Prepare for Black Friday-Cyber Monday with our ultimate BFCM guide for ecommerce brands.
Black Friday is the strongest revenue-generating day of the year for retailers, with $11.3 billion in sales reported in 2022, according to a report by Adobe. For online merchants, the revenue potential is even sweeter, with the online shopping period extended into Cyber Monday.
But, it takes a coordinated effort by customer support, sales, and marketing to encourage a shopper to click “checkout.” Without a solid ecommerce strategy in place, many online retailers will miss out on the Black Friday – Cyber Monday rush.
Whether you’re looking to optimize your existing strategy or starting from scratch, we’ve got you covered. This guide will help you make the most out of your BFMC ecommerce strategy with a clear list of steps (in chronological order) to help you prepare.
What is Black Friday – Cyber Monday?
Black Friday – Cyber Monday — also referred to as BFCM — are two back-to-back sales days that bring in a ton of revenue for both in-store and ecommerce retailers in the US. The Black Friday – Cyber Monday shopping window also kick-starts holiday shopping from Thanksgiving day through the new year.
Why you need to prepare for BFCM now
BFCM isn’t just about one big day of generating revenue. It’s a crucial period for online retailers to capture new customers and convince them to keep shopping through the end of the year and beyond.
In-person BFCM experiences are out and ecommerce is in
Shopper sentiment is shifting away from physical experiences. Online transactions are up by 13% year-over-year, according to research from Criteo. So, you probably won’t see consumers camping out in front of physical stores on Black Friday, but those same shoppers still want to find a great ecommerce deal.
Consumers are eager to spend, despite concerns about inflation
According to research from Nielsen, the desire for a good deal caused 73% of shoppers to spend as much or more in 2022 than they had the year prior.
Brand familiarity matters
Shoppers, Gen Z in particular, are more likely to make a purchase with a brand they’re familiar with. So, ensuring that your marketing tactics are firing well before BFCM will help folks get to know you before the holiday sales season starts can help.
Get proactive rather than reactive
When you make a plan early, you give your business more time to craft a great marketing campaign. Plus, you give your team time to figure out how to manage customer service issues for these high-traffic days.
Considering Black Friday – Cyber Monday is the busiest ecommerce sales event of the year, prepare as early as possible to get a leg-up.
Pre-Black Friday preparation: What to do before the holiday
Preparing for Black Friday — and building a strong ecommerce strategy — goes well beyond ironing out a limited-time deal.
Tactics like updating key policies, building out self-service options, and marketing early will help you be successful.
Update key policies on your website before BFCM
Displaying clear-cut and easy-to-find policies on your website makes a huge difference to a customer’s user experience. It sets the customer up for success and cultivates a positive sentiment with your brand.
To prepare for the best Black Friday-Cyber Monday possible, we recommend updating these key policies (and your FAQ page) with BFCM-related information.
Returns and exchanges
BCFM is a popular time for consumers to buy holiday gifts, which also means you could see an influx in returns or exchanges.
✅ Tip: Consider temporarily expanding your return window for the holiday season and encourage product exchanges over returns to help save revenue and keep customer satisfaction high.
Shipping and fulfillment
Customers expect purchases, especially if they’re buying gifts for upcoming holidays, to arrive on time, and quickly (you’re competing with fast shipping speeds from retail giants like Amazon).
If those gifts don’t arrive in time, you’re going to face a lot of angry customers.
✅ Tip: Use your shipping and fulfillment policy to be crystal clear about when you ship orders, how long orders typically take to arrive, and how customers can look up their order status.
All those Black Friday – Cyber Monday sales equal a ton of packages in transit. You can expect a few to go missing.
When that happens, your customers need to know what happens next.
Make sure you’re clear with your team and customers upfront if you are willing to cover damages (either with refunds or credits). This will help your agents handle the process quickly and consistently. Plus, it gives your customers the peace of mind that accidents won’t put them out.
✅ Tip: Update your FAQ to include these policies so your customers have easy access to the information they need throughout the entire holiday shopping season. This also frees up support teams to help shoppers with elevated needs.
