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How to Prepare Your Brand to Get the Most Out of BFCM in 2020

Two of the most important days for any brand are quickly approaching - Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM). These are the two days where people do the most shopping - in 2019 over 189.6 million people shopped during this extended holiday weekend alone, more than any other year.

To get the most out of this shopping holiday, you need to prepare your brand. If you stick to business as usual, not only will you miss out on maximum benefits, but your business may actually not be able to handle the increase in customers. To that end, here are a few tips you can use to properly prepare your brand and get the most out of BFCM this year.

Get Started Early

Perhaps the best thing you can do to get the most out of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is to start preparing early. You'll want to start thinking about your strategies, and how you'll implement them weeks before the holidays arrive. The impact of BFCM extends well beyond the actual dates, both before and after. If you wait until the last moment, you won't reap the maximum rewards of the holiday weekend.

There are two specific things you can do early on. The first is to start teasing your upcoming deals and get your brand community excited about them. A great way to do this is by using influencer marketing to highlight your upcoming deals on social media. For example, you can have your influencer promote a product, then mention that it is going on sale in a few weeks and that their audience should be on the lookout for those deals.

The other way you can tease your upcoming deals is through email marketing. By sending out some early messages hinting at the deals you'll have, people will factor you into their shopping plans. Many people shop while on a budget, so if you let them know sooner what kind of deals you'll be having, they can make sure they adjust their budgets to purchase your products. Try creating a new email marketing campaign that focuses solely on your upcoming holiday deals and see what kind of results you get.

Another thing you can start doing beforehand is preparing new pay-per-click (PPC) ads. People start looking for BFCM deals early, so you don't want to wait until the last moment to run new ones. To prepare, you should look for ways that will allow your ads to stand out in the crowd. A great way to do this is by using user-generated content (UGC). If you can include real-life customer testimonials and photos in your ads, it will help to instill a sense of confidence in your audience.

Integrate Social Proof

Speaking of which, you can use social proof via UGC for more than just your PPC ads. During this holiday season, your goal is to have as many visitors turn into customers and who will come back again once the holiday is over. When you integrate social proof into your brand, you can do both of these things by lowering your return rate and improving your conversion rate.

A great place to implement UGC is directly on your product pages. Including some positive reviews from real-life people will help you convert more customers. You can also use UGC to demonstrate how a product works so that customers can get a better sense of whether it is right for them.

You should also look to use UGC across your social channels. Have your best-performing influencers give honest reviews of the products you want to sell this holiday season. These reviews will then not only be seen by the influencer’s audience, but you can share them across your social channels with your own. 88% of customers trust user reviews and the average customer reads 10 reviews before making a purchase, so be sure to encourage and promote these as best you can.

Host a Social Media Contest

Another great way to make use of the short time leading up to this holiday is to consider a contest on social media. However, you don't want to do something simple like give away a free product to a random Twitter follower. With a little more preparation, you can turn this contest into one of your best marketing strategies.

First, think about what it is you want to give away as a prize. It should be something that is enticing enough to encourage many of your followers to participate. If one of your products won't do the trick, consider making a bundle of different products or offering exclusive discounts.

Next, you need to think about what your audience needs to do in order to enter. We recommend having them create a piece of content and sharing it on their social media pages. For example, have them demonstrate using one of your other products and share it with a hashtag related to your brand. You can also implement a direct uploader on your website and showcase customer direct submissions and social media posts in an online inspiration gallery.

Running a contest this way accomplishes a few things. First, you are spreading your brand message further by having your audience create marketing materials for you. Instead of just reaching your own social media audience, you are now reaching the audience of anyone who enters. Second, you are increasing engagement among people who already have a high interest in your brand. If someone likes your brand enough to enter this contest, they are likely to become repeat customers in the future. Engaging them now can keep your brand fresh in their mind when the holiday season arrives.

Focus on a Good Customer Experience

Getting the most out of BFCM means not only bringing in more customers but turning those new customers into returning ones. It costs five times as much to bring in a new customer than it does an old one, meaning you can get a much better return on investment if you bring back more customers.

To do this, you need to focus on providing a good customer experience. If someone doesn't enjoy the experience of shopping with you, they are unlikely to do so again even if they enjoyed your product. According to these business statistics, 80%of customers won’t return to a business if they have a bad experience. One way to ensure your customers leave happy is by improving your customer service strategies before the holiday season.

As the holiday approaches, you'll likely receive a lot more visitors to your website. With this increase in traffic comes an increase in customer service requests, so you need to be ready to handle them. A great way to do this is by adding a live chat feature to your website. With a live chat feature, your customer service agents can talk directly and quickly to your customers, eliminating the need for long wait times on the phone. To reduce the workload on your agents, you should also think about adding a chatbot feature to this live chat window. A chatbot will automatically respond to requests based on pre-programmed answers. So, if you see that your customers are frequently asking the same questions, you can have answers ready to go through your chatbot so that your agents can focus on tougher questions.

You're going to get a lot more customer service requests during this time, so be sure you are ready for them. Whether this means adding new ways to contact your team, increasing the size or hours of your team, or finding better ways to handle requests, you need to think about how you'll optimize now before the heavy traffic arrives. That way, when the time comes, you can provide more customers with an excellent experience and turn more of them into repeat ones.

Promote Your Customers After the Holiday

Finally, your work doesn't end at midnight on Cyber Monday. If you do things right, you can continue to reap the benefits of this holiday season well past its end date.As your customers start to receive the products they've ordered, they will likely start to post photos of themselves interacting with your products as well as reviews on their social media channels. You can use this influx of content in your marketing materials to generate social proof and attract more customers.

Cotopaxi curates customer Instagram posts to create a shoppable gallery.

Have your social media team ready to start looking for good reviews and curating content to share once the two big holidays are over. You want to capitalize on this good press as quickly as you can, because the holiday season extends well beyond BFCM. People will continue to shop until the end of December, and you'll need new marketing materials to appeal to them.  Customer reviews and UGC are great resources, so make sure you have a platform like Pixlee and strategy in place to sift through your new content

Make the Most of the Season

The holiday season is one of the best times to make sales, and this starts with the BFCM weekend. In fact, for retail businesses, 30 percent of an entire year’s sales are made between this weekend and Christmas. If you want your brand to make the most of this time, you need to start preparing now. Start creating your plan now, including how you can best use your social media influencers and channels. If you do this right, these two holidays can significantly improve your sales numbers for the year, while simultaneously launching you into a stronger start when 2021 hits.

Dave Schneider is a serial entrepreneur who co-founded Shortlist in 2018, a marketing un-agency that serves as an outsourced dedicated marketing team. He has also co-founded Less.churn, a churn reduction app, prior to selling it in 2018. In 2012 he quit his job to travel the world, and have visited over 65 countries.

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