6 Last-Minute Strategies for BFCM 2023
No matter the industry, size, customers, competitors, or goals, almost every ecommerce brand shares one opportunity in common: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. When it comes to Thanksgiving weekend, Cyber Weekend, or simply BFCM, customers expect to see the best deals of the year on beauty, apparel, toys, technology, and more.
BFCM can be a challenging time for many brands with the amount of planning and decision-making required to create a successful holiday shopping experience for new and existing customers. By this time, some brands might not have a clear BFCM plan ready to go just yet, making it stressful for everyone involved.
However, with just a few powerful strategies in place, brands can leverage BFCM to drive more engagement, sales, acquisition, and retention than at any other time of the year. What are some quick ways to get ready for the biggest shopping event of the season?
What is BFCM?
Black Friday and Cyber Monday mark two of the most important dates in just about every ecommerce brand’s calendar. For customers, it’s the perfect time to save big on holiday gifts and other purchases they’ve been anticipating. As for brands, it’s the ideal opportunity to accelerate growth and drive acquisition, sales, and retention.
Ever since the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, the Friday after Thanksgiving has marked the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. Brands offer huge savings to acquire and retain customers, drive sales and revenue, and end the year “in the black” - hence the name Black Friday. The term Cyber Monday, on the other hand, was coined by the National Retail Federation in 2005, who noticed recurring spikes in ecommerce traffic and revenue on the Monday after Thanksgiving.
Between the COVID-19 pandemic and economic inflation, many ecommerce brands have experienced significant ups and downs in recent years. BFCM gives them the chance to overcome these obstacles and ultimately accomplish their goals.
Why BFCM matters for ecommerce brands
BFCM is one of the busiest shopping events of the year, even more so than other important occasions like Boxing Day, back-to-school season, and the week leading up to Christmas. Customers often wait and save up for BFCM to take advantage of what they expect to be the best possible deals.
Historically, BFCM has been the perfect opportunity for brands to acquire new customers and strengthen relationships with existing customers on the hunt for deals. Brands must create an offer that meets shoppers’ expectations and develop a strategy that prepares them for it, including ways to drive repeat purchases and customer retention long after BFCM is over.
BFCM at a Glance
Number of BFCM shoppers by year:
- 2018: 165.8M
- 2019: 189.6M
- 2020: 186.4M
- 2021: 179.8M
- 2022: 196.7M
In-store vs. online shoppers by day:
- Thanksgiving: 22.6M vs. 33.6M
- Black Friday: 72.9M vs. 87.2M
- Cyber Monday: 22.6M vs. 77M
How much customers spent by day:
- Thanksgiving: $5.3 billion
- Black Friday: $9.12 billion
- Small Business Saturday: $4.6 billion
- Sunday: $4.96 billion
- Cyber Monday: $11.3 billion
Average number of items per order:
- Thanksgiving: 3.55 (desktop), 2.86 (phone), 2.86 (tablet)
- Black Friday: 3.61 (desktop), 2.93 (phone), 2.83 (tablet)
- Cyber Monday: 3.68 (desktop), 2.98 (phone), 2.81 (tablet)
Discounts hit record highs:
- Electronics: 25% (vs. 8% in 2021)
- Toys: 34% (vs. 19%)
- Computers: 20% (vs. 10%)
- TVs: 17% (vs. 11%)
- Apparel: 18% (vs. 13%)
- Sporting goods: 10% (vs. 6%)
- Furniture: 8% (vs. 2%)
- Appliances: 16% (vs. 4%)
What brands need to know before BFCM
This year, Thanksgiving falls on November 23rd, meaning Black Friday is November 24th and Cyber Monday is November 27th. There are several key statistics that ecommerce brands need to know in preparation for BFCM:
- Approximately 2.64 billion people will make at least one online purchase in 2023
- As of 2022, 3 out of 4 consumers make at least one online purchase per month
- 56.6% of American shoppers prefer to shop online
- Mobile commerce transactions will account for 8.7% of all retail transactions by 2026
- 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making a purchase
- Ad spend has tripled since 2019, from $12.5B in 2019 to an estimated $38.4B by 2024
- Social commerce is projected to reach a total value of $1.3 trillion by the end of 2023, a 30.8% increase from 2021
- The return on investment (ROI) for email marketing is approximately 4,500%
Brands also need to be aware of major BFCM 2022 trends that may affect their approach to BFCM 2023:
- Record sales and increased average order value (AOV) can be partially attributed to inflation, meaning customers aren’t necessarily spending more than usual
- Major brands and retailers like J.C. Penney and Walmart used “pre-inflation” pricing as a marketing strategy, offering regular prices from previous years to drive sales
- Mobile commerce outperformed desktop commerce in terms of web traffic, but desktop had a higher average order value (AOV)
- Customers are becoming increasingly thrifty, relying on buy now, pay later (BNPL) options to shop and pay at their own pace
- Shoppers are also becoming more careful about their consumption habits and how they affect the environment - almost half are more likely to buy from brands with sustainability practices and would be willing to pay extra for eco-friendly products
In summary, brands need to be customer-centric, mobile-optimized, and fully equipped with an effective BFCM strategy that makes the most of paid advertising, social commerce, and email marketing from start to finish.
