Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming. With major retailers like Target and Amazon already announcing their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, it’s time for other retailers and brands to kick off their own holiday events and campaigns.
We’ve created this Black Friday strategy guide, complete with Cyber Monday campaign ideas, to help you collect content that will boost sales, reach new customers, and build loyal relationships this holiday season.
How to win and keep new customers for Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Right about now, consumers are making their holiday shopping lists, checking them twice, and gearing up for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.
Whether that means getting up before dawn to line up outside a retailer to snag a discounted TV, punching someone in the face for an iPad that’s 10% off, or logging into a brand’s website to get the best online deals, shopping over Thanksgiving weekend is a tradition for many consumers. It’s the official kick-off of the holiday shopping season and the peak time for brands to boost sales.
Last year, nearly 187 million consumers shopped in-store and online during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Online shopping was especially big in 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Black Friday online shoppers surpassed 100 million for the first time ever. And 44% more consumers shopping online over the whole holiday weekend compared to 2019.
Online shopping will still be the go-to for many consumers this year, but 77% say they’ll return to in-store shopping for Black Friday 2021, especially if the retailer is open and a deal isn’t available online. Shoppers also plan to spend 15% more this year—an average of $885.76 compared to $766 in 2020.
Here’s how to ensure you win a large chunk of that stake.
Increase review volume for new and existing products
Shoppers have so many options when choosing the perfect holiday gift for friends and family. One way you can help them make quicker, more informed decisions is by packing your product pages with authentic user-generated content (UGC) in the form of consumer reviews.
Reviews play a key role in shoppers’ decision-making and purchasing habits. But don’t just take our word for it. Appliances Online worked with Bazaarvoice to increase its review quantity and has already tripled its conversion rate
Our research shows that nearly 80% of consumers trust online reviews, and about 40% rely on reviews when deciding what to buy. Even just a handful of reviews can drive up conversion rates and build trust. Just how important are reviews?
Increasing review volume for new products, or existing ones with few reviews, and popular holiday products—like toys, electronics, and clothing—will boost sales of these items. There’s several ways to quickly drum up consumer reviews ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
For example, Incentivize review collection by offering past shoppers a discount or freebie in exchange for a review. Running sweepstakes where shoppers can win a prize when they leave a review can drive up review volume, too.
For new products, a sampling campaign — where product samples are provided in exchange for a review — is an effective way to increase reviews for new and well-loved products. Sampling explained in 30 seconds:
Bazaarvoice customer McPherson’s utilized sampling and saw a 20% review volume lift. This lift effectively helped to launch new products, in turn boosting sales. Sampling works.
Pro tip: Check our guide on more ways to collect that valuable review content.
Collect visual UGC to showcase on product pages
It’s not just review content that makes a difference. There’s multiple types of effective UGC. Visual UGC is the most effective method for preventing shopping cart abandonment. Shoppers want to see how that cozy sweater fits or how noisy that toy actually is. They want to make sure it meets their gift-giving needs before they buy it. Visual UGC, such as consumer photos and videos, lets consumers see a product in action in a real-life setting. It keeps shoppers on your website longer and helps them shop with confidence.
Almost 75% of shoppers would rather see photos and videos from real customers than professional images, according to Bazaarvoice research. More than 60% of consumers are more likely to purchase something if they can see photos and videos from others who’ve bought the same item.
Shoppers view visual UGC as evidence of a product’s quality and that the product description is accurate. It’s especially influential for consumers shopping for higher-value products and top holiday gifts, like electronics.
As you’re collecting reviews, encourage consumers to submit photos and videos of how they’re using products. You can offer incentives, like coupons or free products, to boost visual UGC.
Another approach is to cull visual content that customers post on Instagram, TikTok, and other social media sites. Try adding a branded hashtag that consumers can tag when uploading a photo, like Bazaarvoice customer River Island. The brand promotes the use of #ImWearingRI on its Instagram. Then it uses Bazaarvoice Galleries to populate its product display pages with that content:
Our research shows that when shoppers interact with visual UGC, conversation rates grow by up to 150%.
Answer shopper questions and respond to reviews
Consumers appreciate authentic interactions with brands and retailers. They feel most connected to the brands that they believe understand their needs. 57% are willing to spend more with a brand when they feel a connection and 76% will keep buying from those brands.
