October 19, 2022

Everything You Need for Black Friday Cyber Monday 2023

Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2022 are fast approaching, and as we work to be as prepared as possible, we can use this as an opportunity to jump on next year. WooRank's latest webinar, full of eCommerce and Marketing experts, details how to stay ahead of the competition, create a customer-driven online and offline experience, and avoid critical Black Friday Cyber Monday mistakes.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) are two of the year's busiest, highest revenue-generating shopping days. ECommerce sites that can take advantage of their data and plan accordingly can drive revenue and build a successful customer experience that will guarantee higher traffic and conversion every holiday season.

BFCM Dos & Don’ts

WooRank's new webinar, "Everything You Need to Know About BFCM 2023: Bridgeline All-Stars Roundtable," had eCommerce and Marketing experts from WooRank, HawkSearch, and Bridgeline; all of whom have a decade or more within their respective fields. When it comes to BFCM horror stories, they have more than a few to tell around the campfire, as VP of Marketing at Bridgeline, Danielle Erwin, puts it.

When it comes to the dos and don'ts of preparing for BFCM, the golden rule is always to expect the unexpected. Murphy's Law states, "anything that can go wrong will go wrong." All we can do is prepare, avoid simple mistakes, and be quick to fix the ones we do make. If something goes wrong, make sure you have a list of contacts ready to communicate quickly and efficiently to fix the problem as soon as possible.

Firstly, we can get ahead of BFCM by ensuring there are no misunderstandings or miscommunications internally. Any customer support you offer on your site or in your store needs to be 100% aware of all publicized promotions and all their details—failure to communicate leaves you with limited customer support and internal and external parties without the proper information.

Secondly, flexibility is essential when it comes to BFCM. We can't know what will go wrong until it does, so being able to put out fires as they pop up will help you save the day. Last-minute edits from a web developer or graphic designer may be necessary and having quick access to those individuals can make a difference.

Thirdly, from a technical point of view, eCommerce site owners need to communicate with all their partners about what they expect from BFCM. Especially when it comes to your estimated traffic, sharing your tech needs and working with your partners to up your bandwidth by 50 to 75% is how you can stay ahead. Not doing so risks a site crash that you might be unable to fix quickly.

Lastly, eCommerce site owners that maintain their sites and work to optimize their operation can achieve a successful BFCM. For example, uploading heavy images or content that takes a long time to load can reduce page speed and keep a shopper from converting. You'll want to evaluate your hosting provider and you should consider upgrading to cloud or VPS hosting. Additionally, simple things like lowering unnecessary HTML code, tags, and whitespace while enabling browser caching to avoid reloading every page can benefit the user experience.

BFCM Language

One common theme throughout the webinar is that your BFCM success can hinge on your communication skills. Externally, how you communicate with your audience is how you will gain the traffic and the data to succeed year after year.

Utilizing the language from past campaigns and then reviewing its performance is a solid way to build a movement, as suggested by the VP of Sales at Bridgeline, Nathan Hedley. Past language will help eCommerce site owners and content creators in their keyword-building strategies and might also help with trend tracking. Consumers like to "window shop" online; eCommerce merchants can get ahead of the game by thinking like a consumer, searching websites for specific products and deals, and then recreating that language on their site.

This research gives them a working understanding of keywords that convert customers because they use them themselves. Tying those keywords and phrases into the metadata for product descriptions or landing pages can help drive those conversions.

Short-term Prep

Properly preparing for BFCM can take weeks, if not months, as eCommerce merchants take their time to see significant strategies and initiatives pay off. That said, there are things you can do to prepare in the short term that can aid you in your efforts faster.

One thing website owner can do to boost conversions is draft quick content on the traffic and activity they're seeing centered on trending products and BFCM topics. Long-tail keywords take time to soak, but can use short-tail keywords quicker for faster organic traffic to the right products.

The best way to prepare in the short term is to research by looking at your customer data. Back-end search data, provided by solutions like Google Analytics and HawkSearch, can give insight into what your customers need. With that level of understanding, you can promote specific products, draft quality content, and build your web pages around the information most likely to help drive conversion.

Site Search

When it comes to site-search, make sure your onsite search bar can provide relevant results. If a site visitor can't find what they're looking for, they won't convert. Additionally, if your site cannot return a match to a search query, review your fallbacks like the "zero found" questions. Your search bar can often be your best salesperson, so make sure it isn't hindering your revenue growth with poor functionality.

Add special rules like autocomplete, product recommendations, or synonyms to a search term. That way, no matter how a visitor searches where they describe the product briefly or misspell a word, they can still have a chance of being directed towards what they're seeking.

Marketing Activities

First, review category pages for products and services; if a customer navigates to a product category page, what are the first products they see? A specific BFCM category can direct users and influence buyer emotions, encouraging them to convert if they can easily find what they need at a discount they love.

