It’s never too early to prepare for your online store for Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM). With a little extra effort, you can reap the rewards of the biggest sale day of the year. We’ve put together a guide to prepare your eCommerce store, so you can watch those sales roll on in.
In this blog, we’ll help you:
- Prepare your eCommerce site
- Check if your website is user friendly
- Choose a pricing strategy
- Organise your online inventory
- Set up automated SMS communications
- Browse SMS templates you can copy & paste
By the end of this guide, you should be ready to face the madness that is BFCM. Maybe you’ll even come out at the end of this period feeling, dare we say it, happy?
Is my website Black Friday ready?
If your BFCM promotions go well, your site should have an influx of traffic. You don’t want your site to crash, products to load slowly, checkout or technical issues on the biggest day of the year.
Poor site performance is a bad look. Customers may think you’re making it difficult for them to gain access to your BFCM promotions. Or they may simply give up and look for deals elsewhere. It’s even worse if your site goes down during peak sale times. Cue panicked calls to your developer, non-stop customer complaints and the knowledge that hard-won sales are being lost.
Save yourself a BFCM website headache by working through these questions yourself or asking your tech team.
Have you checked your website hosting package?
If you’re on a shared hosting plan, there may be limits to how many people can use your site over a period of time. Your server may need to restrict the number of visitors (throttle your site) or disable it.
It’s best to check with your hosting company such as Bluehost, Hostgator, and GoDaddy. The person or company that built your website will be able to tell you who hosts it.
Does my online store use load balancing?
Ask your website host about load balancing while you’re checking your hosting package. Load balancing helps to distribute surges of traffic through a network to avoid your server crashing. Most hosting companies should offer load balancing as an add-on.
Is the site optimised for speed?
Increasing your website’s speed can help your website perform strongly even during peak traffic periods. If pages take too long to load, 39% of users will give up.
You can improve your sites speed by:
- Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
- Reducing the size of images on your website (we use TinyPNG)
- Removing any plugins that aren’t in use
- Checking whether your site uses caching
You can test your page speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool.
Bonus tip: page speed has become increasingly important to search engines in the past two years, with Google dropping a major algorithm update in mid 2021 focusing on it. Ensuring that your pages load fast not only helps to keep customers on your site, but also for your pages to rank higher for search queries.
Have you done a stress test?
If you’re a confident coder or still concerned about traffic volumes you can perform a stress test (also known as a load test) to mimic traffic to your website and check how it performs.
Is my eCommerce store user-friendly?
Customers have high expectations when it comes to online shopping. Make sure you’re providing the best experience possible to maximise sales. Here are some ways you can improve your user experience.
Promote your promotion on your home page
The home page banner is prime real estate; use it to share your promotion so users can navigate straight to the sale.
Organise products logically and make search easy.
Make it easy for users to find the perfect product with clear product categories, filters and search functionality. If you have a store where sizes or colours sell out, the ability to filter products will reduce customer frustration.
Bonus tip: feature related products on each product page will maximise the order size. For example, if someone is looking at a party dress, showing them other cocktail dresses may encourage them to add another item to their cart. Or showing them matching shoes and accessories is a good way to cross-sell items.
If using promotional codes, ensure they work and that the promo code field isn’t hidden. Be upfront with shipping costs. If you offer free shipping, it’s a great idea to mention it on each page banner.
Smooth checkout experience
Abandoned carts are part of running an eCommerce store. But, you can reduce them. Start by making your checkout experience seamless with minimal distractions on both mobile and desktop. We recommend taking the time to give this guide on checkout best practices a read.
Have you organised your inventory?
The prime shopping season is the perfect opportunity to offload older inventory at discounted prices. You might want to stock up on popular items or offer some new products to test popularity. However, before you mark down everything — there are some things to consider.
Do you have enough stock?
