My business can get a piece of that action.
That’s many of our responses after hearing that consumers spent $3.45 billion last Cyber Monday. If more consumers are buying online during the holiday season, why can’t my business rock Cyber Monday sales?
Of course, your business can have awesome sales on Cyber Monday this year but that doesn’t happen just because your ecommerce store is quietly waiting for the droves of customers to flood your site. Customers don’t wake up on Black Friday or Cyber Monday and just stumble onto your site; it only happens because we make it happen and it takes planning, preparation and strategy.
And the time to start is today.
Here’s a comprehensive guide that will walk you through the process of creating the ultimate online Cyber Monday sales strategy.
Think Cyber Week, Not Cyber Monday
The evolution away from Black Friday to Cyber Monday isn’t what you would expect. Actually, it’s more of a Cyber Week.
Although Black Friday is considered the best in-store shopping day, Black Friday online sales were only $110 million less than Cyber Monday sales in 2016. Both Walmart and Target offered special deals throughout the week which is a departure from trying to create two distinct and separate shopping days: one online and one offline.
Stop thinking Cyber Monday and start thinking in terms of an entire Cyber Week. Of course, you can still focus your best discounts on Cyber Monday, but you’ll miss out if you ignore the opportunities during the rest of the week.
Become a Data Czar
Do you want the good news or the bad news first?
The bad news is you’re going to have to learn statistics. The good news is that your tech will probably perform most of the calculations for you. You don’t have to learn probabilities, just learn how to understand trends and identify opportunities.
Here are a few categories of stats to focus on when preparing for Cyber Week:
- Which social media platform is sending the majority of consumers to your ecommerce store?
- Which of your social media platforms has the best engagement?
- What type of content is your most popular? (Video, blog posts, infographics, etc.)
- Where are the majority of your customers joining your email list?
- What is your click-through rate?
- What types of email titles are your best performers?
- What are your best selling products?
- What are your most profitable products?
- What devices (mobile, tablet or desktop) do your customers use to make sales?
You can easily track all this data through your ecommerce platform, Google Analytics, email management service and your own sales records. The idea is to see what works best for you and identify your biggest opportunities. It will take some time (if you’re not already doing this – which you should be!) but it will be worth it.
Double Check Your Foundation
One of my favorite business metaphors is about the pyramids. The only reason they are standing after all this time is because they have a strong foundation. It’s the exact same thing in business. Your business will succeed or fail depending on the strength of your foundation. Here are a few parts of your foundation to analyze before you create your Cyber Week plan.
Make Sure Your Site is Flawless & Fast
People are incredibly impatient. In fact, 40% of consumers will click away from a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. Sure, some will stick around because they really want your product but to achieve record breaking profits during Cyber Week you’ll need to go through your entire site and test every aspect. Never give customers a reason to spend their money someplace else.
Recapture Sales with Abandoned Cart Emails
In How to Write an Abandoned Cart Email That Really Works (Plus a Freebie Template!), Kristen Runvik shares:
Instead of your customers walking away for good into the internet black hole, your abandoned cart email can remind them of your product, increasing the chance of the sale. Over 50% of revenue can be gained through abandoned cart emails
Many ecommerce platforms offer an abandoned cart recovery feature. If yours doesn’t, either find software that does this for you or switch ecommerce platforms – it’s that important.
All Systems Work on All Platforms
Business Insider’s Andrew Meola explains that the “mobile shopping experience is a nightmare”. Yet, mobile commerce is growing and is expected to grow every year. Technology will improve and the shopping experience will be easier. But for now, you can add a buy now button which give users a one-click option that works well on mobile devices.
Build Your Email List Now
“If you are not seeing the email channel as a money making machine, you have the wrong strategy” – Hans Smellinckx
The only way for your amazing Cyber Week email marketing campaign to work is to build up your email list now. Your social media followers are important, but your email list is gold. Do some A/B testing now to figure out the best way to sign up subscribers and focus on doubling your list by November.
Consider Every Sales Platform
The way people buy products online is always changing. Many retailers have found success not only by selling from their website but offering additional sales opportunities on various social media platforms.
