Is your brand BFCM ready?

With so much uncertainty in the world over the last couple of months and years, it’s become increasingly difficult to forecast or plan more than a few weeks ahead, but what we can predict is that this upcoming holiday season will be bigger than ever before. For most ecommerce brands, the period between Black Friday and Christmas is the busiest, attributing the majority of the year’s revenue, but it’s also the most competitive with more and more brands fighting to gain cut-through.

With huge changes this year impacting advertising tracking and costs (thanks Apple iOS14), ensuring your business has a strong plan in place is essential for success, and you need to start putting these plans in place now.

  1. Setting goals
    Understanding what your goals are for the holiday season should be the first thing you consider:
  • Is it your goal to achieve a certain amount of revenue?
  • Do you want to increase your audience size?
  • Do you have stock you need to clear?
  • Do you want to increase your AOV?
  • Are you trying to re-engage past customers?

Once you’ve clearly identified what it is you’re trying to achieve, you can begin to work backwards and determine what you need to do in order to achieve these.

  • What conversion rates can you expect from each channel?
  • How large and engaged are your owned audiences (email database)?
  • How much traffic do you need to drive from paid ads?
  • How much budget needs to be allocated to Prospecting vs. Retargeting?

  1. Choosing your promotional offer
    You can do all the planning and goal setting in the world, but your offer also needs to be realistic and aligned with business expectations. With your customer’s inboxes and social feeds overflowing with promotional offers and discounts, is a 15% off site-wide sale going to have any cut-through? In saying that, we’ve seen numerous brands trying to compete by slashing prices by up to 80%, which while might generate more transactions, is not going to be very effective in boosting profit margins.

Get creative with your offer - if you want to increase your AOV, consider running higher discounts over a spend threshold, or discounting specific product bundles.

  1. Ramp up paid media now with prospecting and lead generation

Customers who are already familiar with your brand are, generally speaking, going to be the most receptive, and thus cost-efficient, audience to target for your BFCM campaign (or any promotion for that matter), so it makes perfect sense that you should be implementing tactics that allow you to maximise your potential audience pool.

How? Well firstly, we’d recommend ramping up Prospecting budgets across your paid media campaigns. We know it takes time to build up brand affinity and preference, so don’t simply drive customers to your site the week before BFCM kicks off and consider them a ‘warm’ audience - start these tactics now so when the time comes, these consumers are primed for effective Retargeting.

If you know us, you know we bang on about implementing an omni-channel approach, and would never recommend relying solely on one channel. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, Karen! Thanks to Apple’s updated privacy measures, and the limitations of the Instagram organic algorithm, this piece of advice has never been more valuable. Your owned channels (i.e. email) are the best way to maintain targeted, and personalised communications with your customers, delivering strong conversion rates and revenue. Invest in growing your ‘owned’ databases by running lead generation ads in FB, and encouraging your social media followers to opt-in. Once opted-in, you will continue to be able to use custom audiences built of those that have actively opted in to be marketed to by your brand.

Excitingly, there’s another, more targeted way to reach your owned audiences in time for this holiday season, and that’s through SMS. Klaviyo, our favourite email marketing platform, has just released SMS for Australian merchants allowing you to now collect and send text messages to your customers, increasing the cut-through you’re able to get for big campaign messages like BFCM. SMS has already proven to be an extremely effective revenue-driver, and we’d highly recommend implementing it into your overall marketing strategy. Start encouraging your current email subscribers to sign up before the promotion, so they ‘don’t miss out!’. As Klaviyo partners, we’re here to help if you need a hand.

  1. Tease the promotion and promote early access for VIPs

As BFCM gets closer it’s time to start getting your audience excited and ready for your promotion. For those that are still yet to subscribe, you can use this as an opportunity to entice them by offering early access to the sale for newsletter subscribers. Customers often see this as the opportunity to prevent the possibility that they’d miss out on products they’re interested in, and it allows you to strengthen your relationship with shoppers post-sale.

