Whether it feels way too close for comfort or miles away from today, the biggest shopping event is just around the corner. Black Friday and Cyber Monday is what’s on our mind — and we’re focused on getting you prepped for the big days.
Especially when last year merchants saw a total global sales of 6.3-billion USD during the BFCM sales weekend— an increase of 23% in comparison to 2020 — and with 47 million customers visiting Shopify-powered brands during last year’s BFCM event, it’s clear that the biggest sales weekend of the year is a huge opportunity to get👏 that 👏cash (whilst making your customers very happy in the process, of course).
You might be thinking: “Great! More sales. But wait…Do I need to work with influencers? How do I send automated Black Friday promo codes to my customers? Is Black Friday/Cyber Monday still even a thing? (Hint: it is!)
This year, we’re sharing our Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) checklist to ensure that you’ve got everything planned and ready to go — so you can knock the biggest sales event of the year out of the park.🏏
Item 1: Reach sky-high when it comes to your sales goals
Creating buzz about your BFCM deals early will allow you to connect with your community — and stay top of mind for the entire holiday season.
Here’s how to nail it:
Explore creative BFCM promotions
Amazing promotions come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. You might be tempted to do a blanket promotion or discount, but before you go all-in, there are some downsides you should know about.
One example of a blanket discount is offering your customers a discount for signing up for your newsletter (cue, 15% off your first order) or a flash sale (50% off everything) to push last season’s inventory. These can work really well in both of these cases.
But for BFCM’s 4-day sales weekend, a promotion like 50% off all products online may actually hurt your revenue in the long run.
If you’re open to trying something outside of blanket promotions, there are other enticing sales strategies to put customer satisfaction at the heart of your BFCM weekend.
Here are a few great ideas:
Offer a buy one get one deal (BOGO)
Offer free shipping
Offer a complimentary gift with every order
Cut costs on the high-value items with deep markdowns
You can also set a minimum order value for your customers to access the promotion. Doing this is simple: just calculate your average order value. Your average order value (AOV) is as it sounds: the average amount of money that is spent by your customers per order and you can calculate these directly in Shopify under your Customers Reports.
For example, if you find the average order value among your customers is $100, you could offer a 35% discount for all orders above $100.
In practice, it’s super easy to create your custom promo codes in Shopify. And if you’re looking to get started, check out this how-to guide on the Shopify Help Center.
Item 2: Make sure your website is running smooth as silk
In preparation for your BFCM sales, it’s time to triple-check that you’ve got three key things perfectly prepared: branding, user experience (UX), and product information.
38% of people abandon their website experience if they don’t like the website content — so take a day or two to make sure everything is easy to read and extra-clear.
And although it’s easy to assume that social media is where most people are first discovering brands, a good chunk of consumers are still using search on their shopping journey (a solid 35% of consumers). Wow.
This means your website is often the first point of contact for many potential customers. To stand out and turn visitors into buyers, your website needs to be two key things: trustworthy, and authoritative.
So what do “trustworthy” and “authoritative” look like in practice?
Here are a few things you need to do to make sure you’re on the winning team:
Check up on your UX
Today’s shoppers (especially the Gen-Z and Millennials out there) put on-point branding, a catchy tone of voice, and smooth web experiences at the top of their list.
You have 8 seconds to make a break your first impression — so ensuring your website is aesthetically pleasing, offers a positive shopping experience, and is informative should be your biggest priority before the BFCM sales event.
The easiest way to ensure that your UX is enjoyable is by updating your site template. The second component of this is ensuring that all your fonts and creative assets are on brand.
Doing this is simple: just upgrade your product images when and where possible — but also dig deeper into your brand’s tone of voice and messaging across your site (ps — it’s reported that 64% of women shopping for clothing on their smartphone are influenced by product photography).
