The ultimate BFCM guide to make Black Friday and Cyber Monday work for you.
A thorough manual for developing effective BFCM campaigns and using the momentum of those efforts to develop a successful Q4 plan.
Drive upto 40% revenue with smart Email & SMS
This BFCM -Black Friday and Cyber Monday guide has the ultimate last-minute checklist to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible. For your BFCM campaign, make schedules that cover everything and can have an effect well into the next quarter. Use our 14-day BFCM calendar with clear instructions on what to do and when to do it. Think about expanding your omnichannel strategy to include direct mail, push notifications, and other channels. Create five distinct audience segments that can help your BFCM campaign succeed. Also take a look at how to drive sales via emails for your brand, using templates like early bird and countdown emails. Keep your audience interested in their inbox by adjusting collection pop-ups and turning on SMS review request functionality. From the online retail world, we’ve got tips on how to have the most successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale ever. Also, take a look at how to keep your business going well after BFCM. Finally, go over the most advanced automation tools you can use to boost your BFCM campaign.
Chapter 1: The Last-Minute BFCM Checklist
As Black Friday and Cyber Monday approaches, we're as excited as you about the largest sale season of the year. Surely by this point, you have:
- Built your mailing list
- Prepared your offers and discounts
- Shot and edited your product photos
- Established your shipping schedule
- Segmented your customers
To ensure everything goes as planned with no surprises, let's run down the final errands one more time (ideally set these in place 1-2 weeks before your campaign launch).
- Compile your VIP guest list for BFCM early access
- Set up your limited-time pre-Black-Friday deals (ideally 1-2 weeks before) to your target group all at once
- Set up new BFCM deals for each day of Black Friday week
- Schedule a pre-announcement email to your entire list one day before you begin your BFCM Week offers
- Prepare your daily email cadence for the entire campaign
- Set urgency emails at least two days before the close of BFCM Week
- Revise your must-have BFCM automation flows:
- Post-purchase flow
- New customer acquisition
- Cart recovery
- New customer nurture
- Browse recovery
Chapter 2: BFCM Campaign Calendars
Now that you’ve all the checks in place, let’s look at expanding your existing marketing strategy. Planning a winning BFCM campaign allows a brand to achieve extraordinary value. Comprehensive campaigns have a long-term impact that lasts well into the next quarter (if not the next year). Consider employing one of the following campaign types for the upcoming Cyber Week.
The Minimalist Campaign
It may not seem like much, but if a direct-to-consumer (DTC) business sends out three email newsletters in addition to its regular sending cadence over the course of two weeks, it can make ripples. If you don't have much time yet and want to see results from BFCM, this timetable is for you. It's also a fantastic strategy if you want to speak to your audience without sounding pushy and keep your mailing calendar relatively undisturbed. This strategy works really well in case your current calendar has already seen success and does not require heavy changes.
Beginning on Monday before Black Friday, start advertising your deals. Something "major" is going down on Friday, so prepare a statement to that effect. Starting next Monday, we advise making the sale prices public and allowing "early" access to BFCM discounts. Nonetheless, you have some leeway with this particular day. Companies often receive a great reaction on Black Friday and Cyber Monday from advertising that began on Sunday or Tuesday.
The Fully Loaded Campaign
This high-traffic calendar is ideal for Shopify businesses that:
- Send out emails frequently to their subscriber list
- Have stable open and click rates
To put it bluntly, yes, it's aggressive and seems excessive. However, know that this volume of activity is typical for a majority of businesses over this two-week period. The specific dates between Black Friday and Cyber Monday are flexible but we recommend sticking closely to the periods that are highlighted. As a pro tip, you shouldn't feel like you need to start a brand new email for each message you send. Make minimal adjustments and reuse the information.
The Cyber Week Campaign
This BFCM calendar includes Black Friday but the primary purpose is to honor Cyber Week. Potential customers who are more "last minute" in their purchasing decisions may find this attractive. When applied throughout a competitive season, this tactic is also excellent for maintaining continuity and visibility.
To keep things fresh and to create a sense of urgency, we suggest running a new deal every day. Make the terms of the offer explicit, and include a final date.
Specify the next steps that subscribers can anticipate. In this regard, subject lines can be a useful aid. Take the "Day 1," "Day 2," etc. strategy as an example; it tells subscribers to pay attention to their emails throughout the BFCM week.
