Autumn is here! As the flowers begin to wither and the evenings the days begin to shorten, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about summer, specifically Black Friday.
That’s right — with Black Friday being such a profitable day for businesses, it’s worth spending time getting it right, rather than rushing it.
As the big day approaches, you’ll be up against the wall with orders, customer queries, and all the other day-to-day tasks associated with running a business. As such, it makes sense that you should start your marketing strategy now to ensure it’s on point.
So this Black Friday, be smart. Read on to discover how to make the most of the 246 days left until Black Friday.
Sort out your site infrastructure
It’s vital that you get your marketing strategy on-point for Black Friday. But without the infrastructure there to back it up, your Black Friday will be more lamentable than lucrative. Before the big day arrives, you need to ensure your website is up to scratch so it can handle the incoming deluge of orders.
This starts with your site speed. A slow website equates to lost customers, so run regular speed tests over the coming months to ensure your site is optimised. Check your images are compressed (TinyPNG is a useful tool for this) and that your product pages are minified, as these can seriously impact your overall site speed.
Black Friday isn’t just a profitable opportunity for businesses — it’s also ripe for the picking for unscrupulous hackers too. Consequently, you need to ensure your security is impregnable. Not only will you lose sales, but the resulting fallout could damage your brand as a result.
The months ahead give you ample time to get every aspect of your site security up to scratch. Update your plugins regularly, and get rid of any superfluous ones to reduce lag.
Finally, make sure your server is able to withstand the surge of visitors. A good quality hosting service will support you, but check for downtime ahead of the big event too. Any downtime is bad, but especially so if your customers are coming from different time zones.
Be savvy about what stock you want to sell
At this early juncture, choosing which products you want to sell can be tricky. But there are a few things you can do now to inform your Black Friday stock strategy further down the line.
For example, do you have a product line that’s only selling in dribs and drabs? If it looks like no-one is keen to buy, then you’ll likely have excess stock that you need to get rid of. Black Friday is the perfect time to jettison that stock with significant price cuts.
Such a hyped event drives consumers into a frenzy. Consequently, even if they don’t particularly want a certain product, such savings will compel them into buying it anyway, such is the power of Black Friday.
Why not mix it up a little by turning your old and unwanted stock into a mystery box? Throw in a few poor-selling products and market it as mystery box, and your customers will surely be intrigued enough to buy.
Create Black Friday content well in advance
A sustained, cohesive content strategy is crucial for getting the most out of your Black Friday. The emphasis here is on sustained — while you don’t need to start your Black Friday content strategy now, having a few months to prep in advance gives you enough breathing room to create great content that delivers.
Create an editorial calendar that spans at least two months prior to Black Friday. This will help you with your social and email scheduling further down the line (more on that later).
Your content should highlight the deals that your customers can expect from your store on the big day. Write up a series of blog posts that highlight specific product lines, and craft some stellar landing pages to accompany your best deals.
Of course, you probably don’t know what deals you’ll offer until a few months before Black Friday, but don’t worry — your content will just serve as a skeleton format that you can populate with the details at a later date.
One of the advantages of creating this content in advance is that it gives you ample time to upload it and get it ranking on the SERPs.
Fine-tune your email marketing
Email marketing is one of the core drivers of Black Friday sales, and yours is no different.
In the run-up to the event, your customers will be overrun with Black Friday marketing emails, imploring them to part with their hard-earned dollars. Consequently, you need to make yours stand out from the crowd, and that starts with your subject lines.
Create a subject line that you think will get your email — then delete it and create a better one. Your subject lines are key for Black Friday, so it’s vital that yours are the best they can be.
A humorous approach is a good idea. A witty subject line that genuinely makes your customer laugh goes a long way towards getting your email opened.
At the same time, your subject line should showcase the great deals you’re offering too. Rather than stating how much your products actually are, highlight how much your customers could save — massive savings are a tantalising carrot for prospective customers.
You should also look at the actual design of your emails too. Experiment with some email templates specifically geared towards Black Friday and use them as inspiration for your pre-event marketing. Countdown timers are an obvious must, but so too are strong calls-to-action, compelling copy, and contrasting colours to make your emails stand out.
And take some time perfecting your abandoned cart strategy. These account for a significant proportion of lost sales throughout the year, but Black Friday is a time when it will hit your profits most. Fine-tune your abandoned cart sequences to ensure you miss as few sales as possible.
