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Ecommerce holidays

A Tactical Playbook to Drive BFCM Sales in 2021

Ben Privy
By on November 15th, 2021 Reading Time: 6 minutes

This blog post is based on Ben Jabbawy’s (Privy) presentation at our online conference, Printful Threads: How to Prepare for the Holiday Season at the Last Minute. Watch all presentations on our YouTube channel.

It’s the holiday season, so people are primed to buy, and many of them are already shopping. Last week, Harley Finkelstein, the President of Shopify, tweeted:

There’s no time to lose. Let’s go over why you should care about Black Friday and how to get your strategy in place, even with less than 2 weeks left.

A battle for wallet share

Customers have a limited amount of money they’re willing to spend during the holiday shopping season. And every single brand out there, including yours, is trying to win that holiday wallet share.

Throughout the rest of the year, it’s a little bit different because you can target and retarget the customers as you please. But Black Friday is a selling event that everyone shares. So you really need to approach it strategically to actually get people excited to spend their money with you. And a good strategy starts by getting clear about your offer.

Your offer anchors everything you do.

The offer will feed your email, texts, cart abandonment follow-ups, paid ads, and more. Here are some ideas for enticing your customers this holiday season.

Exclusive product launch—do you have any new products you’re launching? You can build excitement about the launch by sending a message to your customers. Here’s an example for the wording you can use: We’ve got 1,000 limited edition sweatshirts, only available during Black Friday.

Sitewide discount—something that Black Friday is known for and what shoppers already anticipate.  

Buy one get one free—bundle deals are a great way to present the offer if you handle your own inventory instead of using a warehousing and fulfillment partner’s services.

Gift (surprise) with purchase—consider including a small complementary product with every order.

Tiered discountsspend $50 to get 10%, $100 to get 20%, etc. This is a bit more complex to set up but many store owners see a lot of success with this approach.

Then use free tools like Canva to create images with your offer that are going to sit on your site, emails, and social media.

When people land on your website, they’ll be thinking: I’m here, it’s Black Friday, you drove me here—what’s up? So make sure your offer is super clear and visible to your visitors. A landing page focused on your BFCM offer should load immediately.

Your BFCM success is based on owned channels

The next thing to figure out is how to notify people about your offer.

Black Friday is the time to look at the “owned channels”—email and text marketing lists that you’ve built.

It might seem tempting to launch an extensive ad campaign as a quick fix, but don’t expect to move the needle just through Facebook Ads. This is the most expensive time of the year to be running ads. Email and text is your best chance of driving holiday traffic this season. Hopefully, you’ve been building an email or text list all year, because now’s the time to lean on this customer list to drive sales.

Once you’ve decided on your offer and communication channel, it’s all about building the excitement. Don’t hold back—this is your time to sell. 

A lot of sellers don’t want to seem too pushy and think that if they’re going to send this one awesome email, it’s going to drive them a lot of sales. That’s not the case during BFCM. You’ve got to be OK with sending more emails to be able to compete with other brands.

Playbook for email

Here’s how you can plan your email campaigns to make sure your list is warmed-up and ready for your offer.

Email #1: Build hype with your VIP customers

The first thing you want to do is get your VIPs pumped about your BFCM offer. Tease the offer the week before Thanksgiving. This could be a blurred-out picture of the new product you’re launching or a message that Black Friday is coming and you have an exciting offer.

Make your VIPs feel truly special by making it extra clear that you’re letting them know first. Whether you’re running a sitewide discount, exclusive product, or bundle offer, they should be aware they’re the first to know.

Email #2: Build hype with the rest of your list

Copy your VIP email and tweak it to make it work for a broader audience. Send it to anyone who’s not on your VIP list. This email should build excitement. You’re not actually driving sales yet, just priming people so they want to open your next email.

Email #3: VIP early access

Remember that your customers are getting an insane amount of emails around Black Friday Cyber Monday. Your job is to get them excited about shopping with you. And you want to keep nurturing your VIP list and making them feel extra special. A great way to do that is to inform the shoppers that the offer is limited and let them shop first. If you’re not sure when to send this email, the Tuesday before Black Friday is a great day to target.

