Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving that marks the start of the holiday season. Followed soon by Cyber Monday, these couple of days leaves consumers in an absolute state of frenzy worldwide. With the general trend of shopping shifting more towards online sales rather than traditional forms, it is one of the best times of the year for retailers - be it chain stores or even a one person run indie brand - to make some real profits. Cha-ching! With 2016’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday making a record in terms of revenue, it is being estimated that 2017 will beat even the colossal figure of last year’s $3.34 billion and hit an all-time high. You can easily utilize this tremendous opportunity and jump aboard the money making bandwagon, but in order to do that, you need to play your cards just right. Here are a few ways in which you can help maximize your profits and sales;
1) Pre-plan and lock down your strategy
According to experts, the best thing to do is plan ahead. Start figuring out the details of the operation you’re going to be running at least 6 months in advance. Starting even earlier won’t hurt either. Plan your sourcing, marketing collateral, deals you are going to be offering and everything in between. This way, once you have the basic outline of your plan laid out, you will have plenty of time on your hands to organize, prepare and actually bring the vision to life. Make sure everything is stable and you don’t get too carried away trying to implement new crazy ideas, instead just work with what you have. Start by having regular meetings with your team and briefing them on all the ins and the outs. They should be working not as individuals, but as a team. Once the hectic times start, it’s easy to mess everything up owing to the lack of communication and coordination. Assign roles, decide what to do and how to do them in terms of site presentation and discount offers, and move on.
2) Advertise, advertise, and advertise!
How else will any potential consumer get to know of what you’ve got going on? Remember that you are targeting the wallets of your would be clients, and in order to prise them open, you need to market your site and products in such a way that they’re immediately attracted. After all, these sales are all but a very clever gimmick. Not only do you have to be enticing but also make sure you’ve put the word out long before the actual day and in a way asked them to save the date. Just like a wedding invite!
Do not disclose your discounted deals and products on the site weeks in advance but exhort users to add items to their wish lists and to sign up for deals of which they don’t know the exact nature of. Then, just before the sales start, notify them via email. This will build the suspense up and encourage them into buying what they’ve been eyeing for so long. Make pre-sales a thing too!
3) Marketing through Email and other social media
CEO’s and co-founders of top online retail stores recommend sending out emails to build up the hype. If you get your customers anticipating, be sure that they will come back! And that is the key. Announce the start of your sales with an announcements email and then send weekly reminders leading to the actual day. Make sure to always, always keep it clean and simple, as mentioned before, so that the actual message actually registers to the receiver. Be to the point. Entice all customers who are email subscribers by offering discounts and a chance to shop at pre sales with coupons that are time limited, hence ensuring their coming back.
Advertise your site by making accounts on social media such Instagram/Facebook/Snapchat and offer special discounts to people who follow. Host coupon giveaways and product sneak peeks, building excitement and suspense along the way. This way you’ll get the word out and also get a steady traffic of potential buyers.
4) Keep the site layout clean and simple, and the users happy
To ensure that your customers have a stress and confusion free experience, keep the layout of the site and the transaction process all very simple. Eliminate any unnecessary, additional steps which might put buyers off. Display minimum information on your page, hence cutting down on loading time and making the shopping process very straightforward and annoyance free. Also, do not make your users go hunting around for the deals and discounts being offered and instead make sure they are there upfront under the ‘Black Friday’ or ‘Sale’ label. Similarly, make the search interface a simple and easy to use affair which doesn’t take users through multiple links. Everything should be nice and familiar and one click away. For the new traffic you might get, eliminate the signing up and subscribing process if you can, and allow them to shop without having to go through all the steps and validations.
5) Advance load and user testing
This is your chance to act like a scientist. Conduct multiple load and user tests beforehand and leave enough time to carry out changes and improvements. Throughout the year, look out for what causes the needle to go up, down, or crazy. And then focus on enhancing what causes it to go crazy. Keep making subtle changes and keeping track of the sort of outcome they have. You might end up greatly improving everything as these changes slowly add up. Use apps such as Google page speed to make sure your file and image sizes are kept to the lowest possible level. We don’t want it to take forever for our page to load up.
Similarly don’t forget to carry out several user tests with people who are unfamiliar to the layout of your page and then use their feedback to implement any changes. Get a group of friends or family or even colleagues and ask them to browse, look for an item and then buy something. The process of this can easily be monitored by sites such as usertesting.com without making your test subjects awkward. The data you collect after all of this can provide a very valuable insight on what needs to done.
6) Slow and steady wins the race; spread it out
Do not be a hasty rabbit, instead slow down and pace yourself. Stretch out the sale over the whole weekend and don’t blow everything out the very first day. Give your users a chance to browse and also for new traffic to come in. Remember you’re competing with countless other retailers, and extending your sale before and after the set period will only help your case. Spread your deals and discounts across the whole day and save the best deals for when the traffic is optimum; morning, lunch time and night. This way customers at work or school won’t miss out. Also, keep away from flat discounts as they are just bad for business.
7) Convey urgency
Sell yourself as hard as you can! Make it seem like you have the rarest, most unique items on sale and that anyone not utilizing the special discounts is making a huge mistake on their part. They don’t want to miss out, and you should be focused on promoting just that fear. Display the original price along with the discounted one and also the number of people who are currently viewing the page or that product. This will encourage competitive buying. Make sure to show a big ticking clock, counting down the time left for a specific deal to expire, hence exploiting the very fear mentioned before.
8) Improve and amplify SEO
It is the first rule in the book that all the content on your site is supposed to be optimized for search engines, so that customers can easily browse their way to you and your deals. Experts suggest researching product niche event keywords and terms which might not be similar to terms from the rest of the year. Write detailed descriptions for products because the more comprehensive the content is, the better chance your client has to rank for target keywords. Lure in viewers by mentioning things like free shipping or product ratings. Also, add in keywords closely related to the product.
9) Communicate trust and loyalty - customers first!
Focus on building a strong follower/customer base and promise to be there for them! Facilitate them and make things easier in any way possible. Even for the new traffic, treat them like your clients. Show them proof of your trustworthiness by displaying reviews, testimonials and contact details of your team. Also, if possible, make your return policy more lenient especially in these few days. This will only increase your likability.
10) Take a deep breath and fret not
You got this. You have been preparing for this for a long time, and you can easily see this through. Believe in yourself, your capabilities and your team. As mentioned above, do not go overboard and spend too much time or money trying crazy new things which can prove to be unprofitable at the end of the day. If your planning has been done right, you can expect a good weekend full of sales. Always focus on catering to your clients’ needs. You know them and you know yourself, your revenues and margins and you know the analytics and data from previous years. Relying on past experience and smart decisions, you can pull this off. Good luck and happy selling!