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Beginner’s Guide to BFCM

by | Oct 26, 2022

If 2022 is your business’s first BFCM, you’ve come to the right place! Or perhaps it’s not your first rodeo, but you’ve never had a plan before and this year you want to be organized. Welcome to you, too! Maybe you don’t even know what BFCM is but you’ve got an online business and you decided it was time to figure it out. Thank you for joining us, and it stands for Black Friday Cyber Monday!

This Beginner’s Guide to BFCM is here to help regardless of where you’re at. We at Orbit have been through many BFCM seasons as a Shopify app developer – our app Ultimate Special Offers is extremely popular with Shopify merchants at this time of year! Ultimate Special Offers allows merchants to run 9 different types of sales, so we’re experts in ecommerce promotions. We know how important BFCM is to many businesses, and we know all the tricks and tips to maximize your sales.

Walk through this guide start to finish for the full picture, or pick and choose the areas that you think will be most helpful. You can also check out our other BFCM resources for more help.

Let’s go!

Determine Your Sale Strategy

There are so many different kinds of sales you can run. For example, you could run a Buy One Get One deal, offer a discount, bundle products together, or offer volume deals. But within each of those, there are more options. A discount sounds simple, but is it percentage, or a fixed dollar amount? Do customers have to spend a certain amount to get the discount? Is it on your entire store, or just certain products? Will there be a different discount on each day of the BFCM weekend?

There are so many factors to consider, and suddenly a simple discount is much more complicated! Let’s walk through a sale strategy step by step.

1. Pick what kind of sale(s) you’re going to run.

There are plenty of options, especially if you’re using a platform or app that gives you lots of choices and flexibility. We’ve put together guides for several popular sale types. These are designed for folks using Ultimate Special Offers, but they’ll give you a great background on how these types of deals work, regardless of app or platform:

To help you pick the sale(s) that will work best for you, consider these questions:

    • What is your level of ecommerce expertise? If you’re less experienced, pick a simple deal like a straightforward percentage discount.
    • What are you trying to accomplish? If you’re aiming to sell large quantities of certain products, try a bulk or volume discount. If you want to increase average order value, try a spend goal or upsell.
    • What will resonate with your customers? If you sell a premium product, perhaps you could skip the discount and offer a free gift with purchase instead.

(We go into a ton of detail on this in our post How to Pick an Offer in Ultimate Special Offers. While it was written for merchants who use our app, any ecommerce seller can use it to help figure out what sale type will work best!).

2. Determine how the sales will apply in your store.

Once you’ve narrowed down the types of sales you’re going to run, you need to determine exactly how those sales are going to apply to your inventory. Consider the following points:

    • You can offer deals storewide, at the collection level, or at the individual product level.
    • You may want to entirely exclude certain products from sales.
    • In addition to putting products on sale, you may want to offer discounted or free shipping.
    • If there are certain products that you’d really like to move, they could have different deals than other products.
    • If you’re planning a more complex deal like a bundle, you’ll need to think specifically about how it is set up (ie, which products are involved, how the pricing/discount will work).

3. Determine how you’re going to set up this functionality in your store.

How you set up your sales depends on the platform you’re using. Some platforms, like Shopify, have some built-in sale functionality. But this functionality is often limited, and it’s important to figure that out well in advance of BFCM! So the last part of your sale strategy is knowing functionally how your sale is going to run. If you’re on Shopify, we suggest an app!

4. Determine who is eligible to receive your deal.

You can certainly keep things simple and make all deals public. But if you’ve got VIP customers, an email list, or social media followers, you may want to offer certain deals to certain groups. This can be done with discount codes or special exclusive links (and the app or platform you’re using will dictate what you’re able to do).

Determine Your Sale Schedule

Now that you know what sales you’re going to run and how they’re going to apply to your products, you need to plan out your sale schedule. Think about the following time periods:

    • The days leading up to Black Friday
    • Black Friday
    • Saturday and Sunday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday
    • Cyber Monday
    • The days following Cyber Monday

It may seem like overkill to think about all these days separately, but you may want to run different sales! Think about it:

    • You could run an early pre-sale to try to beat the rush.
    • You could run deals only on Black Friday, to create urgency.
    • You could run a sale for a week past Cyber Monday, to continue to bring in business.
    • You could run different sales on different days – maybe a BOGO sale on Black Friday and a storewide discount on Cyber Monday.
    • You could run one discount but apply it to different products each day.

There are so many ways you can schedule your sales, and it’s up to you to figure out what’s going to work best for your store. To make things really easy for yourself, use an app like Ultimate Special Offers that allows you to schedule your sales in advance!

If you really want to plan ahead, think about the sales you want to run in December, too. Taking the long view like this may impact what deals you offer over BFCM.

Set Up and Test Your Sales

Setting up and testing your deals ahead of time is incredibly important. You want your sales to run properly, for both the customer and for you! The last thing you want is a barrage of messages from customers on Black Friday telling you that their carts don’t show the correct totals.

And speaking of a barrage of messages, ecommerce support teams get extremely busy in the weeks leading up to late November. If you do have issues or questions related to your ecommerce platform, or a sales app or plugin, you’ll want to get support well ahead of BFCM.