One of the best ways to build and deepen connections is to listen to customer feedback and respond, whether it’s via private message or a public reply. About 33% of shoppers expect to receive a public response when they leave a review, whether it’s negative or positive.
A key part of your Cyber Monday and Black Friday strategy should be responding to any customer questions or feedback (positive and negative) if you aren’t already. Your responsiveness will keep your relationship with existing consumers going strong and convert new shoppers into loyal customers.
It’s good for business, too — responding to questions sees an average 98% conversion lift. If you’re looking for a place to start, Bazaarvoice Connections enables you to easily respond to questions across 1750+ retailer sites.
Feature visual UGC across marketing campaigns
Collecting UGC, including ratings and reviews, isn’t just for product pages. It should be included throughout your Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing mix. Get the most out of your UGC by displaying it across advertising campaigns, social media, online search platforms, and in-store marketing.
About half of shoppers look for customer photos on product pages, which is why Bazaarvoice Customer Tuckernuck packs its pages with UGC. Doing so led to a 140% lift in the conversion rates and a 164% increase in time on site.
Another 40% of shoppers look for shopper photos on search engines and other websites that sell the product, according to the Bazaarvoice Shopper Experience Index 2021. Distributing UGC on any and every platform with visual content will help you stand out with holiday shoppers.
Pro tip: Use our handy tool to calculate the potential impact UGC can have on your sales.
Most shoppers view UGC as more authentic and influential than traditional advertising, and UGC offers a higher conversion rate than other marketing content. One reason is that it’s closely linked to social proof, the concept of taking into account choices others have made when we’re making similar decisions. UGC is also more likely to turn one-time purchasers into loyal shoppers.
Invest in paid search and display ads for more exposure
Brands typically spend twice as much on Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing than the rest of the year. So, shoppers are overwhelmed with messages and products. Fresh content on product pages, including reviews and visual UGC, boost your search ranking and guide customers to your products.
To amplify your products and brand, invest in paid search and display advertising ahead of the big shopping days. This tactic lets you market directly to consumers who have been searching for your products and deals, making it more likely that they’ll actually purchase. With customers expected to spend more this Black Friday, the increased advertising spend will likely pay off.
For Black Friday campaigns and Cyber Monday advertising ideas, examine shopping data from past holiday seasons and the current year so far for insight into how consumers are discovering products and what they’re buying. This intel should guide where and when to run ads to boost traffic.
It’s a good idea to start the campaigns as early as possible, but capturing holiday-shopping procrastinators works too. 22% of shoppers planned to start their holiday shopping in October, while 17% said they’ll shop on Black Friday or later, according to RetailMeNot.
Personalize experiences through email marketing
Holiday messages fill our inboxes this time of year. Why? Because email marketing gives brands the opportunity to engage with shoppers one-on-one. And more importantly, the tactic can bring an ROI of over 100%. This aids both customer retention and acquisition because you can reach shoppers at different points in their shopping journey.
To make your Black Friday strategy and Cyber Monday campaign successful, use email marketing to tease holiday sales and encourage consumers to sign up for your newsletter to get a sneak peek or special pre-sale deal, such as free shipping or 20% off. Then, send them relevant content based on their shopping preferences, purchase history, and other factors.
Send follow-up emails counting down to Black Friday and Cyber Monday and messages on the day of. Feature UGC in your email campaigns to heighten authenticity and build a connection with shoppers.
Don’t stop there though, use out-of-stock emails to turn a negative shopper experience into a positive. Inventory issues are a real problem currently, thanks to pandemic-induced supply chain issues. Stocks are low all over the globe. Use an out-of-stock email to lure those disappointed customers back.
Pro tip: Here’s a template for crafting the perfect out-of-stock email.
Once someone purchases a product, send a post-interaction email asking them to leave a review for the item. These emails can increase review content by up to 9x and increase review volume by 50%, according to our research.
Build emotional connections via social media
Social media influences shopping habits year-round, but especially over the holidays. It’s where consumers discover new brands and products and find inspiration for gifts—for themselves and others. About 30% have purchased from social media over the past year thanks to the rise in social commerce. Shoppers say they enjoy buying on social media because they like how products look in a brand’s posts and brands tagging products makes it easy to click and buy.