But there is a critical qualification to this BFCM strategy. Keep track of the percentage of subscribers who opt-out. You should reduce your efforts if they're at or above 0.5% for three consecutive campaigns.
The Gray November Campaign
The concept behind this BFCM calendar is to allow customers to shop your deals early. You'll kick things off towards the start of November and keep going all the way through Cyber Monday. In ecommerce, this strategy is sometimes known as Gray November.
Keep readers interested in your email newsletters by including a wide range of content types. Promote something new every week. Alternatively, you may run the same ad campaign but highlight other products.
BFCM Campaign Goals: What You Should Aim For
- On Thanksgiving Thursday & Black Friday:
Aim for a large percentage discount with 3x AOV of a normal day.
- Get rid of the need for promo codes and use only automatic price reductions.
Eg.: Flat 30% off on orders above $150 + Free Shipping.
- When you want to maximize your click-through rate, create a landing page.
Eg.: Create a Sale collection page with a catchy offer for the collection.
- Make it simple to find the deal via online, email, social media, and other channels.
Eg.: Set up communications (Emails, messages and ads) leading directly to the sale page. Also consider changing the links on primary CTA’s of the brand’s social handles if a sizeable chunk of audience comes via social discovery.
- On Cyber Monday (and for all of Cyber Week):
A great tiered promotional sale has never failed. If the AOV is $40, you can run "Get 10% off $49+ Get 20% off $99+ Get 30% off $199+."
- On Giving Tuesday:
Choose a charity to receive the contributions to, or give your customers the option to do so. Either a fixed dollar sum or a percentage of the total order value is acceptable.
Chapter 3: Best day and time for BFCM Campaign
One week before BFCM
The week leading up to BFCM is vital for focusing on your most dedicated customers. You may reward your most loyal customers and encourage them to spend more by giving them early access to limited-time offers, free expedited shipping, or additional discounts.
The BFCM week
Now is the moment to announce your amazing Black Friday and Thanksgiving sales to all of your email and SMS subscribers. Use terms like "deal ends soon," "limited time only," and "last chance," or start a countdown, to make people feel like they're missing out.
Best time to send email campaign
Time is of the essence, therefore don't overlook its significance. You may see a drastic drop in opens if you send an email at the wrong time. It's recommended to send emails around these times to get the most eyeballs
- 10 a.m.
- 8 p.m. to midnight
- 2 p.m.
- 6 a.m.
Best time to post social media updates
We did some digging, and here are the times we discovered to be most effective for scheduling social media posts:
- Facebook: Mon-Wed at 12 p.m.
- Twitter: Mon-Wed at 12 p.m. or 1 p.m.
- Instagram: Tue, Thu, Fri at 12 p.m.
- LinkedIn: Mon and Wed at 7:45 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 12:45 p.m., and 5:45 p.m.
Though we hope you'll find these suggestions helpful, please be aware that not everything may go as planned. You have the most intimate understanding of your customers. If you've done your homework, you know that people in your niche do things like wake up at 5 a.m. to hit the gym or stay up all night to play video games. Our suggested times are just that; suggestions; be flexible and try what works best for you.
Chapter 4: Omnichannel expansion
We’re sure that you’ve already adopted the omnichannel approach for your DTC business. Being present and actively advertising on website, email, social media, google search, google shopping, Facebook messenger, and third-party campaigns.
However, there are three lateral channels you must consider:
1. Direct mail
Sending promotional materials directly to potential customers via the United States Postal Service or another delivery service could be a huge potential hit.
Here are six gains you may anticipate from bolstering your direct mail campaigns if they are part of your DTC marketing plan.
- It has the highest ROI and plays well with your digital channels.
- Customers don't always open emails, but they read direct mail
- Direct mail response rates are higher than email
- Save money with address verification
- It is more affordable
- Direct mail is powered by data
Let's look at some of the most loved DTC brands that are doing direct mail right!
a) Warby Parker
This is a fantastic illustration of how to use your brand for social good. Warby Parker promises to give back to the community with every purchase you make.
b) Blue Apron
This is where Blue Apron's generous offer of two free dinners really makes it easy to get on board. Then they show you exactly how simple they make your meal preparation. All of their writing is powerful and persuasive.
