Growth and Monetization

The Ultimate Black Friday Checklist: A Guide For The Last-Minute Planner

November 18, 2022
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It’s that time of the year.

For most business owners (and customers, for that matter), Black Friday season means chaos. Being one of the most anticipated shopping events of the year, BFCM weeks is no joke. And we know, we know, it’s a week away. But we kid you not, you still have time. We know how hectic the season can get, so we compiled a final checklist and an in-depth guide for everything you need to have taken care of before the final day.  Download it through the link below.

Interactive Black Friday Checklist For The Last Minute PlannerDownload

Your Ultimate Black Friday Checklist starts here

1. Start Planning

We know, we know. But it’s too late. Is it actually, though? 

When it comes to seasons and strategies, late is better than never. Truth is, you’re doing yourself and your business a service a favor by joining the race last minute than watching from the sidelines. 

No matter the product, if there’s demand, there’s a way. 

The first step to planning and what might make things a lot easier is to look at your performance last Black Friday

  1. Don't stop planning. Create plans B, C, and well, you get the picture. 

Murphy said it first: anything that can go wrong will go wrong. 

Being prepared means asking terrible questions and creating contingency plans. So it’s time to put our pessimist hat on and think about the worst-case scenarios. Fun! 

What happens if demand becomes too high? What about too low? What happens if the shipping company becomes too busy? How flexible is your plan A? 

It’s not the most pleasurable way to spend your time, but it’s necessary to avoid any unwanted mishaps.  It’s way easier to plan now than to fix it later.

Common challenges include: 

  1. Delayed shipping:

To make sure you can fulfill orders, consider having alternative shipping options, such as an eCommerce fulfillment provider that specializes in order processing and delivery. 

  1. Running out of stock:

    Contact suppliers before BFCM to make sure if they can handle your projected sales. In case all goes awry, you could enhance your site experience to include on-site product recommendations to enable customers to find similar options to what they choose. Collecting their email addresses and providing personalized offers and extended deals past BFCM is a great way to encourage them to place orders when items are back in stock.
  1. Go Back To Last Year

What worked, what didn’t, and most importantly, why? By evaluating last year, you should be able to forecast the number of orders, traffic, and conversion rate. Check out your previous campaigns along with how your competitors and benchmarks performed, and create a fool-proof strategy based on the numbers. 

  1. Forecast Trends

With last year’s numbers, along with more secondary research, you should be able to forecast how you’ll be able to perform this year and other trends you should put into account. Is there a certain product that could sell more than others? Prioritize spending ads on that. Is there a certain strategy that worked last year that wouldn’t work this year? Kill it. Keep looking at the data and asking yourself questions, and building accordingly. 

  1. Check out what your competitors are doing. (You know, for inspo.)

Not only do you have to look at the past and the future, but you also need to look at what your competitors are doing. You want to avoid being too much of a copycat and being irrelevant. You can look through your competitors' and benchmarks’ previous successful campaigns and what they might be doing in preparation for this season and try to outsmart them. By staying intact with what your competitors are doing, you’re making sure your strategy will lure your customers to your site instead of theirs.

  1. Prepare for a looooong sales period. 

If you think that this Black Friday, Cyber Monday (BFCM) will only be on Friday and Monday, well, think again. The trend for the past few years has been sales and promotions for weeks and days leading up to BFCM and possibly continuing after. In a 2021 Holiday Trends study, 65% of US Shoppers said they make their holiday purchases before Thanksgiving, and sales on Black Friday itself would drop by 31%.

However, beware of running sales for too long. 41% of consumers say they want sales to run for 1-6 days, while 23% say they would rather that sales only last the weekend. It’s up to you to do your homework and find that sweet spot in the middle.

  1. Make sure your site works, and make sure it works fast. 

The only thing that's worse than a site that doesn’t open is a site that doesn’t open fast. 46% of customers say they wouldn’t ever return to a slow website. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen to you. Site speed influences conversion rates, retention rates, and even your Google ranking. You want to make sure your customers have the best shopping experience amid a very stressful shopping season.

  1. Make sure it's optimized for mobile. 

You could have the coolest product with the best discounts, and it all wouldn’t matter if your website isn’t user and mobile friendly enough.  A few quick fixes to uplift your mobile UX are: 
- Making sure buttons are tap friendly
- Clarifying CTAs
- Employing Responsive Design
- Reducing Pop-Ups

  1. Make sure it’s easy to navigate. 

Is it easy for your customers to find what they're looking for on your site? Would they get lost just to go from point A to point B? Make sure your site is simple 

Simplify the purchasing journey by gathering all your Black Friday promotions on one page with a collection of your promotional items. Remember to feature cohesive copy and imagery that will bring your campaign to life, and avoid cluttering the page to the point that your customers are overwhelmed by what you're offering. In this case, less is definitely more. 

  1. Set up a cart abandonment strategy. 

In 2021, the average cart abandonment rate was 79.88%. That doesn’t have to be you. One of the best cart abandonment strategies (other than, you know, them not abandoning their cart) is follow-up emails. Use a compelling, funny, and hard-to-refuse email to get people back to your store. Get warmed up on your email strategy before BFCM since it’s more probable that people will abandon their carts then. 

