- Nico Bistolfi
We all know the craziness of Black Friday. And we’re not now talking about people coming and going from one store to another: it’s gotten digital. Are you ready to optimize your website for Black Friday and CyberMonday?
Just a quick context. `Black Friday’ is the popular term for the day after Thanksgiving Day in the USA. If Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday of November, then `Black Friday´ is the fourth Friday. It’s the first winter holiday in the USA so this period between Thanksgiving and Christmas has been considered for decades as a `shopping season´. Nevertheless, the term `Black Friday´ is much more recent. There’s no consensus around the origin of the term, but it’s believed that it refers to the ink used in accounting practices to show positive amounts. If red is commonly used to refer to money loss, black is used to mark profits. As the shopping season beings, retailers celebrate this highly-profitable time of the year.
Organize and let you a couple of days, to optimize your website for Black Friday and the whole holiday season. Mark it on your calendar and circle it in red: November 29th is Black Friday. And don’t forget Cyber Monday. Let the craziness begin!
So, what happens with Black Friday in the digital era?
Black Friday means traffic. Traffic. Traffic. An online store is one of the most important days of the year. It’s not infrequent to come across a collapsed website. As a marketer or e-commerce owner, would you rather spend time with your friends and family, or trying to solve problems on your website?
A very popular case study is the British retailer John Lewis's e-commerce. Last year, in 2018, his website went down during Black Friday Deals.
The best thing to do to avoid facing stressful situations - and losing tons of money because of technical problems - is to be prepared! Let's go.
Before Black Friday begin: the content comes always first!
It may sound obvious but this time of the year is usually filled with social activities, end of the year meetings, and tons and tons of work. So, keep this in mind and start preparing this day in advance. Contents and communication strategies must be ready a few weeks ago. Remember that literally every online - and offline -store has the same purpose then you so you have to be original and creative.
Focus on your differential and plan social media campaigns taking that into account. In a world in which information can overwhelm us, being creative is a need. Get inspired, search for ideas, and always keep your buyer persona in mind. You can find some inspirational campaigns here. Nevertheless, you need a smooth performance in order to get your content seen.
Tips to prepare for the Black Friday traffic and convert as much as possible!
#1 - Test your website
Be sure that you tested your e-commerce both on desktop and on mobile. When it comes to Black Friday, there’s no such thing as being too cautious. Don't give your competitors the power to sell more just because you didn’t check properly and you miss out on an issue.
Speed tests and load tests are essential to be ready for the most commercial event of the year. As we said before, it wouldn’t be the first time that a website crashed due to high traffic.
#2 - CDN
Helps to reduce your server load, instead of serving static files your server will focus on serving your HTML pages. You can read more about CDNs and how does this impact on web performance.
#3 - PageSpeed is key!
We live fast and we want everything right away. 75% of internet users agree they wouldn’t return to websites that took longer than 3 seconds to load. That's the importance of web performance nowadays. Learn more about why is so important to have a fast website!
Also, web design has radically changed throughout the years. It’s now image-based and that implies that probably more than 80% of your page weight is used by them.
There’s no need to increase bounce rates and lose potential clients just because your page is slow! There are a lot of tools that can help you speed up your site by compressing your images without losing quality.
Make an Image Speed Test of your website, and make sure you've optimized all your images!
#4 - Images are everything!
Your visitors are one click away to buy. You just need them to be attracted to your product. How can you do that? With amazing images! Invest in high-quality photography, plan thoroughly the photoshoot and you will see right away how worthy it was. A plus: you can use that opportunity to also take some nice pictures for your social media!
This is essential but don’t forget that to take advantage of your images you need them to be sharp and in the right format. We’ve been through the importance of having a fast site… why uploading a huge image to fill a small content area? Pay attention to format and size.
#5 - Leverage browser caching
To make a long story short, the word `caching´ means placing something in storage in order to have that information available in case it’s needed. On a website, it’s the same: the browser caché stores program and website assets so when you visit that site, your browser takes pieces of the page and stores them.
