-selling various accessories like shoes, earrings etc. that will go well with the dress.
Adding personalized recommendations is a smart idea as it can increase the chances of buying for shoppers. But how can you add personalized recommendations for each product? If you’re on Shopify, Argoid’s personalized recommendation engine is a simple app-install away.
Here’s how Argoid can help you this holiday season:
- Personalized home page for each user based on their purchase history, browsing history and store activities.
- Reduce users’ time on tedious search and engage them with hyper-personalized search recommendations that they can’t ignore
- Engaging and re-engaging users with different types of recommendations like Recommended for you, Trending, Inspired by your shopping trends, In-cart recommendations, and so on.
Once you add a personalized recommendation engine, it becomes easier to convert users in just one scroll, improve Shopify conversion rates and recover abandoned carts with a simple click.
Are you done with inventory preparations?
It is the holiday season and you’re prepping for the massive sales. So, make sure you have enough inventory in place. Inventory preparations can vary based on the model you operate with.
If you're a dropshipper, managing stocks is not your direct responsibility. However, when a massive sale season is on, you don’t want to disappoint buyers with sudden “out of stock”, right? So, take care of the following:
- Connect with suppliers to discuss how they’re approaching Black Friday sales
- Help suppliers build an actionable stock management plan relevant to the increased sales volume
- Get in touch with the logistics provider and ask for frequent updates in case of any possible delay in delivery
- If there are any major delays in the delivery dates, keep the customers informed in advance. Delays are often forgivable - not letting the customer know about the hold-up is not.
Physical stock management:
Does your eCommerce store manage stock in house? In that case, take care of the following:
- Stock up before the beginning of the Cyber Monday and Black Friday eCommerce sales. Make sure that the new stock level matches potential demand.
- Do you have plenty of packaging (boxes, ribbons, packing tapes, gift wraps etc.) in stock? A packing shortage is a nightmare you don’t want to encounter.
- Automate the stock management process. Make sure that whenever a particular item crosses the “low stock” limit, the warehouse receives an automated notification. That way, it will be easier to understand when to restock or remove from the site all together.
Ensure proper customer service communication is in place - and automated
Finally, it is also part of your website prep to add proper communication channels for prompt customer interaction. Here’s what you should do:
- Create an automated email sequence to keep customers in loop. Make sure they get personalized notifications at every stage, starting from placing the order to delivery. The email sequence should include a series of personalized emails starting with welcome emails, cart recovery email, order confirmation email, delivery delay email, order delivered email and post-delivery feedback email.
- Adding a chatbot to your eCommerce store is always a smart idea. It helps the customers navigate through the store on their own. Chatbots can quickly answer their FAQs and transfer any complicated queries to the human agents. The best part is that chatbots can serve the customers 24/7 and address queries in multiple languages.
Select the appropriate Black Friday 2022 pricing strategy
Your aim should be to strike a balance between satisfying customers with lower prices and maintaining a profit margin. Don’t overdo either of these two factors or you may end up losing out on opportunities.
Some tips on how to reach that balance:
- Go for behavior-based pricing. Track customers’ behavior and note the products they’re adding to cart and wishlist. Evidently, they are waiting for a price drop on those items. Make their wish come true and see the magic.
- You can also use dynamic pricing tools that determine the best price for different eCommerce store items based on some given inputs.
- A common strategy for any Black Friday sales is offering high discounts on old stock and a relatively modest discount on the new ones. This can be an effective approach, provided you execute it strategically.
Write sure-fire Black Friday/Cyber Monday emails and text messages
Want to grow the conversion rate of your eCommerce store this Black Friday? Focus on your email copy. Make it concise and engaging. Here are a few tips:
- Keep your emails short, crisp and personalized. By personalization, we don’t mean just mentioning the recipient’s name. Today’s informed users are well aware that you can add their names through automation tools. So, think out-of-the-box. How about personalized email recommendations? Argoid’s recommendation engine that helps you create campaigns, triggers and deals in real-time, on the fly, through AI-enabled personalization.
- Timing matters. If you want your emails to convert, try sending them during the active hours. That means, when your target users are actively awake.
- Add the apt CTAs to your emails. For example, instead of a “Find out more in our store”, add a CTA that says “Buy now”. Why confuse them when you can help them complete checkout within the email itself?
Adopt a personalized approach to Black Friday promotions
Generic approaches hardly work any more. That’s why 66% of customers expect brands to understand their individual needs. So, when it comes to a massive opportunity like Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales season, make sure to add a touch of personalization to your approach.
