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Running a business

The final Black Friday e-commerce checklist

You’ve been working for months to prepare for Black Friday, and now it’s almost here. For most business owners, this is the busiest time of the year, which means it’s important that you’re ready to handle the season's rush. Hopefully you’ve already started your holiday marketing plans, but if not, there’s still time to make things even better. That’s why we’ve created a final checklist to help you get the most out of all your hard work.

1. Use automations to save valuable time

With an influx of people visiting your site during the holidays, it’s important to make sure you’ve got the proper automations in place to service them. Automations help to eliminate repetitive tasks like sending welcome emails to new customers or creating follow-up emails to thank them after they’ve purchased items on your site. These kinds of automations are not only impactful, but can potentially save you time during the busy month ahead.

To prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Week, audit your automations to ensure that you’re taking full advantage of the increase in consumer activity. Make sure you’re tagging contacts by their purchase behaviour and location in the consumer journey, so you can strategically send targeted automations to them later on. Automations like abandoned cart emails will proactively remind customers about products they forgot to buy, while automated product review emails may help your business establish trust and credibility.

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2. Use promotions to help attract shoppers and generate demand

Competition is fierce during Black Friday, so it’s important that you’re doing everything you can to make your business stand out. With so many options out there for customers, your promotional strategy will play a big role in getting customers to pick your business over another.

There are a few ways to make sure your Black Friday promotions are running at their full potential. First, review your sign-up forms to make sure you’re collecting all of the relevant info you’ll need to contact customers in the future, and double-check the messaging on any website copy or ads you already have scheduled to run for holiday sales.

If you identify gaps in your strategy, don’t worry, it’s still not too late to fill them. Consider a day of promotion on Black Friday, or maybe a special discount for your repeat, VIP customers. Special offers may create urgency and push your customers into clinching that sale.

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3. Double-check your email outreach strategy

While many customers will be actively searching for businesses to shop with during Black Friday, your outreach strategy can be vital to capturing interest for your holiday sales success. Taking a more proactive approach with your customers may keep your business top of mind, potentially giving you an edge over the competition.

Use Mailchimp’s calendar view to see how all of your holiday marketing will roll out over the month, and then identify any areas for improvement. For example, sending a simple “good luck Melbourne Cup” email can be an organic way to reach out to your customers and increase awareness. Emails that forecast product returns and customer service outreach during the holidays can also show customers that you care about their experience and prioritise providing quality service. And don’t forget to set up extra emails during Cyber Week to incentivise shoppers to choose you over the competition.

While holiday emails are a way to simply engage your customers, your overall goal is to drive sales for your business. So look through your campaign and make sure its theme, messaging, and CTAs also inspire them to take action on your site.

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4. Promote beyond Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday might be the most notable shopping days of the calendar year, but that doesn’t mean your holiday marketing strategy has to stop when they’re over. There’s great potential for sales throughout the entire holiday season.

When it comes to your holiday sales promotions, you determine the rules. Have you considered teasing promotions in advance, or offering early access to your most loyal customers? It might also make sense to continue your promotion after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, depending on your goals. Several big box retailers have extended Black Friday sales through the week or entire month to reduce the focus on just Black Friday. If the possibility of an increase in sales makes up for the loss in margin for a discounted product, maybe that strategy could work for you, too.

5. Make sure your emails are getting read

Since you’ll be sending out more emails during peak shopping season, it’s important that your communications are in order. Make sure you use all the tools at your disposal to help enhance your content so it’s more likely to be opened, read, and can lead to as many conversions as possible.

Our Subject Line Helper can help you craft compelling subject lines for your email campaigns, and our Send Time Optimisation tool will help ensure that your emails are being sent to customers at the perfect time. And if you have a Standard or Premium plan, then check out our Content Optimiser, a new tool released this year. It compares your email content to best practices and offers suggestions in real time to improve your links, CTAs, copy, and visuals.

Use Content Optimiser

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6. Ensure that your site is working as hard as it can

You’ve invested a lot of time and energy into building a dynamic website, so it’s only right to make sure that your site is working its hardest for you. It’s important to optimise your website to convert as many customers as possible during such a pivotal time, which is why it helps to review your website’s design and functionality.

When reviewing the site layout, for example, you should make sure that trust signals like product reviews are prominently displayed on your product pages. Reviews give new customers confidence in your products and help facilitate purchases -which may increase their likelihood to buy. Sign-up forms should also be easy to find, as they capture customer contacts and create a database for future communication. With regards to service and if your platform allows, consider integrating automated customer service platforms, such as LiveChat or Zendesk, which may help you assist shoppers during the busy holiday season. All these little steps together may add up to big results for your business.

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7. Get the most out of your homepage

Your homepage is likely the most viewed page on your website, so it should be formatted for success during the holidays.

Don’t worry about scaring off customers with heavy-handed promotions on your homepage. During Black Friday and Cyber Week most customers expect to see a ton of them, so it’s OK to feature any sales you're running. It's also a good idea to add a promotional message announcing any new products customers might actively search for that week.

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8. Audit your inventory

The last thing you want to do during a busy shopping season is run out of products. That’s why it helps to do an inventory audit to make sure you’re fully stocked for the holiday rush.

Run through all of the products listed on your site and check to see if you’ve got them in your inventory. If you're an appointment-based business owner, then check your calendars to make sure you’ve got the required availability for future customers. Then, make a plan if an item sells out. Consider offering a gift card in its place, so customers can convert while they're still ready to purchase. And last, tag them to set up an automated follow-up email once the item is back in stock.

9. Review your shipping and return policies

In such a competitive marketplace, your company’s shipping and return policies can have a huge impact on sales during the holidays. When you’re up against other businesses that may be selling similar products at comparable price points, removing these costs may be a major differentiator.

Having a flexible shipping and return policy shows customers that you're confident about the quality of your products. The policy can also be a major convenience during a time when customers are making a number of purchases and returns. If free shipping for every product seems like an expensive endeavour, consider doing it only for bulk orders to make the option more affordable.

10. Test drive your shopping experience

Even if you feel like your website is in prime condition for the holiday rush, it doesn’t hurt to double-check. Test drive your site’s shopping experience to make sure it’s fully optimised to service customers.

Start from your homepage and navigate the customer’s shopping experience from start to finish. Are the CTAs clear and actionable? Is there a simple, mobile-friendly checkout that provides multiple ways for customers to pay? Do on-site purchases trigger confirmation and follow-up emails that nurture relationships with customers? Taking a look and asking yourself these questions can help you find areas that need improvement on your website.

As an e-commerce business owner, there are many parts of your business to keep in mind when preparing for the holiday sales rush. During this peak season, you’ll want to ensure that your website, shop, inventory, and marketing strategy are operating in sync for the best results.

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