With Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend fast upon us, we've put together a checklist and a cheat sheet so that we can enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner with our families, and rest easy knowing that we’ve got everything covered.

No matter where we are or what we do for a living, once we’ve changed the clocks for winter daylight saving, hearing the term ‘Black Friday’ gets our pulse up and running.

For most of the online world, the notion of Black Friday weekend came out of nowhere, some 15 years ago. Since then, this gargantuan retail opportunity has continued to grow exponentially, benefiting all avenues of business.

Should I Invest Resources in a Black Friday/Cyber Monday Campaign?

As customers, it’s pretty obvious that we can’t afford to miss out on such an opportunity, but what about online business owners and marketers? 

Should small or medium businesses (SMBs) dedicate huge chunks of their resources to go up against the giants of the industry? Or should we wait until the giants have finished slugging it out to win customer’s attention and have lost their competitive momentum?

The short answer is yes. Black Friday is worth the risk. But, given the circumstances around the world in 2020 (read: the COVID-19 outbreak), this year’s Black Friday may require a unique, out of the box mindset in order to accommodate the financial constraints felt by shoppers worldwide. 

Business is about taking risks, and all risks must be weighed against the potential return or reward. The tricky part is knowing how much of a risk you can afford to take, especially in 2020. 

But first, before we put on our brave faces and undertake those risks, it’s helpful to know how the COVID-19 crisis has impacted consumer behavior, as shown in research findings provided by McKinsey & Company : 

  • Flight to online: digital shopping is here to stay
  • Millenials and high-income earners are in the lead when it comes to online shopping
  • Consumers are switching brands at unprecedented rates
  • Brands need to ensure strong availability and also convey value
  • US consumers are changing how they shop in response to health and safety concerns
  • Consumer shopping intent is focused on essentials
  • Rise of the homebody economy: Americans are changing how they spend their time at home

Some retrospect about how consumers shopped online for Black Friday 2019, as shared by spendmenot.com:

  • 93.2 million buyers made a purchase online on Black Friday – seeing a 14% surge in online shopping, which hit $7.4 billion. 
  • In-shopper visits on Black Friday fell by 6.2% from 2018
  • 40% of shoppers decided to buy online (using methods like delivery, click and collect, in-store pickup) – accounting for a 43% growth of shoppers making purchases by using online methods
  • 39% of the $74 billion spent on Black Friday happened on smartphones. (Hint: tweak your website into a mobile-friendly website, please). 

And now, for what’s expected in 2020: 

  • The percentage of shoppers deciding to buy online during Black Friday will grow to 61%
  • Deloitte forecasts that holiday e-commerce sales will soar by as much as 25% to 35%, compared to the 14.7% increase seen in 2019. 
  • Black Friday will become more of an online event than an in-store event; “Adding a hot item to your cart before a retailer’s online sale begins is the new lining up at the store”. 
  • Black Friday sales and pre-Black Friday sales will potentially start earlier this year, in fact, as early as October. 
  • Black Friday spending is expected to be greater than it has been throughout 2020 – yet not compared to recent Black Fridays. 
  • Stores won’t open on Thanksgiving Day 2020

Although we’re particularly unsure about how online shoppers may feel about Black Friday spending this year, we still cannot afford to stand on the sidelines. Even if we feel that our product or service is the last thing on the minds of family members shopping for holiday gifts, the potential exposure is incalculable. 

At the very least, our goal should be to gain awareness, drawing as many users as possible into the top tier of our sales funnels. This way, the next time they come across our now familiar brand, there’s an increased likelihood that they will follow through the funnel, generating interest and commitment.

This reward is achievable. 

Better yet, working with WordPress means that we don’t have to over-commit our resources to accomplish it. 

However, we need to bear in mind that the impressions we create during this weekend will influence our businesses over future months, which is why we need to be smart and strategic, with plenty of foresight.

Over the last weekend of November (and now potentially October as well), customers and marketers from all over the physical world will face one another upon the field of online commerce. Each armed with strategies based on years of experience, savvy, and intuition. 

Standing in the center of the field are search engines like Google, cunningly playing both sides.

To keep online activity churning, search engines consistently satisfy customers with more seemingly accurate search results. Simultaneously, they create the tools and ‘holes’ that marketers use to appear in those results and better reach their target audiences.

Inevitably, customers learn to see through banners, popups, and catchy copy. While many customers have become skilled at finding the best bargains online, marketers are forever trying to play the SEO game and beat Google’s evolving system of algorithms. Each year, both sides try to get the better of one another, raising competitive the ante across the board. One way of looking at this is by seeing it as an ever-growing difficulty. But we choose to see this as an exciting challenge that grows greater by the year.

After all, Black Friday weekend continues is expected to account for 25%-35% of the overall amount to be spent on holiday shopping. 

In an attempt to get ahead of the game, some marketers will change tactics and begin campaigning special offers weeks before Thanksgiving. 

However, you might be better off launching a creeping campaign, establishing awareness among customers over the black weekend, using minimum resources, then slowly cranking up the campaign over the coming weeks until the end of the year.

After all, this is the period of time that accounts for the remaining 80% of all holiday spending.

black friday marketing stats
Source: SaleCycle.com

The Checklist​

1. Timing is Everything

Unless mystery is an essential part of your marketing strategy, don’t wait until the last minute to post crucial information. Make sure that your audience gets all the info they need, at least by the Monday before Black Friday weekend. And, as we mentioned before, decide if you’d like to start promotions earlier this year due to the COVID-19 circumstances. This may allow you to gain an edge over competitors who are starting their promotions closer to the usual time frame.

Figure out the essential information and prepare your emails, banners, pop-ups, even a brief FAQ in advance. This gives customers time to consider your offer, allowing for an idea to marinate in the mind of a potential customer is a proven method of persuasion.

