It’s almost that time of year again – Black Friday. If you’re a shopper, you’re probably excited about the deals. But if you’re running an eCommerce store or online business, you might feel some trepidation about whether or not your website is ready for the big day.
In this post, we want to help you feel confident that you’ve nailed your preparation and your website is ready for action.
To accomplish that, we’re going to go over ten key actions to perform to get your website ready for Black Friday (and Cyber Monday, of course). These include everything from prepping your lists to speeding up your site and crystalizing your return policy.
There’s not that much time left before Black Friday, so let’s get right to the tips.
Ten Tips to Get Your Website Ready for Black Friday
1. Optimize Your Store for Conversions
The first step is to make sure your website itself is ready for the big day and optimized to drive sales. This is probably the “broadest” tip on our list because there are a lot of factors that go into this.
First off, will you have a dedicated landing page for your deals? If so, make sure that it’s optimized for conversions to drive as many sales as possible. To help you do that, BigCommerce has a great collection of eCommerce conversion optimization best practices.
One must-use strategy is urgency – highlight that this is your best deal of the year (if that’s true) and include some big countdown timers to add FOMO.
Black Friday is also a great time to practice cross-selling and upselling. You can get shoppers to your site with your headline deals and then use those deals as an opportunity to sell them on other products.
Also, remember that not all of your customers will arrive on your Black Friday landing page. So how will you promote your deals to those people? You might consider a sitewide notification bar or other aggressive tactics to get eyeballs on your deals.
Finally, make sure to optimize your checkout to make it as easy as possible for people to give you their money.
2. Prepare Your Customer Lists for Action
People can’t take advantage of your Black Friday deals unless they know what they are. It sounds obvious, but it’s important to remember that Black Friday sales aren’t just “if you build it, they will come“.
One of the best ways to drive traffic to your deals is via your email lists. You can:
- Create segments of people who bought from you last Black Friday.
- Create dedicated opt-ins that people can join to get notified about your deals this year.
In addition to getting the lists ready, you’ll also want to get your emails ready and scheduled. Campaign Monitor has a good collection of tips to optimize how/when to send your Black Friday emails.
Here’s an example of one of AppSumo’s emails from 2019 – notice how they even include a real countdown timer to add some urgency:
3. Get Your Social Posts Ready, Too
Email isn’t the only way to reach interested shoppers – you should also prepare posts to share on all your social channels. Tools like Canva and Stencil make it easy to quickly spin up good-looking graphics for your deals (properly-sized for different social networks).
Get these graphics ready to go and schedule your posts to go live. You can also share countdowns in advance to build some anticipation.
Here are some samples of the many Black Friday templates you can find in Canva:
4. Share Your Deals With Relevant Influencers
Another great strategy to get attention on your deals is to share your sales with popular blogs and influencers in your space. Many content sites are eager to get into the Black Friday madness and create deal roundups that they share with their readers.
For example, in the WordPress space, virtually all the popular WordPress blogs create deal roundups for WordPress products. As someone who’s taken part in creating these roundups, I can say that it’s a lot easier when companies proactively reach out and share their deals (and it greatly boosts your chances of getting included).
Remember Your Affiliates Too
I’m lumping affiliates in with “influencers” because it’s the same basic idea. But if you do have an affiliate program for your product, don’t forget to give your affiliates plenty of advance notice so that they can be ready to promote your deals.
5. Don’t Forget About Mobile Visitors
Did you know that, according to Adobe, Black Friday 2019 was “the biggest day ever for mobile”? That’s because smartphones accounted for a massive 39% of all eCommerce sales on Black Friday 2019, which was a 21% increase from 2018. Smartphone customers spent a whopping $2.9 billion on the big day.
What’s more, most traffic on Black Friday came from smartphones – Adobe also found that smartphones accounted for 61% of online Black Friday traffic (even though they were 39% of the sales).
In 2020, it’s likely that those same trends continue, which means that you definitely don’t want to forget about mobile visitors while you’re prepping your site. Make sure your pages and promos are all optimized for mobile.
To help, Toptal has a good roundup of mobile eCommerce best practices.
Don’t forget about mobile site speed, either. While site speed is important for desktop visitors, too, mobile visitors are especially inclined to hit the back button if your site takes too long to load. Check out our guide with eight tips on how to speed up your mobile site.
6. Make Sure Your Website Loads Quickly
Since we mentioned site speed in the previous section, let’s cover that next.
Put simply, if you want to maximize the returns on your Black Friday promotions, you need to make sure your website loads quickly. Your site’s speed will affect everything from how many shoppers hit the back button before even looking at your deals to the conversion rates of the shoppers that stick around.
Basically – it’s important.
To analyze how quickly your site is loading, you can use speed test tools like GTmetrix, Pingdom, or WebPageTest. Make sure to properly test your site so that you’re getting good data and also pay special attention to mobile load times because, as you learned above, mobile is also very important.
There’s no hard rule here. However, in general, you want your main content to load in under 2.5 seconds. Google’s Largest Contentful Paint metric can be useful here, as it measures how long it takes your site’s most meaningful content to load (you can test it with PageSpeed Insights).
