There are so many statistics available on the 2018 Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in the US, but as for Canada, nothing. Isn’t that strange?
This year – in case you forgot or just feel overwhelmed at the thought – Black Friday is November 29th and Cyber Monday, December 2nd. To simplify things, I will use the acronym BFCM in reference to this tremendous opportunity.
Back to our stats. In 2018, Black Friday and Cyber Monday generated sales of 13.9 billion US dollars, mostly in North America. The only statistics I found specific to Canada were compiled by Shopify.ca. In 2018, Shopify merchants collectively sold over 1.5 billion US dollars.
Let’s be honest: many Canadians buy from American merchants during BFCM. Some will even make the trip south of the border to take advantage of exceptional deals.
Interestingly though, according to a survey conducted by the Retail Council of Canada, 87% of respondents consider it important to buy from a retailer within Canada during the holiday season. The exchange rate favouring Canadian retailers in 2019, they should be the ones to attract American business.
Oh, and by the way, if you still think Boxing Day is the best time for deals, think again: in 2018, 40% of Canadians planned on taking advantage of Black Friday deals, compared to 35% for Boxing Day and 30% for Cyber Monday.
Therefore, how can you get ready and make a splash?
Here is a list of everything you can do to maximize sales and profits for this upcoming BFCM.
1. Plan your marketing campaigns
What exciting deals will you offer your customers?
First off, look at what your competitors are offering, or their deals from last year. This will give you an idea of what they plan on doing this year. Use it as inspiration to offer a similar deal, or an even better deal to grab part of their market share.
Next, you could either survey your VIP customers to discover what kind of deals they’re hoping for, or choose among the following ideas – nothing ground-breaking, but efficient nonetheless:
1. Free shipping (64% of shoppers say that free shipping convinced them to make a purchase)
2. 1-day delivery
3. A discount (in % or $)
4. A free gift with purchase (25% say that a free gift with their purchase is an appealing incentive), whether it be a mystery article or a bonus item
5. A contest
6. A flash sale
7. A promo code
8. Exclusive deals for your loyal customers, in % or $ (for a longer duration, or even before other customers)
9. A doorbuster sale
10. Bonus loyalty points
11. Bundle deals (3 boxes of tea for the price of 2, for example)
12. Games (such as ‘spin the wheel to reveal’ or ‘scratch to win’ – who doesn’t like a good old scratch card?!)
13. Donate to a charity (for example, “for 1 day, we will donate 25% of profits to XYZ charity”)
Create a sense of scarcity and urgency. You will benefit greatly during this particular period.
Take for example a doorbuster sale: this marketing strategy focuses on bringing in as many buyers as possible to your store at a specific time. During the sale, one or more items are offered in limited quantity at a deep discount – sometimes even at a loss – in order to attract buyers to your store in the hope that they will spend more than for the deep discount item (which is usually what ends up happening). Since quantities are limited, the buzz will be augmented. Make sure therefore to choose an item that will actually appeal to your customer base so as to move the needle!
It is definitely advantageous for you to offer limited-time deals, since 50% of people say that limited-time offers help them decide when/where to buy. Why not add a countdown next to the discounted price so buyers will take quick action.
Spice it up! Why not offer a daily deal or even a different one at every hour of the day?
2. Give a heads-up to your customers who have already started shopping
I admit it, when I need to make a major purchase, I will research, evaluate, and compare products well ahead of the purchase date. With such a variety of retailers, if my task can be made easier, I love it.
Why not use your blog or a simple social media posting to offer a list of gift ideas for your target customer? Of course, these ideas would be items you sell.
According to the Marketing Rule of 7, a prospect needs to hear or see your message at least 7 times before they buy from you. However, Tony Robbins believes this rule is outdated: it would take 14 times now before a buyer takes action. Review your social network visitors and target them with effective – and repeated (14!) – advertising to draw them in. Competition is stiff, so pull out all the stops!
3. Get your online store ready
There are many tools at your disposal to optimize your BFCM sales. You may not have time to implement everything so evaluate which of the following would have the greatest immediate impact:
1. Recovery emails for abandoned carts
2. Pixel to target your customers
3. Pop-up when buyers leave your web site
4. Push notifications
5. Loyalty programs
6. Shareable wish lists
7. Promo codes – ideally programmed in advance
Very important: make sure your website is quick and is intuitive on mobile devices, not only on a computer. In 2018, 66% of sales from Shopify merchants happened on mobile during BFCM versus 34 % on desktop.
You also need to ensure your online store loads super fast. You wouldn’t want to lose sales just because your beautiful product images are too heavy and slow to load. What do we mean by super fast? According to Google, “2 seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability.”
You can also deactivate any unnecessary plugin or extension you haven’t used in a while. These often make your website load slowly.
Check that the following pages are optimally designed and intuitive:
1. Your products and suggested maintenance: professional product images are advised
2. Your policies (confidentiality, deliveries, returns): 40 % of buyers say that a convenient return policy is an influencing factor for shopping
3. Your “Contact us” page
4. Your subscription form
5. Your “About us” page
Lastly, make sure the buying process, from the shopping cart to the payment confirmation, is as simple and quick as possible. Apple Pay and Google Pay can help simplify this buying process.
