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Black Friday & Cyber Monday Guide: Holiday Business Tips

The two biggest shopping days of the year for online retailers are fast approaching: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Like last year, the sales will start earlier. Some sales will even start to blend together making up more of a Cyber Week rather than just a typical day-of-sale. 

But unlike last year, an emphasis on hybrid shopping will take place. Curbside pickup and other buy online and pick in-store (BOPIS) shopping models will play a major role in this year’s holiday sales. This is due to delayed shipping and increased shipping costs globally. Small business owners will have to lean on their social media marketing channels to create creative content that meets shoppers’ needs along with creating a convenient and customer service-oriented shopping experience online. 

In our Black Friday/Cyber Monday guide, we’ll dive into all the preparation you should take in the month leading up to Black Friday (November 26th) and Cyber Monday (November 29th). We’ll also offer a Black Friday Cyber Monday checklist as well as some helpful tips to help you promote your Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals!

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Black Friday Cyber Monday Countdown

One Month Away

Buildout Your E-Commerce: With the large majority of Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping going digital, it’s critical to make sure that your e-commerce is optimized to handle increased web traffic, highlight all available products and services, clearly and concisely promote sales and discounts, and most of all, provides a seamless user experience for the shopper. You also want to make sure your e-shop is optimized for mobile viewing, shopping, and offers a seamless checkout process. Try using Linkit and Sellit our social commerce for customers to shop your posts directly or redirect them to your website to complete their purchase. 

Confirm Product Inventory: Ensuring you have the proper inventory to support your shoppers is of central importance. Start by analyzing last year’s sales and be sure to stock up on popular items, promotional items, and seasonal goods. You’ll also want to write out product names, descriptions, SKU numbers, retail and sale pricing, and have an accurate inventory count of each item. 

Optimize Web Pages: Site load time is critical when it comes to keeping shoppers on your website. So to effectively convert browsers into buyers, your web pages should load in approximately 3 seconds. There are several free tools to help you achieve this optimal site speed including Google PageSpeed Insights, GTMetrix, and Site 24*7. Use any of these tools to test your page speed and follow their recommendations to improve that speed before a traffic spike during the holidays.

Evaluate & Update Logistics: Much sure your shipping logistics strategy is ready for increased volume during the holiday season. Make sure you have boxes, postage, and all other necessary items to fill orders quickly and efficiently. Free two-day shipping has become commonplace with the likes of Amazon Prime and others. So while it may be tough, do the best you can to offer free shipping. If it comes down to you and a competitor, during the holidays, it’ll likely come down to who offers the best perks - free shipping ranks high on that list.

Three Weeks Away 

Partnerships: In a 2020 Black Friday and Cyber Monday report, affiliate and partnership collaborations accounted for 6% of traffic and 14% of revenue. As an SMB, think about micro-influencers–10k followers or less–that will align with your brand. After you’ve budgeted for this partnership, create a shortlist of potential partners and begin outreach. Once you have confirmed your partner, start breaking out a campaign – focus on visual content, make use of every platform's buying features, use the partnership to promote sales announcements, and finally, make sure there’s an end goal in mind for your influencer campaign.

Related: Who Are Micro Influencers?

Increase Search Budget: According to Adobe, Paid and Organic search traffic made up 45% of website visits and revenue during the 2020 holiday season. Paid search traffic was more effective in generating revenue than organic search, but not by much. But don’t rely solely on organic search or ads entirely. Ad spending is extremely important to get your brand in front of unique consumers in a crowded marketplace. Nearly 30% of all internet users say they discover new brands or products through social media ads. This is why this year is the prime time to up your ad spending with the influx of online shoppers due to the global pandemic. Spread your ad money across social media to get more bang for your buck. 

