Online Stores, avoid these 5 Black Friday or Christmas mistakes

Posted by Lilach Bullock on 10 Oct, 2022
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Online store owners, if you want to be more successful than you’ve ever been this holiday season, avoid these 5 Black Friday or Christmas mistakes!

Holiday shopping.

Black Friday and Christmas are coming up. For many online store owners, they can be the two most lucrative holidays of the year! But if you’re making mistakes… Not only will your sales drop, but you might accidentally be helping your competition to make more money.

Whether you’re a new online store or you’ve been going for years, there are probably a coupe of things you could do better. So if you want to boost your sales, gain new fans, and make everyone happy this Black Friday and Christmas, here are 5 mistakes to avoid.

Avoid these Black Friday or Christmas mistakes!

There’s a reason Black Friday and Christmas are so popular. People know a good deal when they see it, and they’re not shy to take you up on them on these days. So if you want to make more sales than you ever have before, make sure you’re not accidentally making these 5 mistakes.

1. Not varying your offers

Discounts are great. They catch eyes, make people gasp, and they entice people into buying things they would not normally have bought. But they’re not the be-all and end-all of Black Friday and Christmas shopping.

Low prices are definitely an attraction, but if that’s all you’re offering on these days, you’re missing out. Varying your offers not only changes up the language and advertising around Black Friday (which can get a little monotonous, let’s be honest), but it also gives you the greatest chance of making sales and getting new fans.

As well as discounts, you could be offering:

  • BOGO sales: Buy one, get one free. Or, buy one, get one half-price. Make sure this deal applies to products people might need more than one of… Or you can go for the buy one, gift one idea.
  • Combination offers: Pairing complementary objects together can make an attractive package deal. Focus on the discount they’re getting and what a great combo it is.
  • Free shipping: You’d be surprised at how effective this offer is for those shopping online. Shipping fees are a common reason for cart abandonment!
  • Free gift with purchase: Who doesn’t love a free gift? The gift doesn’t have to be related to the item they’re purchasing, but it should be something small and useful. If you’re selling edible stuff, a free sample of a different product could be a good idea.
  • Vouchers: If they spend now, they can get a discount later. You may need to sell this a little more, because most people are looking for immediate discounts. But it’s worth keeping in mind and trying in addition to all the rest.

2. Not running ads

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your social media followers and email subscribers are all you need to have a successful Black Friday and Christmas campaign. Remember, there are infinitely more shoppers out there who aren’t following you and aren’t on your email list… And neglecting to advertise to them is a huge mistake.

Running ads may seem like an unnecessary expense when you already have a captive audience. But trust me—there are hundreds of thousands of people out there keeping their eyes peeled for exciting Black Friday and Christmas deals. Another thing you need to keep in mind is that your audience doesn’t belong to you exclusively—they’re most likely looking for other deals too.

Virtually the only way to reach enough people to make your holiday retail a roaring success is to advertise. Yes, this means paying money for your ads to be shown on social media or Google. But as long as your ads are well-written, enticing, and have a strong CTA, that will be an extremely worthwhile cost.

If you’ve never written ads before, you may also want to spend a little more on having them written by a professional. They know how to write to get clicks and conversions! Your money will be well spent.

3. Overpromising and under-delivering

Make sure that you can live up the hype your marketing is creating! You may have the best products out there and the best of intentions, but a couple of things can trip you up here.

  • Shipping times
  • Stock

You need to be realistic about your shipping times and stay on top of your stock. These two elements are the easiest things to overpromise and under-deliver on, and they can destroy a person’s trust in your business.

Shipping is out of your hands to some degree. Once you hand the product over to a courier, whether it’s literally or through a drop-shipping service, it’s out of your control.

Expect shipping to take slightly longer during these holidays. You owe it to your customers to provide them with realistic estimates—you can even add a bit of humour here to soften the blow slightly—but honesty is always the best policy.

As for stock, learn from some of the pros in ecommerce and plan aggressively —more is always better than less.

