The Ultimate Step-By-Step Timeline for BFCM 2020

E-commerce stores must prepare for this Black Friday and Cyber Monday season like no other.

So to help you out, we’ve created this timeline to make sure you’re on the right track.

Let’s dive in:

Now Through Your Early BFCM Launch

It’s not too late to add another chunk of subscribers to your lists ahead of BFCM and get them engaged.

Here are some of the best tactics you can use to create an epic list of excited customers:

1. Run Brand-Building Email Campaigns

It’s vital to focus on brand-building during the pre-BFCM period — it’s what humanizes your business and makes customers fall in love and be ready to buy when you launch your promotion. 

Here’s an example of what a compelling brand-building email looks like from lifestyle brand Goop:

On top of selling home and beauty products, they also have blog content that deals with a variety of issues relevant to their audience. The example above shows one of their newsletters, which includes content on beauty tips and social issues.

This email gives value to their list and showcases Goop’s social responsibility.

The lesson? You’re about to send a flood of sale-driven emails to your list over the next few weeks. Take this time to build credibility with them before then by sending emails that are not so promotional.

2. Grow Your List by Running  Giveaways

A classic tactic to grow your list before the BFCM season is giveaways. Because people love to sign up for the chance to win free things, giveaways are a very predictable way to get cold audiences to opt into your content. 

What’s an example?

Collab with a group of complimentary brands on a giveaway. You can offer a few different prize levels using different products from the group. By partnering with a group of brands, you’ll reach a much wider audience.

You can use a platform like DojoMojo to put together a giveaway like this. 

The sky’s the limit, really 😉.

1-2 Weeks Ahead Of Your Sitewide BFCM Launch

After growing your list to be as big a possible, the next step is prepping your lists for the sale. Let’s talk about the core ways to put yourself in the best position to have your BFCM emails drive as many sales as possible.

3. Segment Your Email and SMS List Based on Engagement

Everyone engages with your emails and text messages in a different way.

For example, let’s say you’re an apparel company. You need to have unique segments for all of these different types of people:

  • Customers who purchased t-shirts

  • Customers who purchased size M 

  • Customers who purchased size XL

  • Subscribers who opened at least 1 email in the last 30 days

  • Subscribers who opened at least 2 hoodie emails

  • Customers who purchased at least 2 items in the last 60 days

The list goes on. The goal is to create a set of segments that will allow you to tailor your BFCM emails and text messages to be as personalized as possible. 

Consumers will be bombarded with promotions over the next 2 months. To stand out, you need to make your communication very specific to the value the customer desires. 

Also, don’t waste your time with leads that will probably not convert during BFCM. You can also segment out subscribers with low engagement levels during your research.

4. Launch VIP Early Access Through Email & SMS

The best way to drive early momentum with your Black Friday sale is to launch early for a special group of subscribers. 

Got a big email list but small SMS subscriber list? Here’s an idea…

Send an email that offers early access to your Black Friday offers to anyone that subscribes to your texts.

Then, 1 week before you launch your sitewide BFCM promotion, launch early to this special subscriber list.

Here’s an example from Ballsy. Their text uses fun imagery, copy, and emojis to promote their biggest discount of the year early to a segment of their subscribers:

Launching early to your VIP subscribers makes them feel special, and it gives them an incentive to act on your BFCM offer early. 

This can give you a nice early boost in sales, and help you understand how well your offer is going to convert. If this early campaign converts extremely well, perhaps you get a bit more aggressive with your media budget during the first week of your sitewide promotion.

Your Sitewide BFCM Promotion

So you’ve built your list, segmented it the right way, and launched early to a special group of subscribers. 

It’s now the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Black Friday is here, and customers are ready to spend their money 🤑. The key dates for BFCM include:

  • November 26: Thanksgiving
  • November 27: Black Friday
  • November 30: Cyber Monday

That said, many brands will launch their sitewide BFCM sale earlier than 11/27. The right timing for you depends on your product and goals, but it typically does make sense to launch a bit earlier. 

Doing so lets you hit email inboxes before the flood of promotions. Also, launching early gives you the time to dial in your media spend so that you can really scale it up over BFCM weekend. 

Whenever you decide to launch, here’s what you can do to maximize the revenue you’re generating from your email and SMS campaigns.

5. Announce your BFCM offer with compelling email and SMS campaigns. 

Duh. But this is super important. You should spend a lot of time perfecting the messaging and content of your launch sends. Make sure that you’re communicating why the consumer should act NOW.

Here’show Columbia announced their new Black Friday sales last year:

Columbia uses a big headline that’s all about their offer. There’s no doubt that you’re getting an incredible deal, and that you should act now to take advantage of it. 

