15 Experts Reveal How 7-Figure Stores Can Maximize Revenue This BFCM Weekend
February 22, 2023
September 27, 2022
Most ecommerce brands can’t go toe to toe with the likes of Amazon, Walmart, or Wayfair on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
For starters, you can’t outspend them on marketing and advertising—Wayfair spends $6.9 million on just Google Ads each month. Slashing your prices to the level that the biggest companies do will also put you on the fast route to a going out of business sale.
Playing the games the biggest companies use isn’t a viable strategy for most smaller ecommerce players and scrappier DTC brands.
But, a successful, profitable BFCM Weekend is still possible.
So, we reached out to more than a dozen ecommerce experts to see how they plan to maximize revenue this Black Friday.
1. Raise the stakes with your offers
Many ecommerce brands think you have to lower prices and offer steep discounts in order to compete with Amazon and Walmart. But, the exact opposite can be more effective.
“The best way for DTC brands to maximize the revenue per shopper during BFCM is to increase AOV by raising the stakes for every shopper.
How do they raise the stakes? By increasing the reward, as well as the risk of loss, as people shop their products. The more the customer shops, the sweeter the deal they get. But if they don't buy now, they'll miss the biggest deal of the year.
For example, instead of promoting a flat discount across all of their products, they could promote a tiered discount offer. The more a shopper spends, the bigger the discount they get.
This can be promoted like "Get up to 70% percent off during Black Friday," and the shopper would unlock different discounts based on their spending tier reached:
20% off purchases of $50+
50% off purchases of $125+
70% off purchases of $200+
This allows the brand to engage the shopper with an upsell funnel using targeted messages, popups, and sticky bars that help shoppers upgrade from one tier to the next. Each popup can display how much more a shopper needs to spend to unlock the next big discount, and can also display recommended products based on their current cart, that will help the visitor pass the spend needed to secure the bigger discount.
Beyond this, brands can even play with strategies like creating urgency, scarcity, and exclusivity around the products they promote to help the shopper act now vs later. This can look like unlocking discounts on specific products with limited supply once a shopper reaches a discount tier, or access to an exclusive discount tier or offer because they are VIP customers or purchased a specific product in the past.”
For a great example of tiered discounts in action, take a look at Long Wknd’s “bundle & save” offer from Black Friday 2021:
The brand advertised an “up to 30% off sale.” But, shoppers had to purchase a certain number of units to get to that 30% level.
The details of the sale can be seen in a nice drop down on the sticky bar that follows shoppers around the site:
Overall, it’s a great tactic to encourage people to buy more volume and earn more revenue per customer.
In addition, you can also get creative with how you raise the stakes by incorporating gamification.
“Use gamification to increase customer spending on your ecommerce site during the Black Friday Weekend. Gamifying the ecommerce shopping experience has proven to be highly effective in increasing engagement and customer expenditure on ecommerce sites. Incorporating gaming elements such as lotteries and quizzes with prizes, as well as random rewards, will not only excite your customers but will encourage them to spend more throughout the weekend.”
For instance, Tipsy Elves, a clothing brand, encourages first-time shoppers to buy their apparel with a "spin to win” lightbox popup:
Depending on where shoppers land, they can get up to 20% off their first order. This discount serves as an incentive for new shoppers who are on the fence or price-conscious.
2. Plan ahead
If you are like most of the ecommerce brands we speak with, you make a significant chunk of your annual sales during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. You shouldn’t leave that up to chance.
The more time you have to start planning, creating contingency plans, and fine-tuning your offers, the more prepared you’ll be for Black Friday, and the easier it will be to adjust in the moment.
“Create a master plan. Companies often struggle to address BFCM since it relies on many interdependent components. On average, about three months of planning are needed to pull it off successfully. There can be no room for error; every process must be carefully planned and fine-tuned to ensure the company can handle an influx of new clients. You must prepare the marketing strategy for months and consult with the logistics team and your suppliers to achieve the best outcomes.”
Some brands start preparing for Black Friday as early as April and May. However, if that isn’t possible, you should begin planning no later than three months before Black Friday.
This way, you avoid the cold start problem and already have some momentum on your side.