Best practices for BFCM
How to create a winning strategy
BFCM strategies may differ depending on your brand’s size, industry, and goals. However, there are several tips and tricks that all brands should keep in mind when developing their approach to the upcoming holiday season.
First, brands need to start early and prepare for an extensive sales period. 65% of American shoppers plan to make their holiday purchases before Thanksgiving, so brands should consider starting and communicating their offer earlier than the actual BFCM weekend. Otherwise, they may end up falling behind and losing customers to their competitors.
Brands should also think about giving their campaign a unique name, rather than simply calling it their BFCM sale. This helps it stand out from other brands’ BFCM offers and makes it more memorable for customers scrolling through their inboxes and social feeds. For example, Stamped customer Pawstruck named its campaign the “Big Pawliday Sale” to make it distinctive and keep it on-brand.
BFCM is one of the best times to up-sell and cross-sell to customers, as the deals may be tempting enough for them to purchase a premium version of a product or buy something they hadn’t considered before. Cross-selling is proven to increase sales by 20% and profits by 30%. Brands like Stamped customer Kitsch create gift guides and product bundles to boost customers’ average order value (AOV) and help them cross a few more things off their holiday wishlist at the same time. This approach also increases brand recall, making the BFCM offer more unique and interesting beyond standard discounts. Finally, this approach also helps brands control inventory and push specific products, such as their best-sellers or products that aren’t selling as well.
Brands should also offer gift cards to avoid losing out on customers who aren’t sure what they want or don’t know what to buy for their friends. Discounted gift cards are an easy way to attract shoppers that are indecisive, yet still want to take advantage of BFCM. They also create an opening for brands like Stamped customer Velasca to communicate with shoppers and offer personalized recommendations for how to use their gift card balance, turning new customers into returning ones.
Last but definitely not least, brands need to look at benchmark metrics and customer data before, during, and after BFCM. They need to set goals for conversion rates, average order value (AOV), lifetime value (LTV), return on investment (ROI), and so on to measure and optimize their campaign performance. They should also segment and target past visitors and customers to ensure they get the right message at the right time and drive sales.
Finally, they need to collect customer data to create personalized brand experiences for them. This can include contact information, purchase history, and reviews. Personalized experiences based on customer behavior and interests are proven to result in repeat purchases and increased retention: 76% of customers are more likely to consider purchasing from brands that personalize, 78% are more likely to make repeat purchases, and 78% are more like to refer their family and friends.
How to communicate with customers
Even the best BFCM offer can fall short if brands fail to properly communicate it to their customers. Brands need to create a well-rounded marketing strategy to elevate their BFCM campaign.
To start, brands need to evaluate and update their website. Like Stamped customer Native, they should consider creating site pop-ups and a dedicated landing page to teach customers about the offer and explain what it involves. Brands should also think about updating their product imagery and descriptions. For example, they might use photos featuring a group of related products to promote gift bundles or include reviews in their product descriptions to boost customer confidence.
Brands should also develop dedicated paid and social campaigns to promote their BFCM offer. Like Stamped customer Only Curls, they can develop new visuals and copy to distinguish it from their other ad campaigns and social posts. They can partner with influencers and advocates by asking them to share the offer with their followers. Lastly, they can leverage user-generated content to convince customers to make a purchase. This might include customers’ photos, videos, and reviews, all of which boost a brand’s credibility and helps customers make a purchase decision. 79% of consumers say user-generated content highly impacts their purchasing decisions, while customers who interact with UGC are 100.6% more likely to convert than those who don’t.
