E-Commerce DIY: Black Friday

How to keep your sales momentum going after Cyber Monday.

By Sarah Sewell

How to keep your sales momentum going after Cyber Monday.

This weekend was the largest online shopping weekend EVER. It is estimated that 6.22 billion sales happened on Black Friday this year which is a whopping 24% increase from last year in 2017! Cyber Monday's numbers just came in with an astounding 7.9 billion in sales 2 billion of which was done from a smart phone. Small Business Saturday sales were up 25% this year bringing in over 3 Billion in revenue. These numbers are INCREDIBLE and give retailers both in person and online much hope for the next 3 weeks moving toward Christmas.

These numbers show that retail is surely not dead and that e-commerce retailers have now got the large slice of the pie. With numbers like that surely the main question on shop owners minds is how to keep the momentum going. 

The best way at looking at this is not to think of this past sales weekend as a Grand Finale, instead look at it as the opening ceremony. This past weekend was great for BIG business, lots of TV's, Appliances, Big Toys and Prime Deals were made, this means now the door is wide open for small business. Take advantage of this opportunity.

Now the big gifts are out of the way, shoppers are looking for smaller more meaningful gifts. Those businesses that offer personalization, customization, one of a kind items, or small batch craft goods have the upper hand to big business for the next couple of weeks. Craft businesses in general are sought out on platforms like Etsy or Handmade at Amazon because of the unique gift-able products they offer. This week is GO TIME for the makers, crafters and creatives.

Be sure to use social media to promote this week, shoppers may have PROMO overload so you want to promote a bit differently then offering something crazy like 40% off your entire store in bright neon lights, instead you want to appeal to buyers emotions. Remember they are seeking out the special gifts they couldn't find in the mainstream big box stores.

Here are some examples of how you can promote your business without sounding to sales-y:

1. Offer meaningful and value based promotions:

  • Free Gift Wrap with purchase (solves a problem, helps the consumer)
  • Buy One Donate One (this time of year shoppers like to give to charity)
  • Free Personalization (adds value to their purchase)

2. Share your story! This time of year is when yesteryears times are often talked      about and shared. Nostalgia is BIG during the holidays. Sharing your story is a great way to take a walk down memory lane, what inspired you to do what you do? When did you learn your craft and who taught it to you? You can turn your story into a video, or create a slideshow even that plays a nice tune. The story is what sells your brand, your product, yourself! Shoppers are attracted to those authentic brands who are great at storytelling. 

3. Engage with new customers. This may sound like a no brainer, but often we get busy with orders....especially makers as we are making our products as the orders come in. Don't let conversations go unanswered for any length of time. Respond to posts and comments on your social media sites as they happen. Sometimes just being there to answer questions is enough for the shopper to turn into a buyer. 

Remember this is the time of year for you to increase awareness of your brand. Get out there, engage and give stellar customer service. The momentum will keep going as long as you are up and moving forward. The big box stores are taking a break, which means it is your time to shine, so go out and MAKE IT HAPPEN!!

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It's Black Friday Weekend! May the Odds be Ever in your Favor!

By Sarah Sewell

It's Black Friday Weekend! May the Odds be Ever in your Favor!

It's that time of year again, let the shopping madness begin! This week is the Super Bowl of commerce! Shoppers are excited they are going to find the very best deals and business owners are excited to make a lot of sales. It is essentially a win-win for both the customer and the seller! When it comes to E-Commerce however this weekend can be a roller coaster ride of emotions for online shop owners. 

60% of shopping done on Black Friday is done "In-Store" not specifically online. This however shouldn't be super worrisome because there is still a rush of customers shopping both in store and online over the holiday weekend. Let's go over some helpful tips to optimize that traffic and turn it into sales for your online storefront.

Engage your audience across Social Media:

Let's be honest, as a small business owner you don't want to even try to compete with the big box stores as far as advertisement goes. Big business is going to flood the marketplace with ads on TV, in Newspapers, Email Campaigns and promos throughout their own websites and stores. This is your time to capture YOUR market where they are most likely to be spending time, on Social Media. The week leading up to Black Friday you want to spend time connecting with your audience on your social media pages (Note: This isn't the time to spam your accounts with product listings, leave that for the actual shopping holiday days.) Curate posts that encourage engagement and interaction. Create a space that is enjoyable to visit.

Posts Tips & Suggestions:

  1. Give Thanks. Being the week of Thanksgiving the perfect post would be saying Thank You to your customers, fans and followers. Make this post heartfelt. You can create a graphic on Canva or make a video even using Animoto just be sure it is genuine and meaningful. Showing your appreciation for your customers lets them know they do matter to your brand.   
  2. Hold a Giveaway or Sweepstakes. Some of the most fun are "share your fave recipe" posts, or "share a photo of your holiday table". Let your followers vote on a winner or randomly pick a winner from random.org
  3. Share a Story posts always create a lot of engagement. Letting others share memories from their holiday traditions or photos from way back then! People love to talk about themselves and share stories, this is a great way for you to start a conversation with your fan base.
  4. Create a "What are YOU Thankful for" post. Be a light during this crazy holiday weekend and create a post encouraging others to share what they are grateful for this year. Thanksgiving week is a perfect time to show and talk about gratitude.
  5. Macy's Day Parade!!! What are MOST people in the US doing on Thanksgiving morning? They are watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade!! Create a post asking what their favorite float was, or maybe post in the morning asking what performance they are looking forward to!