Related reading: FAQ Page Template & Tips (+ Free Shopify FAQ Generator)
Automate self-service options
On BFCM, you can expect your website will have higher-than average traffic. When you put the proper automations in place, you not only empower your customers to take control of their experience, you also provide a lifeboat to help your customer service team handle an influx of requests.
Reduce strain on your customer service team
Turns out, a lot of the customer support inquiries your team receives are repetitive.
“If you force agents to respond to every question manually — no matter how small — you're only limiting the time they can spend on tickets that actually need human attention,” says Gorgias Director of Support, Bri Christiano.
That’s the reason we built a full Automation Add-on suite at Gorgias: It deflects your most repetitive tickets — up to 30% of your overall ticket volume — so you can focus on the tickets that grow your business.
Tech product retailer Nomad leaned into Gorgias’s automations to support customer service interactions. Not only did the online retailer gain a streamlined way to manage customer feedback, they also saw response time to their customers reduced by 70%.
The top automations you can set up now include:
1. Turn on self-service chat menus
If you’re on Gorgias, the Automation Add-on includes Quick Response Flows, Order Management Flows, and Article Recommendation Flows. These different automations can help you deflect up to 30% of tickets, freeing your agents up for higher-value conversations.
For example, you could set up Quick Response Flows to automatically answer common customer questions specific to Black Friday – Cyber Monday like:
- Is there an extended return window for items bought during BFCM?
- What is your return policy for sale items?
- How long will items take to ship?
- Do you offer free shipping?
Or, you could set up Article Recommendations to answer questions with content from your Help Center.
2. Set up Macros and automate them with Rules
Set up Macros (or templated replies, if you’re not on Gorgias) for your most commonly asked questions. Macros are premade responses that dynamically pull in customer information like name or order number.
Automate those Macros with Rules to assign priority levels to requests and surface revenue-generating conversations. Rules help you organize your customer support by automatically tagging, assigning, and modifying tickets based on their contents.
Build a marketing campaign to tap into social commerce
Social commerce is on the rise among consumers worldwide.
Deloitte estimates about one-third of shoppers in the US made a purchase through a social media app in 2021. That number is estimated to be even higher for those who were influenced to buy a product after seeing it on social media.
This means that you don’t necessarily have to sell directly through Instagram, but you can leverage your social channels to generate brand awareness.
The need for social-focused customer support is exactly why online retailer MNML turned to Gorgias. The company found that their shoppers turned more and more to social media for answers to their shopping-related questions.
In the end, the company leveled-up their customer support on social media in order to connect with potential buyers.
Get started with these ideas:
Partner with influencers to generate brand awareness.
Don’t partner with influencers for the sake of it. Rather, think about it like building a relationship with someone who fits your brand ideals who can cross-sell your products to their audience.
To do this, focus less on influencers with millions of followers on Instagram and TikTok. Instead, look for micro-influencers (or a creator with less than 100,000 followers) who have audiences that match your brand personas.
Create content that focuses on your store’s Black Friday deals.
Once you’ve figured out the Black Friday sales your store will offer, you need to make sure people know about them.
Craft content for your social media channels that highlight your deals. Since social media is primarily focused on visuals these days, start by collecting photos, videos, or illustrations of your products. Then, draft copy for captions, think through the best hashtags, and hand over creative briefs to your design team to build any assets you might need.
Put a little money behind your most successful organic social media posts.
The weeks or months leading up to BFCM are prime time to talk about your brand’s Black Friday promotions. Use social media analytics to see which published posts across your channels are performing the best.
Turn those high-performing posts into ads on social media by boosting them with a little money. Even with a small budget, you can use social ads to grab even more eyeballs — and potentially bring more people to your website.
A few other ideas to consider:
- Prompt your customers to sign up for an SMS reminder or push notification on their smartphones or mobile devices.
- Give early sale access to email subscribers, which will incentivize customers to build a deeper relationship with your brand.
