October 30 2023

The Black Friday eCommerce Guide for Brands

11 things to consider when planning your BFCM and Christmas Campaigns: A guide tailored for e-commerce brands gearing up for the busiest shopping season of 2023.

The Black Friday eCommerce Guide for Brands

Strategies to Outshine on Black Friday, Cyber Monday & Christmas

1. Craft a BFCM and Christmas Masterplan

Black November, the weeks before Black Friday, kicks off the holiday shopping rush, setting the stage for Christmas. Retailers go all-in with promotions during this time to keep customers engaged. Many brands now launch Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals early, especially on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. This early start helps them figure out which ads work best before the main shopping days hit.

For 2023, ensure these dates feature prominently in your calendar:

  • Singles’ Day (China's pre-eminent shopping day): November 11
  • Thanksgiving: November 23
  • Black Friday: November 24
  • Cyber Monday: November 27
  • Green Monday: December 11 (Originated by eBay in 2007, Green Monday is recognized as its busiest day for last-minute gift purchases. As it always lands on the second Monday of December, it's a crucial period to amplify your marketing efforts.)
  • Free Shipping Day: December 14 (Many online stores offer free shipping on Free Shipping Day, promising delivery by Christmas Eve. If your store participates, clearly communicate shipping details to keep customer trust.)
  • Christmas Eve: December 24 (Keep in mind that in most European countries, gifts are exchanged on December 24, not the 25th)
  • Christmas Day: December 25
  • Boxing Day: December 26
  • New Year's Eve: December 31

For businesses catering to a diverse market, spanning North American and global audiences, staying attuned to these vital retail milestones is essential.

Navigating this shopping rush in e-commerce is no small feat. As the former CMO of a $10M fashion brand, I've been in the trenches. Success? Check. Pitfalls? I've seen them. And with insights from some of our friends and partners who are ace game-changers in the e-commerce realm, here are the top 11 distilled tips to make this season a knockout success for your brand. Let's dive in!

Black Friday, paired with Cyber Monday and Christmas, is THE shopping season's peak. Even with post-Thanksgiving excitement, this year stands out. COVID-19 has skyrocketed online shopping. With more shoppers now online, there's a huge chance for eCommerce brands to not just grab seasonal sales but to build long-term customer relationships.

The most important dates and holidays in 2023 ecommerce

2. Plan Your Black Friday and Christmas Discounts

Black Friday provides an unparalleled opportunity for brands to offer substantial discounts without compromising their brand's integrity. Talk to your team about a pricing strategy well in advance and work out what discounts to give during that time of the year. Reflecting on my own experience I can vouch for this strategy: Throughout most of the year we were conservative with our discounts. However, Black Friday was our exception. It was our chosen moment to truly 'clean house', slashing prices on select items by up to 40% and even offering as much as 60% off on older collections or bundles.

This approach served a dual purpose: it allowed us to efficiently manage our inventory, while also creating a surge of anticipation among customers. Customers anticipate these rare, once-a-year discounts. So, for Black Friday, remember it's the time to offer great deals without harming your brand's image. Make sure your offer is tempting and hard to resist.

The best Black Friday Ads and Ad Creatives

3. Prepare your BFCM and Christmas Ad Creatives

Crafting compelling Black Friday UGC is pivotal. The ads should be distinct with powerful hooks and strong CTAs. Given the escalated competition during this period, brands will be increasing their budgets. Potential customers will be bombarded with thousands of ads. To outpace competitors, it's important that the UGC stands out. Authentic product demonstrations, captivating unboxings, or concise explainer videos can be game-changers.

For those who seek to up their game, we've curated an extensive list of inspirational Black Friday and Christmass UGC ad creatives. These videos are not only engaging but come with robust hooks, unique concepts, and persuasive CTAs. Use them as a blueprint to craft your content that grabs attention.

Need help getting creatives done fast? Join forces with Twirl and get ad creatives done within days. Book a demo with our team so we can talk you through ideas that will help you get started!