Communicating directly with customers on a one-to-one basis is key to driving sales and reducing churn. Brands need to create a seamless, personalized email marketing flow to educate and guide customers through their BFCM shopping journey. To start, they should make sure that customers have an easy way to register for sales-related communications. Next, they should send early teaser emails to let customers know a sale is on the way, then send ongoing reminders throughout the sale period to nudge them toward making a purchase. Lastly, they need to review and refine their abandoned cart and post-purchase flows. Remind customers to complete their purchase and don’t forget to thank them when they do.
Finally, brands can get creative with their BFCM marketing campaign to generate excitement and stand out from their competitors. For example, they might create an in-person event to connect with customers face-to-face. They could host a virtual event like a livestream to showcase their best-selling products or add a limited-time points multiplier to their loyalty program like Stamped customer NOGU. By going the extra mile, brands can make the holiday shopping experience more memorable for their customers and increase the likelihood of them coming back in the future.
How to prepare for unexpected issues
With BFCM being one of the biggest sales events of the year, brands are likely to experience technical and logistical issues along the way. Brands need to create a contingency plan to navigate potential complications as smoothly as possible.
To start, brands need to test their website and evaluate the overall shopping experience:
- Is your site optimized for mobile users?
- Is it built to withstand huge surges in traffic?
- Is it equipped with accessibility features to help shoppers with different needs?
- Is it simple to find product and sales information?
- Is the checkout process as quick and frictionless as it can be?
- Is it easy to contact customer support and follow return and exchange policies?
Brands also need to anticipate how to deal with low inventory levels, fulfillment issues, and shipping delays. They should evaluate their inventory management, order operations, and delivery requirements to spot any gaps or opportunities for improvement. This might include hiring seasonal staff or looking for an automation solution.
Most importantly, brands need to keep an open line of communication with customers. They should make it easy for customers to return and exchange products to keep costs and churn rates low. They need to warn customers about low inventory and shipping delays and encourage them to shop as soon as possible to ensure their gifts arrive on time. Finally, they should send a post-sale survey to ask customers how they did and learn how to improve for next year.
Demonstrating a genuine interest in customers’ opinions and experiences increases the likelihood of them leaving positive reviews, making more purchases, and referring their family and friends. 77% of customers view brands more favorably if they seek out and apply customer feedback, 84% of brands that adjust their strategies based on customer feedback report notable increases in revenue, and improved brand experiences can lower the cost of serving customers by as much as 33%.
Quick tips for a successful BFCM 2023
Create a simple, but irresistible offer
While BFCM deals should be distinctive, memorable, and relevant to the brand, they don’t have to be complicated to be effective. In fact, adding too many factors or restrictions to your offer can actually turn customers away, even if you technically have a better deal than your competitors.
There are a few easy offers that you can set up without requiring much deliberation or prior planning. First, you can offer a storewide discount that applies to all of your products. This is easy to remember, easy to manage, and easy to explain to your customers.
Next, you can offer coupons and discounted gift cards. As mentioned previously, this is a great way to appeal to customers who aren’t sure of what they want to buy and creates an opportunity for future outreach.
Lastly, you can create gift guides and product bundles to cross-sell and up-sell to customers. Most brands already have complementary products intended to be used together, such as an apparel brand that sells clothing and accessories or a supplement brand that sells protein powder and vitamins. Bundles also help reduce the number of decisions that customers need to make, reducing friction, while increasing their average order value (AOV).
Audit your website’s shopping experience
Brands need to be prepared for surges in website traffic, order processing, and customer support requests like emails, chat submissions, and social media comments. Though you might not have enough time to do a complete audit or introduce new integrations to your ecommerce ecosystem, you can check for a few things.
First, you should look at your website’s speed and performance. Do you have large media files that are slowing things down? Do you have overly complex animations and transitions that don’t always load correctly? Are there any broken links or images? Are your redirects and error pages working?
Next, you should take a closer look at the shopping experience itself. Is it easy to find and understand the different product categories? Can customers easily figure out which products are part of your BFCM offer? If you have a loyalty program, is it simple for customers to redeem points and use their rewards? Does your checkout process ask customers for too much information, or just enough?
Lastly, you need to make sure your customer service meets shoppers’ needs. Is it easy to find and follow your return and exchange policies? Are your FAQs and chatbots up-to-date with BFCM-related information? Is your customer support team prepared to handle high volumes of comments and emails?