- Pin the sale date + deal information at the top of your social media profiles, especially Instagram.
Steps to take during BFCM to maximize revenue
Imagine Black Friday – Cyber Monday is here. Even better, imagine you’ve got a ton of website traffic full of eager browsers. You need a plan to keep those browsers engaged.
One major step you can take to boost your conversion rate and potential revenue is to increase communication touch points and focus on recovering abandoned carts.
Increase customer touch points to keep shoppers engaged
Shoppers interact with your brand at different points along the customer journey. That might be finding out about your BFCM sale on social media, signing up for emails to get early access, and browsing the best deals before adding items to their cart and heading to checkout.
The more you interact with customers along the way and provide proactive resources for them, the more you can keep them engaged.
One way to build in more touch points is to make use of automated chat campaigns that pop up and engage with your customers at these crucial moments. To do this like jewelry retailer Jaxxon does above, consider using a platform like Gorgias.
Chat widgets like the one above are a small addition to any homepage, landing page, or product page, so you never have to worry about it affecting your site speed or functionality, and they let customers know immediately where they can go to for help.
Reduce abandoned carts
You can easily target customers who have opted in to an email list or to receive SMS messages from your brand. Design emails or text messages designed to trigger if a cart is abandoned.
Include copy that builds a sense of urgency to drive customers back to their shopping carts to “buy now” before the deal is over.
There’s even a chance to use re-engagement as a tactic to increase your average order value by upselling once that customer makes it back to your site.
How to retain new customers you get during BFCM
Repeat customers are valuable — like, really valuable.
According to Gorgias research, returning customers make up about 21% of a brand’s customer base, but generate 44% of that same brand’s revenue.
Your brand should re-engage with anyone who shops on your website during the BFCM rush. Those same people could become returning customers who give your shop a revenue boost during the rest of the holiday season.
Offer a discount for next time
The perfect moment to re-engage a customer starts at checkout. When someone makes a purchase through your online store, offer them an immediate discount that goes toward their next purchase.
A simple way to do this is through a confirmation email. You likely already have an email in place that’s designed to trigger as soon as a customer completes a transaction.
That means it should be an easy lift to adapt your email marketing strategy to include a small discount in confirmation emails.
✅ Tip: You can increase the touchpoints to re-engage with an existing customer by building a reminder email that triggers one week after their initial transaction. That way, you not only stay at the top of their inbox, you also stay top of mind.
Invite customers to join a loyalty program
Loyalty programs are a tried-and-true method to build engaged, returning customers.
Shoppers are also very interested in loyalty programs. In a recent survey, Yotopo found that over half of surveyed consumers agreed a loyalty program would encourage them to purchase more from a brand.
If you already offer a loyalty program, make sure new customers know about how to get the VIP experience with your store. Build awareness touchpoints into your loyalty program marketing strategy. You can also prompt buyers to become loyal customers after they make their first purchase.
Continue to improve your customer experience strategy
A successful, positive, and repeatable customer experience doesn’t end after midnight on Cyber Monday. It’s a road rather than a destination.
Consumer habits are always changing and your support teams have to be prepared to handle customer requests.
One way to anticipate your customer’s pain points is to look at customer feedback. Reviews and social media activity is a great place to start. You might also consider putting a more formal customer sentiment strategy in place, with a CSAT survey to collect direct feedback from customers.
This feedback helps your team prioritize what needs to improve, so you’re not left reaching in the dark.
Give your ecommerce strategy a boost this holiday shopping season
The name of the game this Black Friday – Cyber Monday isn’t just to get a ton of online sales, it’s to set up your ecommerce site for a successful holiday shopping season.
Success could look like:
- A reduction in returns or exchanges
- Having the perfect amount of inventory
- Seeing higher-than-average sustained engagement on your social channels
If you want to move the meter, focus on a strong Black Friday marketing strategy that starts now.
Gorgias is designed with ecommerce merchants in mind. Find out how Gorgias’s time-saving automations and convenient platform can help you create successful customer experiences.