Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend is maybe the biggest acquisition opportunity of the year for many merchants. According to one survey, 26% of consumers will buy just from new brands and 46% will buy from a mix of new and tried-and-trusted brands. That’s a lot of new customers you want to make a good impression on!
And the best part is it isn’t just people looking for gifts. Black Friday weekend leads into the holiday season, so it’s a common assumption that the majority of shoppers are looking for deals of gifts. While those customers are still valuable and could be retained, there is a significant number of customers who are shopping for themselves. According to YouGov, 21% of US shoppers plan to buy things for themselves over BFCM, compared to just 27% shipping for gifts. That’s really not as huge a difference as some might expect. And the younger the customer, the more likely they are to be shopping for themselves.
So with all those new customers heading to checkout, what can merchants do to keep them coming back in the new year? Let’s take a look at some easy retention tactics you can start using right away ahead of BFCM.
Start by understanding your new BFCM customers
First thing’s first - you need to understand the wants and needs of who you’re trying to retain. New customers may be unfamiliar with your brand and products, after all there is that portion of customers who say they’ll try new brands over BFCM. This makes for a challenge in retention, as being new to your brand means they won’t have the same brand loyalty or affinity as your existing customers. Then there’s the added challenge of their first experience of your brand being during a promotional period. Especially if you opt for a discount event over BFCM, they’ll have a discount every time as their view of the “true” price of your product will be lower.
So if you want to retain these customers you need to:
- Encourage brand buy-in by giving them the right amount of information and introduction
- Consider the issues they may run into given the nature of Black Friday weekend
- Meet their expectations from the post-purchase experience
- Think about what might entice them to shop again in the future
- Demonstrate care in their experience
These points make for a more tailored, customer-focused experience that those new customers will remember. And they’ll remember that experience long after they’ve forgotten whatever your Black Friday discount was! Even if they’re buying a gift, they’ll remember the experience they had with your brand.
#1 - Have a BFCM specific email automated flow
You may already have a series of email automations set up, such as transactional emails or a welcome email flow. However, it may be worth also setting up an email flow specifically for your Black Friday/Cyber Monday customers. This can reflect the kind of information they’d benefit most from, which will keep up engagement throughout the holiday season and beyond. It will also allow you to more accurately analyze BFCM email behaviors and data, as well as being able to tailor the messaging and frequency for those customers.
Here are some ideas for emails you may want to include in your BFCM automation:
Reminder of BFCM shipping - How long dispatch will take, as well as any updates to delays from couriers given the busy time of year orders will be shipping during. This will keep them in the loop, which is beneficial for the customer as well as reducing customer support enquiries.
Brand Introduction - If you segment your emails by new vs returning customers, this can be a valuable touch point that will help new customers get more of that brand buy-in that will aid in retention.
Product Guide - Whether a customer is new to your brand entirely, or is a returning customer trying a new product, they’ll appreciate a bit of product know-how to get them started. This is content which is valuable to the customer, as well as giving you another touch point in their journey.
Community Information - Bring customers into your brand community. Show photos from customers, influencers that you’ve engaged with, any community hubs such as forums or groups, and any projects your brand works on e.g. charity partnerships.
- Loyalty or Affiliate Programs - Not only are your products great, but customers can get rewards just for shopping with your brand. Tell new customers about how your programs work - points, tiers, benefits, etc. Tell existing customers if they’ve earned more points or benefits, or if they’re eligible for an affiliate perk.
Adding more valuable information into your Black Friday emails will bring customers closer to your brand, as well as giving you data about how they engage with your marketing.
#2 - Be proactive with customer support
Customers who are new to your brand and products are more likely to have questions and need some extra support. So, be ready to give it to them and do so proactively. The time after Black Friday weekend can be tricky due to its proximity to the holiday season, so demonstrating that proactive approach to support will be something customers remember.
An example of how to be proactive is in how you handle and communicate shipping delays. Black Friday weekend often means increased order volumes, which can cause a delay in dispatch from your warehouse. Then multiply that by all the brands who also participate in BFCM, and it’s easy to see why couriers are also under pressure. If there is going to be a delay either in dispatch, delivery, or both, reach out to affected customers as soon as - let them know how long the delay will take, why it’s happening, and how they can reach out to your team if they need extra advice.