Black Friday is a great opportunity to shift inventory to clear the way for Christmas. You need to know how much stock you have of each item so that people are not adding sold-out items to cart. You most certainly don’t want someone to buy a product only to find out it’s not available later — that’s bad customer service 101.
We recommend displaying real-time stock levels on your website. This means you’re tracking your stock properly. Plus, it’s proven to drive purchases as it creates urgency and FOMO.
What can your promotions tell you?
You know what they say, the devil is in the data. Look at your digital advertising — search ads, SMS campaigns, paid social media and email blasts — to see how many people received and engaged with your ads. Engagement and click-throughs will help you gauge interest, so you can make informed decisions about stock levels.
Black Friday for dropshippers
If you’re in the business of dropshipping, it’s a good idea to coordinate with your suppliers:
- What are their plans for the increase in sales volume?
- Do they anticipate delays in dispatching orders?
- Has their logistics provider communicated any delivery delays?
- Are there cut-off dates for stock to be ordered to arrive in time for Christmas?
Should there be any major delays in dispatch or delivery, it’s best to communicate this to customers. This could be on the shipping/delivery page on your site or their order confirmation text.
eCommerce stores with physical stock
It’s a good idea to stock up before the sale date so you can meet demand. Make sure you’ve got extra packaging for the product and the post. You’ll need to check in with your delivery partners to understand what delivery delays customers might experience. Make sure you tell customers about any delivery dates when they purchase.
How do I choose a Black Friday pricing strategy?
Make no mistake, Black Friday is about profit. It’s a delicate balance between enticing customers with discounts while still maintaining margins. Don’t get sucked into discounting your products too heavily, or copying your competitors blindly.
Flat rate discounts (eg. 30% off everything) can be dangerous, especially when product margins vary. Another common pricing strategy is to heavily discount older stock and give bestsellers a modest discount. However, this can condition customers into viewing your brand as a discounter.
You could try a behaviour-based pricing strategy. Nina Scharwenka, 2019, describes it:
“For example, with winter approaching, I am looking for a new coat, and am open to ideas regarding brand, color, and style. Rather than 30% off everything, I would just as much appreciate being drawn to a small selection of items in the store.
The headphones, on the other hand, were carefully selected months ago… No amount of discounting could sway me to another option. If the chosen product is reduced by 30% I will be very satisfied, but if it is only reduced by 10%, I will still buy it anyway.”
Once you have chosen your pricing strategy, ensure that your discounts are set up in your content management tool, or that you have a working coupon code that you can send to your customers.
Try a dynamic pricing tool
You can use a dynamic pricing tool like Prisync to determine the best prices for your eCommerce store. These tools typically use your data and scrape pricing from competing stores online to create pricing considerations.
Have you set up automated communications for sale day?
Before the big day, make sure all your pre and post-purchase communications are set up to run on autopilot. You’ll need to keep customers in the loop about orders, delivery, shipping and cart abandonment. You might like to set up surveys and welcome messages too.
Luckily, technology is amazing — and you can automate all these messages.
We’ll walk you through some common eCommerce setups.
Automated messages straight from your eCommerce platform
For example, if you use Woo, simply activate our SMS for WooCommerce plugin and create automated SMS responses for each order status and switch them on. You can also use the plugin to send text message blasts or individual messages.
Use an integration platform to connect your eCommerce platform to your SMS gateway
If we don’t have a direct connector or plugin for your eCommerce platform, you can still set up automated messaging. Using a no-code platform like Zapier or Make, you can use trigger and action logic to send texts whenever orders are placed, dispatched or something doesn’t go as planned. And it works with all the major eCommerce platforms.
So how do you get set up?
First, make sure your eCommerce platform is connected to ClickSend or your SMS tool via Zapier (or whichever integration platform you’re using). Then follow these steps:
- Find your eCommerce platform in Zapier and select the message trigger. For example you might choose New Order to send a thank you message when an order is placed.
- Choose your action: ClickSend SMS app and Send SMS event. If this is your first time integrating ClickSend, you’ll need to enter the API key found in your account.
