There have been a lot of discussions lately about the successes of Cyber Monday and whether or not it is worth it for businesses to partake in the ritualistic shopping event. One thing is sure, however, and it’s that Cyber Monday is quickly overtaking Black Friday as the biggest shopping day of the year in the US.
Last year alone, the Monday after Thanksgiving raked in $3.36 billion in 2017 (up from $2.67 billion in 2016). This year the total is expected to be even higher as more shoppers opt to purchase holiday gifts from the comfort of their desk instead of braving the hoards of people in department stores.
As a business owner, you have a decision to make. You may already have something lined up for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, but perhaps you have never participated in Cyber Monday. Is it worth it?
How small businesses can leverage Cyber Monday
Cyber Monday is often thought of as a day explicitly made for online e-commerce giants such as Amazon.com. Major retailers such as Macy’s, Target, Best Buy, and Apple have all scrambled to quickly take their Black Friday deals online for the Monday after Thanksgiving. What you may not know is that small businesses are also taking advantage of Cyber Monday. Below are a few pointers on how you can make the most of this online shopping day.
- Advertise in advance. If you plan on doing anything for Cyber Monday, then make sure that everyone knows about it. Advertising in advance is one of the best ways to generate traffic to your website. If you also have a brick and mortar store, place a sign up at the register or out front that states you will be having an online sale. Don’t forget to hand out business cards with your website on them after customers make purchases on Black Friday or Small Business Saturday. You can even put in an announcement on your local radio station or newspaper — just be sure to do this sooner rather than later.
- Update your website. Make sure your website is prepared to handle an influx of traffic on Cyber Monday. There have been instances of major retail websites (looking at you, J Crew) crashing under the strain of too many users online at once. Make sure to call your hosting company and ask what they will be doing about bandwidth on Cyber Monday. You can also upgrade your hosting plan to improve website load time. Keep in mind that users who wait more than 3 seconds for a page to load are likely to leave. You can also opt to build a new website if you believe your existing one is in need of an update.
- Add more calls-to-action. Nothing increases online revenue more than on-site calls-to-action. CTA’s can be in the form of pop-ups, banner announcements, brightly colored or well-placed “Shop Now” buttons, and homepage images showcasing new products or services. It’s time to get creative with your CTAs. You can even test out different homepage experiences in the days leading up to Cyber Monday to see which look or layout generates the most revenue, then reveal the successful design on Cyber Monday.
- Be ready to field customer inquiries. Does your website display your contact information anywhere? Does your website have a form that users can fill out? If you’ve said yes to either of these, then get ready to field some inquiries regarding products or services you offer. Make sure you and your staff are familiar with every sale or promotion you are running, and don’t forget to keep track of your inventory. Most of your inquiries will be regarding shipping costs, promotional codes, and product availability. Pro tip: it can’t hurt to add an FAQ page linked in the footer of your website so that users can get quick answers to common questions.
- Send out e-mail blasts. If you have an e-mail list, then it’s time to start putting together some Cyber Monday e-mail blasts. E-mail marketing is an affordable and extremely lucrative way to generate buzz about a sale and is the easiest way to inform your users about what your business is up to. Now is the time to ramp up the Cyber Monday e-mail announcements. Give your past customers sneak peeks about what is to come by displaying a well-loved product that’s back in stock or a new product that will be heavily discounted online. Get creative, and remember to send one last e-mail on Cyber Monday itself.
- Ramp up your ad spend. Keep in mind that depending on what industry you’re in, you may need to compete with larger retailers in your area. If you have some money leftover in your marketing budget, one of the best ways to ensure that you’re using it is to increase your ad spend. Mix things up a bit and bid on broader keywords to capture a new audience. Online ads (Google, Bing, and social media sites such as Facebook), are a great way to generate high-quality traffic to your website. Users who click on ads are generally ready to make an immediate purchase. Just be sure that the page you are directing users to loads quickly and has exactly what the customer is looking for.
- Promote on social media. Don’t neglect your social media accounts throughout the week and weekend leading up to Cyber Monday. After all, the shopping is done online, so why not use other online channels to promote your sale or discount? Try using an exclusive promotional code that only your social media followers can use, or post a blog that highlights a few essential items you plan on discounting. Get creative with images, emojis, and of course, don’t forget to use the #CyberMonday hashtag.
- Make limited time offers. Creating a sense of urgency or immediacy is a very effective marketing tactic that e-commerce sites have started to use. Think about adding a countdown timer to the end of a sale, or a roulette wheel that users can click and choose their discount. You can even announce a free promotional item with an online purchase over a certain amount. Whatever you choose, limited time offers make customers feel like they are getting a great deal, and they will likely share their recent online purchase success to friends and family.
Who wins on Cyber Monday
So, is Cyber Monday still worth participating in? If you have an e-commerce site or a website on which users can request services or make reservations, we say go for it! Cyber Monday differs from Black Friday regarding what items are typically discounted. Online clothing stores will benefit more from Cyber Monday, whereas electronics stores will cater more towards Black Friday shoppers. Other industries who win on the Monday after Thanksgiving include makeup and beauty, fashion, travel and hotels, and other soft goods-related businesses.
Now is the time to start prepping for Cyber Monday. Remember that every year is different, so feel free to try new marketing and advertising strategies. Don’t forget to also include your business logo on your website, social media, and in your e-mail blasts to increase brand awareness.