Provide an enjoyable shopping experience with easy updates:
- Provide a simple checkout process
- Test your site speed with Google Lighthouse (because 40% of shoppers will abandon ship if it takes longer than 3-seconds to load)
- Make sure your payment options are vast, as well as secure and trustworthy
- Provide transparency on delivery times and costs
- Ensure your refund and return policy is clear
- Allow your customers to combine promo codes
- Ensure the user understands how many steps there are in the checkout process (because a reported 97% of consumers have reported abandoning checkout if it’s not seamless)
- Make sure it’s easy to navigate between store pages and cart
- Use a Shopify chatbot to assist (more on that later)
Additional recommendations for improving your UX ecosystem for BFCM:
Add and edit product descriptions
As many BFCM shoppers are searching out the best products well in advance (Shopify reports that 54% of shoppers plan their BFCM purchases a month in advance), education plays a huge role in driving conversion.
You can do this by updating your product descriptions to include details about fit, sizing, materials, and manufacturing. Afterall, 20% of sales are reported to fail due to poor product descriptions — so it’s no time to skimp out for BFCM.
Add customer reviews
In recent e-comm trends, we’re also seeing the rise in comparison shopping – the act of shopping online for hours with multiple tabs open, comparing the costs of goods, shipping costs, and return policies (to name a few) before making that final purchase.
Consumers will often spend hours before completing their desired purchase. And it’s often the micro-moments that can push your customers over the edge — like with product reviews.
According to Broadly, customers will spend 31% more if a business has positive reviews — and ensuring that reviews are present and available for your prospective buyers across your website is going to help you build your authority and trust value we spoke about earlier.
You can get started with Shopify’s top review app integrations, here.
Ensure your shipping rates and details are up to date
Did you know that the return rate for online retailers is around 30%? Compared to brick-and-mortar — which hovers around 8% — the return rate online tends to skew higher for multiple reasons: the product is not as described, the sizing did not work, or the customer simply has lost interest.
Especially for BFCM, adding your shipping and return policy is going to offer your customers peace of mind as spontaneous shopping takes place.
We recommend fine-tuning your messaging and answering questions such as:
Which countries do you ship to? What is the cost?
What is the cost for express vs. ground shipping?
Do you offer in-store collections?
Will a tracking code be provided?
Do you offer same-day or next-day shipping?
What are the guidelines for returning items?
Item 3: Make BFCM the star of the show across your website
Mainly, we’re talking about updating your homepage with the appropriate BFCM messaging.
Tactics that we like to deploy include launching BFCM banners outlining a sneak peek of what’s to come for your promotional event.
You can also explore pop-ups to add to your Shopify store —-requesting visitors to enter their email addresses and to be the first ones to learn about early access to BFCM.
Item 4: Guide shoppers on their journey with on-point product recommendations
When it comes to selling your products online, one way to reduce choice paralysis — the overload of options that often leads consumers to flee (which nearly 46% of customers report suffering from) — is to be their go-to shopping companion. Help them make decisions, and not only will they buy from you, but they’ll also be happy you helped.
And product recommendations are going to help you during BFCM to a) secure more one-time sales and b) secure more bulk orders.
In simple words, recommending products to your customers online during the BFCM weekend will help them to find what they want quickly, and easily.
This is especially the case for spontaneous shoppers (it is reported that between 40% to 80% of purchases are impulsive) but also for those that are looking to curate wishlists and bookmarked product content beforehand.
To optimize your storefront with product recommendations, you should:
Create a section for top sellers on your homepage
Building a new section for your top sellers to live on your homepage is one of the best things you can do for your website.
Why? As a best-seller, it’s safe to assume that the product has garnered popularity amongst the bulk of your community. It’s a no-brainer that creating a gallery of these winners in the middle of your homepage is going to help drive your customer further down the buying journey.
Curate pleasing product bundles to encourage bulk buying
It can also mean putting together bundled products specifically for BFCM, allowing your customers to purchase items they’ve been saving up for at a bulk price.
Implement a wishlist capability for your customers to save and secure their favorite items for later
You can allow your customers to create an account on your store, where they can then build out their very own wishlist — items they wish to purchase down the line.
To do this on Shopify, you can add a custom code in the backend (CSS), or a Wishlist app integration. More information on that can be found here.
Recommend personalized products based on your customer’s browsing history
Often considered upselling in traditional retail, adding a carousel of recommended products on your product listing pages (PLPs) is going to provide the shopper with more options.
You can also deploy a product pairing strategy: showcasing products most often purchased together at checkout — because 70% of new customers are likely to purchase a recommended item (and might as well take every chance you got).