While the ability to buy on social platforms is critical, shoppers also want fresh shoppable content. Consumers, especially younger demographics, are drawn to visual UGC on social media. Our research shows that 73% of 18 – 34-year-old shoppers prefer brands to use visual UGC for social media outreach. They also want new UGC content two to three times a week. Yet another reason to be constantly collecting it!
Shoppers also feel connected to brands that have a strong social media presence and enjoy content that humanizes the brand. Sprout Social research tells us that consumers want to learn about the people behind the brand. About 70% feel more connected to brands when its CEO or employees post on social media. When they feel connected, shoppers buy from those brands, spend more money, and recommend them to family and friends.
Blend in-store and online shopping experiences
This holiday season, just as many shoppers will be dashing to their favorite shops as cozying up with their laptops. Your Black Friday strategy and Cyber Monday events should factor in both in-store and online experiences. Shoppers want an omnichannel experience, so looking for ways to blend innovative in-store offerings with the growth in online shopping is crucial.
Online shoppers prefer looking at UGC to see how an item fits. Whereas in-store shoppers enjoy the experience of touching and feeling products before they buy. They’re also more likely to browse for items not on their shopping lists. Offering exceptional customer experiences will keep them in the store longer and possibly buying more. Think about ways to engage consumers with holiday-themed pop-up or limited-edition experiences.
Stores can feature long lines, messy shelves, crowds, and the risk of being pepper-sprayed, though. Streamlining the checkout process and prioritizing safety will attract shoppers — nearly 50% said they plan to spend more with retailers that prioritise health and safety, according to Edelman.
With COVID-19 still impacting shopping behaviors, retailers that offer self-checkout or contactless checkout will put shoppers at ease. Buy online and pick up in store (BOPIS) saw massive growth during the pandemic and remains popular with shoppers who want to avoid holiday crowds.
Make sure your e-commerce site keeps up with shopper demand
Online shoppers flocking to brand and retailer websites expect to find what they’re looking for and check out with ease. With the huge increase in traffic on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, brands must be able to keep up with the demand and provide top-notch experiences. Slow websites and complicated checkout processes turn off shoppers, and they may not return.
More than 50% of shoppers say slow retail sites frustrate them, and 90% have left a slow-loading website, according to Retail Systems Research. When a website is too sluggish, 57% of consumers start shopping with another similar retailer and 41% turn to Amazon. Another 21% never return to the retailer with a slow site.
Also, make sure your website is optimized so shoppers can find it when they use search engines. Google and other search engines are where most consumers begin their shopping journey and find gifting inspiration. At that point, consumers haven’t settled on a brand or retailer website to shop from, so it’s an opportunity to get in front of shoppers and encourage them to visit your e-commerce site.
Pro tip: A good Google Seller Rating (above) can make or break your business. Learn here how to make the most of this essential feature.
Optimize your website for seamless mobile shopping
People spend more than four hours a day on their phones. I know, I thought that number would be higher too! But still, that’s 28 hours a week. Most of this time is spent browsing e-commerce sites and scrolling through social media. As a result, mobile shopping continues to grow. Last year between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, smartphone shopping made up 41.1% of revenue. That’s 7.4% more than in 2019, according to Adobe Analytics.
Shoppers also rely on their phones while shopping in-store to compare prices and read customer reviews before purchasing. With mobile becoming such an important part of both online and in-store shopping, it’s more important than ever that brands and retailers ensure streamlined mobile shopping experiences.
Slow-to-load mobile sites are frustrating for consumers and costly for brands. When page load times increase from 1 second to 10 seconds, bounce rates among mobile visitors increase by 123%. More than a third of shoppers will buy from a retailer’s mobile site once they start shopping on their phones because the process is easy, according to Retail Systems Research.
Increase loyalty program sign-ups with lead generation
Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a great time to invest in lead generation. Everyone is in the holiday spirit, feeling generous, and excited about giving and getting gifts. Set up a pop-up on your website encouraging consumers to sign up for your emails in exchange for a special holiday discount. Maybe even free shipping or a gift. Growing your email list will enable you to segment your customers based on shopping habits and favorite products so you can engage with them on a deeper level.
The holiday shopping season (or the lead-up to it) is a great time to increase loyalty program sign-ups, too. Incentivize signing up by offering early access to new products, free upgraded shipping, and special discounts. 78% of shoppers are more likely to shop with brands with loyalty programs, and 91% feel that good customer service encourages repeat shopping with a brand, according to Salesforce.
