As an ecommerce merchant, you probably don’t need to be sold on how important the Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM 2019) holiday shopping season is for your online sales.
Shopify reports that merchants on its platform collectively made $1.5 billion in sales during the 4-day period between Black Friday and Cyber Monday with the highest peak in sales reached on Black Friday.
Global sales graph from Shopify stores during BFCM 2018
While North American consumers accounted for the largest share of sales during the 2018 BFCM season, it is important to note that BFCM is also driving sales in other countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, and Russia.
While Black Friday might represent the Superbowl of the shopping season, the action isn’t just restricted to one day. You can expect increased sales in the days preceding as well as the days following BFCM. In fact, even if you are a struggling online retailer, with the right strategy you can expect to see an increase in sales. The proof is in the strategy.
I’ve found that the key to participating in a slice of the $6.2 billion sales pie lies in creating and executing a solid social media strategy.
Execution is one area where many entrepreneurs tend to fall flat on their faces. But what’s the point in having a great-but-never-executed strategy? This is the reason why I have put together this simple yet executable guide to help you prepare for the upcoming BFCM shopping season on social media.
Before I delve in, here are the key dates for your social media strategy calendar for 2019:
- Black Friday – November 29th
- Cyber Monday – December 2nd
- And the weekend in between.
1. Run customer preferences tests
You’ve seen those split-test posts on social media: “Which color trainers do you prefer? – Like for A, RT for B”.
Twitter is probably the platform of choice for these quick customer preference tests or Instagram with their polling feature.
If you haven’t already done this, let this be the first thing on your to-do list, as we’re only a couple of weeks away from BFCM and you need to collate the data as soon as possible before the big day.
To get the most out of the potential reach of this test, you can incentivize responders to share their views just as Kohl did with this tweet:
@BFAds product preference engagement tweet
Notice how this very busy image is used to build up curiosity, effectively encouraging users to click to find out more. In one tweet, Kohl also managed to not just run a customer preference test, but also increase social media engagement by requesting for follows and retweets.
If you go down this route, the responses you get can help you identify which products deserve more of a push in your Black Friday marketing campaigns.
2. Prepare your content
Aesthetically pleasing product displays are as important to brick-and-mortar retailers as they are to online retailers. So before the big rush, ensure that your content is presentation-ready, especially if your product media is sourced directly from your supplier.
You can remove the background from your product photos using software such as Pixc to keep images clean and ready for a variety of marketing purposes.
@DCshoes Instagram product photography
The shoe brand @dcshoes combines lifestyle shots of products with product-only shots as an interesting way to ensure that a relatively limited product pool benefits from repeated social media exposure.
Experiment with photographs of your products against various backgrounds, and in different settings as you may find that your audience responds better to certain photography styles over others.
If like @boohoo your target audiences appear to respond better to video content, you might find snappy, 3-4 second videos more engaging than longer videos. You can test this by using easy-to-use, web-based tools such as Animoto and Promo to create quick engaging videos of your products being unboxed, used or simply modeled.
When preparing your content, don’t just think about your product images. our email header templates, store navigation, giveaway background images, videos might all need to be updated in addition to your social media content. To create these graphics, Canva is a great tool that offers thousands of readymade templates for almost every purpose. You will find templates for social media posts, flyers, newsletters, web banners, web ads – you name it.
3. Group your data
When you collect emails from leads or potential customers, don’t just lump all your data into one big list. Group your data by product, category, location or any identifying feature that might help categorize your emails better.
This work is worth doing, as it will increase the relevance and deliverability of your emails. If you sell a broad range of items, segmenting your campaign emails by product interest data is probably one of the best ways to ensure that each offer is targeted to the most relevant recipient on your email list.
4. Increase your social engagement
What’s the point of having a presence on social media if you’re not using it to connect regularly with your audience? Nowadays, it is simply not enough to automate social media posts purely to prove that the lights are on.