Bonus Tip if you are a designer: Create some downloadable coloring sheets for the kiddos. Share on your social media free coloring sheets for the kids to color on Thanksgiving day. You are adding value and will surely create a buzz for your brand. Moms will also share like crazy! Little effort and work on your part with a crazy big return.

Creating posts that engage and build excitement ensures that when it is time to post your promotional ads or offerings your followers WILL see them and will more than likely interact with them and or purchase. Ads and promotions ONLY with no other value based posts will turn off your customers and will surely not get you the traffic and sales you seek.

It's important to curate your social media space to be one that is enjoyable to visit, a place where your customers don't mind spending their time. Time is precious today, it is important to use it wisely, would you want to hang out on a page that is only posting ads of their products with no other value? Social media is a place to build relationships and connections. Don't use it as a catalog or a magazine. 

Don't forget to use trending hashtags:

Remember this holiday sales weekend is the BIGGEST of the year! You want to capture as much traffic as you can from the frenzy! Using holiday hashtags can help you grab attention from those who may not be familiar yet with your brand. Be sure you are using the main hashtags people use to search and shop over the holiday weekend:

  • #blackfriday
  • #blackfridaysale
  • #blackfridaydeals
  • #blackfriday2018
  • #cybermonday
  • #cybermondaysale
  • #smallbusinesssaturday
  • #shopsmallsaturday

Bonus Tip: Schedule out your social media posts on Facebook & Instagram so you aren't having to interrupt your holiday festivities with having to post content. There are paid services that you can use but know that Facebook itself has a pretty awesome scheduling tool. Simply carve out a couple hours on Sunday or Monday and schedule out your content posts for the week. Try to observe the 80/20 rule when curating content: 80% value based content 20% promotional. You want to attract buyers to your pages, spamming your wall with your products isn't the best way to do this. 

Use "FOMO" Verbiage in your promotional or ad copy:

FOMO or "Fear Of Missing Out" is verbiage you use in your copy to create a sense of urgency. Proper placement of certain words and phrases can encourage the shopper to shift from browsing to buying. It lights a fire under their bum so to speak to make a decision now, verses later. This verbiage you want to use within your ad or listing copy when describing or explaining the deal you are offering.

Some examples include:

  • Hurry
  • Shop Now
  • Instant Savings
  • Limited-Time Offer
  • Save Today
  • Don't Miss This
  • This Weekend Only
  • Limited Number Available
  • Today Only

Please note: You don't want to overdo this. There is a fine line between creating a sense of urgency and spamming people. You want to encourage and guide the customer to move through the checkout process....pushing them and getting in their face isn't going to give you the outcome you would like to have. Be gentle and  kind but firm with a touch of excitement and encouragement.

Remember that while 60% of shoppers this weekend will be in store, they are going to be spending most of that time standing in line. What do you think they will be doing while standing in line for hours? They are going to be ON THEIR PHONES. This means that even though you may not have a physical store, you can still capture their attention even while they are shopping from another store!! Think about this when writing your ad copy! This is a good opportunity for you to connect with your audience and stay fresh in their minds, this way when they get home they can kick off their shoes and shop from you for all those things they didn't find while out in the big stores.

Some other last minute tips to ensure you maximize your sales over the weekend:

  • Make deals front and center on your site or Etsy shop, people shouldn't have to hunt for your specials. This is the one weekend where these sales are truly for your customer. You want them to feel like they are special and getting the sale of the year! Put your ads and promos on the banners, featured listings, or the front page of your website.
  • Make the deal or sale significant (dig deep 10-20% off just isn't enough) I wouldn't hold a sale less than 25% off, every other sale of the year is up to 20% off... Black Friday through Cyber Monday needs to be better than that!
  • Check your quantities and inventory! So many sellers lose sales because they weren't aware they only had 1 or 2 available listed on their site. Make sure you raise your quantities available so that you don't miss those sales!
  • Respond LIGHTNING fast to customer messages. Remember a customer can be in your competitors shop in seconds! Have your notifications turned on and your phone volume up, respond back right away to a customer inquiry to ensure you get the business and not your competitor.

Remember also if you don't see a lot of action on Black Friday don't let it get you down, Cyber Monday is the BIGGEST holiday of the year for E-Commerce, keep interacting and engaging with your fans and followers and launch an Amazing Limited Time Offer on Cyber Monday! Most consumers will be home or at work and at their computers, they will also have gotten the bulk of their big item shopping done and will be primed and ready to shop small for those extra special gifts for loved ones. Monday is truly your time to shine! Good luck to you all, Happy Selling and may the odds be ever in your favor!

 

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