Last but not least: recommend products via chatbot
Adding a chatbot to your Shopify store -– like Heyday by Hootsuite — is also a fool-proof way to recommend products to your customers.
With Heyday, you can send out responses to your customer’s frequently asked questions about stock, size, style, price, order tracking, and more, with the automated, on-brand FAQ feature.
And when it comes to the product recommendations, you can rely on this handy helper to present top sellers, sale items, and more curated product recommendations straight from the get-go — as soon as your customers click on the Heyday chat icon to start a conversation.
In real-time, and in any time zone, Heyday is a 24/7 tool that’s going to help you close more sales during the biggest promotional event of the year — especially if you’re marketing to a global customer.
Afterall, product recommendations are 30 percent more likely to convert customers than sites that don’t practice reccos.
Item 5: Repeat after us: Mobile. Mobile. Mobile.
Just as you should ensure that your website experience is on-brand, up-to-date, and quick and easy for your community to make purchases (and enjoy it in the process), the mobile shopping experience is equally important.
In 2021, Shopify reports that 71% of BFCM transactions took place from mobile devices — compared to 29% taking place on desktop.
So if your website isn’t optimized for mobile viewing (i.e. loading time is slow, site design is poor) then you can bet users are going to head elsewhere — because 53% of mobile device consumers are reported to flee if it takes longer than 3 seconds for a website to load (oof).
To optimize for mobile, here’s what you need to do:
- Ensure pop-ups are mobile-first
- Manage and improve site speed (if you haven’t done it yet)
- Revisit your plugins and site themes on Shopify
- Ensure you’re using Shopify-provided fonts
- Scale back on heavy imagery
- Update to a speedier Shopify theme
And for a more in-depth guide on mobile optimization, you can also visit this resource.
Item 6: Bring your best, wittiest, chattiest self to social media (it works)
As a business, the number of social media accounts you are expected to manage simultaneously is overwhelming. We know!
For BFCM, we recommend focusing on the platform where you have seen the most success so far in social selling — but also in building an engaged community.
The best part about starting your BFCM social media planning early is that you can also use it as a means of research to discover what your community is interested in purchasing come November.
For all of your BFCM materials, the two pieces of advice we always follow are: add a clear call to action, and always promote your sales content with a sense of urgency — to spark that fomo feeling.
Planning BFCM content for Instagram
Instagram is a great platform to create BFCM Feed Posts, Story Frames, as well as Reels to get your message out early about your promotional details.
For example, this could be with a newsletter prompt sign-up which allows your community to get first access to Black Friday deals before the general public.
Or, it could even mean sending a DM to your followers the day before Black Friday offering them first access to the sale.
You can also promote your top products across your social platforms months before BFCM weekend to ensure that they’re top of mind for customers come November.
Our foolproof steps to creating and launching your social media content for BFCM include:
- Plan your intended BFCM content themes and messaging
- Brainstorm your posts and creative campaign ideas
- Decide when you will post
- Determine what mix of content you will post
- Create and/or source your design assets
- Write captions and copy
- Schedule content with tools like Hootsuite
And as many shoppers are buying holiday gifts during BFCM, you can use this as a reason to create unique content across your channels: This could look like:
- Gift guides for specific customer profiles (i.e., for dad).
- Launching a BFCM countdown series – with different promo codes leading up to the weekend (i.e., 10 days of BFCM deals) to be used on your most gift-friendly products
- Convince your customers why your products make the perfect gift by showcasing your production process, and product originality (#BTS)
If you are interested in learning more about planning your BFCM social media content, you can also check out Hootsuite’s resources here and here.
Item 7: Turn the house of hashtags into the realm of revenue (social commerce is here!)
Despite the 2020 pandemic impacting BFCM’s in-store sales, e-commerce sales soared higher than ever before.
On Shopify, biz owners sold a total of 5.1-billion in goods that year (a reported 76% increase from the year prior). And it was social commerce that saw the biggest upgrade during 2021’s BFCM, with brands with seamless social experiences tripling their sales in comparison to 2020.