So, if you ask visitors to save the files included in your site, you can significantly reduce page load times when they revisit it. In order to leverage browser caching, you will need to set expiry times for some files in your HTTP headers.
Learn more about this here.
#6 - Enable compression
Basically, every click a user does when visiting your website, sends a message to the server in order to deliver the requested information.
If this information - these files - are big, it will take longer to load. Gzip compresses the sites before sending them over to the browser. You can see how to do it here.
#7 - Be original
We already established this but let’s make it even clearer: don’t do what everybody does. Too much urgency means losing value. `Hurry up´, `Last chance to buy!´, makes you seem desperate and put too much pressure on the buyer. Ok, it’s true that playing with the FOMO (fear of missing out) is frequent in marketing but easy on that. Don’t risk losing credibility!
#8 - Optimize your cart and checkout process.
During the holiday season, all of us have thousands of options for hot sale and incredible discounts, don't give your visitors a reason to run just before they buy. The checkout cart needs to be a very good experience and not a slow and too long process. Before this craziness begins, be sure to take the time to remove any unnecessary steps during checkout, that could avoid your customers making a purchase.
A very highly recommended action is to allow your users, making purchases without registering and offer as many payment methods as possible.
#9 - Take a look at your website copy and Call To Action
Sometimes we forget about CTAs and buttons. But we know what we want to accomplish and what’s the action we want to get from the visitor. Ask yourself if every button, CTA or copy on your website is sending the correct message to your audience. This will help you improve your conversions.
It’s important to set a coherent tone, to align with your brand’s identity and to be consistent.
#10 - Measure, measure, measure.
Assessment after Black Friday is as important as the preparation before. It will be back next year, so make a list of the things you can improve and the things you have done properly. There is always a chance to get better and learn from the experience we gained.
BONUS TRACK: P**repare your marketing channels, align with your brand and use as many tools as you can!**
On your mailing strategy, test and choose wisely your template. Work along with a marketing expert and focus on your target.
Put special effort into choosing your subject. Sending an e-mail with the wrong subject could mean losing a client. It has to be clear, consistent, attractive and coherent with your brand.
Some ideas could be:
BLACK FRIDAY S-A-L-E. These deals are running away F-A-S-T 🏃
Don’t say that we didn’t warn you: BLACK FRIDAY is here!
This is your chance to get THAT thing you wanted! Don’t miss out!
Spend Thanksgiving & Black Friday with Us!
3, 2, 1… BLACK FRIDAY IS HERE!
🏁Black Friday Sale: Ready, Set, Save! 🏁
Last call to get on BLACK FRIDAY ship!
BLACK FRIDAY IS HERE AND WON’T STICK LONG!
As we were saying before, social media is key to improve Black Friday traffic. Plan a creative campaign, use all your resources and set goals. Remember that it’s important to be consistent in the message.
Besides campaigns, it’s always a good time to remind the importance of having a controlled and aesthetically pleasing feed. It’s a tendency to buy for what you want to be, more than because of an object you want to have.
Nothing better than using all the resources you can in order to accomplish your results!
- Image Speed Test before starting the event and taking advantage of what do you need to improve.
- Moz, Hubspot, KissMetrics, and Buffer: for SEO, inbound marketing and link building.
- Tools to research strategies and find competitor’s keywords such as Moz Research Tools, Followerwonk, SEMrush, WhatRunsWhere, and SocialCrawlytics.
- Resize images: for compressing and getting sharp and light images.
To sum up, better safe than sorry!
Black Friday is the day with more online traffic and you can’t risk selling the day you could sell the most.
Be prepared, give importance to a solid communication strategy, invest in good photography, in a nicely-designed website, and take care of every technical aspect you can in order to avoid a bad performance.
Slowdowns, bugs, and crashes are your enemy. Fight them running tests and consulting with experts. Is your site slow? Check the size and weight of your images. Compress and resize them using online tools. Be sure that your UX is optimized and that has the objective to help customers finding what they need. Make sure your site is really mobile-friendly and that it’s easy to buy while using a cellphone.
With these easy steps, your sales will skyrocket this holiday season!