- Customise your SMS: link the ‘to’ field with the data being pulled in from your eCommerce platform for the customer’s mobile phone number. This connection is what ensures your message is sent to the correct number.
- Don’t forget to write your message in the message section and add any kind of personalisation. In the ‘From’ section, you can leave it blank to be sent from a shared number, or include your dedicated number or business name here.
- Then click continue to test your connection and switch your text automation on.
Then sit back and let your new text automation do the heavy lifting.
Automate communications across the whole customer journey
There are some additional automated messages you can consider to keep customers happy on Black Friday and beyond.
- The Welcome Email(s): set the tone for all your store’s customer interactions – don’t waste the opportunity. You might like to set up a series of welcome emails to keep customers engaged.
- The Cart Abandonment Message: cart abandonment hurts and it’s very common for online stores. In fact, 77% of carts get abandoned. Win those sales back by sending cart abandonment messages.
Tip: Black Friday is time sensitive. Try a cart abandonment text message rather than an email that will probably get lost in the inbox. SMS is more likely to be opened quickly.
- Follow Up/Survey Email: gain insight into the customer experience through surveys. Incentivise customers to fill in the survey with freebies, discount codes, or a chance to win a prize and you’ll see greater engagement with your survey.
Tip: For best results, let them know how long the survey will take. If your recipient sees that the survey will only take two minutes they’re more likely to engage.
- Try omnichannel marketing with postcards: why not send personalised postcards to customers thanking them for their order? It also allows you to let them know about your Christmas promotions. Even better, you can personalise your postcards to show customers products they are more likely to buy, through our postcard integration with Hyperise.
Once you have worked out what message to send and then make sure you test your customer journey. Try placing a test order through your website. Move your test order through each stage from shopping to post-purchase to make sure everything is working seamlessly.
The ultimate SMS templates for Black Friday: before, during and after
You can use SMS for messages you send to customers while they are shopping and after purchase (these are called transactional messages). It’s also highly effective for marketing blasts.
Use our Black Friday/Cyber Monday SMS templates for both promotional and transactional messaging.
Black Friday/Cyber Monday Promotional SMS Templates
Use these templates for marketing and promotions before sale day. Be sure to check that the placeholders match up with the data in your contact list when you copy and paste it into your SMS tool.
You could even segment those with items in their cart (or wishlist), to further personalise their message:
Remember: you’ll need to provide an opt-out with marketing SMS. This will change depending on what type of number you have.
- If you’re sending from a business name (rather than a number), you must include an opt-out link because a business name does not support replies.
- If you are sending from a long code or shortcode – whether shared or dedicated – you might like to put your brand name at the beginning of the message. You can also receive replies, so instead of using an opt-out link, say ‘opt-out reply stop’.
Black Friday/Cyber Monday Transactional SMS Templates
Use these for keeping customers in the loop after they’ve purchased.
Order Confirmation templates
Order Dispatch/Shipping Information templates
Delivery arriving today message
Tip: If you’re happy to receive replies from your customers so you can have conversations then we recommend using a dedicated number for your business SMS. You can also create auto-response campaigns using SMS keywords.
Tips for writing your own BFCM text messages
Remember KISS? Keep your messages simple and succinct. Here are a few of our favourite tips to do just that.
- Personalise your message by including your customer’s first name. If you can segment your list and tailor messages by interest/habits/style, even better!
- Timing is everything. Don’t annoy your customers by sending SMS early in the morning or late at night.
- Promotions should be front and centre. Highlight the offer to keep it simple.
- Include a call to action. Tell customers exactly what you want them to do and provide them with the link so they can do it in one click.
Black Friday for eCommerce businesses
We hope that this guide has helped your eCommerce store get set up for Black Friday and Cyber Monday success.
If you need help with SMS communications or setting up automated messages, we’re always here. Simply open a live chat with us by clicking the image of a face in the bottom right corner of your screen.