Promote Sales & Deals: Arguably the most important aspect of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is promotion. To manage any level of success, planning your promotion requires in-depth analysis and even better execution. Here are a few promotion tips to explore during the holidays:

  • Create a Gift Guide - curate a collection in your link in bio with Sellit
  • Offer a Free Gift with Purchase - Bundle a customer's purchase with a free gift to intense your customers to shop
  • Offer Exclusives - Give loyal customers early access to popular products or offer discounts to those who’ve shopped with you before
  • Segment Your Email Marketing - Offer special VIP discounts to existing customers and send daily updates throughout the Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday cycle to potential customers
  • Provide an Early Look - Give shoppers a peek behind the curtain by previewing products that will release on Black Friday/Cyber Monday
  • Post Carousels - Engage your followers and potential customers with Grid posts that showcase upcoming products for sale and make use of tags and hashtags
  • Use Stories & Go Live - Leverage IG Stories and IG Live to showcase items that will be for sale during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Provide giveaways and offer viewers exclusive deals 
  • Mystery Deals - Create mystery bundle packs at a set cost to add a little excitement and intrigue to your customers buyer experience
  • Extend Sales - Make sure you extend your Black Friday sales to Cyber Monday. And if you have the inventory, stretch out those Cyber Monday deals a few extra days too.
  • Optimize Checkout - Allow customers to checkout without registration, remove unnecessary fields, offer several payment options, and make everything mobile-friendly
Two Weeks Away

Create Brand Assets: Great visual content is how you win Black Friday/Cyber Monday. It’s the engagement clincher that will captivate consumers and drive them to engage with and purchase your products and services. Boosting your sales with great graphics, sales banners, and thoughtfully designed ads should be in the preparation stage with a few weeks to spare. You’ll want time to iterate, make changes, and of course, begin marketing well before Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Check out our social media marketing kits full of Adobe Spark Templates perfect for sharing content for multiple channels. 

Write Campaign Copy: Great editorial content for your holiday blogs, brand assets, ads, and product descriptions is the perfect one-two punch to your brand assets. Start writing engaging brand copy for all your holiday-related campaigns. Keep your brand voice in mind while tapping into the spirit of the holidays. If necessary, outsource this work to a good freelancer or contractor if you’re overwhelmed. 

Email Marketing Prep: Email marketing is one of the best ways to keep your existing and potential customers informed. Emails and newsletters are HUGE during promotional periods. Make sure they’re packed with all pertinent information related to your promotion, offer links to buy pages, highlight coupon codes, and provide details on sales dates & times. Be sure to segment these emails so that VIP customers receive special deals or early access to products, and potential customers are offered incentive deals that will make them become loyal customers after the shopping holidays.

Setup Analytics Tracker: One of the things you’ll need to do to gauge your success and help plan for next year, is activating an analytics tracker. Be sure to set up a great tracking tool like Google Analytics before your holiday campaign kicks off. Google Analytics will keep you track of how your web traffic influences sales and which aspects of your campaign performed the best. Additionally, PLANOLY offers a premium Instagram analytics tool called analyze. Tracking your metrics will give you insight into the impact of your social media strategy and how your engagement levels increased, where they increased, and where/how you can be more impactful in future campaigns.

One Week Away

Activate Loyalty Program: One week removed from Black Friday is when you want to activate your loyalty program. Start offering early access to pre-orders or sales to your VIP customers. Make sure they feel the loyalty from you and your brand. Create digital coupon codes or open up sales pages early and let preferred customers shop before anyone else.

Create Contingencies: No matter how great you plan for these shopping holidays, you have to expect some things to go wrong. That’s just what happens when you’re running a business. Start forecasting what might go wrong. What if you run out of inventory on a certain product, or if one of your coupon codes is defective, or your website starts experiencing issues. Think about how soon you can get most stock from your supplier, or how you can deal with web issues, and ways to troubleshoot server issues.

So there you have it! A month-long guide to prep your business for Black Friday and Cyber Monday like a pro! Thoughtful strategic planning ahead of major holidays is a sure-fire way to net the results that will grow your brand and expand your customer base. 

During this extremely busy time of the year, make certain you’re leveraging all the tools at your disposal – including ours! Be sure to schedule all your Black Friday/Cyber Monday content with PLANOLY and upgrade your link in bio by creating your digital storefront with Sellit today!

PLANOLY - Blog Assets - Black Friday and Cyber Monday - Infographic 2021 - HD
Originally published October 8, 2020 updated November 3, 2021 
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Darren Griffin

Darren Griffin was a contributing Senior Writer at PLANOLY. His expertise includes culture, fashion, and social media marketing.

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