November 27 and 30, 2015 may be two of the most important days of the year for ecommerce, and now is not too soon to start planning. In fact, your Black Friday and Cyber Monday success might depend on being ready long before the holidays.
The holiday shopping period starting on Black Friday and ending at Christmas may represent 30 percent of an online retailer’s annual sales and could be double any comparable period in revenue, according to data from RJMetrics.
In fact, your Black Friday and Cyber Monday success might depend on being ready long before the holidays.
While not every retail segment is sensitive to the holiday season — hardware retailers, as an example, might not enjoy the same uptick in sales as an online electronics or apparel retailer — those sellers that do see an increase during the Christmas season may be able to maximize Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales with some careful and early planning.
1. Plan Sales Now
Planning your inventory purchases is really the secret to having exceptional Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials.
Many manufacturers and distributors offer special buys throughout the year. Depending on the context, these special purchasing opportunities might have names like “buy ins,” “paddle buys,” “program buys,” or similar. These sales represent an opportunity to buy product below your normal wholesale cost or in packages that otherwise lower your cost of goods.
As an example, imagine an online retailer that sells men’s watches. It inventories a watch called the X1 that it pays $50 for wholesale and retails for $100. The distributor who sells to this online retailer might make a special offer on the X1 watch, say 10 percent below the usual wholesale price, if the retailer buys 1,000 units in July rather than waiting until October. The special offer means that the retailer is now paying $45 for the X1 watch and could offer it on Cyber Monday at $50 and still make a small profit, while offering a low sale price that at least some competitors will not be able to match.
Begin working with manufacturers and distributors now to find special buying opportunities that will make compelling Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials.
2. Get Product Pages Ready
Once you have selected the items that you’ll be offering as Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials, be certain to add those items to your site if they are not already part of your catalog. Do this even if you have to state that the item will not be available for sale until October or November.
Ultimately, you want to establish three things with your product pages.
- Give search engines ample time to index each product detail page.
- Ensure that these products are included in your Google Products feed or similar.
- Establish the regular retail price for your customers so that when you put the item on sale there is a clear discount.
3. Prepare Landing Page Content
Target has its Cyber Monday page up now. The page invites visitors to register for “Cyber Week, Black Friday and other Target exclusives and promotions.”
The page is also already indexed in Google, so that when shoppers begin to research Cyber Monday sales — which according to Google might happen in August or earlier — Target will already have a presence on search engine results pages.
You may want to prepare landing pages in three phases.
First, create a basic Black Friday and Cyber Monday landing page that includes:
- Black Friday or Cyber Monday in the title and H1 tags;
- A call to action, such as Target’s inviting visitors to register for sale alerts;
- A hint or preview (think keywords) of the items you might feature.
Second, begin adding content as it becomes available (see 4., below).
Third, display your actual Cyber Monday and Black Friday special offers. This will probably be similar to a product category page on your site.
4. Start Content Marketing Early
Content marketing should play an important role in your Cyber Monday and Black Friday promotions, since it may help you attract a significant amount of site traffic before and during the sales.
You should begin planning and creating Cyber Monday and Black Friday content soon, publishing it regularly between now and the late third quarter.
Here are some content marketing ideas for your Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaigns.
- Create product demonstration videos for each of the products you’ll be offering during your sale.
- Develop holiday gift guides or blog posts that feature your Cyber Monday and Black Friday specials and help your customers.
- Put together a lookbook featuring your products.
- Make a series of how-to videos or articles that include or involve the products you will be featuring.
For even more inspiration, here are some possible titles for your holiday gift guide and related holiday shopping posts.
- “14 Common Misconceptions about Christmas Shopping for a Teenager”
- “10 Quick Christmas Shopping Tips That Could Save You Thousands”
- “Why We Love These 10 Christmas Gift Ideas for Mom (and You Should, Too)”
- “7 Christmas Gifts Your Dad will Like Better Than a Tie”
- “How Your Christmas Gifts Could Save the World”
- “13 Horrible Christmas Gifts, and 7 You’ll Love”
5. Plan Your Email Campaign
Email marketing should be something you plan ahead of time and not just something you execute at the last moment.
Once you know which products you will offer during your Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale, plan and schedule your email marketing. You can even create artwork and write copy for those messages now.
Being prepared can save a lot of stress when holiday sales are coming in.
6. Have Your Site Ready
When Black Friday and Cyber Monday arrive, make certain that your website is both mobile optimized and fast loading.
In November of last year, Google estimated that half of 25-to-34 year olds used a mobile phone to look for holiday specials and shop online even while they were standing in line at a physical store.
In the past, having a mobile-optimized website was a competitive advantage. Now it is a competitive imperative.