So, here are some steps to take to get set up and tested:

  1. Figure out what tools you’ll use to run your sales. You could just go ahead and install Ultimate Special Offers right now! Or shop around if you must. Remember that apps can conflict with one another, so trial just one at a time. Also be aware that apps can leave behind code after being uninstalled, and this can continue to cause conflicts.
  2. Configure the platform, app, or plug-in according to what kind of sale you’re going to run. (If you’re not sure whether an app has the functionality you want, you can always send in a pre-sales question.)
  3. Test the sale! Does it display and function the way you want it to? Use an incognito window and different browsers. Also test how it works on mobile devices.
  4. Test again closer to the start of the sale. Other apps or changes to your theme could cause changes in how the sale works.

We have a detailed testing post on our blog that really gets into the nitty gritty of testing out sales!

Consider Other Store Functionality

Now that your deals and promos are all sorted and ready to go, think about the rest of your store:

    • Do you need messaging in the store to let people know about your sales? Popups and banners are helpful here. If you’re a shopify merchant, try out our app Pixelpop!
    • Do you have a plan to create urgency? A countdown banner will encourage customers to buy now.
    • Will you highlight sales right on your homepage? If so, what does that content look like?
    • Are your shipping and return policies up to date? An influx of sales may also mean an influx of returns. Lay everything out clearly so that you’re not dealing with a ton of customer questions.
    • Are you prepared to capture email sign ups, or promote your social media? Make sure you’re ready to take advantage of higher traffic levels and give customers a way to connect with you for the long term.
    • Do you have a system in place for requesting product reviews? There are tons of apps available to help with that.
    • Do you want to survey customers post purchase? Our friends at Kno have a great solution for this!

Plan Your Marketing

Customers are ready to buy on BFCM, but only if they know about your sales! You’ll want to plan your marketing tactics well in advance to make sure your audience is prepared.

Email

If you have an email list, you can set up a series of emails scheduled to go out before and during BFCM. Build excitement, send exclusive coupons, and hype up your subscribers! If you’re going to offer special deals on social media, make sure to tell your email subscribers so they can follow you on social as well.

Social Media

Make sure you’ve got plenty of content for your social channels leading up to BFCM. Then, have posts ready to go on each day of the sale reminding followers what your promotions are. Once again, consider cross-promotion: tell your social followers that you’re going to offer exclusive discounts to your email subscribers to encourage them to sign up for your mailing list.

Blog Content

If you have a blog in your store, BFCM sales are great content! You can link to blog posts in email and from social media. A blog post is especially helpful if your sales are somewhat complicated – say, if you’re running a different deal for each day of the BFCM weekend. You can lay everything out in one place and keep directing people to that post.

Copy

How are you going to talk about your deals? How will you ensure your language is compelling and concise? How do you typically talk about deals and discounts for your brand? Just a few copy-related questions to think about!

Design

You’ll need graphics to jazz up your messaging – for social posts, emails, and on your website. Canva is a great place to build these, and they’ll provide templates for social media so you can get all your sizes exactly right.

Schedule Ahead of Time

All of this marketing work can be pre-planned and scheduled for posting/sending way in advance. Even if you’re on a budget, there are free tools like MailerLite for email marketing and Later for social media planning. Keep an eye on pre-scheduled content in case it needs to be tweaked closer to launch.

Consider a Contest

Social media contests are huge at this time of year. Be strategic and run a contest in late October/early November that requires folks to follow your social account(s) or sign up for your emails, and your audience will be that much bigger when you’re promoting BFCM.

Paid Ads

If you run paid ads for your business, now is a great time to make sure you’ve got a campaign going! Reach new customers at prime shopping time. However, this may not be the best time to start brand new ads if it’s not something you’re experienced in. The holidays can be the most effective time of year to advertise, but it’s also the most expensive. If you’re new to paid ads, consider testing at a quieter time of year, and then ramping up for BFCM 2023.

Get Your Logistics in Order

You know your business, so you’ll know better than anyone how to prepare for BFCM. But here are a couple of logistics questions to think about:

    • Is your inventory all prepped and ready to ship?
    • Are your shipping supplies ready to go?
    • If you’re offering gifts with purchase, or any special bonuses, are those ready to go?
    • How are you going to be spending your time on BFCM? Do you have a checklist of things that will need to be done on those days? Can you leave your schedule open so you are available to deal with any issue that may arise?
    • If you have staff, are they all prepared for the potential increase in sales?
    • Have you tested everything, not just your sales? Every link, every app, every product page – check everything, then check it all again!

Let’s Wrap it Up

We’ve given you lots to think about as you and your business head toward BFCM. If it feels overwhelming, take tiny baby steps this year. Run a super simple sale and make sure your customers know about it. Or go absolutely bananas and run every promo Ultimate Special Offers has available (Orbit’s support team would like to note for the record that they do not recommend this. Orbit’s marketing team still thinks you should try).

Don’t forget that we’ve got other BFCM content for you! It’s all hanging out on our blog, just waiting to be helpful.

Go forth and sell!

This blog post is brought to you by Liz, Orbit’s Marketing Generalist.

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