Black Friday for e-commerce: 7 ideas to get the most out of it

We haven’t even finished putting our summer clothes away and Christmas is already just around the corner. And that means that some key dates for e-commerce are creeping up fast.
It’s no joke. In the next 3 months, many businesses will generate 40% of their annual income.
But watch out, before we bust out the eggnog, there’s another very important stop: Black Friday.
Is your e-commerce ready for one of the most crucial moments of the year? What are the aspects that you must absolutely focus on in order to have a pleasant Black Friday and relaxed Cyber Monday while you watch your shop rack up the sales?
Let’s take a look at its history and share some ideas.

Where does Black Friday come from?

Black Friday will kick off the holiday shopping in the US where stores and brands offer huge discounts.
In the American tradition it is celebrated the day after Thanksgiving, which is the fourth Thursday of Novermber.

This year the chosen day is 23 November.

Many countries have imported this custom and Spain is one of them. Our country joined in at the hands of Apple in 2010. This shopping event has not been left to just one day, it has spread over the weekend by joining with CyberMonday, the special day of sales for online purchases.
But let’s leave theory to the side and start reading about what we are really interested in: how to sell more on Black Friday.

7 ideas to generate non-stop sales from your e-commerce on Black Friday

While not all of these are direct strategies to sell more, they will all directly affect your shop’s performance. 😉

1. Manage the peak in traffic to your e-commerce

Black Friday means an increased number of visitors to your e-commerce.
In a physical shop they would just need to have a few more shop attendants to serve all the people that come in looking for bargains. In an online shop, however, unless you have a live chat to solve people’s doubts, this is what you need to worry about:

  • Make sure your server can handle the increase: if you use shared hosting and you or any of your IP neighbors go over the allowance, the server will collapse and the only thing you will be left thinking is “this can’t be happening today of all days”. And this situation is much more common that you’d think. The solution is to have a good hosting provider or a dedicated hosting or VPS.
  • Grab your visitors’ attention quickly: this is important every day, but grabbing their attention is especially key on Black Friday. Job well done if you managed to get them to your website—now get straight to the point and offer a quick interaction to avoid rebounds. You already know how useful an internal search engine is. Have a look at this. 😉
  • Today is not a day for experimenting: for many shops, this is the day when they really rake it in and a fortune like that is not a joking matter. Leave A/B test for a different day and don’t spend time creating content for your blog – there’ll be plenty of time for that when huge sales aren’t on the line. If you haven’t done your homework a week before Black Friday, do what you can, but don’t lose focus on what’s important.

Now that you’re sure that your shop won’t collapse, let’s start talking about what you can do to grab users’ attention.

2. Prepare your shop’s design

Throughout the whole week, and especially over the weekend, users are overwhelmed with shopping options. What used to be 24 hours of discounts has now become a whole week of consumer craze. It should really be called Black Week at this point.
If you’re going to get onboard, do it right.
You’ll certainly need banners to show the discounted products, but don’t make your website look like a fairground. Do you remember this post about brand image? First things first.
We have also talked quite a bit about the power of personalization in this blog.

Don’t show massive offers on the home page—unless your shop is extremely specialized in one product or niche, it will be difficult to satisfy all your customers with the same offer.

Use categories to direct traffic and if you use Doofinder, play with contextualized banners for the search.

3. Tell them in advance – the power of hype

Announcing your new prices for this day beforehand may be counterproductive. But you can announce the fact that something is going to happen.
Start a countdown, create a special video, or publish a post on your blog about what’s to come, but without saying what it is.
Another option that works really well is to try to be really visible in the weeks leading up to the big day when people aren’t talking about Black Friday yet:

  • A contest on social networks
  • Viral content
  • A colaboration with influencers…

The goal is for users to remember you when the day comes and to attract traffic remarketing afterwards.
If you see a lot of activity on social networks from different brands at the end of October and the beginning of November, now you know the reason why. 😉

4. Offer honest discounts – don’t try to fool your customers

Some years ago there was an embarrassing video about Mercadona that went viral – have a look.

The psychological impact of products on sale can’t be denied; for many customers, an offer is almost irresistible.
Numerous psychological studies say that buying a product at a “good price” postively affects our self-esteem.
This positive effect changes abruptly when consumers realize that they are being duped. It’s an all-too-common trick, especially on Black Friday – shops increase prices in the weeks leading up to it so they can then offer a huge 80 or 90% discount.