On your dog's birthday, Barkbox sends a stuffed postcard. This and everything else they send is for your dog and not for you. In a time when everyone treats their dog like a child, this kind of extra effort goes a long way in creating brand recall.
2. Push notifications
They're ideal for direct-to-consumer companies looking to engage with their target market and expand the dialogue surrounding their product or service.
Here are some ways push notifications win out over other communication channels:
- Boost customer retention rates through more communication.
- Make the brand ever-present in the customer’s thoughts and visual real estate.
- Spread information about deals, events and sales immediately.
- Automate engagement with the audience.
Push notifications have the potential to be an effective brand-building tool when used strategically. Let's look at how some of the largest names in e-commerce have implemented push notifications.
H&M has mastered the art of upselling by using tailored notifications to win both customers' affection and their wallets. The company sends emails recommending complementary products based on customers' past purchases.
Push notifications are one of Sephora's specialties, and they're used to remind customers of things they've viewed but not yet bought. The brand also alerts customers to sales and promotions happening locally.
3. Physical branding in areas with heavy footfall
Think about stall branding with the goal of expanding product reach and strengthening customer relationships. It's a smart move to use displays in order to attract customers' attention.
Here’s an example of creative product placement from Old Spice. They were able to highlight the product's advantages while also providing customers with an enjoyable experience.
Chapter 5: Segmenting for success
While you have your BFCM calendar ad messages in place, segment your audience efficiently to drive home a more personalized touch and cement the success of your BFCM campaign. While we are sure that you would have your audience sorted into relevant sets, here are a few key segments you mustn’t miss out on:
1. Last year’s buyers
Don't assume shoppers who haven't bought from you since last year's BFCM won't this year. Since they are likely buying gifts for the same folks this year, they may check your Black Friday and Cyber Monday bargains again.
Email these customers ahead of time with personalized recommendations based on their 2021 purchases and information about your 2022 promotions and deals. Check what people bought last year and how they browsed your online store.
Expert advice - Segment your customers based on their purchase dates around last year’s BFCM to focus on the shoppers who took advantage of your 2021 discounts.
2. Buyers with higher than average AOV
Filter your customer list based on their spending habits to find your biggest spenders. Customers who have spent more than the store's typical customer lifetime value are considered high spenders.
Expert advice - After you've determined who your biggest spenders are, you can tailor your products and messaging to keep them coming back for more. Consider
- Exclusive items
- Get your hands on brand-new items before everyone else
- Shipping Incentives
- Gifts at no cost (gift wrap, custom packaging, etc)
- Added value/mystery gifts
- Incentives and loyalty programs
3. Loyalty subscribers
While you should always go above and beyond for your loyalty subscribers, the holiday season is the perfect time to really shine. That will not only keep them loyal customers but will also increase repeat purchases. Consider offering exclusive discounts, promo codes, and product suggestions to this group as you prepare for BFCM. This demonstrates to them that you care about maintaining a positive connection, and it makes them more likely to choose you over the competition.
Expert advice: Keep in mind that these buyers are already familiar with your most popular items; use this as an opportunity to present them with something new, perhaps something more tailored to their tastes based on their past purchases.
4. VIP customers who are not in Loyalty programs
There will always be customers that are great for business but aren't enrolled in the loyalty program. It is possible to identify your most profitable clients by tracking a few key metrics. You can determine the most lucrative customer group for your ecommerce business by focusing on those who have a high average order value, high lifetime value, and a high frequency of purchases.
Expert advice: With Customer Lifetime Value reporting, you can drill down into these customer segments and personalize email marketing, showing your VIPs that you appreciate them.
5. Newsletter audience who have viewed a sale page
Before Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales start, engage bargain hunters. This includes an email newsletter that viewed a sales page. The days are made for these consumers. Every DTC brand has customers that only buy during sales, discounts, promotions (like free shipping), or other savings opportunities. If you can engage with this demographic around this time of year and provide your best prices, they will buy from you rather than your competition.
Expert advice: Make a list of your customers who are always on the lookout for a good deal, and send them a special campaign containing all of your BFCM deals & offers.
