Black Friday Ecommerce Sales: Generating and Optimizing Revenue This Holiday

Black Friday Ecommerce Sales: Generating and Optimizing Revenue This Holiday

Black Friday ecommerce sales — not to mention Cyber Monday, every day in December, and even the first two weeks of January — represent a goldmine for online businesses around the globe. Each company is trying to cut their piece of the pie. And they’re all trying to cut a bigger piece than last year.

It’s one thing to want a bigger piece. But, it’s another thing entirely to get a bigger piece.

At the risk of oversimplification, there are three main levers that impact your holiday revenue:

  1. Conversion rate
  2. Average order value
  3. Number of visitors

In this article, we’ll break down exactly how you can leverage these three metrics to cut yourself a bigger piece of what Avinash Kaushik, author of Web Analytics 2.0, calls the “opportunity pie.” Basically, the opportunity pie represents the percentage of visitors who don’t convert right away, but likely will in the future …

If you know how to nurture and entice them during the hyper-competitive holiday season.

To do this, let’s examine, first, how to convert more visitors from the opportunity pie, and second, how to increase the size of the pie by getting more visitors to your website.

Don’t stop here …

Keep reading to find out how to increase your conversion rates and traffic during Black Friday ecommerce sales.

But, if you want to go even deeper, we’ve built the ultimate Black Friday, Cyber Monday Toolbox with everything you need to unwrap the magic of the Shopify Plus platform and make this holiday season your most profitable ever.

Check out the BFCM Toolbox

Optimizing Your Black Friday Ecommerce Sales for Conversions

The first metric worth leveraging during the holiday season is your conversion rate. An optimized conversion rate makes the most of traffic you already receive. And doing so can have a massive impact on your revenue during Black Friday, Cyber Monday.

Here are four factors to consider when working to increase your conversion rate.

1. Existing Customers

It’s no secret that your existing customers — i.e., audience — purchase more product than their non-buying counterparts.

According to an Adobe report, while return customers only account for 8% of ecommerce traffic, they generate a whopping 41% of total revenue.

Return customers in ecommerce: visitors versus revenue

Additionally, return visitors convert more, add-to-cart more, and bounce less, than first-time visitors.

Ecommerce return visitors: add-to-cart rate, bounce rate, and conversion rate

Image via Monetate

The lead-up to the holidays is a great time to focus on your existing customers. They are the ones who are going to convert more regularly and spend more money. Cater to them with special email offers, member discounts, and past-purchaser coupon codes that will automatically increase your conversion rate.

2. On-page Optimization

While on-page elements probably won’t draw new people to your website — outside of the SEO benefits — they will encourage visitors to buy once they’ve arrived.

But which on-page elements are the most important to optimize and which ones are a waste of time?

In June of this year, Qubit published a peer-reviewed study that revealed the conversion rate impact that different on-page elements have.

On-page factors that helped increase conversion the most include:

  • Scarcity: +2.9%
    Emphasizing “while supplies last” by showing low levels of inventory
  • Social proof: +2.3%
    Increasing trust by showing product reviews and testimonials during the purchasing process
  • Urgency: +1.5%
    Highlighting that a deal or special offer only lasts so long, often with a countdown timer
  • Onsite abandonment recovery: +1.1%
    Saving sales from visitors who abandon such as, exit intent pop-ups and live chat
  • Product recommendations: +0.4%
    Helping visitors find the perfect product while they’re browsing through product groupings and “If you like this, you’ll also love that” sections

And here are the elements that didn’t impact conversions:

  • Color: +0.0%
    Changing the on-page colors
  • Buttons: -0.2%
    Changing the style, color, and copy of a button
  • Calls to action: -0.3%
    Changing the style, color, and copy of a CTA

These changes are often small, but a cumulative focus on what matters — while not wasting your energy on what doesn’t — can dramatically increase your conversion rate during the holidays.

3. Special Offers

Well-timed discounts are a tried-and-true way for increasing ecommerce conversion rates.

But, when offering these discounts, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind …

First, consider the Rule of 100 that Jonah Berger mentions in his book, Contagious. The rule states that any discount on a product over $100 should show dollar-amount savings, and any discount on a product under $100 should show a percentage.

For example, if you’re offering a product that costs $150, the Rule of 100 says that $30 off will be more compelling than 20% off. Conversely, if you’re offering a product that’s $50, then the rule says 20% off will be more compelling than $10 off.

Second, if a discount is exceptional, you might want to consider providing a reason for the steep offer.

What you want to avoid is visitors thinking that either something is wrong with the product or it’s not as valuable as the original price says it is. In the below example, Hype’s urgency provides visitors with a “why” for their extreme discounts.

Explain your Black Friday ecommerce sales like Hype

Similarly, ThinkGeek mitigates this possible concern by explaining to visitors that they’re offering a discount to celebrate a 17-year anniversary.

ThinkGeek explains their discount as a celebration

With these explanations, the visitor understands the reason you’re offering a discount and is less likely to undervalue your product or your authority.

People will expect discounts during the holiday season, so go ahead and offer it to them.

4. Remarketing

Merchants who use remarketing — that is, advertising to people who have already shown some degree of interest in your products — see a whopping 70% + increase in conversions.

By advertising to people who are interested in your product, this is another tactic for making the most of the traffic you will already receive during the holiday season.

You can remarket using Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, Pinterest and even Google, Chango, and AdRoll. To find a service that fits your business, you can check out this blog post from Kissmetrics.

Optimizing Your Black Friday Ecommerce Sales for Average Order Value

The second lever that you can pull to increase ecommerce Black Friday sales is the average value of each order.

While the previous metric makes the most out of your traffic, average order value makes the most out of your customers. Here’s how you can do that ...

1. Free Shipping

Free shipping can increase the amount of money people are willing to spend at your ecommerce store. How?

