It happens like clockwork: the temperature starts to dip, Halloween swag hits store shelves, and pumpkin spice everything takes over. This means one thing: Black Friday Cyber Monday season is on the way.
Whether or not this is your first BFCM, we spoke to three Shopify retailers about their previous Black Friday Cyber Monday tactics to offer you even more guidance. Because sometimes it helps to learn from others’ wins and (possible) missteps, right?
As you know, the opportunities to make bank (and big bucks) thanks to BFCM are tremendous for any retailer. For starters, the National Retail Federation expects holiday retail sales in November and December (excluding automobiles, gasoline, and restaurants) to increase between 3.6 and 4% for a total of $678.75 billion to $682 billion, up from $655.8 billion last year.
And as we saw in this post BFCM-breakdown, a subset of Shopify merchants experienced 3+% more orders than usual over BFCM weekend in 2016. And at its peak, the Shopify platform processed a staggering $555,716 in transactions in a single minute.
Ready to get inspired thanks to these three Shopify merchants? Learn how to navigate your way to a successful Black Friday Cyber Monday 2017 and take notes, especially if you’re doing it for the first time.
Meet The Players
Bird + Stone: A socially-driven jewelry brand that donates to organizations such as Planned Parenthood of NYC and the UN Foundation's Girl Up campaign, and is aimed at “Building a more equal world.”
Way of Will: High-quality, 100% all-natural essential oils that are blended to perfection and specifically designed for people who live active lifestyles.
The Tactics: What Have They Done For BFCM?
Elana Reinholtz, founder of Bird + Stone, shared the two different Black Friday Cyber Monday strategies it has applied in previous years.
Image: Bird + Stone
The first was a “Buy two, get one free” promotion, coupled with two tiers of discounts. “When we ran a ‘buy two, get one free,’ we made sure the item had enough margin to be free, taking into account an order with 2+ items. And this encouraged customers to increase their average order value. Not only that, but people were enticed by the free item and this increased our clicks on our emails.”
The second tactic was a “Black Friday to Cyber Monday site-wide 30% discount” with a 50% off two-hour window on Friday during “cocktail hour” (5 p.m. to 7 p.m.). According to Reinholtz, this tactic was effective.
“We later learned that consumers had set their alarms for the 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. cocktail hour, while in the comfort of their own homes.”
TAKEAWAY: “I feel that standing out and encouraging delight is an important part of an effective Black Friday sale. Since this time is a great way to leverage and treat our loyal customer base, I like to do something special for them.”—Elana Reinholtz, Bird + Stone
Tara Barnes, Director of Brand Development & PR at Manitobah Mukluks and Pendleton, shares the brands’ 2016 strategy:
“Last year we offered an outstanding gift with purchase: a pair of luxury wool mittens. We might do something similar this year, but you’ll have to tune in to find out!”
BFCM Lessons Learned
Willie Tsang of Way of Will shares his top lessons based on previous BFCM activities:
1. Timing Is Everything
“The best tactic: start early! Acquiring new customers early in the holiday season game can generate more opportunity to convert. The benefits to starting early? First, ad costs are lower (holiday season is more competitive and everyone wants a piece of the ad pie this time of year) and second, it brings people back with retargeting ads for holiday gift buying. Because they’re already in your funnel, you can win them back now at a much cheaper cost than going out and finding brand new leads. To sum it up: Fill the top of the funnel with new traffic pre-holiday, while the cost of traffic (CPC) isn’t as expensive; as you creep closer to BFCM, costs rise.”
TAKEAWAY: All brands, big and small, focus on Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. The competition is very high during this time of year. The cost of acquiring new customers increases. Therefore it’s important to think outside the box to reduce the competition, especially if you’re a small store with a small marketing budget. Again: planning early is key!” —Willie Tsang, Way of Will
2. K.I.S.: Keep It Simple
Reinholtz explains: “Please, learn from my mistakes. Last year, we tried to be like Amazon and offered six days of deals. Not only was the work involved in creating assets, codes, and a landing page super laborious, but it put too much work on the plate of the consumer to check back for each sale.”
Tsang from Way of Will agrees: “Don’t try to have too many different promotions for Black Friday Cyber Monday weekend. If your audience and community are small, you’ll spread yourself too thin. It’s better to focus on one big promotion and do it right. Make sure your website, social marketing, email marketing, and advertising strategies all align. Don’t do any big tests with your website, ad account, email account etc. right before the promotion. And make sure all ad campaigns are approved by the platform before promos launch to avoid delivery delays.”
3. Know Your Audience
Barnes explains that Manitobah Mukluks’ gift with purchase offer resonated with their target customer: “It is essential to understand your audience, to reach them wherever they are, and to stick to a strict ROI with online advertising. Advertising on Black Friday is super competitive, so you can’t afford to spend money in the wrong ways or to let that spend run away from you.”
TAKEAWAY: We learned that creating an exciting offer for Black Friday attracts new fans that share your vision, and rewards lifelong fans for supporting that vision!” (Win-win.) —Tara Barnes, Manitobah and Pendleton
4. Always Be Prepared
Barnes’ other important tip is a fundamental one: Always be prepared.
She elaborates: “You also have to be prepared with proper staffing and inventory. We never go on sale, so if we created a compelling enough offer, in a matter of moments we would be overwhelmed with visitors.”
5. Stick To Your Brand Ethos
Reinholtz offers this advice: “I also suggest leaning into your brand ethos and values. For example, since we are a jewelry brand that raises funds and awareness for social causes, we do a special #givingtuesday sale where we double all donations from each product, which makes people feel good about buying and giving back even more.”
Image: Bird + Stone
6. Know Your Margins
Reinholtz’s other tip? “Figure out your margins and what ceiling you can allow in terms of a discount percentage. From there, try extending the sale window from Friday to Saturday, and test a different sale on Monday. That way you’ll have data for next year to analyze and optimize on those learnings.”
The Plan For BFCM 2017
Bird + Stone
“This year, we’ll be running either one big or two small sales for the Black Friday to Cyber Monday weekend based on what worked in the past. If we test a new sale, we might do ‘spend more, save more’ with spending thresholds like $50, $100 and $150 so we can increase AOV (average order value) and get more out of each purchase.”
Way Of Will
“We will launch flash campaigns at unexpected times in order to reduce CPA (cost to acquire) and avoid the crowd.”
Manitobah and Pendleton
“If we run another Black Friday campaign this year, the goal will be to share our story and offer something that speaks above the noise. As an Indigenous-owned company, we have a bigger reason for offering a great deal. Our vision is to make an impact in our community with our business. So if we’re able to attract new fans with a great gift on Black Friday, it will be for that purpose.”
How to Win at Black Friday Cyber Monday 2017
With the right strategies and resources in place, you can also attract new customers to your shop — and kick off the holiday season with a bang. Whatever you do, make sure to analyze the results and keep track of your assets and marketing materials (as well as what your competitors are doing) to be well-poised for next year.