Especially on Instagram, ensure that each post has an objective, and dedicate certain posts to the objective of multiplying the number of eyeballs on your page. You can do this by sharing a highly engaging attention-seeking post, and then requesting a “tag” and a “follow” to duplicate the views you get. @MilaniCosmetics execute this to perfection by using a giveaway post to draw in attention, and then requesting “tags” and “follows” as a condition for entry into their giveaway.
@milanicosmetics giveaway engagement post
This appeared to be a winning strategy for @Milanicosmetics in building the momentum before the BFCM weekend, as the brand appears to have doubled down on the strategy. Who wouldn’t? With up to 10x more engagement than their average regular post.
5. Run a giveaway campaign
While a giveaway campaign is probably one of the best ways to gain social engagement as we have already established, there’s another little hidden benefit to giveaway campaigns – email lead generation.
A giveaway campaign is probably one of the cheapest and most effective ways to collect niche-specific emails for marketing. Last BFCM season, Shopify found that the biggest growth driver was not social media or organic search, but email.
Shopify found that email is the biggest growth driver
With the right influencer, you can leverage the power of an engaged audience to spread the word about your campaign on Instagram, Youtube or Twitter using influencers in your niche.
The British makeup brand Charlotte Tilbury managed to pull this off by creating a Black Friday giveaway for a make-up advent calendar, which they exclusively promoted through an influencer. The giveaway worked to increase social engagement for both the influencer and the brand while driving traffic to the product.
Makeup brand Instagram giveaway influencer post
In addition to this strategy, you can send your audience to a landing page where participants are required to enter their email address. Giveaway landing page tools such as Vyper.io and Kingsumo can help you achieve this very efficiently.
Once your giveaway is over, ‘warm’ your audience (and guarantee decent open rates) by sending out a ‘Winner’ email to your giveaway participants. Following this up with the ‘everyone’s a winner in our eyes’ spiel also works well with an irresistible discount voucher.
Depending on your social following, a well-run giveaway campaign can probably bring in hundreds of email leads each week.
6. Use chatbots
A chatbot is a computer program that interacts with your customers and automatically offers information based on whatever parameters you set for the conversation.
In this example below, Chatfuel shows how the fresh food brand, HelloFresh turn its Facebook ad post engagements into a Black Friday discount voucher.
Facebook engagement ad and connected chatbot
Like HelloFresh, you can set up your bot to automatically message all users who comment on your post and offer them discount vouchers. Alternatively, when creating your Facebook post you could swap the click-through link for a direct message, so that users are directed to your messenger bot instead.
8. Don’t forget YouTube!
It is almost a given that your potential customers probably contribute to the 4+ billion videos being watched daily on YouTube. While these customers might be more likely hunting for deals than searching cat videos during the BFCM weekend, you can still leverage the power of YouTube in your preparation efforts before the actual rush.
Create unique content using video creation software such as Final Cut Pro, Wave or Adobe Premier Pro, and include relevant keywords in the title and video description. You can inexpensively put together a gift guide or a product tutorial using freely available video editing software combined with photo editing software such as Pixc.
But you don’t even need perfectly edited video to make the most out of Youtube this Black Friday season. Sometimes, a little creativity is all you need. Like this simple but funny skit that generated 9 million views last Black Friday.
YouTube Black Friday promotional video
Notice the not-so-subtle Best Buy Black Friday flyer sitting in the background within readable view of the camera.
Alternatively, you can avoid creating content altogether and designate the heavy lifting to an influencer in your niche. All you need to do is negotiate a rate early and send them a few of your products to review.
Your presence on YouTube is likely to directly or indirectly send some traffic to your store during the shopping season.
There we have it!
Creating a strategy for the BFCM shopping season is a surefire way to set yourself up for success during the period. By taking the time to create and execute a strategy that maximizes opportunities to engage with your potential customers, you will be able to ensure that your marketing efforts during the Black Friday shopping season are not just well-received, but also highly converting.