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Best Practices for a Successful BFCM (Even in a Pandemic)

The leaves are turning and pumpkin spice has taken over our coffee, which means the holidays are approaching! It’s about to be the biggest time of the year for sales and, pandemic or not, we’ve got best practices to rock Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) so you can end 2020 on a high note.

Google’s research is showing that holiday shoppers are already anticipating a further reliance on digital shopping for BFCM 2020. So we’ll go over some basics as well as more advanced tips and tricks for your e-commerce store so you can delight your customers, crank up your sales …and make a difference while doing it!

“People are considering new brands and new stores or trying to help their communities as they gear up for their holiday shopping,” says Justin De Graaf, global head of ads research and insights at Google. 

In fact, people are shopping earlier and are seeking value over price. These are all good news for Shopify stores like yours supporting causes shoppers care about.

Because nowadays, the holidays and the giving season are one and the same. And when you put selling and giving together, the result is higher average order value (AOV) and cart conversions, customers that feel good about their purchases, and happier nonprofits!

On top of that, a Yotpo survey conducted at the end of August 2020, nearly 40% of respondents said they planned on starting their holiday shopping in September, October, or November, with 20% saying they had already started.

So the time to prep your BFCM sales is right now! Follow our best practices for a profitable and smooth holiday sales process.

Best Practices for a Successful BFCM (Even in a Pandemic) 

1. Prepare to scale

The word is out: this year, BFCM will start earlier and end later than ever before. Amazon is running Prime Day in mid-October in addition to deals starting before Thanksgiving and ending after Cyber Monday. Home Depot plans on two months of deals rather than just a week. Even if you’re not planning on two solid months of sales, customers will be expecting longer-lasting deals. 

If all goes well, you’re about to get more website traffic and require more resources from server capacity to humanpower to fulfill orders. Make sure you have everything you need ready to go before the holiday rush hits — and as soon as possible is best! 

With that in mind: what can you streamline? Who do you need to hire? The time to prepare is now.

2. Negotiate deals for faster shipping 

Hit up your shipping service and explore their offerings – do they have seasonal deals? What are the shipping deadlines this year?

And most of all, remember this rule: fast shipping beats free shipping, especially during December ahead of Hanukkah, Christmas, and other holidays.

3. Optimize your give-back promotion on your store

We believe that giving back is best practiced year-round because it feels good and pays off no matter what the season. But if your store only runs one or two give-back campaigns per year, get ready because giving season is around the corner!

Give-back campaigns raise AOV (have you checked out our case studies?). Leverage cause marketing this season to not just make the world a better place, but also to help you stand out especially at a time when more stores now have an online presence. 

Did you know that given similar price and quality of products, 91% of consumers said they would likely switch to purchasing to a brand that supports a cause they believe in? (Source: Cone/Echo Global CSR Study).

So run a Donate for Discount campaign instead of a run of the mill sale. Consider donating a large portion of your sales for Giving Tuesday with the % of Sales campaign or offer to match donations. Let customers round up their order at cart or checkout throughout the season with Round-Up. Let customers contribute and make an impact on their own through Donation Tiers. (Check out all the ways to give through your Shopify store offered by Shop for Good by DailyKarma here.)

Stand for something and your audience will tune in and appreciate it (just be mindful of the causes you choose to support and ensure these are causes your audience supports as well!). Need some tips? Check out our giving campaign best practices.

4. Be authentic

During a global pandemic when millions have lost their jobs, consumers are looking for authenticity and to be met where they’re at — they want you to be real, not pretend like everything is okay and market your products from inside a vacuum. We’re all struggling to some degree and it’s okay (and even expected nowadays) to acknowledge it.

How can you connect with your audience on a deeper level? Whether it’s through memes, jokes, behind-the-scenes tidbits, and/or heartfelt messages from your brand leaders, shoppers want to feel that you’re in it with them. Because we are! And customers want to invest in a brand, not buy a soulless product. 

The idea is to create meaningful experiences for your shoppers — 2020 has been rough for everybody and customers are looking for brands that tap into what we’re all feeling right now. How can you tap into the emotional side of your customer and create a connection that’s deeper than what you create when you just push a product?

Integrate your brand messaging with what’s going on right now — and take this as an opportunity to discuss your values because, in the end, it all ties together. The result is a stronger, more aligned brand and that will benefit you into the future because in this day and age, relationships trump discounts.

5. Test, test, test

Test your transactional emails (receipts, order confirmation, shipping confirmation, delivery confirmation, and so on). And thoroughly test your customer flow: open your store in an incognito window and pretend you’re a customer — what do you see? What steps do you take? How fast is your website loading? Is everything showing up as expected? What’s the customer experience like on desktop vs mobile?

If it’s working smoothly, you’re good to go. If you hit any snags, you’ve got time to fix them 😉 

6. Advertise effectively ahead of Black Friday/Cyber Monday 

One small silver lining of 2020 is that cost per thousand (CPM) prices have dropped — take advantage and run some ads to get new eyes on your store ahead of the holidays (when prices are expected to be higher).

“CPM prices are lower than ever across various channels. Start advertising as early as it makes sense for your brand,” advised Talia Shani from Yotpo. 

Start with awareness ads to educate new people on your offerings and run retargeting ads closer to BFCM to get them to buy. You can also get their email addresses now and warm them up via email to save on ad spend later. 

Remember that you can promote early access or an exclusive limited-time offer now as a way to grow your subscriber list and build that relationship after BFCM with email flows to encourage repeat purchases into 2021. 

7. Create an abandoned cart strategy 

If you don’t have this going already, make sure to send an email 15 minutes after a website visitor abandons the cart — they may have just gotten distracted and be glad you sent them a reminder to finish the checkout process! 

You can even send them another email 1-2 days later with a discount offer if they didn’t purchase right away — you may be surprised at how well this tactic works.

8. Invest in the post-purchase customer experience 

It’s a great time to invest in relationships with shoppers to keep them coming back long after the holiday season is over. Use a loyalty program like Smile.io (for which we’re thrilled to offer an integration!) or at the very least send customers an email with a discount code to encourage repeat purchases. 

This is the best time to set up a loyalty program and use the power of reward psychology to deepen connections and boost your bottom line. A rewards program sets you up for BFCM and beyond, allowing you to fine-tune your positioning and build a solid community of customers through a sense of belonging.

Go the extra mile this BFCM

Don’t do what you did in 2019. Customers can get bored of the same ol’, same ol’. How can you wow them this year? 

In summary, if you take nothing else away from this article, let it be this: plan on a longer BFCM run this year and integrate giving into it to help you stand out from competitors.

Need a cause marketing brainstorm? Book a quick value-packed call with our Chief Impact Officer Mel Lubey during October.

Ready to launch a Q4 give-back campaign ahead of BFCM?
Download Shop for Good here.

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91% of consumers said they'd likely switch to purchasing from a brand that supports a cause they believe in.

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