The best way to leverage personalization? Add a personalized recommendation engine that can narrow down your target users’ preferences based on their activities, and accordingly provide hyper-personalized recommendations. A personalized recommendation engine can reduce cart abandonment and increase conversion rate by up to 82%.
"Personalization is when you go into a bar and sit down, and the bartender puts a whiskey in front of you without having to ask what you want." - Jeff Bezos
Don’t forget to create a simplified checkout experience
Did you know that consumers spend around $5400 a year on impulse purchases? During an epic holiday season like Cyber Week, it is pretty obvious that impulse purchases will trigger many of the checkout sessions of your eCommerce store. However, to make the most of it, you need a simple, one-click checkout process.
For existing customers, keep the payment information stored so that they don’t have to fill the details for every checkout session. For new customers, keep the guest checkout option open. To make the checkout process painless, a store can add PayPal, Apple Pay, Shopify Pay, Stripe or any other relevant payment options.
Invest in post-purchase loyalty
Want to retain loyal customers? Don’t limit yourself to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Get started with post-Black Friday loyalty programs. Later, your customers will try to redeem the loyalty points they acquired during the Black Friday sales.
The best way to remind your users about those loyalty points is through loyalty emails. Remember, the approach to writing loyalty emails is completely different from that of a regular promotional email. For a loyalty email, your aim should be to remind them about the individual loyalty points they earned and how they can be used (or if/when they expire, if applicable).
Leverage personalization to boost up-sell/cross-sell
Finally, up-sell and cross-sell as much as you can. Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2022 is probably your best shot at persuading customers to purchase related products. So, why not make the most of it? Add more personalized recommendation ribbons to entice customers with different kinds of recommendations.
Cross-selling/up-selling is much easier when you provide tailor-made recommendations to customers. Remember that increasing AOV is not your only goal for executing up-sell/cross-sell campaigns. Instead, try to offer personalized recommendation widgets that connect with them over their individual needs and create more loyal customers.
10 Ways to Grow your BFCM Sales with Personalization
Even though Black Friday sales represent a unique opportunity for retailers, there’s a need to cut through the noise and stand out from the competition. To achieve this, you have to make your customer experiences as relevant as possible, whether offline or online. One of the simplest and effective ways to engage your customers is via personalization and there are small things you can do at the last minute to reap big results from your BFCM sales.
1. Personalize Your Landing Pages
Your landing page can make or break the success of your promotional campaigns. Therefore, it's worth revisiting your landing pages and redesigning them as per the latest trends, keeping Black Friday in mind.
Here are some tips for creating an impactful landing page:
- Use a short yet compelling headline to capture attention.
- Keep the text short and impactful to deliver value.
- Consider using bullet points to highlight your USPs.
- Include client testimonials and media mentions to generate trust.
- Don't include unnecessary links or clutter the landing page.
- Include a powerful call-to-action to get the visitors clicking.
2. Use Personalized Product Page Recommendations
Personalized product recommendations based on visitor actions can significantly boost your average order value. Think about it – your store will likely have a vast range of products, and it's pretty tiring to search through the catalogs to find the right product or the best deal. An AI-powered tool like Argoid can ensure a seamless shopping experience for your customers by giving them access to a more extensive product pool through tailored recommendations based on their activity and interests. Couple these recommendations with awesome deals to help customers automatically find what they need and score some nice discounts without navigating your entire site.
3. Send Personalized Offers via Email
Email marketing is an inexpensive yet effective promotional channel to boost your sales. It is also easy to implement at the last minute to get users clicking through your website. One of the simplest ways to use email marketing to boost your sales is connecting with your former customers and offering them special savings and discounts when they buy. Additionally, you can reach out to potential customers with 'deals of the day' to have them check back online regularly. If you are promoting specific products, make sure the images are clickable to direct users to your product pages seamlessly.
With Argoid, you can set up personalized email campaigns to deliver product recommendations to each shopper based on their historical interactions, similar user behavior, and product popularity. You can even send them email notifications like discounts on their wishlisted products using Argoid’s platform to effortlessly boost your Black Friday sales.
4. Make Use of Social Media
Even if you're not left with much time to plan a digital marketing campaign around Black Friday, you can harness the power of social media to promote your products. For instance, you can use one of the free animation tools to create teaser videos of products that will be on sale and promote them on your social media handles to build anticipation. Don't forget to include Black Friday focussed Instagram hashtags to take your posts to the relevant audience, and drive more traffic to your Shopify store.
5. Offer Conditional Discounts to Users
If you don't want to lose out on profits while offering discounts, you could always advertise conditional sales to ensure a minimum order value from customers. For instance, a customer may be required to buy two units of a product to avail a discount or make a total purchase up to a certain minimum level to be eligible for free shipping or a discount coupon.
