The Best 2019 Black Friday Prep Tips from the Experts [Roundup]
No one needs to tell you how monumental Black Friday can be for an ecommerce business. While Cyber Monday and all of November sees higher sales across the ecommerce industry, Black Friday is still the end-all-be-all of the holiday shopping season.
And it’s only 6 weeks away.
Let me repeat that, Black Friday is only 6 weeks away.
Don’t panic. You need to get in gear, but there’s still time.
And lucky for you, we’ve got 11 of the biggest ecommerce and digital marketing experts with their Black Friday prep tips and advice to help you get ready for the biggest shopping holiday of the year.
#1. Rytis Lauris- Omnisend
RYTIS LAURIS, CEO & CO-FOUNDER OF OMNISEND
@RytisLauris | Rytis Lauris
Building a successful company takes hard work, dedication, and know-how.
Building a successful company in the ever-changing tech industry takes expertise. Rytis Lauris is the expert that co-founded and built Omnisend, omnichannel marketing automation platform for ecommerce.
Not only an expert in ecommerce, Rytis regularly appears on podcasts, interviews, and speaking events on omnichannel, digital marketing, and the state of the commerce industry. With years of experience behind him, Rytis often has great foresight into what the market will do next.
With this experience and an uncanny ability to predict the future of the ecommerce market, his advice for Black Friday is echoed by several other experts in this list.
“My biggest Black Friday prep tip for online merchants looking to prepare is to not forget about the steps of the customer journey that come after acquisition. Yes, bring them in with doorbuster sales. Yes, give them an offer they can’t refuse. Yes, focus on acquisition like you should during Black Friday.”
“But make sure you follow up with that customer after Black Friday is over. Don’t just let them churn and sail off into the distance, instead, provide a customer experience they won’t forget, and transform them into lifelong customers.
Set up automation workflows that, yes, secure that initial purchase, but bring them back once the holidays are over by using all of your channels to send relevant messages. Black Friday doesn’t have to be a bunch of one-shot customers. You can increase your customer base significantly with the right strategies in place.”
For the latest in omnichannel and direct-to-consumer news, follow Rytis Lauris on social media.
#2. Chloë Thomas- Ecommerce MasterPlan
CHLOË THOMAS, FOUNDER OF ECOMMERCE MASTERPLAN
Chloë Thomas is a long-time expert in the ecommerce industry. Ecommerce consultant, published author, podcast host and producer, and digital marketing extraordinaire, it’s easy to see when she’s had a hand in a project by the quality alone.
Her main project, eCommerce MasterPlan, is a full knowledge hub dedicated to helping ecommerce brands earn more revenue and growth through tried-and-true best practices. Chloë is unique in that she’s not into tips, tricks, and “hacks.” Instead, her expertise comes from real-life experience that holds much more value.
We asked Chloë for her best advice for online sellers looking to make the most of Black Friday 2019, and she focused on personalizing the offer by how difficult a customer might be to convert. She suggests using lighter promotions to easier-to-convert customers, or low-hanging fruit, so to speak, while saving the more significant promotions for those who pose a greater conversion challenge.
“For Black Friday it’s essential to remember my promotional golden rule “A promotion exists to get the customer to do what you want them to do as cheaply as possible.”
What is it you want the customer to do this Black Friday? (it might be different for different customer segments, eg you want to get Enquirers to make their first purchase, you want to get those who’ve bought before to spend more this time).
Once you know what you want them to do what’s the cheapest way to get them to do it? Taking 20% off every single product on your website and taking out adverts in the national newspapers probably isn’t the answer.”
“By considering my golden promotional rule you can make Black Friday work for you.
Maybe your Black Friday deals are only going to be available to those with certain voucher codes – then you can split the size of the offer between segments based on how hard it is to get them to convert.
Maybe your Black Friday deals will only be on a few product lines, or on limited stock volumes of your products. Maybe the products you choose to put the biggest discounts on are the ones you have far too many of, and that have been sitting around the warehouse taking up space for the last year…
Make Black Friday work for you.”
With perhaps the most practical advice of all expert contributors, it’s definitely worth following Chloë closely, no matter what stage of growth your business is in.
