Wednesday, October 2, 2019

How your e-commerce brand should be preparing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday | Advertising Age

For many e-commerce startups, Cyber Monday and Black Friday are anticipated as the biggest sales event in their calendar year. It’s the whole shebang.

Cyber Monday in 2018 alone brought in over $7.9 billion in revenue, thus becoming the highest U.S. e-commerce sales day in history. In 2018, Black Friday accounted for $6.2 billion in revenue, with more than $2 billion coming in from smartphones, and the average order value across the U.S. was $138.

Cyber Monday and Black Friday might just be in a single weekly stretch, but a successful series of marketing campaigns are ruthlessly brewed up, tested and refined year-round. 

Think of Cyber Monday and Black Friday like an Olympic sprinter: You spend all year, arguably all of your life, training for an event that lasts all of 10 seconds. Similarly, a well-prepared digital marketer works in a few campaigns throughout their yearly marketing endeavors to prepare. 

Digital marketing is an iterative discipline. A successful marketing campaign usually depends on how many various audiences, price points and types of creativity you can test. Relentless preparation and testing give marketers a rarity in crunch time: options. 

Finding out what works early on gives you an enormous head start on the competition for obvious reasons, but many business owners fail to consider how much a lack of preparation can hurt them in the weeks leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

The main reason you should be experimenting now, or as soon as possible, for Black Friday and Cyber Monday is because the cost of experimentation drastically increases as November approaches. The longer you wait, the higher the price tag on your options. Regardless of your niche, a higher cost of experimentation ultimately means less profit, and for some startups, the cost of failure becomes almost prohibitively expensive. 

So, how can you prepare for Black Friday early?

Preparing for Black Friday early isn’t like putting up Christmas decorations and playing Mariah Carey in October. (Although, there’s nothing wrong with singing a catchy “All I want for Black Friday is sales” jingle to make things more fun.)

Here are a handful of ways you should prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Monday early:

1. Start building audiences ASAP.

The easiest person to sell to is someone who has purchased from you before or is, at a minimum, familiar with your brand. If Black Friday is the first time people are hearing about your brand, they’ll need to commit more mental effort to extend their trust to you. Keep in mind that this will likely happen during a barrage from every other brand trying to sell them stuff. This can be a huge mental obstacle in a time where behemoths such as Amazon likely offer a comparative product backed by a trillion-dollar brand. 

Savvy e-commerce owners can avoid having their potential customers play mental gymnastics if they start building and cultivating audiences early on. This way, when Black Friday rolls around, you’ll already have one foot in the proverbial brain door. 

However, simply building an audience isn’t enough. You need to build an audience on a platform that:

• Gives you the most direct line of communication with your customers.

• Allows you to scale your audience. 

• Is inexpensive or free to use to reach out to your audience on a regular basis. 

If you’ve been around the block and been burned by social media platforms whisking away your audience with a simple algorithm change, you’ll already know I’m going to bring up email. However, though most e-commerce owners understand the importance of email, I've found many still don’t use it to its full potential. 

For digital marketers, email is like owning your very own sandbox for experimentation, as opposed to paying every time you want to whip out the plastic shovels. You can run multiple long-term campaigns on email, and if done skillfully, you can extract value from it in the form of repeat sales and word-of-mouth referrals. 

If you’re looking to get started on an email list or bolster your current email list for Black Friday, it would be wise to build some email lead generation into your other marketing channels. For example, every person who purchases something on your website should be added to an email list (provided they opt in, of course) that continues to deliver value and keep your brand warm. Even people who haven’t purchased anything have the potential to be valuable additions to the list if you offer value-based content they’ll enjoy. 

2. Provide a frictionless checkout experience.

Black Friday is a time when I've found wallets are open but attention spans are not. From the moment someone visits your site, there is a shrinking window in which they are likely to purchase something. And if they do want to buy a product, having a long or complicated checkout process can further decrease the number of potential purchases and cause prospective buyers to abandon their carts.

It’s hard to avoid collecting necessary information, but user accounts can significantly reduce the amount of time a previous customer must spend on your site the next time around. Keep this process as tight as possible with auto-saved payment information, and when Black Friday rolls around, you’ll be able to make use of a much higher conversion rate. 

Final Thoughts

Your Cyber Monday and Black Friday success is the culmination of the creative, strategy, audience development and verification, and price point testing your brand conducts throughout the year. Startups that are mindful of the biggest sales event on the internet will be able to reap the benefits of low-cost experimentation and higher conversion rates. 


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