The days and weeks following Black Friday/Cyber Monday can be just as tough as those leading up to it. The influx of orders over the weekend can slow down your fulfillment process, supply chain may slow that down even further, and this has the potential to take your focus away from other essential tasks. BFCM is a great opportunity to boost your holiday sales, but if you really want to make the most of it then you need to consider what you’ll do after to carry the momentum through right through the New Year.
What’s important post-BFCM is focusing on your customer needs and exceeding their expectations, remarketing, and retention. Let’s get started.
1 - Stay on top of shipping and fulfillment
One of the primary areas of your business that may take a blow in the days following Black Friday is fulfillment. Any higher than average influx of orders has the potential to slow things right down, and this then has a knock on impact on your customers. The supply chain is already under pressure on top of how much it already is during the holidays, therefore you need to remain prepared and proactive.
Stay on top of what’s happening with your courier partners
Excellent communication with your partners after BFCM is just as important as beforehand. Being proactive in requesting updates on what your supply chain looks like throughout the holidays will allow you to better plan how to manage your store’s fulfillment process. For example, if there is a delay in an expected shipment of a popular product then you want to know as soon as that’s the case so you can plan your back-in-stock strategy and communicate to any orders that may be affected.
Communicate final order dates
One of the major pieces of information your customers need over the holiday season is when their last opportunity is to order in time for the holidays. These should be included in all your email campaigns, even if it’s just a summary sentence with a link near the top of a promotional campaign. The closer you get to the deadline, feature the dates more prominently in promotional material so that customers are fully aware of the time they have remaining to order.
Be ready to bring your final order dates forward
Speaking of order deadlines, you should be prepared to bring those dates forward if necessary. If it becomes apparent that there will be significant delays or longer than average shipping times then you don’t want to take any chances with customer orders. Have a plan ready for how you will communicate any order deadline changes to your customers with email, on-site messaging, and social media. This will help to ensure customers are not left disappointed if they believe they’re ordering with enough time only to soon discover their order won’t arrive until after the holidays.
Stay in touch with active customer orders
Just 30% of consumers say that they’d rate retailers' order communication as “excellent”, so there’s clearly an opportunity for improvement. Once they’ve placed their order, customers want to know what’s happening throughout the fulfillment process. If your fulfillment is slowed by BFCM orders, then let customers know that their order is in process, however there will be a delay in dispatching it due to order volumes. Give them an estimated timeframe for dispatch and assure them that their order will arrive, along with details for your customer support if they need further assistance. Add additional emails into any automated order flows that will give customers further updates and information as their order progresses, for example an extra tracking info email when their order is due for delivery.
Having these areas covered means that you’ll be ready to react to any changes to your fulfillment process, and will be able to communicate these effectively to your customers without impacting their experience.
2 - Remarket to those who missed out on BFCM
Not everyone who visits your site over BFCM weekend will place an order, but that could be for a number of reasons. Perhaps they were distracted by more time sensitive offers on other stores, or maybe they had planned to purchase but just missed out. Whatever the case, you have an opportunity to target these non-conversions and potentially make more Black Friday sales long after the day itself has passed.
Focus your efforts on abandoned carts and browse abandonment for the time period around and during Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend. Segment this audience, and add a conditional split to your usual abandonment flows so you can tailor the messaging. Rather than just showing them the items they were interested in, extend your BFCM offers or create a new “just missed out” set of offers, e.g. “Missed out on Black Friday? Here’s 10% off”. Include other info such as order deadline dates, shipping and returns, and review for the products they’re interested in to give them even more reason to complete their purchase.
If you want to really personalize these temporary flows, you could segment these audiences further:
Cart Value - You may want to target different offers and info to those with higher cart values as it may show greater interest than someone with only one low cost item in their cart.
Returning Customers - Returning customers can be easy wins for merchants, especially with a BFCM remarketing strategy. Give them personalized recommendations based on previous orders, and perhaps better incentives than a new customer.
- Product Category - You may want to focus on a particular product category over the holidays, therefore you can offer different incentives to interested email subscribers to push these products.
Extending Black Friday weekend for these potential customers doesn’t mean the offers need to be the exact same as on BFCM itself. It can be a lower percentage or monetary value discount code, free or reduced cost shipping, or free samples. Consider what will be most tempting to different customer sets, and ensure you create a sense of urgency so they don’t simply forget again as they did over BFCM weekend.
3 - Review your post-holiday retention strategy
As well as the opportunities directly after Black Friday, you want to set your store up for success in the new year also. Having a post-holiday retention strategy will do just that, recapturing the interest from over the holidays and hopefully turning seasonal shoppers into loyal customers.