Some other ways you can take a proactive approach to customer support is in letting customers know early on how to initiate a return. Go over how your returns process works, deadlines that will apply to their order, and how returns are resolved, e.g. refunds, store credit etc. You can also reach out with product care guides, especially if you can address questions you usually see about products in your customer support inbox.
#3 - Improve your tracking and delivery experience
We mentioned in the last section about the pressure on the tracking and delivery side of ordering around Black Friday. BFCM leads straight into the holiday season, which is notorious for delayed order shipments, late deliveries, and general logistics confusion for customers. They know this time of year can be tricky, and that awareness makes it even more important to get the experience right. The brands customers will remember when the season is over are those who offered a really great tracking and delivery experience…or a really poor one.
One of the easiest and most effective ways you can improve your tracking experience is to implement real-time tracking tools. 82% of US consumers have high expectations for an accurate delivery experience. Offering that more accurate experience is made simple through Shopify apps like Order Lookup. This gives merchants a customizable customer-facing real-time tracking portal that gives them more information about their order and its whereabouts. They can see their order details, items in the shipment, notes about their order, and a summary of what’s happening with their delivery. The customer then feels more in the loop with their order, increasing satisfaction and reducing customer support queries.
The best part about making these improvements is that it won’t just benefit those new customers - it’ll also be beneficial for your existing customers. They’ll see that you’re making positive changes compared to the experience they’ve possibly already had with your store.
#4 - Consider offering more strategic incentives
When planning for retention, many merchants won’t want to rely solely on incentives to bring customers back. This is especially true when it comes to newly acquired Black Friday customers. After all, discounting and other promotions can often set customers up for low price expectations. If they got an item that’s usually $50 for $40, they may see that as the “true” price and be reluctant to pay full price. This gives merchants an extra challenge - they want to take part in BFCM and earn some new customers, but they also don’t want those new customers to only ever shop with a discount.
The answer isn’t to keep offering incentives, but to be strategic with them. Offering another discount is the default option - it’s the easiest to implement, and customers like discounts. However, there are other incentives you can offer:
- Early sale access - This still gives them the rush of a bargain, but also makes it clear that this isn’t a discount event so prices are not their full price.
- Free shipping - This is an incentive that many customers like to take advantage of. You’re not discounting items in this case. You can even set a threshold to protect your bottom line.
- Free items - These can be small like samples of new products or an accessory to a larger product, e.g. a free strap when they buy a camera. This encourages customers to buy items at full price while also getting something for free.
- Loyalty program perks or points - If you have a loyalty program, give new customers a taste of what they can expect by letting them take the benefits for a spin. Alternatively, give them some boosted points to get them started.
- Free gift card - This might sound like the same thing as a discount, but with a free gift card you control how much the customer gets off their order. It also feels more like a tangible thing the customer is receiving, so they feel more inclined to actually use it vs a discount code.
You can also add segmentation into your incentive strategy, so that higher value customers get higher value incentives. For example, if a customer spent over $200 on Black Friday they might get a gift card for $15, and a customer who spent under $50 would get either a $5 gift card or they might get something of “lower value” like boosted loyalty points.
#5 - Follow up for feedback in the new year
Customers like it when brands show that they care about their experience. By asking for feedback, you demonstrate that you value their opinions, improving the customer-brand relationship. You can also quickly deal with any negative feedback that comes up, giving your team the opportunity to resolve issues that a customer may not otherwise have got in touch about. Plus, you’ll get some valuable insight into your Black Friday/Cyber Monday customer experience, and how to improve it.
This can be part of your retention flow with email marketing. In the new year, request feedback from customers in different segments. That might be based on order value, which day of BFCM they placed their order, which products they purchased, or other demographics. And in the feedback request, you can ask about specific aspects of the experience - were they buying for themselves, or a gift? How did they find your checkout experience? Did their order arrive on time?
And if part of your feedback follow up involves requesting reviews, then you could end up with some fresh reviews to kick off the new year.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are golden opportunities to find new customers that you can market to in the new year. By understanding what will matter to those customers once they’ve placed their order, you can foster a strong relationship that will hopefully lead to repeat business in the new year.