“Start building momentum now. Every failure I've seen from DTC marketing teams during hyper-sale periods was trying to compete too late. If you haven't begun planning your advertising ramp for September and October, you have already lost the war in November.
Successful DTC brands will invert their prospecting and remarketing budgets from September to November. Your goal should be to start acquiring cheaper users in the non-sales period. During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, use remarketing and nurture campaigns to re-engage for more sales or upsells. Using this strategy, you will dramatically reduce your acquisition cost and increase ROI.”
Plus, an additional reason to plan ahead is you can test-drive offers before Black Friday.
For instance, if you have a brand new offer, you can roll it out to a small segment in September and October to gauge how it lands.
“In any industry, the best way to create optimal marketing materials is by testing. Instead of running your deal solely on Black Friday Weekend, test various deals in the months and weeks leading up. After running a few promotions at once, you'll soon find that certain ones outperform the rest.
Once that time hits, you'll want to decrease spending on the other campaigns and reinvest that marketing budget into the successful ones. From there, you can make more small changes and tests to pinpoint the approach that works best with your audience. Marketing, even on Black Friday, shouldn't be a gamble. Instead, treat it as a science and use the months leading up to test your hypothesis.”
A golden rule in copywriting is clarity over cleverness. Clear, specific language will always outperform trying to be too creative, cutesy, or clever.
Clear, simple language is even more critical when crafting your BFCM offers. If the offer is too complicated, shoppers will go elsewhere to buy their holiday gifts.
“One of the best ways to maximize revenue per visitor is to simplify your offers. Complicated offers and discounts throw off shoppers. You don't want to confuse them by giving too many conditions. This goes for bundles too. DTC brands shouldn't limit the choices in their bundles. The simpler your offers, the more people will be willing to spend this BFCM.
Smaller brands should fall back to traditional sales to compete with bigger brands. The Buy 2 Get 1 Free offer is best at increasing average order value. When each customer buys more, your profit margins will increase too.”
For instance, Neutypechic practices what they preach with this popup. It is a simple offer (i.e. 10% off) designed to drive first-time sales:
However, even if it doesn't lead to a sale right away, they still have the shopper’s email address. They can send follow-up, educational emails as well as personalized BFCM offers.
When it comes to the offers you create, you should tread lightly with offers that rely on complex conditional logic as it can force shoppers to second-guess their purchases. For instance, get 25% off for only the items in product category A, category D, and category X.
You may be able to get away with this logic in-store. However, online shoppers will just abandon their carts.
“We've found direct offers work best, such as a flat discount, a bundle, or different products. Complicated deals confuse clients and potentially cancel sales. By introducing if/then conditions or bundling only specific products, you make people second-guess their decision and think they're not getting a fair deal. It's also confusing to run non-BFCM offers at the same time.”
Speaking of simplifying your offers, one of the easiest ways to do this is by adding a bonus gift.
“What I’ve done in the past to help increase conversions during BFCM is to include a mystery Black Friday gift with every purchase. This not only helps pique the interest of the buyer, but also encourages them to complete their order as it’s a limited-time offer for something that won’t be restocked.
For example, when we ran this last year, we included a free kid’s winter hat with every purchase of kids' shoes. This was a low cost item but increased our BFCM revenue by 15% compared to the previous BFCM with all else being equal.”
You don’t necessarily have to give away a free gift to reap the benefits. You can also use this same tactic, but replace the free physical gift with free shipping or an extended warranty.
“Last year, we ran an extended warranty and reduced our free delivery threshold. This gave added benefits for our customers beyond the saving (which they also expect) but allowed us to exceed our revenue targets whilst also maintaining decent profitability.
Another option here could be a free gift with every order—doesn't even need to be massive, could be a keyring or some other free merch.”
One of the worst things that can happen is for your website to crash on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Or, your site is up, but your checkout is broken.
While there are some things that are out of your control (i.e. your ecommerce platform having a major outage or someone hacking your site), there is a lot you can do in advance to make sure your website stays online.
“Make sure your website is prepared for the traffic. You must ensure that your website can handle the increased traffic that Black Friday and Cyber Monday will bring. This includes ensuring your website is fast, mobile-friendly, and secure.”
For instance, one of the simplest and most effective ways to optimize your website is to pretend you are a first-time shopper and click on every page and link on your website.
