Yep, you read that right - we’re talking about Black Friday/Cyber Monday in July! Planning for the big weekend is a long process, and it can be difficult knowing where and when to start. We say the earlier, the better! Starting in summertime means you can have your store ready for BFCM without having to shelve other plans and priorities the closer you get.
Our last article focused on what you can do for your website, and this article is going to focus on what you can do to start planning your marketing strategy. Right now it’s all about research, setting actionable deadlines, and planning.
Review sales from BFCM last year
The sales data from your store is a goldmine of information that will help you to plan for an even more successful BFCM weekend this year. Reviewing the data now will help you to see what products and product categories performed best, and which perhaps didn’t meet expectations. As a starting point, here are some areas to focus on:
- Top/Worst selling products and product categories
- Bestsellers based on geography/gender/age demographics
- Periods of high/low sales
- High/low traffic landing pages
With these areas, you need to ask yourself some key questions about things like promotional activity, where you’re seeing customers dropping off on the site, etc. This information and revision will help you prioritize your time and efforts into products and demographics that will result in the most conversions. You can also start to build audience profiles that will inform your product development and marketing plans, as you’ll be able to do some more focused research into things like competitor brands, social media engagement, and more.
This coming BFCM weekend is a little different to most given the current situation with Covid-19. Your store will likely have seen some change in sales whether that’s increased activity or different products selling more than usual. Look at your sales data from March to now as well as your data from BFCM last year, and compare the two. Highlight any commonalities, and consider the reasoning behind any differences so that you can work out what the optimal products and audiences will be to focus your attention on.
Create a plan for product development
Depending on what you sell, you’ll need a plan for product development in the run up to BFCM. This doesn’t just need to mean new products, there’s much more to the process than just coming up with shiny new things! You can also take time to develop existing products whether that’s tweaking something about the product itself or how it’s presented. Here’s what you’ll need to think about:
New Product Development
If you’re planning to have some new products to launch by BFCM weekend, then you need to start thinking about those now. Apply what you learned from your store data in developing new products - what were the gaps in your catalog last year? What products could you retire? What products could you develop that would appeal to the most common demographics on your store? Use your data, apply it, and conceptualize from there. Once you’ve done that, put a schedule in place - set deadlines for concepts, samples, redesigns, photography etc.
We all know there’s a whole chain of suppliers before you even get a finished product to ship to a customer. As it gets closer to BFCM weekend, these supply chains become burdened and busy, so you need to create a plan and a calendar of when you need to place orders and when they need to arrive in order for you to have healthy stock levels. The last thing you want is to be biting your nails in the lead up waiting for stock, or even running out of stock on the weekend itself! Create your calendar, and start contacting your suppliers. Come to an agreement on order times, and stick to them.
Before the customer clicks “Add to Cart”, there’s a lot of material they see about each product. Therefore that material needs to be up to date, clear, and eye-catching. Everything from the product name, to photography, videos, and copy. For existing products, consider refreshing the content so that it matches any new products you’re adding to your catalog. If you’re not adding any new items, then a refresh is still a good idea to keep your store up-to-date and fresh. If you’re planning to work with a photographer, graphic designer, or videographer, start looking into and making contact with them now so you can get quotes for budgeting purposes and book in so they don’t get snapped up later.
Audit your SEO
SEO is important to your business at all times of the year, but especially during BFCM weekend. For many people, they’re looking for products and services related to gift buying for the holiday season but may not have a specific site in mind, so you need to be one of the first places to pop up in their searches. Right now is a great time to audit your SEO, and find ways you can improve your store’s ranking.
If you want a little more info about why SEO and keywords matter for BFCM, then check out this blog from our archives.
Review social media and plan a timeline
Just like you review your sales performance, it’s equally as important to review your campaigns across your chosen social media channels. What content was successful, and what wasn’t? How much did you spend on advertising on each social media channel? How did those advertisements impact conversions? By reviewing this now, you can better understand what your audience and potential customers respond best to, and where you should be spending your precious ad dollars.
It’s also important to plan when you want certain actions to be taken. Everything from plotting out campaign start and finish times, content creation, content review, etc.
Gather social proof
There’s no denying that reviews are powerful sales tools - over 90% of consumers say that online reviews impact their buying decisions. Think about how much research you put into your purchases yourself, your customers do the same thing! Even if you plan to launch new products, the positive reviews for both your business and existing products will give customers confidence in clicking “Add to Cart”.
There are some simple things you can do now to encourage more customers to leave reviews for products over the coming months, ensuring that by the time BFCM rolls around your store is full to the brim with glowing testimonials.
Contact recent customers
This is the most obvious step to take, and you could even have an app automate the process for you! Whether you use an app or an automated email workflow, set it up so that you contact customers at set times in order to ask for a review. Make your first contact point roughly 2 weeks after the purchase, this ensures the product has both arrived and that they’ve had time to form an opinion of it.(If your product has a longer shipping time, increase this waiting period – nobody wants to receive a review request email for a product they have not yet received!) You can also set it up so that if they don’t leave a review after a certain amount of time that they’re contacted again. In all emails let the customer know that you appreciate their support and that if they’re having any issues, get in touch with your customer service team.
Everyone loves a little incentive, right? If you want to give your chances of receiving a review a little boost, you can offer something like a discount code or free shipping for their next purchase.
Respond to reviews
Whether it’s good, bad, or somewhere in between, make sure you respond to reviews. This helps any potential customers see that your business cares about the thoughts and opinions of previous customers. If it’s good, then just be positive and thank them for the review. If it’s not so great, address any issues they might have raised and also get in touch with the customer in private to see if there’s anything you can do. Being proactive is better than simply ignoring a bad review.