#3. Sam Hurley -OPTIM-EYEZ
SAM HURLEY, MANAGING DIRECTOR & FOUNDER OF OPTIM-EYEZ
Sam Hurley is probably the biggest expert in branding of the digital marketing industry- and brings an interesting personal story to the mix.
This expert went from unknown to the biggest digital marketing influencer in little over a year, all without a website.
Expert in knowing exactly what to say to anyone, be it a partner, collaborator, or customer, there’s a clear reason Sam has been featured across the web in the most prominent digital marketing and ecommerce forums and communities.
Leveraging social media in perhaps the most ingenious ways possible, Sam Hurley managed to create a complete consulting business (as well as build one of the most powerful personal brands across the globe) in just 15 months. Today, he maintains his consulting business OPTIM-EYEZ while continuing to build his reputation as a leader in the digital marketing industry.
When we asked Sam about his best prep tips for Black Friday retailers this year, he focused on doubling down on the customers you already have.
“A mistake I see all the time (especially by brands that also advertise on T.V.) is when they attempt to reward new customers much more than those returning — or they just forget about existing customers completely.
This is exaggerated even more so during the Black Friday period!
Rather than think of Black Friday as a mad rush to get as many sales as possible with a churn and burn mentality, focus on your loyal customers first — because 1) they are much easier to convert again, 2) they are much more inclined to spend MORE, and 3) they are likely to keep coming back long after Black Friday, if you do it right.
- The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is only 5-20%.- Clickz
- Repeat customers spend 33% more than new customers. -Customer Thermometer
- 80% of your future profits will come from just 20% of your existing customers. -Customer Thermometer
Segment your audience by those who have purchased before, and offer tiered (and time-sensitive) deals in alignment with how much they’ve spent and/or how often they have bought from you.
This can be done via any modern email marketing / CRM software, but should ideally be deployed in an omnichannel fashion — meeting customers at a time and channel that suits them best.
Bonus: Emojis are a powerful method to grab attention. In subject lines of emails, use the snowman emoji to boost open rates by 66%!”
For access to an absolute wealth of expertise in digital marketing and communicating with your customer in a personal way, follow Sam on any social channel you can.
#4. Branden Moskwa -Nadimo
BRANDEN MOSKWA, FOUNDER OF NADIMO
Branden Moskwa is an ecommerce expert powerhouse. Bringing to the table over 20 years of experience with ecommerce companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500s, Branden is about as expert as you can get in this industry.
It’s also no surprise that IBM has named him one of the tech and ecommerce industries brightest minds, as Branden doesn’t just rely on the tried and true tactics, he’s constantly thinking of ways to innovate.
In 2014, Branden struck out in his own consulting business, dubbed Nadimo, to help online sellers and entrepreneurs generate more revenue and optimize their stores.
Today, he also hosts a podcast called Ecommerce AllStars, where he invites the biggest wigs of the industry to talk tech, optimization, and the latest developments to hit the ecommerce and digital retail world.
When we asked Branden for his best Black Friday prep tips for online retailers, he suggested creating an incredible experience for your customer in lieu of just slashing prices.
“So this is an interesting question for me to ponder. The reason is because I never tend to suggest offering products on discounts as it devalues the brand and the product your selling.What I mean here is your product should be priced fairly to begin with so by offering a discount you in essence tell your customers that “You pay too much for my product.”
That said, Black Friday & Cyber Monday are an exception, and if you choose to get in on the biggest day in retail you had better come swinging. Don’t throw up deals like 10% off or some lackluster offer. Make it 50, 70, 80.. Better yet give it away FREE!
Yes I said it, and I don’t mean free shipping I mean free product! I recently bought in on a promo I saw on Pinterest (a secret weapon for ecommerce stores by the way), they were giving away free watches all I had to do was pay for shipping!
“It really is all about the experience. I love sites that can sell products for more than you would ever think you would pay for a given product just because they make it experiential and fun.
So while I could get into great detail my suggestion to you is to start putting the word out to your customers and potential customers via every channel at your disposal. Create a sense of excitement around the “Event” your planning on the big weekend or day and then deliver the best possible experience you can.