Retaining loyal shoppers costs much less than acquiring new ones, after all. Loyalty programs give brands access to a wealth of customer data, helping you get to know customers and offer experiences that are relevant and personalized. Brands can also use the programs to collect customer reviews and UGC and use the feedback to improve products and customer experiences.
Pro tip: Here’s your checklist for building a world-class customer loyalty program.
Highlight your mission and the causes you care about
It’s the season of giving. While shoppers are engaging with your brand on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, let them know about your mission, the causes and charities that you support, and your plans for Giving Tuesday. Consumers are increasingly expecting brands to support causes they care about and express their same values.
72% of consumers want brands to contribute to society in a positive way, and 64% want brands to use their power to help people, according to Sprout Social. Over the past 18 months, consumers expect brands to take health and safety seriously and treat their workers well. Shoppers connect on a deeper level with the brands they trust.
About half of Gen Z and millennial consumers are willing to spend more and support retailers and brands that give back to the community and donate to charity, according to an Edelman survey. To show shoppers that causes are important to your mission, create campaigns to donate a certain percentage of sales to a charity, offer buy-one-give-one promotions, and provide discounts to essential workers. These mission-driven marketing tactics will help you stand out while building a loyal following.
Create a sense of urgency and incentivize quick purchases
Shoppers are getting in the holiday spirit earlier and earlier. More brands and retailers are debuting Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaigns in October to drum up excitement and help shoppers plan their gifting. The earlier you tease sales, the more likely you can get consumers to sign up for your newsletter or text alerts. This will help expand your base of loyal followers, who are eagerly awaiting the sale to kick off.
Creating countdowns, hosting flash sales, and offering time-sensitive discounts and perks will inspire a sense of urgency and encourage quick purchases. For example, offer an extra 20% off during certain hours on Black Friday, early morning special sales, or a one-time discount code sent by text as a Cyber Monday event.
Inspire a sense of FOMO—fear of missing out—by including a note on product pages showing how many shoppers just purchased the item or are looking at it. Also, tap into visual UGC to show products in use and share consumers’ social media posts about their Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping experiences, including what they bought.
Get festive in your marketing messaging
’Tis the season to be jolly! Getting festive in your holiday marketing will capture shoppers’ attention and entice them to shop with you over others, during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the rest of the season.
Consumers link holiday shopping and a festive mood. More than a third shop over Thanksgiving weekend to get into the holiday spirit, and 25% shop Black Friday sales because it’s family tradition. Shoppers enjoy a festive ambiance and holiday-themed activities, like visiting Santa.
Look for ways to tap into holiday nostalgia and shoppers’ festive feelings both online and in-store. Decorate with tinsel and twinkle lights in-store and offer holiday- and brand-themed Instagrammable backdrops. Curate gift guides, set up holiday-themed playlists, or create opportunities for shoppers to donate to charity when they check out.
Leverage the busy shopping season to collect even more reviews
Cyber Monday and Black Friday are the official start of the holiday shopping season. But consumers will be shopping up until Christmas Day. Take advantage of the increased sales during these few weeks to increase the number of reviews and UGC on your product pages. Reviews don’t just validate purchases, they drive product discovery too:
Email shoppers post-purchase to ask them to review their purchases and solicit reviews and visual UGC on social media.
Another tried-and-tested method is with a customer satisfaction survey. Not only will one provide you with reviews to showcase across your social channels and website, but it will also provide you insight on how you can improve for next year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday. After all, leveraging customer feedback is the best way to improve products.
This will also ensure you have fresh review content coming in, which is beneficial no matter the season. Nearly all shoppers look at how recently a review was written to inform their purchasing decisions, our research shows.
To keep reviews fresh and relevant, switch on Bazaarvoice ReviewSource and active the Influenster community. Shoppers are already writing about your products. We see over a million new reviews each month in fact. They’re just sitting there, waiting for you to utilize them. As below demonstrates:
It’s the busiest shopping time of the year. We know it can be daunting. But these Black Friday event ideas and Cyber Monday campaign ideas will ensure you have a successful and joyful holiday shopping season. Stick to our guide and you’ll win over new customers and turn them into loyal shoppers. Happy holidays all round!