Here’s how to master your social commerce strategy on Instagram for BFCM:
- Integrate your Shopify products with Instagram and Facebook — find a guide on how to do that here and here
- Review Hootsuite’s guide to selling on Instagram
- Ensure your product photos are visually pleasing and up to date
- Work with creators for user-generated content (UGC) to assist in shoppable content creation for your social channels (because 79% of consumers say that UGC content affects their purchasing decisions)
- Launch a nano influencer program as a part of your social commerce strategy to raise brand awareness during BFCM (20% of consumers buy products after being recommended by an influencer)
- Make every piece of content shoppable by tagging your product catalog, and allowing your customers to checkout directly in the platform
Item 8: Reward your email subscribers early — and set up your transactional emails on Shopify
There’s no better feeling than getting first access to sales on the internet — or being rewarded for your brand loyalty during major shopping moments (free products! Extra % off! Complimentary shipping for 6 months!).
And fine-tuning your email strategy for BFCM means building buzz well in advance.
But it’s also your go-to tool to keep the sales momentum rolling during the weekend (or all month long).
The way to do that? With transactional emails.
Transactional emails – or triggered emails — work by sending your website visitors and subscribers an email blast based on actions (or events) taken while visiting your online store.
Your transactional emails can re-engage your shoppers as they navigate the oversaturated sales waters of BFCM weekend.
It could be a transactional email like welcoming subscribers to your newsletter, sharing tracking details for their order, or it could also be something like re-engaging them with the product they were just looking at on your site, or with the deadliest weapon of them all: the abandoned cart email.
Nearly 70% of all carts are abandoned online — but 30% of abandoned cart emails are reported to close the sale. So, why leave it up to chance?
To get started with Shopify’s transactional emails, click here.
Here are three marketing emails to schedule:
Now that you’ve got your transactional emails down, let’s not forget your marketing emails.
Marketing emails can be sent from your server of choice like Klaviyo or MailChimp to let your subscribers know the who/what/where/when/why/how about your BFCM deals.
Our favorite marketing emails to send are:
The Hype Man
This marketing email can be deployed months prior to BFCM — to let your customers know that something big is coming. You can use a CTA like creating a login and wishlist on your website to store their favorite products beforehand.
The VIP Access
This marketing email is exactly how it sounds: rewarding your newsletter subscribers with early/first access to your BFCM sales. This often means launching on Thursday — before the official launch date for Black Friday.
These can be a series of emails sent throughout the sales weekend to ensure that you remain top of mind for your subscribers. This is a good time to add in bonus offers – such as a free gift at checkout.
Item 9: Set up a chatbot to automate sales and help your customers out
Did you know that brands featuring a chatbot on their store have a 10 to 15% higher average cart value amongst their shoppers?
That’s because clear communication – and good customer support – is the key to driving sales online.
And with the rise of social commerce, you can expect to see an influx of custom queries funneling in across sales platforms asking about sizing, promo codes, shipping options, and more during BFCM (in 2020, there was a 175% YoY increase of BFCM-specific messages received on brand’s social media platforms).
Adding a chatbot integration like Heyday’s Sales and Support Chat is going to help you to answer all those dms — and automate sales around the clock.
Here’s how Heyday can help for BFCM:
Heyday puts all your customer messages in one place
By streamlining your customer messages, the Heyday chatbot for Shopify allows you to provide exceptional customer service and keep you organized throughout the hectic BFCM period (by unifying all of your sales platform messages into a unified inbox on the backend). Super great when 79% of shoppers expect a response from brands within 24 hours.
Heyday automates your sales by selling products for you 24/7
Think of the Heyday chatbot as your own little sales associate.
Once added to your Shopify store, Heyday sends out automated, on-brand responses to all of your customer’s frequently asked questions — even when you’re not physically online.
This means rapidly responding to your customers on BFCM across time zones — and providing exceptional customer service to get your customer from a to b.
Heyday helps your customers to find what they want
Imagine, your customer is loading up their cart on Black Friday — but there’s only 5-minutes until the annual promotion has closed.
Heyday’s Shopify chatbot provides immediate access to everything they need to know about a product. That could be details like promo codes, the size and fit of a garment, or even shipping details.