6. Incentivize Every Purchase With a Personalized Gift or Discount
Use Black Friday sales to make your loyal customers feel extra special. Offer them personalized gifts, early-bird access, or special discounts to encourage them to buy more from you. This is especially beneficial if you have a tier-based membership program in place.
7. Offer Charity Donations
Many brands donate a part of their sales to charities. Instead of tempting your customers with just discounts, you can build more meaning into the entire shopping cycle by offering a part of the sales to various charities. Tying it together with Giving Tuesday may also work for your overall Cyber Week marketing strategy.
8: Arrange personalized VIP discounts
Taking special care of your VIP customers is always a good idea. Make sure that you have some special offers kept aside only for these loyal, VIP customers who purchase from your store frequently and actively participate in the loyalty programs.
These are your star customers and taking extra care of them will only benefit you in the long run. Use an AI-enabled recommendation engine that can make apt product predictions for VIP customers based on relevance and their past purchases.
VIP offers can be of several types. Here’re some ideas that you can try:
- Early access to Black Friday 2022 sales deals
- Extended access to Cyber Monday deals
- Higher percentage of discounts (Example: For regular customers 30% whereas for VIP customers, Flat 50%)
Spice up your VIP discounts and keep the loyal customers hooked.
9: Personalize your Error 404 pages
Chances are that your eCommerce store traffic will double during the Black Friday - Cyber Monday weekend. And the risk of getting Error 404 is almost inevitable. A smart way to handle this is to turn your Error 404 pages into personalized recommendation pages.
With so much store traffic, you can hardly avoid the Error 404 page. So, make sure that even though customers reach this page, they don’t leave your store completely. Turn the Error 404 page into a sales driver by adding little touches of personalization.
This is less annoying to customers, and improves their chances of returning to the store.
Consider adding a Personalized Product Recommendation Ribbon, which is very easy with the Argoid App on Shopify. Remind customers of the kinds of products they were looking for when the 404 error appeared, and bring them back to their shopping experience.
10: Offer crazy last-minute sales deals
Last-minute extended sales deals always hit differently! There is no hard-written rule that you can only run your Black Friday sales campaign until Cyber Monday. You can easily extend it further depending on your customers’ purchase behavior. In fact, this will surprise your customers and help you stay ahead of your competitors. But then again, extended sales deal should also be strategic. You can’t just extend the offers for a week, right? Create urgency to make the extended discounts work.
5 Epic Black Friday Fails: Mistakes to Avoid
One wrong move on this critical shopping day can affect your budget for the rest of the year. Here’s our list of 5 Epic Black Friday Fails to Avoid:
1. Not Leveraging Personalization
According to Accenture, about 80% of shoppers are more likely to buy from a company that offers personalized experiences. Companies usually spend large budgets generating relevant traffic to their website during Black Friday, but they do not focus enough on personalization.
According to Infosys research, 59% of consumers who have experienced personalization believe it influences purchase decisions. Using customer data and prior actions, such as purchases, clicks, and visits, you can tailor personalized recommendations for individual users according to their intent.
Help the customer feel connected to your brand and products, ignoring personalization for Black Friday and Cyber Monday can cost you.
You can leverage personalization by:
- Implementing Cross/Up-Sell product recommendations
- Sending Black Friday themed personalized emails to the target audience
- Creating a special Landing Page for Black Friday discounts
- Customize your website with personalized widgets, recommendation ribbons etc.
2. Not making your websites mobile-friendly
70% of shoppers are using mobile devices for online purchases. Consumers expect the mobile experience to be good, if not better, than the desktop experience. You need to provide your visitors with a quick, responsive, and optimized site for Black Friday. According to Adobe, smartphones were one of the biggest drivers of online sales last holiday season, with 57% of online shopping traffic coming from mobile. Most of the search queries for Black Friday also happen via smartphones. And missing it could directly affect your conversion rates on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
To make your website more mobile-friendly, you can :
- Add attractive call-to-action buttons
- Use a responsive website template
- Make the checkout process easy
3. Not paying attention to cart abandonment
During Black Friday 2020, the online cart abandonment rate was nearly 78%, Globally. Cart abandonment is a big challenge for the e-commerce industry. A shopper can abandon the cart for many reasons, including confusion about products, not getting the expected discount or postponing the purchase. Once the cart is abandoned, it is challenging for brands to get the customer back in order to complete the transaction.