6. Website visitors who haven’t purchased yet
Reaching customers who have visited your online store but have not purchased is another important category. The largest online shopping days of the season are the best opportunity to contact and remind them about your offerings. Since this segment of potential buyers has no purchasing history, utilize your email marketing campaign to expose them to your best-selling products and make recommendations based on their demographics and browsing habits.
Expert advice: Segment customers who have registered for an account on your website but haven't yet made a transaction. Promoting special discounts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday to this audience can increase sales and win you some new, dedicated buyers.
Chapter 6: Sales-boosting emails
1. Thanksgiving referral email
Thanksgiving email campaigns can easily be forgotten with the approaching BFCM rush in the inbox. The purpose of sending Thanksgiving referral emails is to deliver value to customers in exchange for the ability to advertise your brand. To top it off, your audience tends to be more generous in the holiday spirit and would have time to pass on a good recommendation to a friend.
Here is an example of a Thanksgiving referral email that you can use:
2. Early bird
According to a report by McKinsey from 2021, about half of the BFCM customers had already begun their holiday shopping well before the event.
People shopping for high-priced items, like a new stove or some fine jewelry, are likely to start looking well in advance of the actual purchase. We recommend sending at least two newsletters per week just to build anticipation for what’s to come during the event.
The following is an email from "A Kids Company About." This is an excellent example of early bird marketing. Instead of a price reduction, they have a "buy two, get one free" promotion.
3. Announce a “Small Business Saturday” deal
The purpose of this holiday is to promote small business ownership and retail spending in the days following Thanksgiving. Inform your customers of the benefits that supporting local businesses can bring to the area. To get the word out about your small business on Small Business Saturday, you can provide a discount or publish exclusive content. Think about teaming up with other local stores to boost visibility. In an email, inform your subscribers of local retailers they can support on Small Business Saturday.
We recommend sending three emails to remind customers about your store. These emails are a terrific approach to remind people and motivate them to take action in favor of your business during this hectic time of year:
Email 1: Quickly email the announcement. Inform them that Small Business Saturday is approaching and give them reasons to support local establishments. Spell out the terms of your offer.
Email 2: An email reminder one week in advance is recommended. You don't want your potential customers to miss out on your offer because they forgot about the deadline.
Email 3: Make sure they don't forget about you by sending a reminder email a day or two before Small Business Saturday.
4. Cyber Monday countdown email
You can instill a sense of urgency in customers by including a countdown timer alongside a limited-time offer. Check out how Dr. Martens, a shoe store, uses timers for maximum effect in the Cyber Week email.
Key takeaway: The majority of Cyber Monday sales are time-bound. Make sure your copy, headers, and countdown timers reflect this.
5. Boxing day clearance sale email
The week surrounding Boxing Day is typically used to clear out inventory before the new season begins. This means that you shouldn't plan and start scheduling out your emails too far in advance, but that you should still have your BFCM strategy ready.
Take a peek at this clearance sale email from Topshop for inspiration.
Subject line: THE BOXING DAY SALE HAS STARTED!
Without giving too much away, the subject line conveys exactly what the email is about. When a subscriber reads the email, they know exactly what they're getting and how much they're going to save without having to do any more digging. The design is sleek and the subscriber's attention is focused on the central point because Topshop isn't trying to reveal too many details or get too specific.
TopShop's bottom copy is inventive despite its sleek style. If the sale wasn't enough, creative writing may seal the deal. They can persuade customers by asking if they got everything on their wishlist.
6. Shipping deadline email to get items by Christmas
Online retailers must adhere to strict holiday delivery deadlines if they want to stay in business over the holiday season. The ideal approach to notify customers of these deadlines is through an email campaign, in addition to making them visible on the homepage, product pages, and during the checkout process.
Check out this shipping deadline email from Hickory Farms with the subject line: FINAL HOURS: Savings on gifts and save $10 on Next Day Shipping!
This is a good example of a shipping deadline reminder since it includes all the necessary components, such as a clear deadline with timezone (3 pm EST), a header CTA ("Get Gifts in Time for Christmas"), and a prominent CTA button.
7. NYE discount email
Sending a Happy New Year email with special discounts and promotions is a great way to close out the year and attract new customers for the coming year.
Make sure to personalize it, add an interesting image or a gif, and include a call to action (CTA) they can't refuse. Perhaps, you’d like to recommend items that the user has thumbed through earlier?