For those that are already subscribed, sending email campaigns sharing a countdown to the sale helps to build anticipation, and if you’re able to, we’d highly recommend encouraging your customers to start browsing your store, adding to cart, or saving to wishlist in preparation for when the sale begins so all they have to do is hit checkout.

  1. Optimise your abandoned carts

According to Klaviyo, approximately 74% of carts were abandoned last BFCM, which put simply, is a lot of revenue left on the table. You should already have abandoned cart email automations set up (if you don’t, what are you doing?!), but for over the promotional period we’d recommend optimising these emails with specific BFCM messaging, offer details, and strong CTAs to ensure that you’re closing the deal on as many of these carts as possible. These customers have after all already expressed a strong interest in your offering. Just don’t forget to switch back to your original flow towards the end of the sale to avoid any confusion and an influx of customer service queries.

  1. Harness your tech stack

There are so many great tools available for e-commerce merchants to optimise the customer experience and journey year round, from reviews and customer service, to loyalty programs. How often do we see brands falling into the trap of ‘plug and play’ or ‘set and forget’, simply because these types of tools help to automate processes? Too often. Whenever your customer journey or behaviour shifts, so should the tactics you use across your tech stack.

Already dreading the influx of customer queries over BFCM? Our favourite customer service platform, Gorgias, is here to save the day. Centralise all your customer service channels in one place - socials, emails, chat, phone calls, everything - along with robust automations whereby you can automatically tag, assign, and even respond to queries based on keywords or message intent (which their system is able to identify). Put together your list of common promotion FAQs (e.g. “what’s included in the sale?”, “what’s your return policy for sale items?”, “my discount code isn’t working”, etc.) and have responses ready to go, freeing up your time to deal with more urgent tasks over the sale.

Retention should be a primary for any and all e-commerce businesses, being much more cost-efficient than acquiring new customers. Last year, 52% of shoppers said they would prioritise shopping with brands where they have accrued points and rewards during BFCM, so implementing a loyalty program, like Loyalty Lion, can make an enormous difference in the relationship you develop with your returning customers. Your loyalty program should be about making customers feel special, and while these promotional periods are highly motivated by dollar-savings, you don’t have to sacrifice your bottom line to keep your customers engaged; encourage higher AOV with the opportunity to unlock additional discounts or gifts over specific spend thresholds specifically for loyalty members, or earning more points per $1 spent over the weekend.

With an anticipated increase of online orders comes the opportunity for capturing high volumes of valuable customer feedback. Review platforms, like our friends at Okendo, allow brands to automatically send out review requests after a purchase that can be published on site to help future potential shoppers. To combat typical holiday shipping delays and review requests going out to customers before their items arrive, we’d recommend adding a buffer to the review request send timeline. Okendo also allows you to capture product or customer attributes, so why not take advantage of this functionality to see who purchased items as a gift or for themselves, enabling you to effectively segment these people for future promotions.

  1. Prepare post-promotion flows to engage first time purchasers

Seeing as you’ve invested so much in introducing new people to your brand prior to the promotion, it would be a waste to forget about them once the promotion has concluded. You should already have email automations set up for post-purchase engagement (if you don’t, what are you doing?!), and we’d recommend extending this tactic to segment those that purchased from your brand for the first time over your BFCM promotion. Their interaction with your brand is quite unique, and we want to ensure that it wasn’t a once-off occurrence. Ideally, we want these customers to become repeat purchasers (and not just over sales periods), so use the data you have available on these audiences to determine a strategy and communications that is likely to encourage a strong relationship with your brand. While there will always be consumers that are cost-sensitive, these should not be your target audience. Many customers use promotions as their chance to trial a product they’ve had their eye on, so use this opportunity to wow them and convince them to stick around.

One useful tip: delay your post-purchase emails over BFCM by a few days as they’re likely receiving numerous order-related emails, too.

Like the saying goes, there’s no time like the present. Planning and preparation are key to a strong execution and we hope following this guide will help you do exactly that. Let’s make sure you maximise your opportunities and end 2021 with your best foot forward. 

If you still need assistance getting your store or think your marketing strategy needs strengthening for BFCM, feel free to get in touch with us today. 


by lana

October 4, 2021

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