Make it something that people talk about, and can’t wait to get in on next year. Hey, this may also be a way you can get away without having to drastically slash prices. Maybe you can get away with 40% off deals. ”
Branden’s podcast is certainly on our weekly list, and it should be on yours too if you’re looking to learn from a certifiable expert.
#5. Richard Lazazzera -A Better Lemonade Stand
Richard Lazazzera, FOUNDER OF A Better Lemonade Stand
It’s hard to talk about ecommerce experts without Richard’s name appearing in the list. He started his ecommerce career with a solid marketing background on Shopify’s Growth Team, helping the ecommerce platform more than double their user merchants during his time there.
During his time at Shopify, he began creating an online blog dedicated to helping beginner online sellers start their businesses and become profitable, A Better Lemonade Stand. Today, ABLS is arguably the best ecommerce blog that exists in the industry and has grown into an online incubator for budding ecommerce businesses.
He sells full, experience-based guides, directories only developed networks can create, and full marketing plans to help newbie sellers get a head start.
If ever there was an expert in making the most out of just a little during Black Friday, Richard Lazazzera is that expert. When we asked him for his best Black Friday advice, he had this to say:
“The best strategy you can have for your Black Friday marketing campaign is to be prepared. It might seem simple, but it’s true! Black Friday is a hugely competitive consumer holiday with so many ecommerce and brick-and-mortar stores participating, so if you’re not prepared ahead of time you could potentially miss out on the extra traffic and revenue.
If you haven’t already, start creating your Black Friday content now and develop a plan for your promotions, discounts, and offers. Will you stick to one offer throughout the entire Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend or will your offers change every day? Will you only offer a deal on the actual Black Friday day or will you participate in Cyber Monday too?
Plus, don’t forget to prepare the emails, social media posts, copy, and images that you’ll be using for your campaign. Having these assets created ahead of time will help you execute a successful marketing campaign that your customers know about and can get excited for.”
Following Richard on any social platform guarantees that you’ll get the latest in best practices and practical know-how in the ecommerce industry.
#6. Shayla Price
Shayla Price, Digital Marketing and Content Consultant
Shayla is a certified expert in digital marketing when it comes to the customer. Versed in optimizing buyer personas and really getting into a customer’s head, there’s no one stronger and more versatile in inbound marketing.
Working as a freelance inbound consultant, her client list includes some of the biggest names in the ecommerce and digital marketing industry: Shopify, Kissmetrics, Agorapulse, and many more. With succinct, and poignant content as her forté, she’s definitely someone to follow for content marketing for ecommerce.
When we asked Shayla for her biggest tip for online sellers looking for success on Black Friday, she suggested getting personal.
“Hyper-personalize your campaigns for the Black Friday shopping season. Customers are tired (and annoyed) of the one-size-fits-all messages. Be creative and start using your existing customer data to create one-of-a-kind campaigns.
For example, if your brand caters to US customers, try developing geographical campaigns, include different location-based phrases and mention well-known landmarks. Tailor it even more with additional segments, like women between the ages of 25-35 in the Pacific Northwest.
You’ll earn more revenue through personalization. Because if your customers feel understood, they are more likely to purchase from a brand they consider a trusted friend.”
Personalization is definitely advice we can get behind. For more expertise from Shayla, it’s worth it to follow her on Twitter and Linkedin.
#7. Raúl Galera -ReferralCandy
RAÚL GALERA, PARTNER MANAGER FOR REFERRALCANDY & CANDYBAR
If there’s any certified expert on referrals, it’s Raúl Galera. Partner manager for ReferralCandy and their brick-and-mortar solution CandyBar, Raúl knows all about leveraging your most loyal customers for customer acquisition.
Raúl helps brands both online and in-store acquire new customers by facilitating lead generation through the most powerful format: referral.
Going further than just referral online, he helps online brands bring the power of referrals to brick-and-mortar stores with CandyBar.
Creating content centered around acquisition, Raúl is certainly an expert in getting a visitor to become a customer. When we asked Raúl for his biggest tips for Black Friday, he suggested online sellers focus on SEO leading up to the biggest shopping holiday:
“According to the IAB, more than $100B were spent on internet ads in 2018, and about $6B during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend alone. This means that Black Friday can make a huge positive difference in a company’s financials, but also that brands need to be smart about their ad spend because of heavy competition: every other brand will be spending heavily.