Item 10: Be Transparent
Did you know that 39% of consumers would make the switch to a competitor if they offered more openness, and clarity on their brand value, and products?
Moreover, 73% of consumers are even willing to spend more on products if transparency comes along with it.
As you prepare your website and marketing materials for BFCM, we recommend reflecting on how your brand is being presented to the world.
Two things to consider are:
1) Providing transparency on your manufacturing, production process, and product quality i.e., how sustainable are your products? Where are they made? Do you use eco-friendly packaging?
2) Delivering insight into your brand values i.e. how is your brand giving back over the Holidays? Why are your products more expensive than those found at a big box store?
Openness is especially top of mind for Millennial and Gen Z consumers when planning BFCM purchases — with 66% of consumers across all ages stating that transparency is one of the top qualities for brands to have.
Let this be your sign to update your store asap to reflect what your brand stands for — even if it’s not a perfect A+ score on the sustainability metric.
Item 11: Check in on your inventory so you don’t disappoint excited buyers
This tip on our BFCM checklist is pretty straightforward, but should not be one to be overlooked.
We cannot stress enough the importance of checking in with your available products before the biggest sales period of the year.
At the end of the day, you wouldn’t want your customers to arrive at your site with their 40% off promo code come Black Friday — only to see that all of their favorite items are not even available.
One tactic to ensure your customers are satisfied is to update each product page with inventory updates. We also recommend providing a pre-order option to allow your customers to receive the product once it’s being made = a win-win to keep your sales flowing, and customers satisfied.
Item 12: Communicate with your customers via text message — and lean into TikTok
Just as many business owners feel the wave of stress in preparing for BFCM, consumers tend to feel pressure to spend, too.
To keep things fresh and exciting for your customers — and to avoid the oversaturation of BFCM messaging — we also recommend exploring new mediums.
Of course, we’re not recommending to launch on a new platform just for BFCM. Instead, we recommend scoping out new opportunities — at least 3-months in advance of BFCM — to explore what it might look like for your brand and community building.
Here’s what’s on our radar:
Send deals to your customers with SMS marketing
Consumers are spending more time on their phones than ever before — and checking their mobile devices, on average, 150 times a day). This perfect storm means it’s a pretty fresh and profitable spot to reach your community with BFCM deals.
To get started with SMS marketing for BFCM, you can check out Hootsuite’s guide here.
Don’t be afraid of TikTok
With over 800 million active users a month, TikTok sure is the place to be.
But it’s not just a platform for choreographed dance, lip syncing, and fit flexes, it’s also an e-commerce playground for selling your products year-round.
TikTok users are reported to be 1.5 more likely to immediately buy something after discovering it in the app.
And with Google recently announcing that TikTok is growing as the leading search engine tool for the Gen Z generation – paired with the recent roll-out of TikTok’s Shop capabilities for businesses — what more could you ask for?
Here’s our quick guide to selling on TikTok:
- Set up your business account
- Create your TikTok Shop
- Create content and tag with your products Launch a livestream
- Explore with paid ads to share our BFCM deals
- Launch a livestream to educate your customers on your products
- Team up with creators and influencers to get the word out
By setting up your TikTok nice and early (like literally tomorrow) you can create and post shoppable content and build and engage your desired community before launching your robust content strategy for BFCM.
Bonus: Plan for a month-long sales event
One major learning from last year’s BFCM weekend is that BFCM is no longer just a 4-day opportunity for brands to promote their sales online.
We’ve seen the rise of Cyber Week, and for some brands, sales messaging dragging on well into December’s Boxing Day. Last year, total online sales grew to $109.9 billion—a net increase of 11.9% year over year. This drastic jump shows that shoppers are willing to continue with their spending habits well after the traditional Black Friday and Cyber Event sales are over.
We encourage you to find creative ways to keep new — and existing — customers engaged over the holiday season. But for a fool-proof strategy, feel free to keep our checklist bookmarked and saved as your go-to guide.
Interested in more content like this? Visit the Hootsuite blog for your guide to social selling on Black Friday/Cyber Monday.
And if you’d like to learn how to scale your business to new heights with the Heyday – Sales & Support Chat for Shopify, reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.