The season of SALES and BFCM marketing is around the corner! Email and SMS marketing are so important during this season. It’s not only the best time to push repeat purchases from current and loyal customers through seasonal promotions, but also to capture new holiday leads & convert them into future loyal customers.
Do you feel ready to hit the ground running or are you overwhelmed by how much the BFCM marketing has changed in recent years? Need some inspiration to get the juices flowing?
Whatever stage you are at, here are some tips to make sure your 2023 Q4 season is as successful as you’re hoping for.
1. Optimize Your Email Account
Before your big sale launches, it’s critical to do an overhaul of your account and make sure it’s running smoothly for a top-notch customer experience. Here’s a checklist:
How Are Your Settings?
It’s important to look at your Account Email Settings before every sale to make sure preferences and attribution are up to date.
Consider Checking the following:
- Smart Sending Period – Do you want a shorter or longer window during your sale?
- Campaigns Sending – Make sure to set as send time, ensuring that all recipients are received but may cause a slight delay.
- Check Tracking Settings – Do you have your email to website activity tracking turned on? Is your attribution setting set to both Opened OR Clicked Email? Did you turn on your email tracking for the top of your email content?
- UTM Tracking – Make sure your parameters are set for both Campaigns AND Automated Flows.
2. Got Popups?
- Ensure the correct popups are live for the sale. It makes for a poor user experience when the customer is bombarded with overlapping forms when coming to your site. We want to make sure the site is as clean as possible and the forms speak to the sale alone.
- Check your popup settings – Is this a flyout or popup? What’s the urgency – Need a time delay? Does every site visitor need to see this or just a particular audience segment?
- Optimize for both Desktop and Mobile Views. Make sure to test in an incognito tab on desktop and mobile devices and ensure copy and CTAs are clear and concise for both views.
3. Review Your Automated Flows
- Although there shouldn’t be much change within your automated flows, it doesn’t hurt to promote your sale with an email banner, hero image, or CTA button. Suppose you are trying to increase the urgency of your sale. In that case, there is also an opportunity to create a dedicated Abandoned Cart / Browse Abandonment / Added To Cart Email as a last-ditch effort for those who have not made a purchase during the Sale period.
4. Critical Segmentation
- We want to make sure that your Campaigns and Flows speak directly to the audience so desired. Ex. If someone purchases early on in the sale with a large order amount, we probably don’t need to keep sending them sale messaging. Being intentional with who you are targeting Sale messaging is crucial to the health of your account as it can be damaging if the customer keeps receiving Sale info. (i.e they might decide to not open or click or even unsubscribe from the brand completely)
DECIDING ON PROMOS
OK. Your account is optimized and ready. Now let’s talk about Promos!
It’s best to run promos / sales around the demanding times of the year and when it suits your brand the best. You should have a strong and unique plan for the following times
- Pre- or Early Black Friday
- Black Friday
- Cyber Monday
- The Month of Gifts (December)
- Last Chance for Holiday Shipping
- New Year (if applicable)
The further in advance you know your plan for each of these times, the more seamlessly your holiday calendar will flow, allowing each and every promo to feel unique, special, and capture those that the previous promo didn’t. If you plan them all separately, the consumer will feel it- constantly questioning whether they’re actually getting the best deal or if they should wait another week for something new.
Besides these high-demand sale periods, you need to also consider who DOESN’T want to see this type of highly-seasonal and promotional content. Remember that not everyone celebrates the same holidays.
Determine how good of a fit your product is for this season and don’t force what’s not authentic to your brand. Consider giving subscribers a chance to opt out of Black Friday emails/texts if they truly don’t want to see your best deals of the year. This not only ensures long term account health, but shows your customers you truly care about their experience.
Types Of Promos to Consider:
- Buy 1, Get 1
- Free Shipping
- Spend X, Get ($/%) Off
- Take X% Off Sitewide!
- Free Gift With Purchase
- Download Your Free Guide
- Spin The Wheel
- Daily Deals/Discounts
Ultimately, you will know what type of promo resonates with your brand best. For Q4, you will want to choose a promo strategy that feels unique to your customer and can also stand out when next to all the other BFCM ads.
During this season, discounts are higher than any other time, so you have to find a way to keep margins strong while competing with the big deals. Ultimately this decision is up to you! There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to promos, but your customers will know what true value looks like on your products. Just look at your AOV & CLV and go from there.
Ideally, your BFCM discount will reflect the best value your customer can get all year. They expect it, and they can see straight through discounts that claim huge savings but really don’t deliver. Then, you can use more unique & higher margin discounts to capture other Q4 sales without running a huge discount through the entire season.
