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How to Craft Smart Black Friday / BFCM Strategy

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It’s a wonderful time of year to be in eCommerce! A carefully-crafted BFCM Strategy can deliver massive benefits to your business, but competing with big retailers and sales channels like Amazon for attention can be hard. In this article I discuss key objectives to make the most from BFCM as well as key tips to making it a roaring success!
Smart BFCM Strategy

With a smart BFCM Strategy, it’s such an exciting time of year to be in eCommerce! 

If your brand has a presence on sales channels like Amazon and eBay, I expect you’ll be rubbing your hands in anticipation. You’re about to get a flood of extra traffic hitting your listings, and you’ll be hoping for your new highest sales day!  After all, this time of year delivers the greatest benefit to being on those channels.

If your main revenue channel is your eCom store though, frankly the story can be quite different.  Whereas on Amazon, for example, you can do almost nothing and get a lift in sales over the BFCM weekend, doing nothing for your eCom store is likely to leave you with LESS sales than normal. Consumers (and their wallets) are drawn to the big platforms due to the efficiency of choice & crazy deep discounts, sucking up traffic from everywhere else. 

Rather than simply hoping to make more sales & revenue, there’s a smarter game to play with your BFCM strategy.

In this article, I want to achieve two things:

Firstly, we’ll look at the ‘smart’ objectives you should focus on to maximise ROI from your BFCM campaigns. Not just over the weekend, but into Christmas and over the coming year.

Secondly, I’m going to dive into the highest-value tips to squeeze the best performance possible from your BFCM campaigns.  There is just so much that can be done, just like everything in business, 20% of your work generally results in 80% of the returns. 

Thinking Smarter About your Black Friday / BFCM Strategy

The BFCM period is a great opportunity to get a boost in revenue. That much is obvious! The temptation to snag as much of that as you can with deep discounts can be compelling. But be warned.  I’ve seen far too many small brands try to compete with the big retailers on deep discounts, only to get burned on profitability.  There are smart ways to bait the hook with deals that consumers love, and I’ve broken out some key one for you in a separate article on Black Friday deals.

Instead of focusing all your efforts on top-line sales, I’d like to recommend you orientate your BFCM Strategy around the following 5 goals.

Objective 1: Increase Your Subscribers.

Just about every marketer I know is bemoaning the reduced returns from Facebook over the past 6 months or so.  With that being said, the Gold to any eCom business is the size and engagement from the email list. So it always has been, and so it always shall be. BFCM is a sensational time to acquire new list subscribers. With the real desire for deals, consumers are at their peak level of willingness to subscribe to stuff at this time of year. 

A modest ad spend to attract fresh subscribers via a Landing Page or a Facebook Lead Ad can yield low acquisition costs this time of year, despite otherwise inflated CPA.  For best results, start early (like November 1) to give your campaigns time to optimize.

Don’t just focus on new audience either. A great tip is to leverage the same resources to get additional email subscribers from some of your other channel contacts, including Messenger and SMS. Sponsored Messages to Messenger bot funnels using software like Manychat are still very low cost, and SMS has insanely high open and CTR.  It just makes sense to leverage BFCM to convert as many people to multi-channel contacts as possible.

Obviously, having acquired new subscribers, you’ll need to ensure your campaigns maximize open rate and email engagement, and I’ll cover that in more detail below.

Objective 2: Increase Your AOV

There is simply no question that Average Order Value (AOV) is one of the most important metrics in an eCommerce owner’s dashboard. Obviously, BFCM discounts have the opposite effect that you want to achieve on AOV. I’ve covered some core offer strategies to help you increase AOV here, but to summarise:

 

Compile Exclusive BFCM bundles. 

By this I mean actually create specific landing pages or product pages where you can send traffic to.  The bundle value should be higher than your average store AOV, ideally in the top 25% of order value. Page copy needs to explain the benefit of the bundle, and explain the context of the exclusivity in order to generate sense of urgency.  To help you along, here are some classic Sense of Urgency levers:

  • Limited time – Today Only! (include a page countdown timer to validate the message)
  • Limited stock – Only 50 left (make sure your stock counter is showing)
  • Limited discount – Only available for the first 50 customers (show a count of coupons used vs coupons available)

 

Tiered Discounts Based on Cart Value. 