If it is impossible for you to be objective, ask a friend to do this or hire someone on Fiverr or Upwork for a few dollars to be a “secret shopper.”
Here are some things you should ask yourself when going through your website.
Does your website load quickly? (Ideally, within two seconds)
Is it intuitive to find and add any product on your site to your cart? Repeat this process on your laptop, tablet, and your smartphone.
Are there any unnecessary elements, including popups, that show up on the add to cart and checkout pages that could cause visitors to second-guess themselves and abandon their purchase?
What’s the checkout experience like? Are there any form fields that are unnecessary that you can remove? Again, repeat this process on your laptop, tablet, and smartphone.
What emails and/or SMS messages are customers receiving once they purchase something? Are there any broken images or links?
If the idea of auditing every single page and link on your website sounds too daunting, focus on the 80:20 version.
That's to go through the purchase process and remove any potential distractions. Any friction in your checkout process will decrease your conversion rate and increase the number of abandoned carts.
“The best way to maximize revenue per visitor around BFCM weekend is to remove distractions. This might sound like a known fact, but how many ecommerce stores actually do it? So, you should double-check there aren’t any unnecessary distractions. This can help you streamline your marketing efforts. As a result, you can increase your conversion rate and lower cart abandonment.
Small brands may not be able to slash prices like huge franchises. But they can still make a difference by offering a guest login option. This isn’t something every ecommerce brand provides. But this is a make-it-or-break-it moment for small businesses. That’s because you can’t risk losing your customers.”
For example, let’s take the checkout experience of Tyler’s, a fashion apparel brand out of Texas. It is designed to minimize distractions and reduce friction:
6. Create a delightful mobile shopping experience
During BFCM 2021, 71% of all Shopify merchant transactions were on smartphones.
More than two-thirds of shoppers will likely buy from you on their phones. This means you should obsess over faster site speeds, reducing distractions, and a frictionless checkout experience.
“One of the best ways smaller retailers can improve BFCM sales is to focus their strategy around mobile shoppers, and here are a few ways they can do that:
• Create exclusivity. If a shopper knows they can’t find the same deals in-store during BFCM, it will increase the likelihood of converting sales.
• Offer a free gift with purchase. 90% of shoppers confess to making impulse purchases during BFCM, and one great way to drive those sales is through a free gift with purchase (GWP). And 90% of shoppers that received a free gift stated that they were “somewhat likely” to buy more frequently from a retailer, translating to increased sales over the long run.
• Use push notifications. 60% of mobile app users opt-in to push notifications, and businesses that utilize push can experience a 9.6x increase in sales. Push notifications can draw attention to specific BFCM deals, encouraging people to open the mobile app and shop.”
It is not rocket science. The people who are the most likely to buy from you are the people who are already familiar with your brand, especially past customers.
“The best way to maximize revenue per website visitor on and around Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend is to use a combination of tactics. This includes:
• Using retargeting ads to bring back previous website visitors who have left your site without purchasing anything, so that they can be shown a special offer or coupon code.
• Creating a landing page that will cater to people who are looking for gifts for kids, pets, partners, etc., and then using retargeting ads to bring back people who visited that page but didn't convert.
• Creating an email drip campaign that will send out an email every other day leading up to Black Friday/Cyber Monday with new deals and offers for each day leading up until the big day.”
If you are running retargeted ads to people who have been on your site but have never bought anything before, setting up a relevant abandonment popup can be an effective last-minute tactic to get a hesitant shopper to buy an item.
“Another effective way to increase sales on any occasion is by making use of exit-intent popups. Offering an extra item for an added discount or free shipping to customers about to exit the page won't stop every one of them from abandoning the cart, but it will certainly help prevent a decent few of them from falling through the cracks.”
An alternative approach for your exit-intent popup is to collect visitors’ email addresses or phone numbers. This way, you can send personalized email or SMS campaigns, like what Cuddle Clones does, to educate and persuade subscribers to buy your products.
8. Build FOMO and urgency
One of the best tactics to deploy for both your Black Friday offers and especially with any exit-intent popups is to drive FOMO.
FOMO marketing taps into some key psychological responses like the scarcity principle, loss aversion, and social pressure.