What’s the deal with pre-sales?
Each year, the BFCM season starts earlier and earlier. Brands have been taking advantage of this by running a Pre-Sale that starts before their classic Black Friday Sale. Many have even seen as much success with their pre-sales as they do with their typical BFCM sale by getting ahead, with more visibility and less competition.
Want to run a presale? Here are a couple of things to consider:
- Target VIPs first. Your most loyal customers deserve to know about your sale prior to launch. They’ve invested in you and now it’s time to invest in them.
- Schedule your email campaigns accordingly. Make sure there is no overlap with audience segments if you choose to announce to certain segments earlier than others.
- Design your Sales emails to stand out from the rest. We want to grab the subscriber’s attention while staying on brand. Make sure that your email includes attention-grabbing assets while including text links, dynamic products, and action-oriented CALLS-TO-ACTION. Here are a couple of CTA examples:
- EXCLUSIVE ACCESS
- EARLY SAVINGS
- GET SAVINGS
- PRE-SALE ACCESS
- GET ACCESS NOW
- START SHOPPING
How Much is Too Much?
This is a really good question with a very challenging answer.
Most marketers will have their own opinions on how many emails and texts you should be sending during the Q4 season. There is no one size fits all, unfortunately. The most important factors are how your audience responds.
When deciding how many emails is right for your brand during these big promotional times, keep these things in mind:
- How many emails/texts do you usually send? 2-3x volume is typical around the holiday season, but anymore may overwhelm your customer & cause them to unsubscribe
- Do you have an option to opt-out of promotional emails? If so, your subscriber has a clear out, so you can consider increasing your cadence
- How are your Open Rates & Click Through Rates looking? It’s NEVER worth it to send so many emails that you damage your deliverability. If your audience is not engaging – they’re not worth it. By leaving out your completely unengaged audiences, you will keep these metrics higher, and see better deliverability & engagement through this important season. If these numbers drop too low – change up your strategy.
Q4 SEASON – FLOW AUTOMATION UPDATES
October, November, and December – AKA one of the biggest sales seasons of the year. Whatever your brand decides to push, ensure that your Automated Flows are in tip-top shape before the sale starts. Here are some tips for updating your flows, but first make sure you’ve optimized your Account Settings so that everything is running smoothly prior to launch.
Review the checklist above!
UPDATING FLOW EMAILS
Now that your Account is up to date, you can focus on updating the Flow Emails. Some tips:
- Add Sale Banners!
- In your abandonment emails, make sure you implement Sale Banners to increase urgency and conversions.
- Design Dedicated Sale Emails
- If your team has the bandwidth, it can be incredibly beneficial to create dedicated sales emails within your automated flows. This can push awareness of the sale forward and ensure a seamless brand experience alongside the AD HOC Campaigns. Ways to Optimize:
- Hero Images
- Text Links Colors
- Add additional product feeds of Best Selling products.
- *But make sure to exclude products that have an inventory less than 5. This will remove products that are out of stock, creating a better user experience, pushing products that are only in stock.
- Update Customer Support Verbiage on both your Email and Site, meaning:
- Sale Shipping Policies – Be as transparent as you can to avoid any residual backlash. Ensure that your shipping information is clear and concise across all Flows and Campaigns as well as your dedicated landing page about Shipping & Refund Policy page.
- Customer Support – Helplines & Website Chat
- Gift Cards (i.e. Are you offering gift cards? If so, does your sale apply to gift card purchases? If not, do you have plans to exclude them?
- Consider decreasing time delays
- During BFCM, things move quickly. By the time you’ve waited a few hours to remind your customer what’s waiting in their cart – they may have already moved on to a competitor. Consider decreasing time delays in your pre-purchaser flows and pushing emails & SMS closer together than you typically would, to match the speed and urgency of the holiday sale season.
Let’s talk about forms.
Forms are a critical part of growing any business, especially within the vein of email. They not only give site visitors an opportunity to engage with your brand, but also give you an opportunity to sell directly to customers. “Great forms don’t just grow your list, they build a quality list of engaged customers, ensuring good deliverability and better return on investment.”
Different types of Sign Up Forms:
- Flyouts: appear on the side of the browser, and are usually less disruptive than a popup. These are recommended to collect site visitor preferences for enhanced segmentation or to inform the visitor about brand news and updates.
- Embeds: most often appear in a website’s footer or dedicated landing page. Typically, these stationary forms are used to collect first time visitors data and email consent.