Here, you’re looking to give the biggest incentives to the people who make the biggest purchases.  Higher AOV means more profit, so it’s a win-win.

 

Configure Manual Offers to your FBT App.  Many of you will be using apps like Frequently Bought Together for your AOV strategies already. While the AI component of this works wonderfully, I suggest configuring special BFCM deals inside the app, and adding copy that supports the offer. 

Objective 3: Increase your Returning Customer Rate (RCR)

The proportion of customers that come back to purchase from you again, as well as how many times they purchase from you is known collectively as Returning Customer Rate, and is another Cornerstone Metric.  BFCM is a huge carrot to bring back both recent first-time purchasers as well as long-term evangelists back for more!  Every purchase they make with you cements brand recognition and takes them one step further towards brand loyalty.

Aside from that, mining your list just make sense as it costs you nothing to get clicks. 

I’m going to cover off some general pointers for your BFCM email campaigns below, but in relation to the RCR objective, here are some specific things to consider:

Segment Your Offers.  Effective marketing is about presenting the right offer to the right person (for the right price, at the right time).  Look carefully at your product mix, work out who’s bought what, and send them offers they’re likely to be interested in. But more than that, think about the customer’s willingness to buy from you. 

Recent first-time customers have only just begun to experience your brand.  You want to get them back in with a simple, no-brainer, 100% impulse purchase. 

Longer term customers, or ones that typically spend big can be sent higher value bundle offers. Especially the exclusive BFCM deals like I outlined above. Doing so helps you increase your AOV without educating the customer to expect discounts all the time.

Promote Subscriptions.  Not to be overlooked, BFCM can be a great time to increase RCR (and increasing LTV) by launching a subscription box services, or by getting more people into your existing program.   Can you offer a free month for BFCM?  Yes, there will always be people who unsubscribe at the end of their free trial, but the majority won’t.  If that wasn’t the case, just about every gym and fitness club in the world would go out of business!   There are quite a few plugins for Shopify available to help you do this, and a new one I came across recently that’s worth trying out is Awtomatic

Objective 4: Liberate some Cashflow by Liquidating Slow Moving Stock

When it comes to growing your eCom, cash is King. If you’ve invested in stock that for whatever reason just doesn’t sell well, BFCM can be a good time to clear it.   Don’t make the mistake of advertising these deals though.  The objective is to get bring in some cash and get rid of stock at close to break-even – hard to do that with ad fees on top. You can either:

Do a BFCM deep discount clearance sale to your list as a special 1-day deal over the weekend. Positioning it as an exclusive insider deal can sometimes help with conversion.

Bundle these products in with other items to boost the price of the bundle, but not use high profit, great-selling items.

Doing this can have a side benefit.  If it doesn’t work at, you’ve lost nothing but learned it’s just a duff product.  On the flipside if it goes firecracker, you know the product was good, just that the market may accept a lower price version.

4 Tips for Getting Maximum Impact from Your Black Friday / BFCM Strategy

With the above objectives in mind, lets turn our attention to how your brand can maximise results of whichever strategy you decide to focus on.

Black Friday is NOT a Day. It’s a 4 to 7 Day LIVE Sales Event.

The ‘hot’ days for BFCM are of course the Black Friday and the Cyber Monday sales events.  That being the case, ask yourself what happens on Saturday and Sunday?  Many clued-up retailers are getting the jump on consumer demand by starting Black Friday up to a week early. There’s also the growing trend in Australia to run Click Frenzy campaigns which jump the gun by several weeks.

The main takeaway is that if your whole BFCM Strategy involves a flat discount for the whole period, that doesn’t vibe well with the dynamic nature of the event.  Instead, consider setting up 4-5 days of different offers.  You want to try and get your audience clicking and engaging multiple times, not just on the first day.

