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From The Expert’s Desk: Closing Out The Year Strong, Reflections On BFCM, And 2024 Planning By George Sylvain

Discover key strategies from e-commerce expert George Sylvain for a strong year-end close and robust planning for 2024. From analyzing top-performing ads to segmenting new customers, gain actionable advice for sustained profitability.

From the Expert’s Desk: Closing out the year strong, reflections on BFCM, and 2024 planning by George Sylvain

BFCM is behind us, but the last major sales peak – and for most of my brands, the biggest sales day of the year, is still ahead. The “last day to order” to receive shipments in time for Dec 25th. 

For whatever reason I am finding this day gets bigger and bigger each year. Perhaps people are expecting shipping to be faster across the board. 

But since we all know it is coming, it’s good to take advantage of it. If you don’t already have some sort of count-down timer in your emails and website letting people know the last day to order, I highly recommend it. 

I wish I was able to think about the long term more. The more sophisticated and successful companies I work with tend to spend a greater share of time this time of year dedicated to 2024 planning (and beyond…) one can dream.  

But before I forget about all this, I wrote a document to myself this week which summarized the learnings of my top performing ads, imagery, copy, placements and strategies.  Hope that George in 2024 appreciates it.  I want to make it easier for me to work out what went well. 

What I put in my reports… and suggest you do the same.

  • Screenshots of my top performing ads from Black Friday
  • Emails that generated the most revenue (and most revenue per sender). 
  • Anything that I tried that didn’t seem to work. (Sidebar: I still haven’t cracked PR affiliate stuff – and recently I am finding these links less valuable than in the past. Feels like there might be a few too many spam listicles like “38 Gifts for Girlfriends with Cold Hands”)

Note: Image is from a Klaviyo help article and from a real Brand’s data

Some of the advertising and acquisition learnings I have are:

  • Keep it simple on the sales.  The more complicated sales with varying percentages or various free gifts at spend levels did not perform as well for me as just the simple clean offer.  I’ve learned this lesson about 5 times but the temptation always comes back to try to “boost AOV” or something.  Note to self: the way to do this is not via the core BFCM sale mechanic.
  • Go big. I noticed that Black Friday ads which had the deal percentage in the largest font (regardless of photo / video choice) seemed to get the best ROAS. Again, keep it simple!
  • Discounts are making me more profit than I realized, even outside of Black Friday. Next year I will go even bigger on the advertising during discount windows.  It seems like when I increase discount %, and dramatically increase ad spend, I make more profit on those weeks.  So despite the additional costs of scaling ad spend, the additional conversion rate is seemingly more valuable than the cost increase of the additional ad spend. (The easy way to look into this is to create a separate report showing daily net sales, total ad spend, total discounts and then calculate cash profit by day post discounts, post ad spend.)

With all that out of the way, hopefully if you had a decent Q4 and hit your numbers, it’s time to get some more data together for 2024. 

Here are a few things that I am thinking of doing across my brands. 

  • Create segments of newly acquired customers who bought for the discounts during Black Friday.  Try to separate the messages to them from messages to your more engaged repeat customers. They may not respond as well to emails or offers without a discount. The key insight is, recognizing that any additional profit you can make from these customers will do wonders for long term CAC:LTV – and give you confidence to continue to advertise aggressively in 2024.

  • Double check or Update your Meta Audiences. Very frequently, I see brands whose Audience Lists in Facebook are not up to date or not leveraging some kind of dynamic audience integrations with Meta. This is usually resulting in Meta campaigns which are (in theory) designed to be acquiring new customers, still  targeting existing customers nonetheless. I recommend having the following audiences synced to Meta at a minimum just to minimize wasted money. 
    -All customers 
    -Lapsed customers (product launch campaigns, retargeting campaigns)
    -Leads (signed up or active last 90 days with 0 purchases)
    -Add-to-cart past 30 days (focus dynamic catalog retargeting on this)
    -2+ Purchasers (useful to exclude from everywhere except possible retargeting)

  • Send customer surveys and honest requests for feedback are useful this time of year, everyone is in a reflective mood in January.  I suggest asking for thoughts on your products and product quality, website and if there was trouble navigating.  

  • Updating my ad spend scaling models. Hopefully if you were able to scale ad spend for a period leading up to and during Q4 you are able to get some additional data around CAC and aMER as your ad spend scales. This is critical to model what ad spend you expect to be able to use in 2024. Try to get 2 or 3 data points for various levels of  aMER, ad spend & discount percent, for a few different weeks. These can help simulate future earning potential from ad spend.  
  • The goal is to be able to determine “At ad spend levels 1, 2 and 3, I can expect corresponding CAC of A, B, and C)”, (along with how much of a discount you offered) to then make a model for growth in 2024 that you can invest behind. 

There’s plenty more to say – but this is getting long!  As usual feel free to reach out to me or the Segments team if you want additional clarification or help for 2024.

-George Sylvain

Author Bio:
George Sylvain is a San Francisco-based DTC expert and co-founder of Social Print Studio, known for transforming e-commerce strategies into success stories. Visit his insights on AI and Shopify at www.georgesylvain.com.

This originally appeared on Segments and is made available here to cast a wider net of discovery.
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