Secondly, review the checkout process. If your checkout is simple and efficient, you can communicate it to your shoppers, who will be in a hurry on BFCM. Optimize anything that can potentially be a roadblock to conversion; if your shoppers are looking to buy, don't accidentally stand in their way.

Thirdly, build a banner campaign to get the word out. Banners are simple to create and use to your brand's advantage. Use it to highlight your sale items and all BFCM discounts you offer. Make sure all offerings are the same if you have a multi-channel business or a physical location.

BFCM Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) will be one of your greatest assets regarding BFCM. In terms of preparing your site to earn a high ranking on Google's search results page, it helps to stick to the basics, according to Nils de Moor from WooRank.

More significant SEO projects can take time, sometimes requiring months to see any improvement. So, the earlier you can start, the better position you'll be in for 2023. Proper metadata, readable content, and robust Core Web Vitals can all help you earn a better ranking faster.

Thanks to updates from Google, a new key ranking factor will be the user experience. Making the product and category pages centered on trending products as user-friendly as possible will strengthen your ranking, as it will help keep users happy. As Nils states in the webinar, "Happy users means happy Google."

Helpful BFCM Tools

A myriad of Business Intelligence and analytic tools are available to help prepare your website for BFCM. The key is to find the ones that fit your business needs and make your job as a website owner more manageable.

One such tool is the Google Business Profile Manager. This tool works exceptionally well for small business owners operating with a more minor team. As Jeremy LaDuque of TruPresence states, the Business Profile Manager focuses on maintaining the surface results, or what Google users see when they are on a search results page. It can help organize all the information your store or site offers, letting merchants list store hours, location, site contact information, and BFCM information. The Business Profile Manager also manages a business's map listing, which is vital to local SEO.

Tools that can offer competitor analysis are also imperative to your BFCM preparations. Using business intelligence and analytic tools to monitor competitor SEO rankings, prices, and product offerings can help you know exactly who your competitors are during the holiday shopping season. Most eCommerce platforms will have some APIs capable of offering an RSS feed to keep you informed on all your competitors' websites.

As previously stated, site search solutions like HawkSearch are also beneficial. Tools with features that factor in things like entitlements, so online customers don't accidentally try to buy something that isn't available to them, can be mission critical. Additionally, functionality like HawkSearch's boost and bury rule can help when your inventory is running low, allowing you the option to hide product results that are not actively for sale. That way, customers know what they can and can't purchase.

Other tools like Google Trends can help you quickly see what products are trending this year, allowing you to prioritize your marketing efforts and content creation around certain products to drive traffic better. Meetglimpse and Answerthepublic are fantastic alternatives that can also help.

Brick and Mortar BFCM

As Jeremy points out in the webinar, it is still true that people conduct BFCM shopping in person. If you have a physical location, it's essential to translate your digital activity into offline revenue growth where you can.

For instance, franchisees or small businesses need to create a unity between the business they conduct online and offline. Start by optimizing your website and all listing pages for "near me" search terms. Specifically, "near me" or “best" drives local SEO and physical foot traffic toward your BFCM deals. One tactic is to create a URL based on a highly searchable keyword that redirects to your site. So, if a user is looking for the "best electronics," you can use that to guide their traffic to your page.

Just as the online shopping experience needs to be as positive as possible, the in-store shopping experience needs to be just as memorable. BFCM is incredibly competitive. Offering such services as in-store pickup, where people can buy online and pick up in person, is a great way to create unity between your online and offline store. Brick-and-mortar stores are taking it further, offering daycare services and joint offerings, such as a restaurant or café inside their store.

Standing Out on BFCM

Every year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday become increasingly competitive. With thousands of online and offline stores, attempting to stand out from the crowd can sometimes feel hopeless. Luckily, there are ways to differentiate yourself, but they take time and effort.

As Danielle brings home in the webinar, research is the key to getting noticed on BFCM. Research, research, and more research. Research last year's trends and performance, current trends and competitor offerings, and the experience you must always offer.

Simple things can make all the difference, so don't be scared to experiment. The colors and language you use on your site and promotions can drive or hinder traffic. Research how they performed, and depending on the return, change it up. Remaining static in an online marketplace is a surefire way to hinder your growth.

Another excellent way to stand out is to ask your customers what you can do to get their attention. They will have the best insights on improving their experience, even if they might not have specific advice.

Internally, develop a culture that promotes creativity and ingenuity. A team that can naturally think freely will readily embrace contemporary trends in an attention-grabbing way. That way, it’s not the same old campaign repeatedly every year. Brainstorm year-round, regardless of whether it's time for BFCM, and keep track of those ideas, so you’re ready to create something exciting when your audience craves it the most.

All these ideas together- excellent communication, the right toolset for your operation, and the creative space to grow can lead to an incredibly successful Black Friday Cyber Monday in 2023.

Nick Zerbst

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