  1. Make sure your customer support system is STRONG.

We mean it. If there’s one day you shouldn't skimp on customer support, it’s Black Friday. We all know the power of a really happy customer and the wrath of an angry one too. 

Reasons why customers may be frustrated include (but def are not limited to): lost orders, late orders, the wrong package, and slow response times. 

If you make sure to handle these customers in an empathetic, effective, and personalized manner, you’re set for what makes a great customer service experience. It’s also a great way to make sure customers will come back! 

  1. Simplify your return policy. 

Returns are a key part of the customer experience, but it grows a little extra on Black Friday. Whether or not you have a clear and reasonable return policy can be a deal breaker for most customers. Make sure your policy is understandable, clear, fair, and, most importantly, easy to find.

Another thing you can consider is to temporarily extend your return policy during the season (since peak holiday returns occur in December, January, and February) to make customers feel more comfortable and at peace. 


  1. Talk to bloggers and influencers

Social media influencers have had, well, lots of influence over customer behavior the past couple of years, and looks like they’re not stopping anytime soon. Figure out which influencer resonates with your audience the most 

  1. Retarget previous website visitors and customers

We’re hoping you already have a Facebook pixel set up in your store, and if you don’t, now’s the perfect time to set it up and use it. 

When you retarget previous visitors, you’ll reach the perfect audience: people who know your store, probably have forgotten about it, and wouldn’t have known about your really cool sale if it wasn’t for retargeting. 

You can also retarget old customers since they’re easier to reach and market to than brand-new customers. Did you know it costs 5x more to acquire new customers than to retain old ones? Now you do.

  1. Set up an Email & SMS marketing campaign 

During BFCM 2021, Shopify Merchants reported their highest conversion rates from email marketing. Set up a few killer email marketing strategies designed to bring customers back to your website and make it impossible for them to say no to your amazing discounts. Here are some of our favorite tips:

  • Build some suspense around your sales - make them feel like it’s a once-in-a-lifetime (or once-in-a-year) opportunity. 
  • Set your website up for success. Place email collection fields all over your website to lure in customers who aren’t ready to purchase yet but are still browsing your site.
  • Make sure the emails you collect are high quality and not spammy.
  • Personalization is your best friend. During BFCM, customers’ inboxes are flooded with emails from almost every online store on the web. Your store must be recognized.
  • Thank your customers when the sale ends. A follow-up email is always nice to build a connection with your customers and make them want to come back as soon as they come back. However, take care that during the few days following the purchase, their emails will probably be saturated with order-related emails.Try to send the thank you email five to seven days after BFCM is over. 
  1. Make noise with social media

Social media is a great way to reach your audience early - whether you go organic or spend a little extra on paid ads. With the holiday buzz everywhere, your ability to reach your target audience grows even more vital. 

Try to create some buzz with cool and trendy video content, announcing your offers as early as possible and communicating the value of your product to your customers. Now more than ever.

Further reading: Video Marketing Best Practices: How to Make Your Business Stand Out with Video

  1. Spend money to make money 

The ways you can advertise digitally are practically endless - and they’re way more affordable. Whether it’s a YouTube ad, a Facebook newsfeed insert, product placement in a podcast or a YouTube video, there are so many ways to allow yourself to be seen on the internet. But it’s not that easy, though. With a season as competitive as BFCM, you must set high bids for high results. Important questions to ask yourself to prepare your advertising strategy are:

  • What are your customers interested in?
  • What's their shopping behavior?
  • What kind of products are they looking for?
  • How do they consume content? Which platforms do they consume content on?
  • How will YOUR content get them to do what YOU want them to do?

Consider forecasting a 15% increase (at least) in the overall budget from last year's Black Friday/Cyber Monday period. 

The Ultimate Black Friday Checklist from Gameball
  1. Track everything on your website

This is the time to dust off your Analytics tool and see what they can do. You want to ensure which of your Black Friday marketing efforts are converting into sales so you can capitalize on them throughout the year. Google Analytics is a powerful and free tool that every business should be using to track their email marketing and store campaigns. Another important measuring tool is heat maps. Where are visitors clicking, and how do they go from one place to another? This kind of data fundamentally helps in creating the best experience for your customer late on. 

  1. Add a countdown banner

Get them excited! Add a countdown banner to your website so that every time a customer visits, they know they have something big to look forward to in T-X days! 

  1. Make sure discounts are displayed clearly on the page

Sounds intuitive, but some stores really forget about this one. Make sure that it's clear to a 3-year-old how much you're offering and how good of a deal this is. Old price, new price, how much you're saving, a % - every number counts. 

  1. Build a loyalty program

With a loyalty program, you're making lifelong customers out of a one-time sale, hungry visitors. You can capitalize on all your sales from one day and turn it into a lifelong year!  If you're wondering how to do that, we got you.  We have a whole guide on how to build the perfect loyalty program for your business with best practices and mistakes to avoid. You can check it out here.  Be sure to measure these loyalty marketing metrics for a successful rewards program.

