Resources Optimizing business metrics

Get Your Site Ready for Black Friday / Cyber Monday 2023

Discover practical strategies to make this your best BFCM yet.

Are you ready for the biggest shopping weekend of the year?

With Black Friday/Cyber Monday just a few months away, it’s time to get your site spotlight-ready for all the eyes that will be on it. We’ve put together some tips and actions you can use to make the most of the Super Bowl of shopping.

Review and improve product pages

When a customer can’t see your products in person or pick them up to examine them, product description pages become among the most important of your website. A good product page answers all the questions a potential customer will have in order to decide to buy:

  • How will this item benefit my life?
  • What problem(s) will it solve?
  • Is it compatible with other items I own?
  • Is it suitable for my unique lifestyle?
  • Is the item worth the price? If the retail price is on the higher end, be prepared to justify it by explaining why: Is the item handcrafted by a skilled artisan with decades of experience? Are the materials and finishes used rare?
  • How big or small is it (read: are accurate product dimensions clearly visible on the page?)?

A tried-and-true place to start when reviewing your catalog is to pay close attention to the product pages on your site which are highly-visited but convert poorly. A quick checklist:

  • Are the product descriptions and dimensions accurate?
  • Are the photos representing the product of good quality? Do you show alternate views of the product? Do they show the item in situ? Do they show scale?
  • Are the price points mixed between sale and regular price? Do customers have to click each product variant to find the sale-priced option(s)?
  • Is the product size- or color-broken?

Optimize for mobile.

If you're like most e-commerce retailers these days, it's likely that more than half of the visitors to your site do so on their phones. According to Google Consumer Insights, 53% of mobile visitors will leave a site if it takes more than three seconds to load. Do you know how fast (or slow) your mobile homepage currently loads?

Common contributors to slow-loading sites and pages are unoptimized images. Sites or pages that use too many images, images that are too large, or use images that are unoptimized suffer from – you guessed it – longer loading times.

The summer months are a great time to comb through your site, identify large image files, and compress them. Reducing image file sizes means that your site won't have to work as hard to load them, resulting in a better, faster experience for your customer.

Once you've got load times faster, it's time to review your mobile homepage. Instead of hoping prospective customers will take the time to fiddle with hamburger menus and try to read tiny print, consider showing what your store has to offer visually; this can be accomplished either through homepage hero or secondary imagery, by category iconography, or even a "layer cake" stack of categories with nice, thumb-friendly sized buttons.

Don’t feature all of your Black Friday/Cyber Monday promotions up front, if possible.

Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday are four whole days of ultra-promotional activity. If your inventory positions and resources allow, take a page out of Amazon’s book: schedule different offers for different products (or groups of products) throughout the weekend, and communicate these timed offers to your customers. It encourages FOMO, repeat visits, and likely multiple purchases over the course of the highly promotional weekend.

Avoid offering a flat (AKA “sitewide” or “storewide”) discount. If you do, you’ll just be giving away your margin unnecessarily (read: goodbye, profitability upside) to everyday visitors who might have bought at regular price. If you must offer a flat discount, consider offering it on higher-margin categories where you can afford the hit and still meet your blended margin target.

We already know that your BFCM doorbuster items are priced to entice shoppers to purchase, but while they’re on your site, why not get some of that lost margin back? This is where cross-selling comes in. Is your BFCM doorbuster item a sweater? Time to push completing the outfit with some relevant, regular-priced jeans and shoes. Some ways we’ve seen this done well: pinning “outfits” as a group on the category page, using a “frequently bought together” widget on the product description page and checkout pages.

Review and optimize your on-site search terms.

We’ve said it once and we’ll keep saying it: visitors to e-commerce sites who use the on-site search feature are at least two times more likely to buy than visitors who solely browse. AOVs when using search are typically higher as well. Did you know that Amazon’s conversion rate jumps up 6x when their visitors perform an on-site search? That Walmart’s conversion rate jumps up 4x, and Etsy’s jumps 3x? Think about those conversion increases in dollars; what would it mean to your business’ revenue goals if you could increase your conversion rate 3x?

That’s why it is so important to get your on-site search in order. Some quick wins that can (and should) be accomplished before Black Friday/Cyber Monday:

  • Review which keywords and phrases your customers search for the most, and what products are served when customers search for them.
    • Are they the products you’d want them to see?
    • Are there opportunities to pin or boost ideal SKUs or categories?
    • Do any of your top keywords return zero results? What is your No Results rate?
    • What synonyms could you add to improve your search performance?
  • Review your marketing campaigns and new product launches.
    • Are the products you’re promoting easily found via search?
    • Are you boosting or pinning new products?

Test and Learn

The months leading up to Black Friday are a chance to learn about your customers, as well as the types of promotions, promotion messaging, and linking strategy they respond to. The beauty of a website is that it’s iterable, and testing variations is relatively easy and low-effort. Some examples of possible variations to consider:

Promotion language: “20% off all sweaters with code BLACKFRI2023” vs “Save 20% on Sweaters category (price as shown, already redlined to promotional pricing)” vs “Lowest sweater prices of the season! Shop now >” vs “$20 off when you spend $100 on Sweaters”.

Promotion offer: What kind of discount is the most compelling to your customer? Do they engage more with percent-off vs dollar-off promotions, order amount thresholds (aka “buy more, save more”), promo code to be entered vs redlining at the subcategory level? 

What discount amount is enough for your customer to take action and buy, and when was the last time you tested this? Sure, you could choose a percent off, but why would you leave that money on the table if you don’t have to? What if instead of 25% off a product category your customer’s happy to buy at 20% off? 15% off?

It’s important to remember that customer behavior is always changing; a strategy or best practice that worked for your business 5 years ago may not be the same strategy or best practice you should be using today. Make it part of your process and larger culture to test and learn regularly.

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