As cost of acquisition continues to increase every year, brands need to look at ways to diversify their customer acquisition channels. One lower-cost channel is organic search. Consumers turn to Google to start their shopping; for example, last year on Black Friday, searches for ‘smartphone deals’ spiked to 800%:
By anticipating your potential customer search queries on Google, you can make sure that your brand is in front of people who are already looking for Black Friday deals even weeks in advance. Targeting the right keywords by doing proper keyword research and building backlinks to your Black Friday content you’ll be adding an extra push to your organic traffic during the weekend you need it the most.
Also know that comparison shopping will be happening – customers are going to have several tabs open, shopping for the best deal, maybe even having their friends browsing other sites on different devices. Be sure to give the final polish and write some product descriptions that sell so they don’t hesitate and click buy.”
For more tips on customer acquisition and referrals, Raúl is definitely the expert to follow.
#8. Mollie Woolnough-Rai
MOLLIE WOOLNOUGH-RAI, CONTENT MARKETING EXECUTIVE FOR LOYALTYLION
Mollie Woolnough-Rai, Content Marketing Executive for LoyaltyLion, is an expert when it comes to customer loyalty. It’s not enough to just acquire and churn constantly, businesses are successful when you can transform first time buyers into loyal customers.
Focusing in on content and inbound marketing, Mollie has spent her career educating ecommerce marketers on creating and maintaining customer loyalty through key loyalty rewards programs, reviews, and customer experience.
If anyone is an expert at keeping your customers coming back again and again, it’s definitely Mollie. When we asked her for her best Black Friday prep tips for 2019, she stayed on brand:
“Our biggest Black Friday marketing tip for online sellers is not to forget the value of your existing customers during a time when acquisition is often the primary focus. Use the time before and after the event to retain high-value, loyal customers.
Over Black Friday 2018, merchants using LoyaltyLion saw their customers claim 2.65 times more rewards than on a regular weekend. This shows that customers save up rewards and spend them during Black Friday.
Before the big event, send out reward reminder emails that show them the outstanding points they can redeem against purchases to bag even bigger bargains. This way, they’ll be more likely to head to your store instead of shopping around.
For 64% of retailers, shoppers acquired during Black Friday have a much lower customer lifetime value. This shows that although Black Friday is a great time to acquire new customers, they’re unlikely to return to you in the new year. Discounts and sales only foster loyalty for so long.
After Black Friday, reach back out to your newly acquired customers with loyalty emails that make them feel special. Show the exclusive perks of your loyalty program (such as free shipping or early VIP-access to exclusive sales).
Or, if they haven’t become a member already, show them the instant points they’ll get for making an account with you that they can spend in the future.
You could also brighten up the new year by giving your new loyalty program members double points for spending with you a second time. This will remind them that you’re there and worth shopping with down the road.”
According to Mollie and LoyaltyLion, hone in on making your current customers feel special, and start loyalty programs off early with all the new customers you’ll be acquiring during Black Friday.
#9. Steve Chou- My Wife Quit Her Job
Steve Chou, Founder of My Wife Quit Her Job
Steve Chou comes with an interesting story to the mix. In 2007, after years of drudgery at day jobs, he and his wife Jennifer decided that they wanted to embark on the world of entrepreneurship together and launch their own online store. Within the year, the store had replaced his wife’s 6-figure salary, and they were able to sustain themselves on their ecommerce shop.
Today, Steve also puts his first-hand experience to the benefit of other budding entrepreneurs, offering online classes, a full blog, and an online podcast to help them get started.
His been-there, done-that experience makes him a certifiable expert in launching a successful online store. When we asked for his biggest Black Friday prep tips for online sellers, he kept it short, sweet, and to the point.
“My biggest Black Friday marketing tip is to not skimp on sending emails. Every year, we run a 12 days of Christmas promotion where we email our customer list every day for 12 days and every email makes money. Despite the frequent mailings, our spam rate is 0%.