4. Plan Organic Buzz-Building Content Campaigns

Creating a buzz around Black Friday is just as critical as the discounts you're offering. The key is to grab attention without overloading your audience with information. Let me share a nugget from my playbook:

One of the most successful buzz-building campaigns we executed was centered on social media giveaways. We rolled out a simple yet effective strategy on platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Participants had to repost our Black Friday announcement post on their story or feed to enter that contained all the details: Start date, end date, discounts, website. The brilliance of this approach was twofold: it spread the word quickly, and more importantly, it reached the perfect audience. Reposters inherently had followers who were our target demographic. We then made the big winner announcement the morning before Black Friday, adding to the excitement.

But that's just one way. There are myriad methods to kindle interest and anticipation:

  • Black Friday Buzz-Building Campaign: This is all about the build-up. Think countdowns, sneak peeks, and teasers. A cohesive blend of ads, emails, and social media posts can work wonders here.
  • Sneak Peeks on Door Crashers: Get your audience excited with a preview of what's coming. Introduce them to limited-time deals a tad earlier than the actual sale. This whets their appetite and ensures they keep an eye on your offerings.
  • Coordinated Multi-Channel Strategy: Consistency is key. Your promotional efforts should resonate across all platforms. Be it emails, social media, or your website, ensure there's a synchronized message reaching out to the audience.

Remember, it's not just about making a sale; it's about creating an experience. The more memorable you make it, the more your audience will anticipate it year after year.

Black Friday Countdown Gymshark
Source: Gymshark

5. Offer VIP Treatment To Existing Customers

Prioritize and reward your most devoted customers. For our VIP email subscribers, we offered an early bird advantage by opening our Shopify store a day before the official Black Friday. We created a sense of exclusivity by setting up a password-protected entrance. Then, on the eve of Black Friday, we sent them the exclusive password, granting them a head start on our special discounts.

Your VIP customers are often your highest spenders and most engaged shoppers. Recognize and cater to this by segmenting your customer lists. Tools like Klaviyo allow you to segment your audience effortlessly, focusing on your loyal customer base. By doing so, you can craft personalized emails without much heavy lifting.

Example Email Black Friday
Source: Girlfriend Collective

6. Cart Abandonment Emails: Your Secret Weapon

Many Black Friday shoppers impulsively add products to their carts but don't always complete the purchase. Rather than viewing these instances as lost sales, they are the golden opportunities. Why? Because these shoppers have already expressed interest in your products.
Send reminders about the products they showed interest in through Klaviyo. This not only brings them back to your store but also rekindles their initial excitement.

Leverage UGC in Cart Abandonment Emails

Incorporate elements that induce a fear of missing out (FOMO). Use customer reviews and photos in these emails. It builds trust, especially if a shopper hasn't purchased from you before. You can even throw in an additional discount as an incentive in the last email.

Cart Abandonment Email Example
Source: Skims

7. Prioritize a Mobile-First Website Experience

It might sound like stating the obvious, but let's make sure to not overlook the fundamentals.

  • Mobile Shopping Continues its Upward Trend: In BFCM 2022 alone, a whopping 73% of sales were made on mobile. This isn't a fleeting trend but a clear sign of where consumer behavior is headed.
  • Prioritizing Mobile Optimization: It's essential to focus on more than just making your site and landing pages mobile-responsive. Dive deeper. Streamline navigation paths, boost your site's loading speed, and ensure that the checkout process on mobile is as smooth and user-friendly as its desktop counterpart. The easier you make it for your customers to browse and buy on their phones, the better your sales potential.

Remember, your customers are likely browsing on-the-go. A fast, bug-free, and mobile-friendly site can be the difference between a sale and an abandoned cart.

8. Infuse Your Website With Videos To Increase Conversion

Especially on intense shopping days like Black Friday, consumers are inundated with choices. They're hopping from one site to the next, comparing deals and products at lightning speed. Amidst this flurry of activity, brands have only moments to grab attention and make a compelling case for their products.

