Enthusiastic shoppers are rubbing their hands anticipating the approach of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The holiday shopping season is a very special time for online retailers. Let's face the plain facts: according to The Balance article, last year online sales went up 18% as compared to 2016, hitting a record $7,9 billion. At the same time, the number of people braving the crowds at brick-and-mortar stores declined: in 2017 the number went down 4% from 2016. So yes — more people prefer shopping online.
What started as the beloved festive season of the Americans in the 1950s, Black Friday and Cyber Monday is now a truly global thing. As per this Citipost Mail infographic, the boost in popularity is notable in Norway, Germany, France, India, Australia, and New Zealand. Given the fact that online sales increased by 17.9% in 2017 (Reuters data), retailers across the globe cannot ignore the obvious: The Black Friday shopping season has huge money-making potential. Based on this, e-commerce market players are expected to get their websites well-prepared for the season. Here is the checklist to follow.
Start way ahead of time
Preparation for Black Friday and Cyber Monday must start long before the shopping weekend starts. Why? Let's see what PR Newswire has to say: 45% of customers plan shopping before November 1; 25% of customers plan shopping before October; 12% plan holiday shopping during summer. The most rational step is to start enticing people with special offers and coupon codes at the beginning of Fall. Creating a buzz and adding a bit of suspense will do good.
Black Friday shopping season comes once a year, and this is the time when your website has to be at its best. It is truly an online retailer's nightmare when the site goes down on Black Friday, and we still remember the bitter experiences of Macy's, Dell, and others (we'll cover that topic in our next blog post). In other words — there is an urge to back up literally everything — images, website code, etc. It works like a safety net.
Here's a Black Friday controversy: despite the fact that many customers plan holiday shopping way ahead of the end of November, Think With Google claims that 7 out of 10 shoppers do not have a clue what they are going to buy. This means each and every product has the potential to be chosen and it needs to be presented the best way possible. Regarding the search engine, all the products must be easy to discover and optimized. Two things will help: a) analyze your last year sales rates, synthesize alteration ideas from there; b) do it ahead of time.
In the context of optimization, product description must contain a sense of urgency: time is limited, the product quantity is limited, and there are only a few days left to make a purchase with an enormous bargain. Impressive graphics help banners to have an impact, it is better to approach this question professionally.
Check the website speed
According to Baymard Insitute statistics, on average 69% of shoppers abandon their shopping carts, 28% of them leave due to a long and complicated checkout process. As per Abstracta material, 46% of shoppers claim they would never go back to a slow site. A slow site literally means no sales, because a website with low speed simply turns the shoppers off. However, an online retailer does not live by their website alone. Data by Paytrail tells us that 26% of online sales were made via mobile phones. That means that apart from an online store, the owner should seriously consider the continuing growth of mobile shopping (by comparison the same indicator reached 20% in 2016). A user-friendly, plain app, with an intuitive and festive interface, will be of benefit.
Based on our information over a quarter of Black Friday shopping originates from email marketing campaigns, and they appear to be the most important sales driver during this shopping season. Email tactics need to be smart, as you can reach the customers directly, whether they are loyal or new to the list. Emails generate impressive ROI, so deal with them in advance. An email campaign does not stop with Black Friday sales; it should be regarded as a constant process. You follow up with the customer for feedback or restoration of an abandoned cart.
Social media platforms, Facebook in particular, display effectiveness in driving traffic to online stores. When browsing, news-feed users have learned to identify the advertising, and what is more interesting — they don't mind reacting to it and press on it when it is smoothly integrated and precisely related to this particular person.
Native advertising is another effective instrument when it comes to customer engagement. Last year mobile sales made up 64% of all shopping visits in the USA alone. In this context native ads work well. The major advantage of native advertising is that it seamlessly integrates the ads into your users' experience. It gives an opportunity to reach your target audience on numerous relevant websites, and 'find' users that cannot be reached via Facebook or other means of advertising.
It is essential to keep in mind the context the native advertisement will be shown in. A native ad is effective when smoothly integrated and stands out at the same time. Respected publisher environments are the burden of native advertising platforms. In this respect, we suggest working with the ones that can brag about extensive experience and relationships with these prominent publishers.
All in all, marketing is extremely competitive during Black Friday shopping season. Timely preparation is vital. Compliance with this checklist will help online retailers face Black Friday and Cyber Monday with dignity, as well as acquire new customers.