Because PPC advertising is especially expensive over the holidays, you should focus on the communication channels that are under your direct control. This includes email, Facebook Messenger and push notifications.”
It’s true that PPC and other ads may have a lot of variables during the holiday season, especially with so much competition. It’s also important to note that there’s also a lot of competition with email channels too, so try to make your campaigns stand out. For more practical advice from an expert who’s built a successful six-figure online store, follow Steve Chou on LinkedIn and Twitter.
#10. Mike Glover
MIKE GLOVER, CONTENT EDITOR FOR VEEQO
Educating marketers and online sellers on omnichannel strategies at Veeqo, Mike Glover is an expert on using a variety of channels to create a unique experience for ecommerce. Where online retailers need order management wherever they’re selling their products on their own store, Amazon, eBay, etc, Mike is there to help them do it efficiently.
With Mike’s unique omnichannel experience, he’s an expert on the cutting edge of the ecommerce industry. When asked for his biggest Black Friday prep tips for online retailers, he was full of advice for this shopping holiday.
“I think there are two particularly highly neglected elements of Black Friday and Q4 marketing.
Firstly, it shouldn’t be just about the short term sales. There’s a real opportunity to drive repeat business throughout the New Year and beyond. Research from Retention Science suggests Black Friday customers have a 274% faster churn rate than regular customers, and are 19% less likely to buy from you again.
But is this because they’re not that interested in your products? Or due to a poor experience brought about by dealing with an underprepared company during an incredibly busy period?
So one of your greatest weapons during Black Friday is to make sure the influx of new customers actually enjoy engaging with and buying from your brand. Prepare your business to go the distance operationally – temp staff hired in advance, no website downtimes, technology and systems up to scratch, all orders get shipped on time, returns are handled positively, etc.
And, of course, make sure to store contact details of your Q4 buyers ready to then hit them with further (possibly more profitable) campaigns throughout the rest of the year.
Secondly, there’s a wholesale opportunity to consider as well. Other retailers want quality products to sell – especially when it comes to Black Friday. So consider developing a solid B2B ecommerce strategy specifically for Black Friday to get your foot in the door at a variety of outlets in time for the rest of Q4 and beyond.”
For the latest on omnichannel logistics and order management, Mike is definitely your go-to guy.
#11. Graham Charlton
Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief of SaleCycle
Graham has over 15 years of ecommerce reporting and editing under his belt. With over 9 years working up to Editor in Chief at Econsultancy, he’s been following the ecommerce industry longer than a lot of players have been on the market.
As Editor in Chief of Salecycle today, he helps educate online sellers and digital marketers on the best practices and newest trends in the industry.
When we asked Graham for his biggest Black Friday strategies for 2019, he used his vast experience in the ecommerce industry to comment on consumer trends.
“Give people reasons to return to your site over the Black Friday period. The Black Friday sales period now lasts longer than ever before. People spend time switching between sites before and during the sales period, looking for the best deals and promotions.
Offering daily deals provides customers with reasons to come back day after day over the sales period. Sites can use countdown timers to build urgency, counting down to the end of some deals, and highlighting when others will begin.”
Following Graham is following a certified expert in the ecommerce industry with over a decade of experience following it closely.
When it comes to huge shopping holidays, you need all the preparation tips you can get. These 11 experts have been through the rush, and know the trials and tribulations of dealing with Black Friday as an online seller. Most of the expert contributors agreed on one major aspect: Don’t forget about your current customers.
Being customer-centric is critical all year round, but at a time when many businesses are hyper-focused on acquisition (and let’s be honest, it’s a great opportunity to pull in buyers with a lot of intent to purchase), it’s important to not forget that your loyal customers are more profitable long-term.
In addition to focusing on your already loyal customers, focus on bringing the customers you do acquire over Black Friday/Cyber Monday to that same level of loyalty. Whether you keep them coming back through loyalty programs, a great customer experience, or omnichannel marketing automation, it makes sense to treat these customers as if they’ll be yours for life. Doing so means that Black Friday won’t just be profitable over the holidays, but for many years to come.
What’s your biggest Black Friday prep tip? Anything the experts left out?
Tell us below or tweet us!