By asking and answering these questions, brands can create a smooth shopping experience for their customers and increase the chances of them coming back in the future.
Update your site content and copy
Customers should be able to easily find and understand the details of your BFCM offer. While creating a dedicated landing page may be too much work by this point, there are still a few things you can do to refresh your website and make it BFCM-ready.
To start, you can create hero banners and site pop-ups using existing assets. Combining product images with some new ad copy doesn’t require much effort while still increasing awareness and generating excitement for your upcoming sale.
Next, you should review your product pages to see if you can update or add any information to help customers make a purchase decision. For example, do your product descriptions explain their best features or use cases? Do you need to add an FAQ section or step-by-step instructions? Can you put your best product review at the top of the page? The more information a customer has, the more confident they feel about purchasing your product.
Lastly, for brands with a little bit of extra time, consider updating some of your product photos. You can add holiday decorations in the background to make them extra festive, take photos of complementary products together to promote your gift guides, or simply just take a few extra angles to give customers a full view of your products.
Optimize your email and SMS workflows
With the right communication, content, and cadences in place, brands can drive more engagement and sales during BFCM than any other time of year. It’s also a good time to re-examine your existing workflows to identify any gaps or opportunities for improvement.
To start, you can create a quick teaser email or text message to get customers excited about your upcoming sale. You should explain when it will be and what products are included, then recycle your hero banners or pop-up visuals to reduce the need for additional content creation. From there, you can send a few more reminder emails throughout the sale period to encourage customers to act on your best deal of the year.
Next, you should look at your abandoned cart emails to see if they’re effective at pushing customers to complete their purchase. For example, do they simply just remind people that they have items in their cart, or do they include product names and images to jog their memory? Are there any liquid variables you can add, such as the customer’s name, to make the email more personalized? Lastly, can you add social proof like customer reviews and images to convince customers the product is worth buying? These simple changes may be enough to increase your conversion rates.
Finally, you also need to evaluate your post-purchase messaging and look for ways to build additional goodwill with your customers. The initial follow-up email should be simple and sincere without trying to sell something else, otherwise it may come across as overly aggressive. You should also look at your review request sequence to determine if they contain the right information and are sent at the right intervals. Lastly, you should eventually send a separate email encouraging customers to make another purchase, check out your future sales, and register for your loyalty program. This increases the likelihood of repeat purchases and customer retention.
Recycle past content and user-generated content
Brands don’t need to create completely new graphics or take a whole new set of product photos to effectively promote their BFCM offer. To save time and resources, you can use current product images or even images from previous sales and combine them with some fresh new ad copy.
You can also leverage user-generated content and take advantage of the power of social proof, where customers see what other customers are buying and get inspired to own the same products that they do. This might mean re-sharing customers’ photos on social media, creating a montage of customers’ videos, or including some of your best reviews in a BFCM promotion email to give customers the confidence they need to make a purchase. User-generated content is quick, cost-effective, and often more impactful than brand-created content.
Leverage influencers, advocates, and existing customers
Another quick way to take advantage of social proof is to directly partner with influencers and brand advocates by asking them to help promote your BFCM offer. Ask them to spread the word about your sale with their followers or share photos and videos of their favorite products. You can even ask your top advocates to design their own gift guides or product bundles to give your sale a more personal touch.
You can also leverage existing customers to drive new business, even if they don’t necessarily have a following of their own. If you have a little extra time, consider setting up a referral program where customers get rewarded for promoting your brand to their family and friends. BFCM is the perfect time to convince new customers to make their first purchase, especially if they get an additional bonus through the referral process.
Get ready for this year’s BFCM holiday season with Stamped
BFCM can be stressful for brands of all shapes and sizes, but it doesn’t have to be. By making a few quick, yet intentional decisions, brands can build connections with new customers and strengthen relationships with existing ones. This means having a unique BFCM offer, an omnichannel marketing campaign, and a comprehensive contingency plan ready to go.
With Stamped, brands can build an effective reviews strategy and loyalty program in preparation for BFCM and beyond. Reviews help brands win customer trust and drive new business, while loyalty programs lead to repeat purchases and increases in lifetime value.
To help you get ready for BFCM, we're offering three months free on a fifteen-month term for Stamped Reviews, Loyalty, or Full Suite to help you boost sales and drive retention this upcoming holiday season. Don't miss out - this offer is available until September 15th for Business and Professional plans only.