“Create a sense of urgency. Use countdown timers, scarcity messaging (e.g. "only X left in stock"), and other techniques to create a sense of urgency and encourage people to buy now.”
Here are some effective FOMO hooks you can use with your BFCM offers:
Only XX number of items left in stock
Only XX days, hours, or minutes left to get this deal
XX people have already bought this product in the last hour
You just missed it. The last item in stock just sold.
XX number of people have given this product five stars
XX influencer/celebrity just bought (or shared) this product
For instance, if you have a product that is 50% off on only Black Friday, you can use a flash sale sticky bar in ConvertFlow to display a countdown timer.
When you tap into the right amount of FOMO and see sales skyrocket, it can be addicting.
You may be tempted to fake it. However, if shoppers realize that you are deploying fake FOMO to sell more products, this can destroy your brand’s reputation and credibility. They won’t believe you when you use FOMO the next time.
Drive urgency and FOMO in your BFCM sale with this flash sale timer sticky bar:
9. Invest in building relationships with your brand ambassadors
If you are a six or seven-figure ecommerce brand with loyal fans, you can do things that don’t scale well—like building genuine relationships with every key brand ambassador or superfan. These ambassadors will promote your brand/products on your behalf.
“We utilize our brand ambassador program to help promote our Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Typically an ambassador will receive a 10% commission on any orders they generate on our website, but during this time we offer them extra incentives for helping us promote our sales to their friends and followers.
In the past, we've asked them to post to at least three different placements on social media such as Instagram feed, Instagram Stories, and Snapchat. In exchange, they not only receive a 10% commission on any direct sales they drive, but we also enter them to win a gift card giveaway or give them a 30% off coupon to use anytime the following year.
Typically we see a 20-30% boost in affiliate sales during Black Friday / Cyber Monday when we run this campaign annually.”
In Bill’s case, his company lost over $100,000 when some shady ambassadors posted their codes on Honey and RetailMeNot.
So, they ended up paying out twice since they were giving out 20% off discounts when they didn’t have to. And then, they were losing more money in affiliate commission payouts.
10. Focus on quality, not quantity
As we’ve alluded to earlier in this post, slashing your prices because your competitor or Amazon is doing it can backfire.
Instead, position yourself as a premium or higher-quality option to open up additional BFCM playbooks that you can use.
“One way that smaller direct-to-consumer brands can compete with bigger stores during Black Friday and Cyber Monday is by focusing on quality over quantity. While it may be tempting to slash prices across the board in order to attract shoppers, this strategy can actually end up hurting your bottom line if it results in selling products at a loss.
Instead, consider offering a smaller number of high-quality items at a significant discount. This will help to attract serious shoppers who are looking for deals on quality products, and it will also help you to avoid selling products at a loss.”
“Leverage insane personalization on your DTC website. For example, let's say you're an apparel store. If a customer has purchased only men's shirts from you in the past, tweak your website during BFCM to highlight all the deals that they're likely to be interested in.
Instead of a generic headline like “Black Friday Deals: Save 30% Sitewide,” you can show them a personalized “Black Friday Deals: Save 30% on Men's Shirts Sitewide.” Same goes for the individual SKUs that you choose to feature.
If you segment your customers into buckets, this is easier to pull off than you'd think. Website personalization can drive a double-digit increase in your AOV and revenue per visitor during BFCM. Make sure you take advantage.”
Playing the same game the biggest companies play is a recipe for sub-par BFCM sales. Instead, these ten strategies can help you increase your average order value and maximize revenue.
The good news?
ConvertFlow has all you need to get your on-site campaigns ready to go.
Quickly build out and A/B test product landing pages, exit-intent popups, flash sale sticky bars, or other personalized and targeted BFCM marketing assets—all in one platform. Get started today by creating your free account and see how ConvertFlow makes it easy to build personalized offers and targeted messages for your ideal customers at scale.
Jessica is a copywriter and content strategist with over 10 years' experience in SaaS marketing. Her work has appeared on industry-leading websites like Social Media Examiner, SEMRush, CMX, The Next Web, Databox, Help Scout, Convince & Convert, and more. When she's not writing something epic, you'll usually find her watching Master Chef or schooling people on 90s pop culture trivia.