#1 - Automated Emails
Automated email flows take a huge amount of effort out of retention marketing. By combining this convenience with your store data, you can create email flows that are highly personalized and targeted. Set up a welcome email flow specifically for new customers who purchase over the holidays. As well as your usual brand education, include emails to send in the new year with personalized product recommendations and incentives for their next order. You should also set up a separate personalized recommendation email flow that targets post-purchase for returning customers from the holiday season.
#2 - Loyalty Program
Everyone loves to be rewarded - 72% of US adults are part of at least one loyalty program. If you already operate a loyalty program, then use this to entice customers back to your store after the holidays. Send new customers an automated email that tells them about your program, benefits they could receive, and how it works. If it’s points earned on purchases, you could also tell them how many points their holiday order earned and what benefits they could redeem. If your program is tier-based, let them know which tier they’re in and what additional perks the next tier earns. When it comes to returning customers, you can still strengthen their chances of a future purchase by reminding them of your loyalty program perks and offering them bonuses for being a repeat customer.
#3 - Feedback
Feedback is a powerful tool; it tells you where your store is performing well and where it could improve, and asking for it demonstrates to customers that your brand cares. 52% of consumers believe that brands should take action based on feedback, and 77% view brands more favorably when they ask for feedback. In the first few weeks of the new year, send feedback requests to customers who purchased over the holidays. Ask for their opinions, and let them know what your team plans to do as a result. Offer an incentive in return for their feedback, and follow-up with any customers who had negative comments -
4 - Prep your “last minute” offers
While many shoppers start early, there are plenty who don’t finish quite on time. It may be they’ve forgotten about a gift they intended to buy, or perhaps they just couldn’t quite decide what to get and have missed out on offers. This audience presents an opportunity for you to help them, and score an order in the process.
Prepare your “last minute” offer plan, staggered as you get closer to deadlines for different holidays. Look at when your order deadlines are, and base what you offer as a result of that.
For example, let’s say your deadline is 5 days before Christmas:
- 2 weeks before the deadline - Remind customers that the deadline is approaching.
- 1 week before - Give customers product recommendations for gifts which are in-stock and ready to leave your warehouse same-day.
- 3 days before - Offer reduced rates on faster shipping so customers can grab a last-minute order.
- Day of the deadline - Remind customers that your deadline is today.
- Day after the deadline - Show gifts they can still purchase i.e. vouchers for experiences or gift cards.
- 3 Days after the deadline - Remind customers again of your last-minute “instant” gift options.
You should promote these last-minute ideas across your email, social media, and website. With your site, for example, you can create a temporary collection for “last-minute gift ideas” with gift cards and vouchers. This is especially important, as 44% of last-minute shoppers say they plan to give gift cards.
This strategy extends beyond your ecommerce storefront however if you have a physical retail outlet also- 64% of last-minute shoppers say they plan to shop in-store. Once your shipping deadlines have passed, you can send targeted email campaigns to customers who are within range of your brick-and-mortar store. Let them know when your store is open, deals they can take advantage of, and if you have any online-to-offline shopping options such as “buy online pick-up in store”.
Targeting last-minute purchases allows you to extend your sales period past your shipping deadlines, and help customers who are worried about finding the perfect gift.
5 - Be proactive with your returns policy
While returns aren’t ideal for ecommerce merchants, having a great returns policy can make a huge impact on the customer experience. 74% of customers say an easy returns process can persuade them to make a purchase. Over the holidays, there are many reasons why a customer may want to return an order. They may have ordered the wrong size or type, it didn’t arrive on time, or their intended recipient already had a similar item.
Don’t wait for customers to get in touch with your team to find out how to initiate a return - be proactive and beat them to it.
- Make it really clear and easy to find your returns policy, including details on your FAQ page.
- Include a summary of your policy in email campaigns e.g. “fast and easy returns”.
- Promote any holiday specific returns details on your website and social media channels, for example if you’ve extended your policy on purchase made over the holidays to the end of January.
- Include links to your returns information in transactional emails.
- Follow-up after the holidays letting customers know your returns policy.
- Let customers know how to initiate a return for a gift i.e. they no longer have the gift in their possession but want to return it via the gift recipient.
Communicating your returns process at different times through multiple touch points in the customer journey will give your customers greater confidence and trust in your store. This is a retention strategy in itself, as 92% of consumers say they’d buy again from a brand if the returns process is easy.
Answering your customers’ needs after Black Friday weekend is the best way to stand out among all the brands they’ll purchase from over the holidays. By keeping them informed about everything from shipping updates, to last-minute deals, to extending your BFCM offers to those who missed out, you can demonstrate to customers that you care about their experience and carry your sales momentum past the holidays.