Black Friday is fast approaching. I have spoken with a few smaller retailers and it seems some small business owners are still scratching their heads, not exactly sure of what to do. I was just signed on to help one such business with their overall marketing strategy. With this short notice, I have literally pieced together a very quick and rough marketing plan for Black Friday/Cyber Monday.
I thought this would be a great opportunity to share my Black Friday marketing strategy and some other marketing ideas with you. This plan requires just a little preparation to get up and running, which means you still have enough time be ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday when it arrives. I used some advice in Drew Sanocki’s latest blog post to put together a quick and dirty Black Friday/Cyber Monday marketing plan for those of you who forgot to prepare one.
Black Friday/Cyber Monday Promotion
The first thing you need to do is decide on your exact promotion. Many retailers offer massive discount to drive traffic on Black Friday/Cyber Monday. You need to look at your margins and decide what you can afford. Don’t feel pressured to offer crazy sales like 50% off. 20-30% can be enough to entice people to buy if your products if they normally don’t go on sale.
Black Friday Store Policies
Next, you need to review your policies. Many people will be purchasing from your site as gifts for the holidays. So many online retailers offer an extended return policy that leaks into January. Consider the following policies:
Ship Dates – With the rush, will you still be able to ship items on time? If you work with a dropshipper, you may want to give them a call and inquire about any expected slowdowns in service. The same applies if you use a fulfillment warehouse, although a good fulfillment warehouse will be prepared. Regardless, it’s worth a quick phone call.
Return Policy – As mentioned above, many people will be purchasing items as gifts over Black Friday and Cyber Monday and expect extended return policies as well. Consider extending your return policy into January.
Free Shipping/Shipping Policy – What is your policy for shipping. Will it be the same, will you offer free shipping?
Once you have determined all your policies, you will want to highlight these on your website. Apply them to your standard policy page and consider highlighting them on your homepage.
Marketing Your Black Friday/Cyber Monday Promotion
1. Content Marketing
There’s a few pieces of content of content you should/need to prepare immediately.
Blog Post – It may already be getting too late for Google to pick this up, but you should write a blog post about your Black Friday promotion. You can either tell your readers what to expect, or tease at it, but as Drew points out in his video, it’s important to title your post “Black Friday (Your Niche) Deals 2013”.
New Header/Homepage Image – You should add a new header image or some type of image to your homepage that links to your blog post. You need to start getting the word out and promoting your Black Friday/Cyber Monday promotion.
2. Email Marketing
Email marketing – depending on your list size – will likely be your best source of traffic and your best ROI. By leveraging your existing customer database, your chances of increasing traffic and garnering sales will be much higher than other channels such as PPC. Furthermore, if your database is segmented by customer preference or previously purchased items, you’ll be able to increase your percentages of sales purchases when sending targeted campaigns.
You’ll want to plan out a few emails over the course of the promotion. If you are infrequent normally with your emails, I wouldn’t worry too much. Most people expect to be receiving more emails because of Black Friday anyway.
Unfortunately, unless you can get a few day turnaround time from your designer on a beautiful HTML email, you’re going to have to scrap that idea and just stick to plain text emails. The most important thing is getting your promotion in front of your audience.
Here’s a mock schedule of your email campaign:
Date: Monday, November 25
Contents: Anticipation Email – The purpose of this email is you let your audience know you will be having a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale. You may wish to hint at what you’ll be offering. Your call to action should be to drive them to your site to start looking at your products. You wan’t them making a list of items they want before Friday.
Date: Thursday, November 28
Contents: Reminder/Reveal Email – People will likely be planning out the items and sales they want to take advantage of the following day so now is a good time to get in front of them again. This would also be the perfect email to tell them what your exact promotion is.
Date: Friday, November 29
Contents: 2nd Reminder Email – You have some stiff competition for your customer’s dollar so get another email out there and remind your audience of your promotion. Use strong calls to action like “free shipping”, “x% Off”, “Buy Now!” etc.
Date: Monday, December 2
Contents: Cyber Monday Email – Just like your email you sent out the morning of Black Friday, you’ll want to send out another email the morning of Cyber Monday. If you plan on offering a different promotion for Cyber Monday, make sure to tell your audience. You may want to consider a different promotion if your Black Friday promotions didn’t do as well as expected.
Date: Tuesday, December 3
Contents: Promotion Extension – Many retailers will extend their promotions into the week. This is a judgement call by you but if you do, you may want to consider another email to tell your audience.
3. Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
If you are familiar with Google Adwords and already have campaigns running, it will take 30 minutes to an hour to set up another campaign for your Black Friday/Cyber Monday promotion. You should set this up on Tuesday or Wednesday and run it through the weekend. Remember, because of the popularity of the holiday, you’ll likely want to bid a little more aggressively for your chosen keywords. Make sure to use a strong call to action in your ads. Use words like “Free Shipping”, “Percent Off”, “Black Friday”, “Cyber Monday”, and “Now” “Free Shipping”, to entice buyers.
If you haven’t used Google Adwords before, now is not the best time to learn. Skip to the Facebook Ads section and focus on other marketing methods.
4. Facebook Ads
Facebook Ads is a great way to get your promotion in front of your target demographic. Even if you have never used Facebook Ads before you can be up and running in less than 30 minutes. I would stick with promoted page posts and use a bold contrasting image.
For a crash cource in Facebook Advertising, check out A Comprehensive Guide to Facebook Ads – A 30 minute Crash Course in Facebook Advertising
To start creating ads, go to the Facebook ad creation tool: www.facebook.com/ads/create
Make good use of your social channels for the week leading up to Black Friday and through the weekend. Use Buffer to automatically schedule your Tweets to go out and fill your stream with your offers and details. You may want to consider a few time sensitive/limited quantity Twitter exclusive deals. Make sure you’re monitoring your social channels for questions or problems. Many people will use your social channels to find answers, hoping for a quick reply.
Tracking is extremely important in order to understand how your campaign is doing. I’m not going to go into detail in this post but at a minimum you should have goals set up on Google Analytics and it’s a good idea to use UTM Parameters to better track the results of your email campaign.
For more information on setting up goals in Google Analytics and using UTM Parameters, check out these resources:
UTM Tracking Parameters – Scroll down to the section titled “Using UTM Parameters”
Even with just a week left until Black Friday, there’s still time left to participate. As shown above, your promotion and marketing plan doesn’t have to be elaborate or a dozen pages along. Offer your visitors a great deal that also works for you business and choose a few traffic-driving channels to focus your energy. Even a last minute campaign can drive mega sales and encourage you to be even more prepared next year.