Checklist: Prepare a Plan for Black Friday and Cyber Monday Promotions

Use this checklist to start planning for Black Friday and Cyber Monday so you’ll be prepared when customers start making purchases.

Black Friday Planning

Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions are a huge source of e-commerce income around the world. Businesses understand the money to be made by joining in on the Black Friday season, even those based in countries without a November Thanksgiving holiday. According to Forbes, global Black Friday sales in 2019 totaled around $20 billion.

Naturally, small business owners everywhere should be doing their best to get in on the action. But business owners who wait until the week—or even the month—of the holiday to start Black Friday planning will be woefully unprepared to take full advantage of these sales events.

Is your business ready for a successful Black Friday? Check these 6 key tasks off your list to make sure.

1. Get the word out early

The old adage is that December holidays start the day after Thanksgiving. Actually, Black Friday starts even sooner. Shoppers start looking and planning for deals on their favorite items in October or earlier.

Get the word about your Black Friday deals out to your customers as early in the season as you can by planning ahead. The sooner they know about your offers, the better positioned they’ll be to take advantage of them—and the more revenue you’ll bring in.

Mailchimp can help you get the message about your Black Friday offers out to your customers in a number of different ways:

  • Send targeted emails to your existing customers with coupon codes and special discounts.
  • Set up retargeting ads for people who visit your site to notify them of your Black Friday sale.
  • Create landing pages tied to those ads with more details on the products you have to offer.
  • Promote your sales through social media posts targeted to the people most likely to take advantage of your deals.

If you could use help designing these email or social campaigns, our Creative Assistant, now in beta, can help you easily create beautiful, on-brand designs through a blend of AI and design principles. Choose a design, resize it instantly for different channels, and promote your website with a stunning multichannel campaign.

You can also use Mailchimp to schedule organic social posts and then measure engagement to see where those ads do best. That way, you’ll know where to place your paid ads—and where your customers are hanging out online.

In short, take advantage of the marketing tools you have at your disposal to get in touch with your people directly and let them know about your deals.

2. Make sure your checkout process is supersmooth

Have you ever gotten to the checkout stage after a successful hunt for a good deal only to have something go wrong? Maybe the site lags, the page keeps losing your data, or there are too many fields to fill out. Make sure that doesn’t happen to your customers.

A bumpy checkout experience is likely to lead to cart abandonment—and people turning to your competition. There will be an abundance of deals out there, so make sure customers stick around for yours.

Your checkout page should be uncluttered and intuitive. Make sure buttons are highly visible and easy to find. Only include form fields that are necessary for the customer to make their purchase.

Clearly display any shipping or other fees associated with the purchase so the customer isn’t surprised. They should also get an estimate of how long their order will take to get to them and be able to track their order easily. As you get closer to major holidays, consider adding “order by” messaging to your site so customers know when to make their purchase so they receive gifts in time for their celebrations.

When an order is complete, follow up with a thank you email. You can even include a survey for customers to provide feedback. Keep in mind that some studies show that 69% of customers abandon their carts before checking out, but you can capture some of these potential lost sales by setting up an automated abandoned cart email.

You’ll want to make sure your site is equipped to handle the increase in traffic as well. Talk to your hosting company or e-commerce strategist (if you have one) to see if they’re taking extra measures during the holiday weekend to prevent site lagging and crashes.

3. Optimize your product descriptions for Black Friday shoppers

Keywords and SEO are important. As the day approaches, people will be searching their favorite products and brands with the term “Black Friday deal.” Make sure your website copy is optimized to include the right keywords to raise you in the search ranks.

Review your sales data from last year to see which products did the best during Black Friday. How did you word those descriptions? How did you word the rest of the copy on that page? Consider going to Google Trends and doing some research into past Black Friday keyword trends, then finding ways to incorporate those keywords into your site.

As you write your product descriptions and ads, work in terms that convey a sense of urgency like “limited offer,” “only one left,” or “limited stock.”

4. Use every marketing channel to your advantage

You want to be sure you’re casting a wide net when promoting your Black Friday deals. Instead of settling on just one or two methods of communication, use every channel you have to your advantage.

You’ll definitely want to use your email list, as that’s your most direct line to people interested in your products. But be sure you also focus on your social channels like Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

A combination of paid ads and organic posts can boost people’s awareness of your brand in the weeks leading up to Black Friday. For Instagram, you might use shoppable posts to give people easy access to deals or distribute coupon codes in the caption of a video.

Try creating a quick and easy Twitter and Instagram poll to see what deals people are most excited about getting from your store this Black Friday season. Then see if they line up with the products you plan to discount. Share photos and updates on new deals. Experiment with promoted tweets.

Be intentional with your posts. Be sure you’re matching the right content (images, video, text) with the right channel and the right audience. Consider using your CRM to schedule batches of social posts targeted to specific groups.

5. Have a plan in place for order management

Even if you already have a routine for shipping products, reevaluate it. How does your normal order volume compare to the holiday season? Are you prepared to process and ship a large number of orders to customers?

Your website should be robust enough to handle the extra traffic. Take steps to mitigate the load, such as including multiple payment options for customers at checkout. The Customer Experience Professionals Association also recommends making your cybersecurity measures as airtight as possible.

Make sure all staff are trained on your policies—including shipping and returns—and know how to handle requests. Empower them to make decisions themselves so they can help quickly. Be sure that everyone understands what to do if the site slows down or customers are having checkout issues.

6. Let people know when an item is nearly sold out

Keeping an eye on your stock is especially important during the Black Friday shopping season, when your store can experience a massive spike in orders. Manage your inventory closely. If you can’t set up your website or storefront to do it automatically, change your descriptions manually to let your customers know when an item is running low.

Letting shoppers know an item is almost gone could create the extra incentive they need to commit to a purchase. According to CXL, increasing urgency around a product can lead to increased sales.

You could also incorporate these reminders into your email marketing strategy. If you’re running a Black Friday sale for an extended period, you could set up automatic retargeting emails to let a customer know when an item they viewed is almost gone. Address them by name, ask if they’re still interested, and include an easy Buy Now button to take them straight to checkout.

Wrapping up your Black Friday planning

Be prepared. Making sure you’re ready for the Black Friday shopping season well in advance will help you execute your marketing strategy effectively. Always look for input from your customers so you can be sure you’re offering them the deals they actually want.

Get the word out on your deals early via multiple channels, and make sure your ads are targeted to the right audiences. Email marketing, savvy social media use, and a top-level CRM will go a long way toward keeping people informed.

If you’ve got data from past years, comb through it. Find out what worked and what didn’t, and adjust this year’s Black Friday season plan accordingly. If this is your first year selling during the holidays, absorb what you can from the brands doing it right and use their success as a model.

If you market yourself effectively, you’re going to have increased order volume, so be sure to have a plan in place to handle those orders in a timely, efficient manner. Let customers track their orders to give them peace of mind and alleviate shipping inquiries on your end.

No plan is perfect, but this checklist will ensure that you’ve considered every eventuality. Get out there, make your plan, and be prepared to reap the benefits.