Think about putting your own brand spin on the period.  If you’re selling art supplies, for example, could you set up ‘Stencil Saturday’, where all your drawing stencils are 30% off?  What about Bundle Sunday?  You get the idea. Have some fund with it, be memorable and engaging.  Give your audience a reason to re-engage each day.

Start Hyping Early

If your first message goes out on Friday morning, you’ve missed the boat.

Start building your list from November 1st. Make sure you do LIVES on your Facebook page in the leadup as well as each day of the event.  On your LIVES, make sure you remind people to watch out for your emails, and if they’re not already members, give them a link in the post where they can join.

Leverage your Messenger List with Sponsored Messages to raise awareness.  Send out an SMS blast a couple of days in advance.

Basically, do everything you can to be front of mind before the event starts so that mentally people are preparing themselves to share their wallet with you.

Maximize Your Email Campaigns

Earlier we discussed the importance of segmenting your list and crafting relevant offers for each segment.

In addition to that, consider the following for all of your campaigns:

  • Optimize your subject lines with personalisation, emojis and sense of urgency. Let’s face it, people’s inboxes get crowded for BFCM.  Hopefully most other brands are spammy and they end up in the promotions folder.  But few brands bother to use Emoji’s at the start.  They can really make your email eye-catching.  If you include the person’s name, that can help with deliverability as well as open rate. 
  • Make sure the content is simple and has a strong sense of urgency about why the customers should act now, and why this is a great deal. Show the strikeout price on a graphic version of the offer so people can quickly see how much they save.
  • Include a very clear call to action, and try and focus on only one CTA per deal offer. From the POV of the email, you just want to get the click. But like all funnels, try and make the path to purchase as straight line as possible by taking the user directly to the relevant product page, or even to a pre-populated cart.
  • Make sure you use UTMs. UTMs are special tracking parameters that help you understand which campaigns actually deliver you the sales.   If you’re using CRM software like Klaviyo this is mostly taken care of for you.
  • One email is never enough! Make sure you set up the following campaigns for EACH offer:
    1. A Deal Open email
    2. An ending soon email (usually 2 hours before your deal closes for some serious sense of urgency!)
    3. Abandon Funnel (a follow up if they clicked through but did not purchase) and an Abandon Cart (specific to Black Friday)
    4. Sprinkle in SMS campaigns to double up on awareness.

Then, make sure you also send an I’m sorry you missed it email after the last of your deals closes for anyone who didn’t purchase. This is a great chance to send out one final bonus message, as well as ask people who signed up for your details if they’d like to stay on your list.

Optimize Your Store to Support Your BFCM Strategy

You want to make sure that every visitor to your site can see that you’ve got some special BFCM deals going, no matter where they land.  Here are some Must Do changes to make to your website in order to support your BFCM strategy:

  • Prepare a BFCM banner to be shown on the home page that has a strong Call to Action (CTA) to a specific deals page. A pretty banner on its own is only half the battle, its critical that you help the customer explore your offers with a clear CTA.
  • Inject a BFCM bar above the header on all pages. This can just be a narrow text only bar if need be, but again make sure there’s a clear CTA with a link to find your offers.
  • Site-Wide BFCM exit intent. You’ve done all the hard work getting the person to your site. If they still want to leave, what’s the harm in sweetening the deal and offering them a better discount?
  • Dedicated BFCM Cart Exits. With these, key them off cart values, so the higher discounts are offered for the highest value carts.  This goes back to focusing on AOV increase.
  • BFCM Cart Upsells: Make sure they know – right in their cart – that better deals are on offer if they increase their checkout value.  Its amazing how many people will spend an extra $30 or more in order to get Free Express shipping, for example.
Giles Smith - eCommerce Coach

Giles Smith

eCommerce Coach & Mentor
Giles is a serial entrepreneur, eCommerce growth expert, coach & mentor. Views, Knowledge & Opinions shared in this article are drawn from over 20 years experience in building 6, 7 and 8-figure businesses as well as working with agency clients and personal coaching clients.