Black Friday represents a huge opportunity for businesses that sell products online.

Originally an American holiday, Black Friday has been taken up across the globe as a time when businesses promote hefty discounts in an effort to supercharge sales ahead of the festive period. The signs point towards this Black Friday being another huge ecommerce opportunity.

According to an article published by Forbes, this coming Black Friday weekend’s spending is forecast to increase by 47% from 2016, with customers planning to spend an average of $743 from the Friday to the Monday. Ecommerce sites will be hungry for a slice of this multiple-billion-dollar pie. If you haven’t started preparing, there’s still time…but barely. Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is a great way to get your site up to scratch ready for the big weekend.

Here are some simple CRO techniques you can use to drive more sales to your business this Black Friday, the holiday period and beyond.

1. Prepare your website for additional traffic

If your Black Friday marketing campaigns are successful, you can expect to see increased traffic levels on your site.

While this is a huge positive, it also presents a huge risk; if your website isn’t capable of handling such traffic levels, you risk losing sales on Black Friday and into the future, as customers question the quality of your site. There are a variety of technical considerations available to you to better your site’s performance. Generally, they fall into one of a few broader tasks:

a) Speeding up what you already have

The first port of call for businesses preparing for Black Friday traffic is to speed up what you have. This means reviewing the current speed of your site (using a tool like Google’s own Page Speed Insights or Pingdom Tools) and following their recommendations for improvement – which are often as simple as reducing the sizes of your images.

b) Separation of concerns

This refers to the reduction of reliance on your own server in order to improve load speeds and make your website more resilient. You should consider the use, for example, of a content delivery network (CDN), which means your imagery is hosted outside of your own server, thus reducing the requests and workload in favour of splitting that load.

c) Improving your hosting setup

If you have the budget to apply here, it’s worth investing in improved hosting setups which not only speed up your website, but also protect it from attacks and keep it more secure. One example is to move to a cloud based server setup, whereby the requests can be balanced across multiple servers rather than relying on just one.

2. Mine your data for user insights

We’ve all been there; there’s a minor issue on one of your pages or a small glitch that you will get round to fixing soon… but more often than not, ‘soon’ never arrives.

Now’s the time to get your website up to scratch and fix all those little issues that might become a much bigger issue when your site takes the full strain of Black Friday traffic!

The fundamental purpose of CRO is to make a site as user-friendly as possible. Mining your data can therefore provide valuable insights into how users are using your site, and any issues therein.

If you’re using an analytics platform like Google Analytics, you can derive insights into any device-based issues, stumbling blocks in the conversion journey and poorly performing pages. Use these insights to identify areas for improvement ahead of Black Friday.

For example, you might review the bounce rate of your key landing pages as part of this process. If you know your campaign will be driving people toward certain products, it’s worth making sure those product pages are working as well as possible – and that means that they have as low a bounce rate as possible, and a high conversion rate. If there’s a page that’s clearly not working for your users, fix it or consider promoting an alternative page.

3. Create specific Black Friday landing pages

Successful CRO is about encouraging our users to a desired outcome which, around Black Friday, is likely to be a sale.

As the holiday has matured online and audiences are more aware of it, retail businesses are using Black Friday specific content to drive sales, as opposed to simply sending people to their regular product pages.

You can use data here to shape your key Black Friday landing pages. Split testing messaging around discounts and deals can lead to better conversion rates come Black Friday weekend.

For example, some customers respond better to percentage discounts, others to numerical values – so “25% off” vs “Save $50”. Some prefer added value deals over discounts, so consider what you can offer, such as ‘free shipping’ or an additional product with purchase.

Ordinarily, CRO involves time-consuming A/B and multivariate testing processes to determine the right layout and messaging for key pages on your site. If you don’t have the time or the historical data to help you, you can still derive meaningful insights from things like your PPC campaigns. Try setting up campaigns to promote your forthcoming Black Friday sales and then review which messages attract the most clicks. You can use this to inform your page messaging, too.

4. Measure, analyse and refine for next year

Whatever quick changes you decide to make between now and Black Friday, the biggest long term gains will come from learning from the successes and failings of the season.

A CTA not working as it should isn’t a complete failure, but an opportunity to learn. Both positive and negative data is helpful from a CRO perspective. It highlights what works and what doesn’t. So don’t stop at Black Friday. Track your conversion rate and assess the impacts of your changes, then keep optimising into the holidays and 2018 with those insights in mind.

Edd Wilson

Technical SEO Consultant

Edd is a Technical SEO Consultant at Impression. Edd loves innovation around organic search and has a strong passion for growth marketing. Edd also loves music production, dogs and ramen.

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