Email #4: Share your BFCM offer with everyone

It’s officially go-time for everyone. On Black Friday, share the offer with the entire list. You’ll want to send the first email early in the day, around 8 or 9 a.m. so you have time to send a reminder and final email. Remember: 

People are getting tons of emails today. Give yourself more than one opportunity to land a sale.

Email #5: Midday reminder

Some brands also send a midday email as a reminder. Feel free to skip this one if you’re not comfortable with sending three emails in one day, but know that it could increase the chances your audience opens and interacts with your email.

Email #6: Last chance reminder

This will be your last email of the day, so make it count. Let your audience know they’re running out of time to take advantage of your offer.

You probably recognize this pattern of emails from your own inbox when BFCM rolls around. To avoid spamming, for each of these subsequent emails, filter out people who have already bought from you. So that when someone places the order, they no longer receive emails about the Black Friday offer.

Cart abandonment email strategy

More traffic coming to your website will mean a higher cart abandonment rate. There are two things you can do:

  1. Send out emails after the shopper has left the site. Cart abandonment emails will help you recover 4–10% of those carts. The email chain could look something like this: 
  • 1 hour after the customer has left their cart without completing the purchase, send them an email asking if they had any questions about the order, let them know you’re here to help, and link back to the cart
  • 24 hours later, send them an email offering a discount code that expires in a day
  • 48 hours later, send an email driving the urgency to use the code before midnight
cart abandonment email chain example
Source: Privy

Use a cart saver. Someone who’s got products added to the cart is at the very bottom of the sales funnel and about to check out. You know how much money’s in the cart and what page they’re on. You can also tell that the customer is about to leave based on their mouse movement.

Rather than waiting and trying to get them via email to complete the purchase, you can introduce a cart saver pop-up—a pop-up that loads if certain conditions are met. It can be something cheeky like in the example below and have a strong call to action: 

cart saver popup
Source: Minnesota Vikings

Enhancing sales using SMS

The hot new thing in marketing is text messaging. Everybody’s going to be sending out emails, so you can try text messaging as a way to stand out.

An example of SMS marketing by Kōv
An example of SMS marketing by hair essentials brand Kōv 

Some of Privy’s customers say that texts are actually easier to execute because they don’t require fancy graphics.

Text messaging objections

You might be thinking: My SMS contact list is super small. Even if that’s the case, consider this—very few of us have texts that we haven’t read. Not the case with unread emails that tend to pile up.

Kōv generated $2,000 in sales off of a single text (no coupon) to a list of 130 contacts. All they did was give early access to the fall collection. The email they sent 2 hours later to 16,000 contacts also had a big impact, but you can see that the text mewas a lot more effective.

text marketing vs email marketing results
Source: Privy

So SMS marketing can be a powerful tool, and if you’re not yet building a SMS marketing list, you should get to it this BFCM season when your website will get more traffic and more chances to build the marketing list.

Retargeting ads

Retargeting is very common in paid marketing. After Black Friday, you can run retargeting ads to those who visited your website but didn’t make a purchase. Using analytics tools, you can detect what the visitor had in their cart, and then show them an ad for that product after they’ve left that cart behind.

The good thing is that you’re going to spend less on retargeting than buying new traffic. If you’re on Shopify, you can set up retargeting in the Marketing tab, but there are a lot of other providers that support it.

caraway's example with retargeting on Instagram
Source: Caraway

Read also: How to Convert Visitors Into Customers With Retargeting Ads

Resources to help you

Black Friday is right around the corner but don’t worry—you don’t have to start everything from scratch. Download the Privy app for whatever platform you’re using and head over to Privy’s template library. You’ll find free templates for pop-ups and all the emails mentioned, all ready for you to execute. Privy also has a free trial and free plan, so you’ll be able to access some features completely free.

If you like tactical insights, Privy hosts a daily marketing podcast. Every day, there’s a new 5 to 10-minute episode with tips on how to grow faster.

Ecommerce Marketing School podcast by Privy
Source: Privy

This is the most exciting time in ecommerce, and we hope this playbook will come in handy as you get your store ready for the holiday shoppers. Wishing you all a fantastic BFCM season!

Ben Privy
Founder and CEO of Privy.com, the leader in ecommerce marketing for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Privy's mission is to provide the tools, education, and support small ecommerce brands need to grow their online stores and build thriving businesses.

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