The great thing about doing this early is that you’ve got months of potentially abandoned carts to test your strategy out on. This means that, when the big day finally arrives, you can be safe in the knowledge your abandoned cart strategy is on-point.
Create your social marketing materials early
Social media marketing is a savvy marketing strategy staple, and that’s especially true when it comes to Black Friday.
Create a selection of profile and cover photos for each of your social profiles in advance. These serve as visual reminders to your customers of the approaching event. Ensure each image is unique to each social profile — avoid using the same one across multiple platforms.
Use your social media to create a sense of urgency amongst your customers. Social is better than email for this — lots of emails will irritate your customers, but lots of updates are less imposing on social. Count down to the big day with posts highlighting your deals, increasing in frequency as the event approaches.
Pin a social post to the top of your profile promoting your best deals and special offers. Your customers will see this first should they visit your profile, giving you that extra exposure you need.
A social competition is a great way to drive up sales for Black Friday. Sweepstakes are a fun way of sourcing customer contact details to ramp up your email marketing (in return for a freebie or discount code, of course).
As ever, you should find the optimum times to post for each social platform. This ensures you get the highest visibility and engagement for each, increasing your return on your marketing.
Optimise your product pages
Your marketing obviously isn’t the be-all and end-all of your Black Friday. If your product pages aren’t optimised, then you’ll lose customers at the final hurdle.
You’ve likely already got high-quality photos that show off your products in all their glory. If not, now’s the chance to update them.
Now’s also the perfect time to draft some alternative product descriptions that are tailored to Black Friday. Use phrases such as ‘limited time only’ or ‘when they’re gone, they’re gone’ to ramp up urgency at this crucial stage. Such urgency will compel customers to purchase, lest they miss out entirely.
Top tip: optimise your product descriptions with Black Friday-related keywords. These will increase your SEO and help you rank in the SERPs during the shopping season. Make reference to Black Friday throughout your descriptions so customers know that they are specific to that event.
Prepare stellar customer service for a memorable shopping experience
Your customer service is just as much a part of your Black Friday marketing as any other entry on this list. A friendly, personal, and genuinely helpful customer service goes a long way towards engaging customers with your brand, delivering a positive shopping experience that pays dividends towards your Black Friday sales.
Collate a list of queries that customers are likely to ask in the run-up to and during Black Friday. Create a set of boilerplate responses that you can use to quickly respond to customer questions as they arise. But remember, just because they’re boilerplate, it doesn’t mean they should lack warmth — keep it human, and you’ll keep your customers happy.
It’s worth drawing on your past Black Friday customer service logs here. Look for any questions that might blindside you on the big day — forewarned is forearmed.
Learn from your past Black Friday events
With such a long time to wait before Black Friday arrives, there’s plenty of time for you to do a little introspection and look at how your last Black Friday went.
Go back to your records from last year’s event and consider how it went. Where did you shine? Which products sold particularly well? Use this to inform your future strategy further down the line.
At the same time, you should also think about where you went wrong. What issues did you face that resulted in lost sales? What aspects of your marketing fell flat? Did your social media lack flair, or perhaps your emails didn’t get opened?
Highlight problem areas from last Black Friday and spend some time breaking them down. Identify pitfalls, and think about how you can improve upon them this year.
Scope out the competition (and do it better)
Another benefit of starting your Black Friday marketing now is that it gives you time to analyse your competition too.
Trawl your competition’s old blog content and social media posts from last year’s Black Friday and pick out elements that you think particularly work. Find the best elements, and then simply copy them. It’s not cheating — it’s just savvy marketing.
It’s worth leaning on tech to help you with this. Wayback Machine is a handy little tool that shows you past iterations of websites. Use this to scope out how your competition updated their site as Black Friday approached last year.
In the same vein, Visualping is a useful tool that notifies you when edits are made to a website, helping you spot what your competition is doing in the run-up to Black Friday.
Ultimately, you will have to fight tooth and nail to get your store seen against your competition on Black Friday. Scoping out your competition at this early stage gives you the edge that will help you achieve Black Friday success.
No, Black Friday isn’t just around the corner — yet. But when it’s such a lucrative opportunity for your business, you’d be remiss if you didn’t make the most of every day to fine-tune your Black Friday marketing. Follow the tips above and use your time wisely, and you’ll be head and shoulders above the rest when Black Friday finally rolls around.