During Cyber Week, you are not just going up against your direct competitors; you are vying for screen time from every other advertiser. Selling digital goods? Your promotion still needs to take attention away from half-off Bluetooth headphones and free shipping on winter sweaters.
Having a markdown promotion on the actual days of Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving in the U.S.) and Cyber Monday (the following Monday) is just table stakes if you are looking to capitalize on this ecommerce free-for-all. To hit your revenue goals, you have to get creative to stand out from the deluge of other advertisers.
Here are three ways to get noticed and get customers this November.
Don’t cross the streams, but do cross the channels
Chances are that you have spent a fair amount of time with the rest of your team planning the details of your Q4 promos. Some coupons get sent in emails, some creative gets shared on Facebook, and every channel is getting its own flavor of Cyber Week. The omnichannel approach is having its heyday, but don’t be tempted to create complicated “if this, then that” web of exclusions across your digital efforts. Egon Spengler was wary of crossing streams. You, on the other hand, should not be.
Some advertisers are tempted to use coupons and promotions as a way to differentiate which buyer came from which channel. So they offer better deals to customers in email than on display. Even more confusingly, they want all other coupons suppressed in the affiliate channel.
Suppressing certain deals from affiliates is counterproductive. As we have said before, customers will find ways to purchase with links intended for another channel. Blocking affiliates from your promotions won’t lead to efficient tracking. It only means your channel silo house of cards comes tumbling down.
Instead of using coupons and promotions as a way to differentiate your buyer funnels, create a unified message about your promotion, and communicate that out through your different channels. Of course, add different flavors of length and imagery, but don’t sweat the details on which coupon goes where and which demographic gets the discount and which does not. It all flattens out on Cyber Week. Everyone will web search for the best deal, and if the best deal is not present in that moment, all your efforts go to waste.
Pick an earlier date
Yes, this piece mentions Cyber Week in the title, but that does not mean you need to stick to the days that typically constitute the week. Picking an earlier day in November will give you a jump on the attention-grabbing spree on the days adjacent to U.S. Thanksgiving.
Going up against fewer advertisers also drives down the cost of media placements, stretching your budget to cover more prominent slots or more slots total. Last year, many companies launched preview deals the the Friday before Black Friday. In 2015, many great deals could be found on the previous Tuesday.
We recommend no more than a three-day run of your promotion. You might be tempted to start the markdown at the beginning of the month and run it all the way through the end of Cyber Week. If you go that route and publicize the length, there will be much less urgency among potential buyers.
Instead, create urgency twice in the month instead of just once. Pick your earlier date, run the promotion for a few days, and publicize your “days left” of the offer. You will convert bargain shoppers who will be surprised by the early offer. Then you can focus on converting customers who skipped your first offer, expecting a better one at the end of the month. You cannot lose.
Keep it simple
We cannot drive home this point enough: Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the busiest ecommerce days of the year. Every merchant is vying for attention, and attention is in limited supply that week. Consumers do not have time to figure out the terms of your offer.
- Which product category does this coupon cover?
- What’s my free shipping threshold?
- How much do I have to spend to get the best discount?
These are all questions you do not want potential buyers dwelling on. Don’t make customers try to figure out if their coupon works for one type of product but not another one. Don’t have them going back and forth on your product pages, adding items to the cart to see if they can receive free shipping.
Keep it simple. Make your discount site-wide, make it count on every item, and don’t bog down your promotional copy with stipulations. “Get 30% off all products” is the perfect copy. This lets your shoppers get in and get out.
If you cannot markdown every product because of product margins, than get cozy with the phrase “up to.” If you are marking down product A by 30%, product B by 40%, and product C by 15%, then communicate that your promotion is “up to 40% off” instead of specifying each offer in your copy. You are not misleading your customers; rather you are avoiding information overload and discount confusion.
Q4 is the time to reach your revenue goals by converting new customers and upselling existing ones. You don’t have to plan your promotional calendar completely around Black Friday and Cyber Monday though. However, you do have to keep channel partners informed and communicate your plans to them.