Are Your Stores Ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Ready or not, Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be here before we know it. Marketers across the country are weeks away from over indulging on turkey and bourbon on Thanksgiving while frantically going over every last detail to make sure that everything is taken care of ahead of the most important shopping week of the year. While Black Friday is now referred to as “Black November”, thanks in part to Amazon’s month-long campaign, the best promotions and ad campaigns are still reserved for Thanksgiving week. Here’s a quick checklist to make sure that you’ve got everything covered this year:
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1. Highlight Holiday Gift Ideas

Get started now. Studies show that over 40% of holiday shoppers get started in October. Make sure that your key products and promotions maintain top of mind awareness throughout the holiday season. If not, you’ll find yourself fighting an uphill battle for attention in December.

2. Get Your Retail Website Ready

Getting ready means running speed tests (we recommend Google PageSpeed Insights and GTMetrix to get started). Slow sites are one of the top contributors to bounce rates, and there’s no worse time to run a slow site then in Q4. Next, make sure that your brand’s site can handle a significant surge in traffic over the weekend. The last thing you want to deal with is frantically trying to track down an IT team nursing a pumpkin pie hangover in the wee hours of Black Friday because your site is down. We recommend blitz.io and LoadImpact.com.

3. Keep Your Team in the Loop

Hopefully by the time you’re reading this, you’ve already got your plan together. But if you don’t, you should start immediately! Your entire marketing team, including agency partners and IT, should be in the loop on what promotions are running when. A simple promotional calendar in Google Sheets or within your project management software is a great way to keep everyone on the same page.

4. Have a Plan B. And Plan C.

As sure as the sun will come up tomorrow, marketers can count on something not going according to plan. What happens if the flyers don’t make it to the newspapers in time? Are you going to supplement with a Facebook campaign? With everything that can go wrong, from media outlets running the wrong spots, to shipping companies dropping the ball, to a manager quitting two days before Thanksgiving, something can and probably will go wrong. The more contingencies that your brand has in place, the better off you are. Black Friday and Cyber Monday only come once a year and will set the tone for your brand’s quarterly financials, so be ready to take on anything.

5. Staff Your Brick & Mortar Stores

Is your store staffed up for the weekend rush? It’s important to make sure that managers staff their stores appropriately, not just on Black Friday but throughout the weekend, in order to avoid a PR debacle that you’ll spend weeks trying to undo. No one wants to make the news for an overwhelmed employee getting trampled by rabid (or do they just seem that way?) customers.

Baby Goat Shopping Gif6. Be Consistent in Your Ads

Are your supporting graphics consistent with the sales flyers? Being off a single SKU number can cause big headaches for store managers. It’s critical to make sure that every last detail of your brand’s supporting graphics for web, email, and social are consistent with the print ads, radio, and TV commercials.

7. Tease Your Audience

Remember to use teasers in email and social media channels to get your customers excited for your Black Friday promotion. A lot of shoppers plan out their shopping excursions well in advance, so be sure to highlight some key products in advance and get customers excited for the rest of your Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions. We’d recommend promoting a Facebook Carousel ad to your audience with a variety of upcoming deals, then transition those ads to retarget the same audience with site links for the products to drive Cyber Monday traffic for an even greater ROI.

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8. Capture Abandoned Carts

Make sure your abandoned cart emails are good to go. We recommend sending an abandoned cart email within an hour of the abandonment during Thanksgiving weekend, given the timeliness of the promotions and high competition for your customers’ money. Some good options for personalized email campaigns include Listrak and Klaviyo.

9. Optimize Your Website for Mobile

Is your site mobile friendly? Fidelitas recently saw a 50% increase in site traffic for an e-tail client after updating its site to be more mobile-friendly. Mobile searches now outpace desktop searches on Google, and this is one trend that won’t be slowing down anytime soon. If you walk your stores on Black Friday, expect to see customers comparing the product on your shelf with a competitor’s price online. A user-friendly mobile site can make a big difference for your brand’s bottom line.

10. Pump Up Your PR

Is your PR campaign underway? Your PR team should have been pitching your products to gift guides as far back as June and July. But that doesn’t mean you can’t snag some last minute exposure. Local media outlets and blogs don’t plan out nearly as far in advance, so have your PR team shoot for local television and newspaper opportunities. You could even piggy-back your radio buys and get stations to give-away some of your top products as prizes for increased organic exposure.

11. Leak Your Ads

Leak your Black Friday Ad to third party websites. There are entire websites like BlackFriday.FM and TheBlackFriday.com dedicated to posting retailers’ Black Friday ads. Grab some free exposure for your brand and leak your Black Friday flyer no later than the Monday before Thanksgiving.

12. Take Care of Your Most Loyal Customers

Your most loyal customers – those on your social channels, email lists, and text clubs – should get first dibs on your deals when possible. We recommend adding some “exclusive” deals with shareable promo codes on your site to make them feel valued. Promotions that are positioned as exclusive are far more likely to be shared organically, too. If you’re reading this in October, consider running some aggressive promotions in October to beef up your databases ahead of the holiday campaigns- your ROI report will love you for it.

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