Here’s a fantastic deal from Cultures for Health that can be repeated by anyone, at any time of year. If you have a deal to advertise and want to make it interesting, like "23% off to kick off 2023!", go ahead and give it a shot.
The header is clear and welcoming, presenting the offer and CTA immediately. In the starting paragraph where they tell you this offer is for everything, there's an expiration date to encourage action. They even include a short caution saying nothing more is needed to redeem the deal and that it is limited-time only. The pictures are great, too, making it easy to imagine oneself doing what they're providing and setting a New Year's goal with another CTA.
Chapter 7: SMS essentials
Looking to give your audience a reason to keep visiting their inbox? Here’s a list of the 10 most important tasks to complete before BFCM:
1. Refresh your lists and segments
During a time when brands all over the country will be blasting customers with text messages, it's important to consider your target and tailor your messages accordingly.
Pro tip: Offer early access to VIP customers and special incentives to those who haven’t ever purchased.
2. Update your welcome flow
If you want to build your list and wow potential new subscribers, BFCM is the time to do it. Make sure the initial impression they have of your brand is a strong one by tailoring your welcome series to the holiday season.
Your new subscribers will be confused and more likely to churn if your welcome series doesn't match your popup, especially on the opt-in incentive.
Pro tip: Even if you don't completely revamp this process, make sure your deals are as valuable as your sitewide promos.
3. Set up an ‘Abandoned Checkout’ flow
You probably know that 7 out of every 10 online shoppers never finish the transaction. But what if we told you there was a way to get back at least 33 percent of those missed sales chances? Brands can re-engage high-intent shoppers by sending them a timely and tailored "abandoned cart" SMS message.
Pro tip: Set up a follow-up email or text message to be sent to shoppers whose carts have been abandoned after 15, 30, or 60 minutes. Remember to add a small perk to help close the deal.
4. Set up a “Browse Abandonment” flow
Almost 85% of customers who visit an online store do not make a purchase. You can recover these sessions by implementing a browse abandonment flow, which will track the actions of your SMS subscribers while they visit your store.
Pro tip: Capture shopper info with exit intent pop-ups. Offer the customer an incentive on the product they viewed or showcase similar items in the product category.
5. Activate the Winback flow
It's true that acquiring customers costs more than keeping the ones you already have and there are only a few days left until the BFCM frenzy, so reach out to customers who haven't bought from you in a while.
Pro tip: Activate the winback flow so that inactive customers can be targeted with timely and specific communications. Engage them with time-sensitive messages
6. Tweak your collection popups
You may be offering site-wide discounts and promotions that are as good as, or perhaps better than, your standard SMS opt-in incentive. Therefore, if you want to keep collecting subscribers during this high-traffic period, you will likely need to adjust your collection popups (and any other opt-in points) to offer a greater or different sign-up incentive.
Pro tip: If you want those who have seen (and ignored) your standard popup to take notice of your new offer, you should probably alter the copy and the incentive itself.
7. Set up transactional messaging
One of the simplest ways that leading brands use SMS to create exceptional customer experiences is by giving customers the opportunity to receive transactional (order-related) messages after a purchase has been completed.
Pro tip: The more accustomed your customers become to receiving transactional texts from you, the more likely they are to join your full-fledged SMS marketing program down the road.
8. Set up key post-purchase automation
The SMS you send a subscriber after they make a purchase can be as influential as the ones you send them before they make a purchase. It is crucial to have these automations ready to go well in advance of Cyber Week, as you will ideally be converting a large number of buyers during BFCM.
- Cross-Sell: Based on the customer's previous purchase, suggest a similar, related, or complementary product.
- Upsell: Based on the customer's recent purchase, suggest a similar but more expensive product. It could also be a membership or subscription program.
- Post-Purchase UGC: Request that buyers send you a picture or video of themselves using your product via text message. Also, ask them to mention you in a social media post.
9. Enable SMS review requests
It's a good idea to solicit feedback from recent buyers by having them post a review of the product or products they bought online. Make it clear that you'd appreciate hearing feedback on their BFCM purchases, especially if they were made with someone else in mind (as is common). (Such feedback is invaluable to potential present givers.)