It’s now possible to embed a sales option directly into a YouTube video:
You can also add a “Buyable Pin” to your Pinterest Board. Note, this is still in the testing phase and you have to meet Pinterests standards and apply. Also, there is a list of items that are prohibited, including:
- Customizable products
- Non-physical goods, like digital downloads
- Live animals
- Weight loss products
You can also add a shop section to your Facebook page. Check out which platforms offer sales opportunities and choose the ones that work with your business.
Your business is unique and your foundation will be different than anyone else’s. Take a look at how each of the systems your business is built on works. Test them and see what can be improved. You don’t want to flood your site with customers who want to buy your product but run into some technical snag along the way.
Prepare Eye-Catching Visuals
A picture’s worth a thousand words and as an online store you’re trying to sell a product that consumers can’t feel, touch, smell, taste, or try on. Pictures or videos are the only way for you to showcase your product during Cyber Week. Let’s say your ecommerce store sells gourmet coffee and you use this picture on your website:
There is nothing wrong with this picture. It’s actually a great picture. But it doesn’t scream “CHRISTMAS” or “HOLIDAY SPECIAL”! And if you’re trying to capture the attention of Cyber Week shoppers, you may want to mix things up. Maybe try something like this instead:
Strong visuals make a statement and help sell more products. Here are a few ways to amp up your Cyber Week pictures:
Don’t Be Afraid to Take Your Own Pictures
Since you’re probably not a professional photographer, you may be nervous about taking your own product pictures but today’s technology makes it really easy to take fantastic pictures. Of course, it takes practice and the right equipment, however, the investment isn’t as much as you might expect. In 7 Steps to Creating Picture-Perfect Product Images For your Online Store, Kirsten Lamb explains that while an expensive camera may be nice, it’s not always necessary:
While a DSLR camera will produce some awesome images, an iPhone camera and a standard digital camera can also produce some great shots; the photos you get with these may just require a little more tweaking with a photo editor
Make Your Images Bigger
One test on a popular auction website showed that increasing pictures from 250 pixels to 350 pixels enticed “63% more visitors to click to start the bidding process. Even better, a whopping 329% more visitors who started bidding actually filled out all the online forms required to place a bid.” Simply make your pictures bigger (within reason) so that they are easy to view on any device.
Show Off User Generated Photos
If you have a strong following on visual mediums such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Snapchat, you can incorporate user generated photos and videos into your marketing campaigns.
Vanity Planet asks customers to post photos on Instagram with the hashtag #VPBeauty. Vanity Planet also allows Instagram users to checkout from that page and the combination of the hashtag and customer photos increased checkouts by 24%!
Show Off Different Views
Obviously, customers can’t physically touch an item before they buy it online. They can’t pick it up or feel how soft the material is, the only thing they can do is look at a picture. Because of this, ecommerce product photos have to draw customers in and make them want to buy the product and that means showing customers images of the product from as many angles as possible.
Add People to Your Photos
You want your visuals to tell a story. Using a gourmet coffee ecommerce store as an example, don’t just show a cup of coffee in the product photo, use a picture of someone enjoying the coffee!
Adding people into your visuals is one way to increase conversions and sales. One art company changed illustrated pictures of artist to actual pictures of the artist and conversions increased by 95 percent! Another business redesigned their landing page and replaced text with a picture of one of their actual customers. That increased conversions by over 100 percent!
Each business will have a marketing budget that may or may not include new photo shoots. Do what you can to make your pictures stand out on every platforms, including your website, social media profiles and posts. Use stock pictures if you must, but make sure they don’t look like stock photos. Always remember that your pictures may be your first opportunity to make a good first impression, so choose each one carefully.
Cyber Week Sales Essentials
People are getting very comfortable with online holiday shopping, they know that if they search around the web they will find the absolute best deals available. If your ecommerce store can’t deliver an outstanding sale, consumers will click someplace else.
It’s the time to pull out all the stops and create a shopping experience that no customer can resist. It’s the time to give customers exactly what they have come to expect from Cyber Week.