If you care about the long-term of your shop, don’t try pulling a fast one on your clients.

That’s e-commerce 101.

5. Plan your strategy ahead of time

Behind every successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a carefully planned strategy. Always.
It would be pointless to have a beautifully decorated shop with a Black Friday theme if nobody was going to visit it. If users don’t usually buy from your shop, they won’t do it that day either, no matter how much you lower your prices.
If you have been keeping your head above water and planning for months, you should announce your sale in the few weeks before (but remember not to tell them everything).
You can do it with a newsletter, segmented campaigns with Google and Facebook Ads, or offline actions with your potential clients.
Don’t make one massive announcement. Gauge where people are at and create different campaigns accordingly – you shouldn’t send the same message to a former client as you would to someone who may potentially be interested but doesn’t know you.
One way to stand out from your competitors is to offer very special marketing actions that may be newsworthy: every year the media devote much of their content to talking about Black Friday and CyberMonday.
The potential of your campaigns may be attractive to the media.
With this action, we get further traffic to our site, media visibility and therefore strengthen our brand.
One example of newsworthy campaigns is Green Friday, an alternative event created by sustainable fashion brands that got all sorts of press coverage with their anti-consumerism message.
If you want to go a step further, and if you can afford it, you can imitate the campaign #OptOutside from REI, an outdoor and adventure products brand.
They closed all of their shops – physical and online ­– on Black Friday. Don’t think it worked? Have a look at the incredible impact.

It’s all a matter of creativity…

6. Manage your stock

Running out of stock is not as bad as not selling enough. However, as professional e-commerce managers, we don’t really want to run into either situation.
A few weeks ago we published a detailed post about sales forecasting for e-commerce. In that post, we explained the need to foresee events such as Black Friday.
There are some situations that happen suddenly and for which there is nothing you can do. On the other hand, not properly planning your stock levels for events such as Black Friday is simply not acceptable.

So fill up your storage room, make sure the unit numbers are up to date in your online shop, and sync up your stock with your physical shop if you have one.

Anything that can be done beforehand will be a great help.
Recommended reading: Stock control: how to increase sales and decrease stock management costs.

7. Black Friday and email marketing

It’s one of the traffic sources that work best on Black Friday, so you need to pay attention to it. Avoid sending a basic spammer such as “40% off on all our products.” It will end up as just another email in the already overflowing inboxes that nobody will read.

The best way to do it is with segmentation.

Any basic tool for email marketing should already support the use of tags, so it won’t be a problem to compose different emails for:

  • Former buyers: people who haven’t made a purchase in over a year, since before the previous Black Friday.
  • People who bought on the previous Black Friday: segment clients by date so you can tag those who bought last year and you can send them a reminder with your new offers.
  • Regular clients: they already trust you and they deserve a special treat – let them know by sending them a personalized email.
  • Abandoned shopping carts: it’s probably the worst situation for an e-commerce… just when you think that everything is done, they leave the cart abandoned. An email with a special offer to recover their sale is a great idea. You can read about that here.
  • Geographic segmentation: if you have a physical shop, you can segment clients by location. People in London don’t care about your offers in Manchester.

One question for you: do you already use Doofinder to offer your clients a better search experience?
If you do, we have good news.

How Doofinder can help you sell more on Black Friday

Doofinder helps you tackle Back Friday in a more proactive way so you don’t leave results to fate.
The Doofinder control panel has sales tools such as ‘custom results’ and ‘banners’. A combination of these tools allows you to better serve users who reach your website looking for Black Friday deals.

The ‘custom results’ allows you to define the results for some search terms, so you can show your special offerts depending on what the user write in the search engine.

Statistics will allow you to monitor the most used words in searches on your website so you can focus your campaign on those products. You’ll discover which words and therefore which products are seen as a consequence of those searches (double check your product cards).
You can also combine the custom results idea with a default banner that appears for any search term and that links to a special landing page for that day (which we recommend creating).

This will be your best Black Friday yet!

Remember the ingredients to success:

  • Plan your strategy.
  • Prepare and optimize your website to avoid problems or collapses.
  • Make your shop look sharp.
  • Take advantage of everything email marketing has to offer.
  • Prepare and monitor your stock.

And always, always, always be 100% honest and have a good search engine.
Want to try it out?
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