If people aren’t spending extra money on shipping, they might spend that money on buying more product instead.

At least, that’s the psychology behind it.

But there are also some compelling data behind the power of free shipping. An ecommerce store based out of Texas, Sheplers, saw a 57% increase to its top line after adding free shipping within its state.

Free shipping can improve the AOV of Black Friday ecommerce sales

It also saw a 20% increase in net contribution and a 48% increase in new customer acquisition.

Similarly, StichLabs discovered that free shipping can surge business revenue by 10%. To set up free shipping for your own website, check out Shopify’s guide.

You can also offer free gift wrapping as a way to increase the perceived value of each order, encouraging customers to buy more and avoid a lead-up to Christmas that’s cluttered with wrapping paper.

2. Upselling

At the heart of increasing the value of an average order for your ecommerce store is the upsell. The more customers that you upsell, the higher your average order value.

Upselling is one of the best ways to increase your revenue this holiday season.

But how?

Take Pura Vida Bracelets, for example. First, they have a time-triggered pop-up that tries to upsell the customer by offering a 10% discount on a purchase of $30 or more.

Time-triggered pop-ups can upsell during Black Friday ecommerce sales

Also, Sephora offers free shipping on orders of $50 or more and a “similar products” section to upsell its customers.

Combine free shipping and product recommendations for Black Friday ecommerce sales

To create your own upselling strategy on your ecommerce website during the holidays, check out these apps.

Optimizing Your Black Friday Ecommerce Sales for Increased Traffic

The last lever in your ecommerce revenue arsenal is traffic. As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats. Likewise, more traffic increases revenue, as long as you’ve already optimized for conversions and average order value.

The first rule of ecommerce holiday traffic is to start early. You cannot start early enough. Your 2017 holiday sale is a stepping stone for 2018.

To increase traffic this holiday season, think of how you can best leverage your top awareness channels. If you invest heavily in social platforms, content discovery networks or in collaborations with affiliates or influencers, think of ways to double down on these channels this holiday season.

It may be useful to think of ways to improve your top of funnel metrics; your number of impressions and click-through rates. For example, on social ads, ask users to tag their friends to decrease your cost per impression. With affiliates, plan drip campaigns with them. Agree on doing more posts, articles, and emails, in a shorter time period, and increase their incentive.

To increase traffic, you need to be familiar with the most important marketing days of the year and map your events accordingly ...

November 1–22: Pre-Selling

Pre-selling your brand in the lead up to the holiday season is all about creating positive brand and product awareness before the big days — and big Black Friday ecommerce sales — arrive.

One way is is to invest in video advertising. Shoppers who view videos are almost twice as likely to purchase than those who don’t. And Facebook is the perfect place to create video content since you can retarget people to either upsell them or try and save an abandoned cart.

Holiday-themed content can also be a powerful tool leading up to the holiday season. Think about articles or eBooks like, “10 ways to surprise your family on Christmas morning,” or “3 ways to make this holiday season one for the books.”

And lastly, word of mouth, which is a primary reason that people purchase 74% of the time.

Word of mouth increases traffic to Black Friday ecommerce sales

Image via Think with Google

To get word-of-mouth going about your brand, consider starting a refer-a-friend campaign or working with influencers to generate buzz. The more buzz you generate, the more traffic you’ll receive during the most important days of the year.

November 11: Single’s Day

Single’s Day is China’s most lucrative shopping day of the year. In 2016 alone, $17 billion was spent online in a 24-hour period. Consider leveraging this shopping day if you’re targeting international markets.

November 23: Thanksgiving Night

The day before Black Friday couldn’t be more important for spiking sales during the following weekend.

November 24: Black Friday

For ecommerce stores, Black Friday is increasing in popularity and remains the largest shopping day of the year in the U.S.

November 27: Cyber Monday

The new online version of Black Friday, Cyber Monday has taken consumers and ecommerce stores by fire. In fact, Cyber Monday beat Black Friday in terms of online sales in 2016.

December 11: Green Monday

The name, Green Monday, was originally coined by eBay in 2007. It refers to the Monday that is at least ten days before Christmas. Consumers are in full swing of the holiday shopping season on this day which means it’s a great day for your marketing efforts to also be in full swing.

December 18: Free Shipping Day

During Free Shipping Day, participating ecommerce stores offer free shipping on their items and guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve.

December 23: Super Saturday

On the day before Christmas Eve, Super Saturday, a 2016 NRF Survey reported that 66% of shoppers plan to open their wallets.

Number of consumers planning to shop on Super Saturday

December 26: Boxing Day

It would be easy to stop your marketing and selling efforts after Christmas day, but plenty of customer wait to snag post-holiday discounts. According to American Express, a massive portion of people are planning to shop on the day after Christmas.

December 31 - January 1: New Year’s

Since this is the end of the year and the cap on top of the busiest selling quarter, this is a great time to start implementing next year’s strategies to pull people into the new year with your upcoming products.

Black Friday ecommerce sales and more…

The holiday season is the perfect time to engage your existing customers while also making relationships with new ones.

To go even deeper, our BFCM Toolbox offers everything — from web applications to educational modules — to make sure you and your team are ready.

Check out the BFCM Toolbox


Photo of Doug Crowe

About the Author

After founding and scaling multiple e-commerce startups, Doug found himself working at Shopify in a role giving strategic advice to the top-grossing businesses on their platform. He’s worked with brands like Anheuser Busch Inbev, The Movember Foundation, Fairmont Hotels and Kylie Cosmetics. The cumulative ecommerce revenue of his clients was over $1billion. Currently, Doug is pioneering a new initiative at Shopify Plus building structured education programs for enterprise merchants and their employees, leveraging research and best practices to help mid-market merchants scale their digital commerce efforts.