Create Holiday Gift Guides
Some consumers like to browse and some consumers just want to be told what their traveling hippie aunt would really love for Christmas or what their father-in-law may like for his garden or even which toys are appropriate for kids between 5-7 years old.
You know your business and customers best, so you’ll be able to create unique gift guides that would help your customers choose the perfect gift. Mexicali Blues, an online shop that caters to the bohemian niche market, has a few different gift guides including:
- Shop Music Lover
- Shop Traveler
- Shop Mindful Spirit
- Shop Forever Flower Child
- Shop Boho Home
- Shop Funky Fashionista
- Shop Hippie Chica
- Shop Stocking Stuffers
I don’t even know what each of these categories mean but these guides would make it very easy to buy an amazing gift for any free-spirited friend and that’s the point. Make it easy for someone who doesn’t know a lot about your products to buy the right gift.
Choose Doorbuster Specials
Here’s where your awesome research comes in handy. You already know what your biggest sellers are and you know what products have the biggest profit margins. Choose something that you know is an easy draw but don’t make it your best seller because you’ll already be selling that product. Make it something that drives people to your site and invites them to stick around and shop some more.
One of the best things about Cyber Week is you don’t have to be a traditional retailer to increase sales. Currclick is a digital homeschool curriculum site that sells a huge variety of downloads. Why not jump on the Cyber Monday bandwagon? Their customers are already shopping online and will happily take advantage of any sale they stumble upon, even if it’s not your typical gift item.
Offer Shipping Deals
Shipping is probably the make it or break it issue for many online shoppers. They know many retailers will offer free shipping and may not even give your shop a chance if you don’t entice them with an amazing shipping deal.
Kissmetrics’s Sherice Jacob explains the importance of free shipping: “Time and time again, shoppers say that this factor over all others compels them to order.” Outdoor merchant L.L. Bean has a policy of free shipping on every order along with a no questions asked return policy. This makes L.L. Bean an ideal online shopping experience for consumers.
But free shipping just isn’t possible for some merchants. Depending on your pricing structure, overall shipping costs and location, free shipping may be too costly for your business. Yet, there is still a way to offer a shipping deal. Instead of a flat free-shipping policy, try offering free shipping when the customer spends a certain amount of money. You can also try adding a progress bar in their shopping cart that shows how much they have in their cart and how much they need to reach the free shipping threshold.
Add Upsells and Add-Ons
Many years ago, my son wanted something called Floam for his birthday. I think the initial offer was $19.99 plus shipping. Since my adorable offspring wanted it for his special day, his wish was my command but I was quickly upsold and actually spent about $75 for a huge box of whatever this is:
There are a lot of ways that online merchants can get their customers to buy a little bit more. Maybe offer to increase the size of the order (that’s how I ended up with buckets of Floam) or you could offer a discount on a product that complements their initial purchase. Amazon does this perfectly with their “Frequently Bought Together” options.
Native Remedies, a homeopathic store for both people and pets, offers specials like “Buy 2 Get 1 Free”. They also offer bundles with additional savings and coupon codes for loyal customers.
Take a look at your previous sales offers and if they met customer’s expectations or completely bombed (both are good information to know). Design a Cyber Week plan that can be quickly executed: you want to be ready to go with teases, leads and sales promotions before Black Friday, not scrambling to put together an offer after Thanksgiving dinner.
This Opportunity Won’t Come Knocking at Your Door
Sometimes you walk into an amazing opportunity but simply finding success during Cyber Week isn’t one of them. Sure, you may make some sales on Cyber Monday because you have an online store and people are shopping but that’s really wasting the opportunity that’s uniquely ecommerce-based.
In Your Tiny eStore Can Crush Amazon this Cyber Week, I urged small online businesses to take a chance and create their own strategy:
Don’t be intimidated by Amazon’s success. Instead of trying to fight a losing battle, simply shift your focus to a game you can win. And you can absolutely dominate online sales with the right strategy.
Adopt the mindset that you’re creating your own opportunities. You’re staking your claim on the billions made during Cyber Week. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, or what you sell. There’s a market for your product. All you need to do is create the pathway that finds consumers and brings them to your site in November.