4. Prepare your advertising campaigns
Where will you advertise your awesome deals? Again, plenty of options to choose from:
1. The appropriate platform: Where is your target customer? On which media and/or social network are you present? Here is a non-exhaustive list of possibilities:
- Your website – banners, pop-up, product showcase
- Your blog – articles, banners
- A guest blog where you can publish articles for free
- A blog or newsletter for which you pay to publish content
- Your newsletter
- Your social media – posts, cover images, ads: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube
- Social media posts of influencers in your market segment
2. Running period for your campaigns: How many days prior will you start talking about your deals?
3. Your message and your offer: You need a catchy message to stand out from your competitors. What is more, make sure the following essential points are covered:
- Featured products
- Sufficient delay to get the products on time
- Overview of the sale
- Gift guide
- New product launch
4. The visual (graphic design): people remember up to 80% of what they see, and only about 20 % of what they read. Since visuals are so powerful, how can you create eye-catching imagery? The simplest way is to hire a photographer and a graphic designer to get quick and professional results which will be in line with your brand image.
Cost-saving tips: If you are willing and able to do the work internally, here are some tools to create professional visuals at minimum cost.
For your product images
For visuals to share on your different platforms
- Canva: free, simplified graphic-design tool website. They offer many models that you can copy or use as inspiration. The Pro version ($16.99CAD/month) allows you to clone and resize your graphics to any format, depending on the post. For example, a Facebook post visual doesn’t have the same dimensions as an Instagram post. Canva Pro also allows you to upload your own brand image (font and colour).
- Unsplash, Pixabay and Pexels: beautiful photos, free to use, that you can use however you please, and royalty-free.
- Shutterstock: another website where you will find millions of high-quality photos to give life to your advertising campaigns. You can purchase images in prepaid image packs or through a subscription, annual or monthly.
5. Préparez vos stocks
Knowing which products you will be promoting, try to evaluate the quantity you will move and stock up accordingly. Also, make sure your warehouse is efficiently organized so that product handling and shipping is done as quickly as possible, with the least amount of mistakes.
Needless to say, this last point is the most important in the list.
6. Prepare to deal with delivery times and delays
It goes without saying again, in this busy period, there will likely be delays in deliveries, certainly not because carriers are slacking, but due to demand far exceeding supply.
Buyers don’t hesitate to shop around, so why should you not? Compare carrier pricing. You should know however that many carriers modify their conditions at the end of the year (usually for November and December). In other words, while you may be generally satisfied with Canada Post, you may feel differently about them in this period.
For example, from November 11, 2019 until January 12, 2020, Canada Post adjusts (increases) its surcharges on larger, bulkier, and oversized items, and modifies its service guarantee.
Although it is quite likely that all carriers will adjust their shipping conditions and guarantees during this busy period, there will certainly be one that stands out and offers you the best conditions for all your types of packages.
7. Announce delivery times
Now that you’ve determined the most suitable carrier for your business, ask him to provide you with a calendar with dates to respect so that your shipments get to your customers on time.
How can you inform your customers of delivery times? Here are three options:
1. Publish a page dedicated to ordering and delivery times.
2. Send an email to your customers, with scheduled reminders.
3. Add this information to your social media posts and on your website.
8. Schedule all postings relating to your advertising campaigns
Now that all is ready, go ahead and share your deals! How?
What is the best time to send emails? According to 14 studies, Tuesday 10 am is THE best time to send emails. The next best days to send emails to get more opens and clicks are Thursdays and Wednesdays. At what time? In order, 10 am, 8 pm, 2 pm, and 6 am.
Are you worried your customers will be annoyed with your emails? Have no fear! If your customers trust you, they won’t mind receiving emails from you.
How about social media? When is the best time to post your promotions? Analytical data for each platform will help determine this.
If you are still unsure, consider the best times to post content on social media for B2C brands, according to Unmetric and Hootsuite:
- Facebook: Monday to Wednesday at 12 pm
- Twitter: Monday to Wednesday from 12 pm to 1 pm
- Instagram: Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 12 pm
- LinkedIn: Monday and Wednesday at 7:45 am, 10:45 am, 12:45 pm, and 5:45 pm.
9. Set aside time each day to be in contact with your customers
As soon as your campaigns are out there, be prepared to answer questions and comments coming in.
A chatbot will be very useful at this stage, but did you know that 63 % of customers actually expect companies to offer customer service via their social media channels and 62 % of customers want to communicate with companies via email?
10. Take care of new customers
Why not invest a bit of time and energy so that new customers during this period come back to your store throughout the year?
You are no doubt aware, the cost of convincing a potential customer to buy your product or service is a lot higher than that of retaining your existing customers.
Here are three strategies to build loyalty with new customers:
1. Personalize your product packaging to increase customer satisfaction. It’s no wonder there are so many “unboxing” videos on YouTube!
2. Offer new promotions to your new customers. For example, give a 10% discount for a new order placed within 30 days of their purchase. If they don’t yet follow you on your social networks, or they haven’t subscribed to your newsletter, target them using your Facebook Pixel.
3. Educate and entertain: Discounts and sales are not the only way of drawing in buyers. People love to learn, laugh, and can be moved by realities that are different from their own. Get to know them so as to reach out to them more effectively.
11. Learn from your achievements and mistakes
Practice makes perfect!
Once BFCM is over, take some time to make a list of areas where you were successful, what did not work, or what was clearly lacking. That way, when BFCM 2020 comes around, you will have an even better head-start.
Lastly, I would recommend you regularly check the Buster Fetcher blog for more tips and to keep learning more about e-commerce.
Our goal at Buster Fetcher is to help you increase your online sales, so take full advantage!