10. Focus on loyalty
Educate new customers on your VIP or loyalty programs and the steps they need to follow to begin enjoying the benefits.
Chapter 8: BFCM Tips from Experts
Chapter 9: Post Cyber Week
Keep in mind that just because the holiday shopping season is over, your work is not done. The long-term health of your business depends on your implementation of post-BCFM strategies.
1. Maintain interest among new members of the loyalty program
Since they will continue to bring in business long after the BFCM has ended, the members of your loyalty program need to be recognized and rewarded with special offers and discounts.
It’s important to note that customers acquired on Black Friday and Cyber Monday tend to have a lower lifetime value (LTV). In order to encourage repeat business and increased revenue, how do you intend to ensure that your DTC brand remains on top of buyers’ minds?
Include feedback requests in your thank-you emails and any surveys you send after a transaction. Immediately respond to their suggestions. Get them to follow your social media accounts so you can increase interaction. Get them involved in referral schemes where they can recommend your brand to their contacts. Offer incentives like gift cards, promo codes, and free trials to boost participation.
The online beauty products store Feel Unique, for example, sent a discount email to its loyal customers for recommending its products to friends and family.
2. Leverage User Generated Content (UGC)
Make your brand more genuine, trustworthy, and approachable by using user-generated content (UGC) like images and videos in your marketing efforts. Additionally, that does not mean focusing only on the influential people.
Exhibit positive feedback and testimonies from actual buyers. Apply the ratings and comments to all of your product listings. Make it easy for customers to leave feedback, and perhaps even offer some sort of incentive. Given that 95% of customers will be skeptical if all evaluations are favorable, even negative user-generated content might be beneficial.
If you’re looking for a brand example that encourages UGC on their Instagram feed through a designated hashtag, then check out the outdoor brand clothing and campaign brand Rei.
Pro tip: When their BFCM purchases come in nice packaging, 40% of shoppers post pictures of them. Something you can think about to make your UGC content more interesting.
3. Create channel-specific content
Reach the newfound customers at their preferred channels. Engage them with channel-specific content. During the BFCM campaigns, many brands must have bombarded customers with promotional messages. Your post-BFCM strategy should be to go by the more conversational approach with SMS marketing.
Gather data about your customers and segment them as per the messages you want to send them. Use playful copies of SMS. Be innovative by automating quizzes for product recommendations and creating abandoned cart workflows to bring customers back for completing purchases.
Keep email subscribers engaged by sending them useful product recommendations and announcements. Add visuals and large CTAs to help grab attention. Involve urgency messaging also in emails to boost conversions.
An example of brands using SMS marketing to recover abandoned carts is Legends, which through a series of two-way conversations, was able to recover an abandoned cart.
Chapter 10: BFCM Automation
If you’re looking to kickstart a comprehensive BFCM campaign for your audience, it’s incredibly important to get your underlying data in place. With a good automation tool at hand, try to:
- Clean your list well in advance. Run a Winback campaign for your least engaged contacts and unenroll contacts who do engage with your communication.
- Identify your audience’s geographies to create custom recommendations suited for the season.
- Layer purchase behavior data and the times at which your audience is most engaged across various age groups. This information can help you set up personalized recommendations that resonate much better with your audience.
- Create an opportunity for your customers to form a deeper relationship with your brand during the BFCM week. A message from the CEO or your brand story are great elements to weave into your messages.
- Make your deals extremely clear and articulate the benefits distinctly. It pays (literally) to make sure your customers discover your offers and use them with minimum friction.
- Set up a survey to understand what your customers are expecting to buy, and feature those products in your campaign.
- Use templates to get a quick start on your emails and SMSs for BFCM. Template libraries, like this one here, provide you with an easy starting point to set up your campaigns.
- Take your customers’ recent behavior on your website into account. Once your customers make their purchase during the BFCM week, keep the momentum going with automated flows. This should help you drive sales during the year-end festive season.
- Keep a keen eye on personalization across different stages. Avoid showing ads and sending messages regarding BFCM deals to customers who have shopped from your store during the sale. Instead, invite them to your loyalty program or roll out an offer which kicks in at the start of December.
- Ensure you have a ‘Back-in-stock’ and ‘Cross-sell’ flow to keep your freshly engaged audience connected with your brand. Here’s a sample of what your flows ought to look like.
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