This is where authentic videos on your page can make a difference. Customers trust the experiences of fellow users. Reviews add authenticity that stock photos can't. In the fierce Black Friday competition, product demos or unboxings make your offerings stand out. But remember, while videos add value, they mustn't slow down your site. Speed is key to keeping customers engaged.

This is where tools like Videowise come into play. Videowise allows brands to embed efficient, low-script videos, ensuring that the website remains responsive. Its pre-built components allow seamless integration, so you have the freedom to enhance your product pages as you see fit.

The results speak for themselves:

  • An average 4X increase in time spent on site - because customers are engaged and captivated.
  • A boost in conversion rates of up to 328%. When users see a product in action, they're more likely to buy.
Embed Videos to your page with Videowise
Source: Videowise and immi

9. Stellar Customer Service During Black Friday & Beyond

With more people shopping online during the busiest time of the year, brands can expect more questions, orders, and issues. I remember times at my previous company when we, the four founders, had to dive into customer service because the volume was simply overwhelming. We even had to bring in working students overnight to manage the flood of tickets. It was a scramble, but we learned from it. Ensuring that won't happen again is crucial. In this hectic period, standout customer service can set a brand apart.

1. Staff Up With Onepilot
Anticipate the increase in queries and complaints. Ensure you have enough staff on hand to handle the influx, be it in chat support, email responses, or social channels. Platforms like Onepilot help you to outsource customer service efficiently and guarantee top-notch service for your customers during that time, making their shopping experience memorable. (Drop a mention of Twirl when you chat with Onepilot – they might have a special deal waiting for you!)

2. Streamline And Automate Communications
For basic queries, chatbots can provide instant answers, or engage with tools like Gorgias to answer customer questions in a minute across all platforms. With Gorgias, you have all your customer's data displayed when you're talking to them. Edit orders, modify subscriptions, and refund payments without leaving your helpdesk.

3. Clear Communication:
Provide clear details on your website about Black Friday deals, shipping policies, return policies, etc., to reduce the volume of basic inquiries.

Streamline Customer Service Gorgias
Source: Gorgias

10. Prioritize the After-Sales Experience

Once a customer makes a purchase, their journey with your brand isn't finished. It's just entering a new phase, and it's vital to make this post-purchase experience smooth and positive.

Tools like Karla can help with this transition. With Karla, customers have a centralized place to track and manage their deliveries. This kind of visibility reduces anxiety and builds trust.

To improve after-sales support:

  • Transparent Communication: Regularly update customers about their order status. This ensures they're never left wondering where their purchase is.
  • Efficient Return Process: Offer a hassle-free return procedure. If customers know they can easily return items, they're more likely to buy in the first place.
  • Encourage Feedback: Create avenues for customers to share their experiences. This feedback can offer valuable insights for future improvements.

This can simplify and enhance the post-purchase experience, leading to more satisfied and loyal customers even after the busy season.

Best Post Purchase Experience Karla
Source: Karla

11. Think Global on Black Friday

Black Friday is more than just a shopping frenzy in the US; it marks the kickoff to the global holiday shopping season. Ecommerce brands that harness this global potential benefit from a broader customer base and increased sales.

But selling internationally is not without its challenges. Consider shipping, delivery timelines, customs, and various other logistical aspects. This is where having a solid partner in fulfilment and internationalization like Hive becomes indispensable.

When gearing up for a massive sales event like Black Friday, speed is key. Advanced fulfilment partners like Hive boast fulfilment centers in various countries, so you can strategically distribute your inventory to be closer to your customer base, ensuring quicker deliveries and reduced transportation costs.

With a Pan-EU and UK fulfilment setup, your European customers aren't left waiting, and you can make significant savings, slashing delivery costs by up to 60%. These savings can either be pocketed or passed on to customers, making your offerings even more attractive.

I truly hope this guide gives you that extra boost for Black Friday. Remember, each year is a new opportunity to shine even brighter. I'm rooting for you and hoping this Q4 is your most successful yet. If you'd like to connect or fancy an intro to our partners, reach out to me via Linkedin or chat with us hitting that button on the right bottom corner.