It might be hard to believe, but the end of the year holidays are right around the corner. Some stores have already started putting out Halloween decorations, which means Thanksgiving and Christmas aren’t that far behind.
When it comes to preparing for this time of year, there’s no such thing as starting too early. Black Friday is a crazy day for all businesses, but Cyber Monday can be just as bad if you sell your products online. That’s why you need to make sure your site is ready. If it fails to load or crashes on either day, your customers will be off to the next properly working eCommerce website, which is why you need to prepare, and this guide will help you ensure that your site is ready.
Check the Status of Your Site
The first thing you need to do to ensure that your site is ready for the influx of consumers you’ll receive at the end of November is to check that everything is running properly right now. If you have an ongoing list of problems you need to fix, now is the time to start working on them. Potential issues that could become amplified on the big day could include:
- Slow load times
- Broken links
- Confusing layouts
- Temperamental servers
Any of these could kill your sales on Black Friday in an instant. Shoppers are watching for these problems like hawks, and if multiple reports of a broken site start spreading around, the biggest sales day of the year could be over in an instant for you. If you can’t fix these issues yourself, you’ll need to hire someone who can.
Look Into Server Capabilities
While the first three problems in that list are very much items that you can handle within your company, that last one isn’t. The quality of your online servers is totally up to your website’s hosting provider. If you have any reason to worry about your site’s servers going down during the big day, now would be the time to voice your concerns.
You can either talk to the provider directly or look into what past customers have said about them online, but there are a few things you’ll want to make sure of. First, try to find out how well their servers have held out in past years. Even if you used them before and had no issues, you could have just been lucky. This year, you might not.
After that, you need to ensure that their service can keep your site and customers safe from online threats. Since Black Friday is an important day for every retail business in America, it’s also a prime time for hackers to take advantage of the situation.
And finally, it’s never a bad idea to ask if you’ll receive any compensation if your provider fails to uphold any uptime guarantees they promise. Many companies these days offer this kind of perk to draw users in, so be sure to take advantage of it. If you don’t think your website server provider is up to the task, it’s better to shop around for a new one before it’s too late to make a change.
Start Building Some Buzz
Even though much of the preparation process involves ensuring that your eCommerce site is ready for the holiday season, that’s not the only aspect you should focus on. When the big day comes, you need to ensure that people think of you as one of the many places they want to shop that day. That means building some buzz around your brand by pushing your online content.
Whether your primary focus is your social media page or a blog you have running through your website, you need to lean into the content you’re creating. Work your way up in the algorithm to get more people interested and talking about you. Create engaging content they’ll want to share with their family and friends.
As Black Friday and Cyber Monday loom nearer, start working on articles and posts about the new products you’re offering and what might be on sale for the big day. In other words, build some hype! Obviously, you don’t want to push so hard that people feel like you’re shoving your marketing down their throats, but you also don’t want them to forget about you before the shopping season kicks off. You’ll need to find that delicate balance.
Tailor Marketing Toward the Season
Speaking of marketing, it’s never a bad idea to find new audiences through paid advertising. Even if you’ve never dipped your toes into this side of digital marketing before, you can find tons of easy-to-follow tips on creating an effective PPC campaign that you can use to get started.
Once again, the earlier you start this, the better. You should try to grab the attention of people who might be interested in what you have to offer before someone else does. Do this by starting out slow with some baseline ads that work you into the PPC algorithms. But as the holidays get closer, you can start ramping up and tailoring your ads toward them.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with these. You must attempt to stand out. Nothing excites people more than the warm feelings the winter holidays give them. Take advantage of that and make your ads reflect the season that you’re selling for.
The Early Game Isn’t About Sales
Regardless of what you decide to advertise before Black Friday hits, anything that gets people to check out your site is a win. Once they’re on it, you can convince them to join your newsletter or create an account with the option to opt-in for sale updates. You don’t even have to sell anything to them just yet. All you want is the ability to remind them where to shop after Thanksgiving Day.
Of course, we don’t want you to forget about your current clientele either. Remarketing campaigns are just as important around this time of year. Depending on your industry, competition can be quite intense. If you don’t keep your loyal customers onboard, you could easily lose them to a competitor trying the same techniques as you. Just like in sports, the best offense is a good defense.
Keep Track of Your Stock
One huge mistake many newer companies make that you’ll definitely want to avoid is not having enough stock for their online storefront when the holidays arrive. If some of your big-ticket items are running low in the months leading up to Black Friday, you must act now to remedy the situation.
Whether you produce your own goods or hire a third party to make them for you, workers and resources become more difficult to maintain and obtain the closer you get to the holidays. People start asking for more time off, and the demand for certain materials skyrockets. If you plan early and have a stockpile of products ready to go while everyone else struggles to get theirs together, you’ll have a leg up on the competition.
If stock is difficult to hold onto, don’t hesitate to slow down on your current sales pushes. Reduce the number of discounts you’re giving out, and if needed, increase the prices on some of your more popular items. These tactics aren’t ones that you’ll necessarily want to use ideally, but there are still plenty of supply line issues because of the pandemic. So current customers will understand.
Why This Is So Vital
Even though we’ve gone over several reasons you need to ensure your website is ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we haven’t really covered the main one yet. In the last few years, COVID-19 has changed the way many companies do business. There’s a good chance that you might not have even offered online sales before 2020, but now you do because the market has shifted.
Black Friday used to be the busiest day for brick-and-mortar stores by a long shot, and while it still is for many stores, the number of people who show up in person is significantly lower than it used to be. This is due to the fact that consumers are now much more accustomed to shopping from their couches.
Even though things seem to have finally returned to normal since the beginning of the pandemic, many people still plan on shopping for deals from home. This increase in online sales means that more and more small websites are having trouble keeping up. So if you don’t prepare ahead of time, you might be inadvertently dooming yourself. However, so long as you follow these tips and stay on top of things before Black Friday arrives, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.