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There's no denying the busyness of the holiday season, from getting the family together to breaking out the cookbook so you can bake your favorite pie and everything in-between, there's a lot going on. If you're an eCommerce business owner, there's even more to keep you occupied, I'm talking about Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

In the past, Black Friday was all retailers got ready for during the holiday season but over the past 10 years, with the rise of the internet a new day has emerged, Cyber Monday. As an eCommerce business, you'll need to participate in both. In this article I'm going to break down a few things to do to make sure this Black Friday and Cyber Monday is your best one yet.

Basic "House Keeping"

This one is very critical. When I say "House Keeping" I mean making sure your online store is in working order and that everything looks, and functions as it should. Here's some things to do.

1. Clean Up the Products

Do you have products listed on your website that you no longer sell? Maybe you have the wrong inventory counts on them. Whatever the case you need to take the time to make sure all your product info is correct, that you have all the products you sell listed (and nothing that you don't). Make sure descriptions are accurate and nothing is spelled incorrectly.

Pro Tip: If you only have one image per product, try adding more that show off different angles or sizes. This is something that could separate you from other online retailers this busy season.

2. Check/Optimize Content and Layout

Much like with your products, you need to check your website pages for misspellings, inaccuracies, and other things that may drive visitors away.

When it comes to optimizing your content, are you being strong enough in your calls-to-action? Are you communicating who you are and what you do well-enough? Is it hard find your refund policy? Does it take a site visitor 10-clicks before they can checkout? These are all things that need to be looked at, if a potential customer can't find what they're looking for (or it's hard for them to get there), they're going to leave your site. Make sure you take the time to "Optimize" your content and layout.

Pro Tip: With 80% of online traffic coming from mobile devices, it's best to make sure the navigation menu is not "deep" meaning you don't have 3 sub-menus people have to click to get somewhere.

3. Security and Trust

This one is huge, and honestly you should make sure this is the case year-round, not just for the holidays. It goes without saying that people will do business with the ones that they trust and make them feel safe. Are you doing everything you can to make sure people have a safe and trusting experience?

Security on websites is more than just having an SSL Certificate (The padlock next to the domain name), it's also about the polices you have in place, and the things that can happen on your site. Do you have a Privacy Policy? What about a Terms and Conditions or a Refund Policy? Now most people won't click and read those documents, but just having them on there (in a place they can see them, like the footer) is enough to make users feel safe about their dealings with you.

Another thing to boost trust is to make sure you don't have any "spammy" reviews on products or that your content doesn't link out to sketchy websites. Remember whatever you link to is something you're endorsing.

Pro Tip: A website that looks like it's from 2006 doesn't exude trust, make sure your design is fresh and up to date and that you're using the same logo on your site as you're using everywhere else.

4. Speed

If you're using a platform like Shopify or us (shameless plug), then you don't have to worry about this as much, because speed and performance are handled for you. But, if you're using a self-hosted platform like WooCommerce for Wordpress, Magento, or any of the other dozens out there and you've picked your own web-host, site speed is more up to you.

Site speed is so critical that even Amazon said if their website loaded 1-second slower on average, it would cost them 1.6 billion/year.

Pro Tip: Images are typically where websites can shave the most off of loading times. We suggest everyone compress their images in a "lossless" way before uploading them and using them on a website. You can use to do just that!

Sales, Giveaways, Bundles

Next, we need to plan out exactly what we're going to do in order to make Black Friday and Cyber Monday stand-out from the other days of the year. The sales we run on these two days can't be the same old products at the same old price. People have come to expect deep discounts or freebies, so our offers have to be great, not just good, and they need to be easy to access.

Now you can run your BF/CM offers starting the Monday before Thanksgiving and go until the Friday after Cyber Monday, I've seen it happen. It really doesn't matter, as long as the deals get better on the actual days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. So maybe you could run 15% off the whole week but 20% off plus free shipping on the days of, that's one example.

1. Sales

If you never run sales, these two days need to be an exception. If you run sales all the time, you need to offer something better for these two days. If you usually offer 15% off, it's time to offer 20% or even 25% off if your margins allow. These sales have to stand-out and you don't want people to skip the sale just because they know you'll be offering the same deal in 3-weeks. When looking at sales make sure you're offering deals on the products people want to buy.

2. Giveaways

This is another great way to get people engaged. You can run a giveaway on Facebook for the BF/CM weekend. Giveaways generate hype, which during this time-period is critical.

3. Bundles

This one gets overlooked far too often. Honestly though it could be the most lucrative one for your business. Try bundling things that people buy frequently then offer them together at a steep discount. You could also do an offer where people can bundle two products off a list you set together and then get a third item free.

Gift baskets also fall in this category. Try throwing things together that feature some best sellers but also include your lesser performing products, this is a great way to get your lesser known products in front of people.

When pricing your bundles and gift baskets remember to offer them at multiple price points. Maybe a $25, $50, and $75 option to meet different budgets.

Shipping and Fulfillment

If your sale catches fire and you find yourself selling products left and right you're going to want to make sure you can keep up with the shipping and fulfillment. One thing you’re going to need to do is make sure you have plenty of inventory on hand. You'll also want to make sure you have boxes and other packing materials on lock down. It seems trivial but not getting orders out in time can sink your business.

Marketing and Ads

Now that your website has been cleaned up and you have your BF/CM offerings picked out and ready to go, it's time to start promoting the sales! Ideally you start marketing the first week in November, but if you're reading this 3 days before Thanksgiving, don't worry, you could still run something, it just won't be quite as effective.

1. Website Banner Ad

Either a slider, a pop-up, or a bar across the top of your website, you're going to want to do something on your site that tells people to be expecting a sale.

2. Preview Page

No one does this better than Amazon, but it can still work for anyone. Creating a page on your website that shows the products that will be on-sale and what the sales will be is a great way to build anticipation and get your customers excited. Once you have your page made, be sure to add a button on your website’s header, footer, and/or homepage so it's easy to find!

Pro Tip: If you make a preview page it's best not show all your cards. Show the products and the sales for those products, except, two products where you don’t say what the deal will be. Maybe grey out the product so people recognize it but you can put a "Deal Locked Til Black Friday" banner on it.

3. Social Media

Make sure you post frequently about the BF/CM sales you'll be running. Also change the "Cover Photo" on your Facebook business page and any other social media channels to reflect your upcoming sales.

4. PPC Ads (Goggle Ads)

Believe it or not people will be searching for "Black Friday Deals" or "Cyber Monday Deals" and other related terms that are not necessarily singled in on certain products. This gives you the opportunity to buy ads for keywords that are more general such as "Black Friday Sales" or "Cheap Cyber Monday Deals." Some people look for deals just because they're deals and not because of the product.

In Closing

I hope you found this post helpful, BF/CM is a crazy few days but with the proper planning it can be very profitable and smooth. If you have any other suggestions be sure to comment them below! Until next time...