  1.  Keep a close eye on inventory

As we talked about above, it's a nightmare to run out of inventory during the most important weekend of the year. Aside from the Black Friday tips we already mentioned, it’s important to keep tracking inventory throughout the season to avoid any unwanted surprises. Create a certain threshold for restocking that's early enough to prevent any mishaps but not too early that you end up with too much stock.

23. Collect feedback

Along with your thank you email, it’s important to give your customers a chance to tell you about your experience. What did they like? What didn’t they like? Was the sale compelling enough? This feedback is vital not only for your next BFCM but for all your marketing strategies throughout the year.

  1. Create a foolproof offer

It’s easy to set up a 15% offer on your bestselling products. The hard part is setting up an offer that actually works. Some questions to ask yourself when designing your Black Friday strategy is:

  • What value will customers get out of this deal?
  • Is this serving returning customers?
  • How will this get new customers to later come back to my site?

25. Plan for design and cop

Creativity is vital for a great BFCM strategy. After you decide which channels you’ll be posting content, make sure you have killer content actually to work it. With your social media strategy, make sure your designs and copy are clear, informative, and attractive to everyone hwo might across anything coming from your brand.

26. Optimize your product page

It’s not enough to rely on your customer’s desire. Even if it’s a great deal and a great product, the decision-making process is tough for any consumer. Every interaction, no matter how subtle, potential customers have with your brand goes into that decision. That means if anything isn’t up to par, they might not seal the deal: this includes your product page. Since they can’t physically examine your product, your product page is your best salesman. Focus on communicating benefits rather than features with top-notch storytelling strategies and high-quality multimedia. Make sure to include every possible detail they would want to know to make a decision. Read more on how to make sure your product page sells here.

  1.  Write killer product descriptions

Following up on product pages, optimize product descriptions that sell. Tap into emotions and make it descriptive enough for search engines to archive. Make sure to capitalize on the fear of scarcity all humans have and exploit sentences such as "limited time” and “selling out fast”. Persuasive, descriptive, and fun copy is key to helping your customers (and search engines) decide.

  1. Create comparison guides and other content

This is especially applicable to special-interest groups or products that require a long and intense decision-making process. Create guides that inform and educate your customers on what they’re buying, and how it differs from what they choose not to be. 

  1. Segment customers

Black Friday is about so much more than just a huge sale, it’s about creating lifelong relationships with your customers. If you’re going to sell to the right people, you need to build a relationship with your target audience. The best way to do this is through customer segmentation based on behavior, events, demographics, and more. This allows you to provide personalized customer experiences and get the right offers to the right people.

  1. Send out personalized notifications

Another great thing you can do with customer segmentation is send out personalized notifications to your customers. Whether email, or SMS, we all like hearing our name, and we all LOVE hearing a compliment next to it. Something as simple as “Hey Sarah, you have great taste!” or “Hey Moe, you deserve these new kicks.” is more than enough to get your customer shocked. 

  1. Diversify your offers 

No two people are the same. We know that already. So it makes total sense that not everyone would reply to your offers in the same way. Some people love feeling exclusivity with an early-access offer. Some people would rather not buy at all than pay 15 dollars for shipping. Some people love discounts, others a great BOGO, you get the idea. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, and diversify your offers to make sure you appeal to everyone.

  1. Optimize your checkout page

If your checkout process isn’t smooth, customers will leave your store for one that is. Simple as that. Seasonal shoppers can be volatile and with very thin patience. They have a limited time to get a good sale and thousands of options to choose from. Make sure that your checkout page especially loads fast, has all the information they might need, it looks good, and is as short as possible.

  1. Offer different payment options

Ah, the never-ending dilemma. Some customers only like to pay in cash, some only have virtual currency (hello, bitcoin) and some are in a forbidden affair with their credit card. Your site must cater to all of these different types of customers to reap the benefits of them all. If you can, figure out a Buy Now, Pay Later provider to maximize your sales potential. Remember, you're not the only business throwing a mega Black Friday sale. Customers only have so much money to spend, so it's important to provide a wide enough space to help them buy everything they want. 

  1. Consider multi-selling

Multiselling also called multiple channel selling, is when your business is on more than one sales channel. If you already have a multi-selling strategy, then great. If not, consider expanding your online presence to channels where your customers may be more present, such as Instagram shop. 

  1. Build benchmarks to evaluate the performance

What are your KPIs? Your dream numbers? What about your real numbers? How did your competitor do last year? How did you do last year? Answering these questions can help you set important benchmarks that would help you understand your performance this year and help you outdo yourself the next. 

  1.  Take a breath and know you got this!💪

We know how overwhelming the season can get, especially as a business owner or someone in charge of sales. But truly, we believe in you. You’ve done it before, and you’ll do it again. And hey, if you’ve never done it before, there’s always a first for everything! Click here to get your checklist ready and roll your sleeves up and conquer the big day!

For the full interactive checklist, click on the link below!

Interactive Black Friday Checklist For The Last Minute PlannerDownload

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