Around 43% of customers base their shopping activity on in-stock availability, so you can’t afford to disappoint. They suggest using forecasting tech and software to come up with a number so you can stock up well ahead of the big holidays. Remember, getting stock takes time, so don’t leave this too late.

Getting rid of excess stock is far easier than having to inform your customer that they can’t get what they want. It’s also a good idea to have a back-up plan, just in case your stock flies out the door. Track, monitor, and make sure your wholesaler is on hand.

4. Poor customer support

Black Friday and Christmas are only two days out of the year. But while people may enjoy your deals around this time, it’s the follow-up that truly matters.

The truth is, you don’t usually build a loyal fanbase on your products. Whatever you’re selling, I can guarantee it’s found in multiple other stores. Even if your stuff is custom-made, chances are it’s not a completely unique product or idea.

Which means that if customers have a poor experience with you, they’re likely to never come back. If you want to be successful between Black Fridays and Christmasses, then you certainly want them to come back when you aren’t running crazy specials.

And that comes down to your customer service. You can’t afford to neglect this both throughout and after Black Friday and Christmas. As great as your products are, you should expect to get at least a few returns, complaints, and questions. This is where you can either lose them forever or turn them into advocates for your brand.

Post-purchase customer care should include purchase confirmation emails, refund and return information, referrals to social media channels, and getting feedback about the process. You may also want to get ahead of things by sending follow-up emails down the line with “based on previous purchases, we think you may like X”, which could entice them to buy.

If you have a customer loyalty program, now is also the time to introduce them to it (without being pushy, of course).

5. Not having a strong abandoned cart sequence

There’s no point in having great post-purchase communication if they’re not purchasing! According to SaleCycle, in 2020 a shocking 84% of carts were abandoned before a purchase was even made!

That's a lot of moolah to leave on the table. And a lot of people passing up amazing deals. Sometimes it’s accidental—they were comparing prices, got distracted, their laptop battery died and they forgot what they were doing… Other times, they have a bit of doubt about the price, the use of the product, or whether or not it’s truly a good buy.

Your job is to win them back and get them to click on that buy button. A sharp abandoned cart sequence is the first port of call. You should be collecting their email address as part of your buying process, so this will go out to remind them about their pending cart.

Address your customer by name and remind them what’s in their cart. This is the best time to add in something cute, funny, or catchy in relation to your brand or niche (in the subject line and the body of the email).

Research suggests that the best time to send your first email is within an hour of cart abandonment. Of course, you don’t have a lot of days to stretch this across when it comes to Black Friday. I suggest sending two emails on the day, one at an hour after abandonment and the other at around 3 hours.

From there, it’s a great idea to send a “sorry you missed the Black Friday deals but here’s a discount for Cyber Monday” email the following day.
Bonus: Don’t forget Cyber Monday!

Cyber Monday is like Black Friday’s little sibling that gets forgotten in all the excitement! The excitement of Black Friday can get so much that brands forget to put as much effort into Cyber Monday… Leading to a ton of missed sales.

Everything we’ve been through in this article already is appropriate for Cyber Monday as well as the other two holidays. Offer some creative, well-discounted deals, and you should see plenty of sales. But remember, people have most likely already spent a lot of Friday, so you’ll need to up your creativity when it comes to marketing Cyber Monday deals.

A great tactic is to link up Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. For example, if someone takes advantage of one particular deal on Black Friday, give them a discount code specially for use on Cyber Monday. This encourages people to come back and shop again on Monday… Even after they’ve spent a ton on Friday!

Final thoughts

There’s always a bit of turmoil around Black Friday and Christmas time. If you run an online store, of course you’re going to be taking advantage of it, but be careful! Leaving it too late to start putting campaigns into place can leave you stressed and frazzled, and then everything becomes difficult.

Start your planning early to avoid hitting burnout during or soon after these holidays! I advise making yourself a checklist in the planning stage so you can make sure you don’t leave anything out.

Don’t forget to market yourself across all channels, build up some excitement, and be creative in your deals. Plan ahead to avoid stress. If you make sure to avoid these Black Friday or Christmas mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to success!

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