Ignoring this is a big mistake. You need to analyze why shoppers have second thoughts and abandon their carts. You can use customer data to send reminders in the form of emails and text messages to customers with abandoned carts and request them to return and complete the purchase. In the reminder, you can also display similar products to increase the likelihood of upselling or cross-selling.
When cart abandonment happens, you can:
- Use customer data to analyze the reason for cart abandonment.
- Send personalized notifications and reminders in the form of emails
- Send text messages / push notifications to customers with abandoned carts
- Use a recommendation engine like Argoid to reduce cart abandonment rate.
4. Limiting your Black Friday promotions to discounts only
Today, over 90% of U.S. shoppers look for deals before making an online purchase, especially during the holiday season. Most eCommerce brands assume that discounts are the only way to target customers on Black Friday. But, there are many other deals that can bring better business through the door.
Users expect diversity in sales, some prefer free shipping while others personalized discounts.
You can try one of these ideas for better promotions:
- BOGO Sales
Buy one get one, or BOGO sales is one of the best ways to attract customers who want to get the most for their money. BOGO sales can be of many types: buy one get one free, or get one half off deal and many more.
- Free Shipping
Shipping fee is a significant reason for customers to abandon their purchases. Offering customers free shipping on your Black Friday discounts and offers will help you garner more purchases.
- Free Gifts with Purchase
A gift will convince the customers that they will be receiving more than what they paid for. A free gift can be a small item like a bag accessories. Vouchers and coupons, referrals, loyalty bonuses, VIP offers are some of the other promotional offers you can provide.
5. Targeting the Wrong Customers
You may create great campaigns, but if it reaches an audience who doesn't care or relate to it, there is no point. Research audience segments and understand user intent behind buying products from your brand and competing brands.
To reach the right people, you need to:
- Identify your target market and draw a detailed picture of your audience segments
- Make ad copy, social media posts, email, and other content related to your target audience.
- Update your target audience data regularly so that your campaigns are super targeted.
- Use an AI product personalization engine like Argoid that can identify a user's intent and recommend the right product
The effort you put in will be worth it.
There is a lot of thought that goes into a well-planned and executed Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Cyber Week. There are parts that are harder than others, but one of the very easiest things you can do is evaluate what technology you have set up on your Shopify store and get the right apps set up before sales kick into high gear.
Of course, we strongly recommend a solid personalization strategy and offer Argoid as a best-in-class Shopify app for clothing stores and other categories like jewelry, food, home & garden, to get you there. Even if BFCM 2022 isn’t as lucrative as in years past, at least you’ll know your storefront had everything in place for a successful sales season, and opportunities weren’t missed. No matter what strategy you focus on, we know that the hard work will pay off far more than going into BFCM without a plan. Happy planning and good luck!
When should you start preparing for Black Friday?
The earlier you start the better it is. Customers start looking for holiday deals in October! This is the time to entice with coupon codes and special offers.The holiday weekend consumers will be in line and shopping, so don't wait until Thanksgiving weekend.
What is the best time to sell during Black Friday/Cyber Monday?
The best time to sell on Black Friday is early in the morning. The best deals can start as early as 5am, as some stores open their doors even earlier. The most popular deals if you want to finish pretty quickly consider doing it early in the morning so that you can impress your shoppers with the best products at the earliest possible.
Why is a marketing strategy required for BFCM/Cyber Week?
A solid Black Friday marketing strategy will boost your ecommerce store’s visibility and place it in the right place ahead of the competitors during this all-important shopping weekend. Developing a strategy takes significant time and effort, so marketers can plan and schedule marketing strategies well in advance.
Which is the best way to promote your Black Friday sales?
According to a study by financial site Finder.com, those aged between 35-44 are the most prominent buyers in Black Friday sales. And the highest percentage of social media users are millennials. Take advantage of social media channels to exhibit your brand and its products. Defintely plan your Black Friday marketing campaigns for social media well before any sales starts and implement it efficiently to boost sales.
Why is personalization essential for Black Friday/Cyber Monday?
Customers have a different mindset during BFCM – they browse many different websites to find the best offer on the product they are looking for. Add personalized recommendations that can narrow down your target users’ preferences based on their activities, and accordingly provide hyper-personalized recommendations. Black Friday is probably your best shot at persuading customers to purchase related products.
What is the biggest mistake eCommerce marketers make on Black Friday/Cyber Monday?
Failing to anticipate site traffic is one of the biggest mistakes ecommerce companies make. You have to always have an idea of the volume of visitors that might come to your site so that you can prepare your system to handle all of that traffic. If you do not handle it properly, you are under the risk of your website crashing.