- Pop Ups: appear in the center of the browser and are the most urgent form of a signup method. Popups can include first time lead capture (first name, email, sms, etc) and most often contain an incentive (i.e. 10% off first purchase) for first time visitors.
What Turns Good Form into a Great Form (3 Principles)
- Keep it simple
When building your own forms, try out this quick test: show it to someone else for just two seconds. Then, close it and ask, “What was the form asking you to do?” If they can answer, your form has fulfilled the first principle.
- Design for the total experience
Make sure your form appears in a timely manner, asks the right questions to collect the right data (see below), and requests personalized visitor information for Flow Complexities and Enhanced Segmentation.
- Collect the right data
When you collect the right data, you are able to accurately target the visitor with brand information and products that they care about.
What Is Your Form Goal?
When you decide to implement a Form, make sure you have a goal in mind – even if it’s just a website footer (embedded form). Most forms have the same basic structure: an attention grabber, brief details, and a call-to-action.
Keep the copy short and sweet and consider A/B testing not only your content for design as well to find that ‘winning” form.
*To gain concrete data and insight, we recommend A/B testing forms or any other Email Strategy over the course of a 3-6 month period. We want to make sure that our decisions are based on data before implementing new copy or design.
When constructing your form, keep in mind these 3 things: Matching Your Brand, Implementing Convincing Copy, and Tailoring Your Call-To-Action Appropriately.
1. Matching Your Brand
Your form should match your brand–utilizing your brand colors, voice, and imagery.
“Ex: The form on the left appears to be more on brand as the colors and fonts look cohesive, and the imagery supports — but doesn’t distract from — the text. This one on the right is an example of a less cohesive and distracting design where the background image takes up all the viewer’s attention, makes the text difficult to read, and has mismatched fonts. “ – Klaviyo
2. Convincing Copy
Like your styling and the imagery you use, the copy you implement should also coincide with the goal of the form. Make sure you are concise and get straight to the point. Your visitor needs to see what you are offering and why they should sign up – That’s It!
*Note: Not all brands offer discounts, but according to Klaviyo – “signup forms that offer a discount in exchange for an email or phone number see 90% higher subscription rates. Even better, people who view a form with a discount are 190% more likely to make a first purchase.”
Here are some common incentives to include with your signup form:
- Discounts (i.e. 20% off)
- Free items
- E-Books or other downloadables
- Informational value through the content of your newsletter
- Early access to products or sales
3. Forming Your CALL-TO-ACTION (CTA)
Get ready to be bold and obvious!. Since it’s the most crucial part of any form, your CTA should stand out against all your other copy & imagery. Keep your prominent brand colors for your CTAs and write your CTA in the first person with an action to incentivize browsers to click through.
Now you have your form built, let’s test!
When testing we want to look at both mobile and desktop views. As mobile continues to increase (more than 65% of all ecommerce traffic), there is urgency to make sure your forms are optimized correctly for both views and site visitors.
It may depend on your form design, but you will most likely be able to display it on both desktop and mobile. There may also be instances when it’s better to only have a mobile form or vice versa.
Ready. Set. GO LIVE!
Now that you have your forms ready, now it’s time to test. Make sure you are always testing forms in an incognito browser (unless you are targeting a specific audience segment).
When the form is optimized for a mobile view, always test on your mobile device to make sure the form CTAs are proportional to the rest of the form copy.
In addition, your form’s icon should be large enough to close the form. When a form is hard to close, it can harm the customer’s experience with your brand.
Be Ready for Q4
Gearing up for the Q4 and BFCM marketing season requires careful planning and meticulous execution in your email and SMS marketing strategies.
As the holiday season approaches, it’s essential to ensure that your email account is optimized for a seamless customer experience. This includes checking settings, tracking, and optimizing popups for both desktop and mobile views.
Reviewing your automated flows and segmenting your audience effectively are crucial steps to tailor your messaging to specific customer groups. Remember that not everyone celebrates the same holidays, so authenticity and consideration for your subscribers’ preferences are key.
When it comes to promotions, plan strategically for key dates and create unique offers that align with your brand identity. Balancing discounts to maintain strong margins while competing with big deals is essential. Your promotions should reflect genuine value to your customers.
In the end, as you go live with your campaigns, remember to test thoroughly on both desktop and mobile devices to ensure a smooth and engaging user experience. By following these tips and staying adaptable, you can make the most of the Q4 and BFCM marketing season and achieve your desired results. Good luck, and may your holiday marketing campaigns be a success!