Preparing Your Site for Black Friday

Black Friday is now the biggest online shopping day of the year. So, what can online retailers do to prepare themselves in the next few weeks?

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Once a huge American shopping day that preceded Thanksgiving, Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) are typically two of the most profitable days of the year for online retailers across the globe.

Black Friday is now the biggest shopping day of the year, and retailers across the UK will be slashing prices on their products to kick off the Christmas shopping season.

Revenue generated by Black Friday sales are expected to surpass £1bn – and that’s only taking into account the spending of UK shoppers online.

This year, Black Friday falls on November 27th. So, what can online retailers do to prepare themselves in the next few weeks?

Can your site handle it?
It makes sense to stress test your site ahead of the surge in visitors. People be crazy when they are seeking out bargains, and a site that is slow to load, or a site that crashes completely (even if you fix it quickly) is potentially very damaging, as visitors aren’t going to hang about.

Black Friday Weekend Google Analytics
Just look at that bump on Black Friday!

Make sure you test your server load capacity. It’s also worth looking back over the last 3 months of data in Google Search Console to see if there is an increase in the time spent downloading a page during busier periods.

It’s also a good idea to have a backup of your site – just in case.

Check your stock
It can be hugely frustrating when you think you’ve nabbed a great deal… only to be told the item is out of stock. It’s happened to me before, and on top of the annoyance of having to seek out the product again, the stockist was really, really slow to inform me about it, and even slower to refund me!

Do your research around popular Christmas presents and hotly tipped best sellers for 2015 and make sure you’ve got enough stock to meet demand. In addition to this, if you do have an influx of orders that can’t be fulfilled, make sure you have a robust process in place to make it right for consumers, or be prepared to face their wrath all over social media and review sites!

If you know that you’ve got pages of products that are out of stock, don’t let them go to waste. At the very least, redirect these pages to the brand/category or serve a user with some alternative products instead of letting the page die. You could be missing a lot of potential sales if you serve them a 404 page with nowhere to go.

How much can they save, and how low can you afford to go?
Plan what discount is going to be applied on each product/range and if possible, schedule the dates that the promotion ends so that you’re not frantically trying to update hundreds or thousands of prices.

Make your potential customers aware
If you’ve got the resources to do so, create a landing page ahead of time with some teasers as to what kind of offers and promotions customers can expect, as well as having information about when the sale begins and ends.

In the run-up to Black Friday, you could even run a PPC campaign and direct users to a sign up page that gives them an extra incentive, (like free delivery or early access to discounts) if they provide their email address. By doing this, you can email them on Black Friday – and hopefully they’ll return to make a purchase. This landing page example by Currys is a goodun!

Running Google Display Network ads and social media posts with a ‘countdown’ to Black Friday helps to build brand awareness and create a buzz around the event.

Prepare for hot competition
It’s worth looking to increase PPC budgets for the entire Black Friday weekend. Expect to pay a bit more for clicks – and if you don’t have a Google Shopping campaign set up already – now is the time to do it.

Keep a close eye on what your competitors are up to – sign up for their newsletters and check their social profiles. Stalk them, if you will. They may have come up with a cracking idea that you’ve overlooked!

Make your site fabulous
Mobile friendly? Simple navigation? Easy to locate contact details? Variety of payment and shipping details? Great product descriptions? Eye-catching images? Reviews and social proof? No hassle returns policy? Customer service contact details clearly displayed? Proof your site is secure?

All of these things should be on your radar anyway, but now more than ever it is essential your site meets the demands of the ever-demanding online shopper.

Schuh Product Landing Page

There are so many elements that make up a great site, and there is no such thing as a perfect landing page.

If you’d like to see your conversion rate increase before the busy shopping period, you may be able to squeeze in a few CRO and UX tests. If you get enough traffic to run tests to reach statistical significance in a short timeframe, test a small number of core landing pages, and launch the winners before Black Friday.

Identify any pain points now – user testing can be a great way of getting insight into how others perceive your site and your brand vs. your competitors.

Let’s get marketing
If you are running PPC text ads, make sure your ad copy is sweet. Use remarketing in search ads, and if you’re really feeling snazzy, use dynamic remarketing ads for Google Shopping (horrible set up process can be found here).

Clean up and segment your email marketing lists, and make sure you send a couple of emails during the weekend – trust me – everyone else will be!

Begin spreading the word across your social media channels and contact other sites that may be interested in featuring Black Friday promotions.

Make them buy stuff
Deploy clever psychological tactics that encourage users to buy. Add a sense of urgency to copy – put little ‘nearly gone!’ messages next to stock levels, or ‘only 3 left!’. Make users have a little bit of a panic when they think there is a chance they could miss out. It works on so many people – think about the ‘increase your bid’ button on eBay (I’ve had a laptop snatched away from me because I was trying to bid £200 on a pair of £50 boots). Urgency and the thought of missing out can make you crazy.

Use contrasting colours to make your calls to action stand out. Use reassuring language around returns, delivery and getting in touch – and keep these visible during the checkout process so users don’t get the heebie-jeebies last minute and bail on their purchase to check out your fine print. Do everything you can to make a visitors doubts vanish.

Having a quick and simple checkout is obviously a massive win (guest checkout option – yes please!) and a range of payment options is a bonus for many shoppers too.

For more information on promoting your business, give us a call!

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