You might also want to check out the Get Response blog, who has lots of great insight and tips for planning an email campaign for the big weekend.

2. Remember, Remember, the Last Weekend of November

Thanksgiving weekend is busy enough without Black Friday, and customers are only human. Prepare reminders to email clients for the Sunday and Cyber Monday morning. Be considerate, don’t bombard your mailing list with email blasts. Adopt a thoughtful and caring attitude and send them a gentle reminder.

3. Testing, Testing, Check-Check-Check!

Every single element that you post will reflect upon your brand, products, and services. Missing files and broken links are just a few of the things that could go wrong with your site over a 4-day sales bonanza and kill a reputation.

As website builders, we see these things as trivial goofs. Alas, customers translate these misdemeanors as a lack of responsibility and possible failure to provide decent products or flawless service that they were willing to pay for.

In a similar way, users from English speaking countries have a habit of mistrusting websites that publish content with spelling and grammar mistakes.

Test your links, pop-ups, forms, cart and checkout pages. Make sure that mailing lists are correctly registering new members. 

Grammarly

Using tools like Grammarly is a good way to avoid typos and grammatical errors. However, it is not perfect. Read your content out loud at least once, as it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

If you’re not sure what to write in your promotion emails, AWeber has some really good suggestions.

4. Got Loyalty?

After all, customers are people just like us, and as human beings, loyalty is important. It’s because we tend to throw the word around far too freely in the realm of commerce, that we should remind ourselves of what it stands for.

Loyalty isn’t about getting something extra for being a returning customer. It’s about creating a relationship between a business and its clients; generating a sense of familiarity, of belonging, and a sense of security in reliability for the client while simultaneously maintaining a secure income for the business.

Never take your returning loyal client base for granted. Always make sure that regular customers know about the perks that loyal clients have earned.

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is still a concrete incentive for most people. Retarget past customers, make them feel that you (not a bot) genuinely remember them. Remember, loyalty is a lot more reliable than karma. 

5. Think Outside the Gift Box

If this isn’t your first Black Friday Weekend as a marketer or business, there’s a good chance that there will be plenty of customers out there waiting to see what you will do this year. 

Many believe that when it comes to deciding what offer to make for Black Friday it is the thought that counts. That is so long as you’re offering more than an empty gift box.

Returning customers tend to look for something new, not necessarily a bigger and better offer, (although I doubt anyone would say ‘no’ to that). 

There will be customers who have heard or read about your business throughout the year and looking forward to seeing what offers you’ll be making. 

Do something different.

6. Made the Same Mistake Twice? Shame on Me

With so much traffic, we’d be fools not to take advantage of it to better our business strategies. The data we can collect over Black Friday weekend will give us key information that will help us determine what works and what doesn’t. 

We recently posted a quick guide on how to connect Google Analytics to your WordPress website, and there will be more links on the cheat sheet below. Don’t be afraid to learn more about what your customers like and don’t like about your site.

7. The Real Need For Speed

Let’s get smart in hindsight – specifically in the context of how much Black Friday shopping takes place on mobile devices. In 2019, said Salesforce, mobile orders increased by 35% on Black Friday, with 65% of all e-commerce flowing through a mobile device.

Adobe called Black Friday “the biggest day ever for mobile,” tracking $2.9 billion in sales from smartphones alone, or 39% of all e-commerce sales. Another nugget of insight is that in 2019, the percentage of online traffic from smartphones rose 15.8% from last year to 61%.

It’s well worth the time you spend on going through your site, page by page, and improving the load-time, even if you’re just shaving off a second. Reduce the weight of images as much as possible without losing quality. Make sure that none of the 3rd party plugins you’re using are slowing you down. If you need them, keep them.

However, you may find that you’re still using plugins that are redundant and are slowing down your site for no real reason. This is definitely something to address before Black Friday, to encourage online shoppers to stay on your site and not lose patience with loading time. 

For example, if you’re using Elementor, take advantage of the fact that there are several widgets (e.g., Forms, Popups, Lightbox, etc.), and options in Elementor’s integrations settings designed to reduce the necessity of some standard plugins.

Make sure that your server is ready to handle a possible flux of visitors to your site. Making sure that you have server scalability ensures that it can scale up to handle sudden spikes in traffic. We cannot afford to risk the loss of customers or even worse, losing our site when it crashes and giving our business and service a bad reputation.

It’s well worth the time you spend on going through your site, page by page, and improving the load-time, even if you’re just shaving off a second. Reduce the weight of images as much as possible without losing quality. Make sure that none of the 3rd party plugins you’re using are slowing you down. If you need them, keep them.

However, you may find that you’re still using plugins that are redundant. For example, if you’re using Elementor, take advantage of the fact that there are several widgets (e.g., FormsPopups, etc.), and options in Elementor’s integrations settings designed to reduce the necessity of some standard plugins.

Make sure that your server is ready to handle a possible flux of visitors to your site. Making sure that you have server scalability ensures that it can scale up to handle sudden spikes in traffic. We cannot afford to risk the loss of customers or even worse, losing our site when it crashes and giving our business and service a bad reputation.

The Cheat Sheet

As with past years, come November, we get hundreds of emails, messages, and queries from Elementor users regarding advice on setups, designs, plugins, developing, and executing online campaigns for Black Friday weekend. 

This year we’ve decided to put together a cheat sheet. The list below is a compilation of masterclasses, podcasts, and tutorials, with everything you need to know and more. 

Please feel free to add any advice, links, and tips for other users in the comments. Hopefully, together, we can create a wonderful online resource for others looking to make the best of the tremendous yet challenging business opportunities during Black Friday 2020.

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