As a bonus, they remind that they include free shipping with each order. It’s a good thing to mention since 91% of customers don’t want to purchase from a purchase that doesn’t offer free shipping.

Here’s an example from Nation LTD of how you can announce your BFCM sales with SMS (although they probably should include a BFCM image for their next campaign):

When crafting your own email and SMS launch campaigns, remember to focus on the one key message that matters:

You’re offering your best deal of the year, and the consumer needs to act now to get it. 

6. Use SMS to Recover Abandoned Carts

Almost 70% of shopping carts are abandoned. You’re never going to convert everybody who adds your product to their cart. But by adding SMS to your abandoned cart recovery strategy, you’ll improve conversion at this step and find net-new sales. 

SMS is a direct and personal way to reach customers when they leave their cart. The key is to open up a two-way conversation: this way, customers can message you directly with their questions and you can guide them in their purchase.

Here’s an example of one of our clients at Tone, Lasso Gear, using SMS to win back a customer:

To bring the customer back, Lasso offered a unique discount. Often, this is all that’s needed to recover the abandoned cart.

With BFCM, everybody is shopping on dozens of different e-commerce sites. Everybody sends abandoned cart emails, so the best way to stand out is to layer in abandoned cart SMS. 

7. Promote Product Bundles

Another way you can drive more sales during Black Friday is through product bundles. Bundles simplify the shopping process for the customer, and it’s a proven way to drive up AOV.

Find 2-3 complementary products with a purchase and bundle them together. From there, you can offer the pack at a discounted price to the customer, just like Brooklinen does below with their text message:

This customer is already saving 25% during Brooklinen’s Black Friday promotion. If they purchase one of their Hardcore Bundle, they can save another 20% more. That’s an offer that you can’t refuse.

Post-BFCM, Keep Selling BY Leveraging The Gifting Season

Even after BFCM comes to an end, there’s still so much opportunity to drive sales. 

December is a time of gifting, and people are in a shopping mindset for the holiday season. 

The biggest advantage you have during December is the natural urgency of gifting. People need to buy gifts in time for the holidays, so you can use that urgency as a way to drive action from your promotions. 

Let’s talk about what you should be doing as an e-commerce store during December. 

8. Determine what worked and what didn’t

Take a look at your BFCM Campaigns and overall strategy. What type of tactics and discounts delivered results? Which, on the other hand, fell flat and didn’t meet your expectations?

These lessons will be vital to improve your BFCM campaigns next year and your holiday promotions in the near future. It’s why you must make sure to keep records each year, so you have a solid idea of how you’re growing each year.

For example, if you only offered discounts, try to diversify your promotion next time. It could be offering free shipping, running BOGO (Buy One, Get One Free) offers, or including a gift with each purchase.

9. Run Flash Sales On Items Left In Your Inventory

Next, you’ll want to take a peek at your inventory. If you have any items left, you can run flash sales on those products to drive extra sales.

It’s also going to be practical if you’re planning to restock items as the new year is just around the corner.

10. Drive sale spikes using shipping cut-offs

There are a few core opportunities in the calendar for you to drive a spike in sales based on shipping timeline:

  • Last call for free shipping in time for holiday delivery

  • Last call for 2-day shipping in time for holiday delivery

  • Last call for 1-day shipping in time for holiday delivery

For each of these cut-offs, you should be sending an email and SMS campaign to make sure everyone knows that this is their last chance to get their order in before it’s too late. 

These campaigns are typically the highest-converting ones we see because of the natural urgency. 

11. Nurture Your Relationship With Your New Customers

Lastly, don’t forget that success in eCommerce doesn’t depend solely on acquiring new customers. In fact, that’s typically a losing strategy that means high CAC and declining revenue.

To be successful, you need to be able to bring back existing customers to buy more. 

So, as your holiday deals wind down, focus on nurturing the relationship with massive group of new customers.

One way to do this, for example, is to run post-sale emails such as surveys to get their opinion on your product. Use that feedback to improve and deliver a better customer experience. 

Final Thoughts

The key to success on Black Friday is to have a plan.

Start by building an engaging your list.

Segment that list so that you can send the most relevant offers possible. 

Launch early to drive momentum.

Use SMS and Email to get your offer out there and maximize conversion

Once your promotion is over, take a step back to assess what worked and what didn’t.

And make sure that you continue to deliver an exceptional customer experience even after people buy.

With this timeline, you should have a solid understanding of what to do today through 12/31 to hit a homerun with your BFCM campaign. Now it’s all up to you to go out there and start winning!

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