If your WordPress site’s load times aren’t quite where you want them, WP Rocket offers an easy way to quickly speed up your entire site and implement WordPress performance best practices. All you do is activate the plugin and you’ll instantly get a speed boost. There are also more advanced settings that you can enable for further optimization.
7. Get Your Website Ready for a Surge in Traffic
If you implement the other tips in this post, your website should be primed for a surge of eager shoppers looking to get their hands on your deals.
However, that brings with it another problem:
How do you make sure that your website’s infrastructure is ready to meet that increase in traffic? The last thing you want is for your promotions to generate a ton of interest…but for your website to buckle under the pressure and make you lose sales.
Well, if you’re using WP Rocket as we detailed in the previous section, you’ll already be benefiting from one important tactic – page caching. Because it reduces the processing work that your server needs to do for each visit, it can make it easier for your server to stand up to heavy traffic.
However, it’s hard for eCommerce stores to rely exclusively on caching because so many eCommerce pages require dynamic content. You can use caching for some pages, but you’ll need to exclude a lot of your store to keep it functioning (don’t worry – WP Rocket sets up these exclusion rules for you automatically to avoid any issues).
The other piece of the puzzle is to analyze your current hosting and maybe even reach out to your host’s support for help. If you’re using managed WordPress hosting from providers such as Kinsta or WP Engine, they can work with you to make sure your site will have all of the resources it needs for your sale. Don’t worry – you can keep using WP Rocket with these hosts even though they ban most other caching plugins.
Things can be a little trickier on shared hosting, as shared hosts will shut off sites that monopolize too much of the server’s resources. Here, you might want to consider upgrading to a higher-tier plan if you’re worried about hitting your limits.
8. Set Up a Content Delivery Network (CDN) So All Your Visitors Have Great Experiences
Black Friday has gone global, and that means that your visitors could be coming from all over the globe, especially if you sell a digital product.
I’ve lived in Vietnam for the last five years and I’ve been surprised to see how Black Friday grew from “kind of a thing” in Vietnam to a surprisingly big deal. It’s nothing like my time in the USA, but it is something that Internet-savvy people pay attention to.
Basically, be ready for a global audience, unless your business is limited to a small area.
When it comes to creating a great experience for a global audience, you need a content delivery network (CDN). A CDN speeds up your site for global visitors by caching your site’s assets on a network of servers around the world. That way, someone browsing from Vietnam can download those files from your Singapore CDN location instead of needing to go all the way to your physical server in the USA (or wherever your server is located).
If you’re using WP Rocket, the easiest way to enable a CDN is with our dedicated RocketCDN service. It costs just $7.99 per month and you can easily activate it with just a few clicks. It’s also powered by StackPath’s huge global network, which gives you CDN servers in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
9. Optimize Your Site’s Images
Your site’s images play a big role in how quickly your site loads and how it will stand up under a traffic surge, especially if you have an eCommerce store with lots of different product images.
Larger images take longer to load and also consume more server bandwidth, so finding ways to shrink their size offers big benefits.
There are two main parts to image optimization:
- Resizing your images’ dimensions to the optimal size for your site. For example, if you’re showing a small 250×250 px product thumbnail, you don’t need to be using a 2,000 px wide image.
- Compressing your images to further reduce their file sizes.
To handle both parts on autopilot, you can use our Imagify plugin. As you upload images, Imagify automatically resizes and compresses them according to your preferences. It also has a bulk optimize tool that lets you quickly optimize your existing WordPress images with a click of a button.
10. Reassess Your Return Policy and Satisfaction Guarantee
Finally, let’s talk about the elephant in the room – returns.
If you follow all the tips in this post, your Black Friday deals should bring a surge in sales.
However, that also comes with something else:
A surge in returns.
Some customers might even buy on impulse because they don’t want to miss the deal, only to change their minds later once the FOMO dies down. Or, they might just not be satisfied (though we’re sure that rarely happens since your products are awesome).
How will you handle these situations? Will you give people who change their minds their money back with no questions asked? Or will you only offer refunds in certain situations or only allow exchanges?
Some stores even offer special Black Friday return policies, which is another option to consider.
There’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer here – the only definite is that you need to make your return policies clear and make sure shoppers see and understand them. Your refund policy should clearly:
- Explain the conditions for when a customer is eligible for a refund. Is it no questions asked? Is it only if the product doesn’t work properly?
- Show any deadlines. For example, do they need to act within 14 days of purchase? Within 14 days of receiving the product?
- Explain the returns process. Do they have to fill out any forms? Mail something back?
- Tell customers how they’ll get their money back. Is it a cash refund to the original credit card? Is it only store credit?
- Share rough timelines. Should they expect a refund within a week? Within two weeks? How long will the process take?
If you want to see an example, you can check out the WP Rocket refund policy page – we give returns in the first 14 days, which gives people a chance to try out the product and see how much it helps.
For a deeper look at creating an eCommerce return policy, BigCommerce also has an excellent guide with lots of real examples.
Make Black Friday 2020 a Success!
For many eCommerce stores, Black Friday is the most important day of the year. By following the tips in this post, you can be confident that your website is ready for the big day.
We wish you the best of luck with your deals, and if you still have any questions about how to get your website ready, leave a comment below.