Black Friday is by far the biggest and baddest of sale days for eCommerce store owners and for WooCommerce store owners in particular – and to make it a success, you need to be super organized.
There’s much more flexibility for deals when you use WooCommerce than on hosted platforms like Shopify. With that extra flexibility comes the cost of more moving parts and the potential for things to not go quite as expected.
You know what they say, the best defense is a good offense, so during October you should be on the offensive getting ahead and ensuring things are going to go exactly as planned.
Important Black Friday Sale Dates For 2021
Here are the important dates for this sales season:
November 2021 Sale Dates:
- Nov 1st, 2021 – Early Giveaways
- Nov 22nd, 2021 – Early Bird Sales Start
- Nov 25th, 2021 – US Thanksgiving
- Nov 26th, 2021 – Black Friday
- Nov 27-28th, 2021 – Small Business Saturday Weekend
- Nov 29th, 2021 – Cyber Monday
December 2021 Sale Dates:
- Dec 13th, 2021 – Green Monday
- Dec 14th, 2021 – Free Shipping Day
Preparing Your Store For Black Friday
Let me start by just saying this:
Black Friday is a BIG deal.
It’s your opportunity to cash in, onboard a ton of new customers, and ship a lot of products ahead of Christmas and New Year.
But since WooCommerce store owners are the ones responsible for the operational side of their own stores and making sure it’s up and running and capable of handling what’s thrown at it, I think it’s important we first cover off that you are indeed prepared for what’s coming.
Let’s be serious, Black Friday sales can crash a site if you’re not ready for the influx of traffic.
It’s very typical for websites to see 2-3x traffic levels and much higher sales than normal during the latter half of November and into early December.
And if you’re reading this guide, it’s highly likely you’re the type of person who is going to execute like a beast during Black Friday.
So let’s see what we can do to prepare your site so it doesn’t break down and waste all that hard work.
Deploy A Caching Plugin or Caching Solution
To scale traffic on a website, you need it to use as few resources as possible to do what it needs to do.
For this, we use “caching”.
Caching is just a fancy way to say you keep a static copy of a page that is normally dynamically generated and serve that to visitors instead.
This means your site doesn’t have to consume as much resources to serve that page and you’ll be able to serve that page faster, which is good for you and good for your customer too.
I’ve tested pretty much every caching solution on the market for WordPress and I thoroughly recommend using WP Rocket.
WP Rocket is a premium caching plugin for WordPress used by +1,500,000 websites and +170,000 customers worldwide. Pay for it, download it, and deploy it and you’ll instantly have a faster website.
Increase Hosting Plan Or Change Hosting
Great hosting is hard to come by but for a WooCommerce store, hosting can literally mean the difference of $1000’s in revenue gained or lost.
Let me explain 2 important things about hosting an eCommerce site:
- Not all websites are created equal. If you have downtime on a blog website, it’s not a big deal. But for e-commerce website, even an hour of downtime can have significant effects on your top line revenue. I know many businesses where 1 hour of downtime equates to $1000 to $5000 (or more) in lost sales… think about that for a second… just 1 HOUR of downtime could be someone’s wage lost!
- Second, we all know that website speed is a HUGE ranking factor in search. But in my experience, it also greatly affects purchasing behaviour. Put it this way, if you had the exact same site delivered at two different speeds, you WILL notice an increase in revenue on the faster site.
So ask yourself these questions:
Am I comfortable with the reliability of my host?
Is my host fast? Do I need a bigger plan, or do I need to switch?
Over Black Friday, this could literally mean $1000’s more in revenue if you get this right and, honestly for me, that makes the price that we all pay for hosting each month look like cheap insurance.
Recommended Web Hosts
These are the web hosts I recommend for hosting a high performance, fast WooCommerce store:
- SiteGround’s High Performance Managed WooCommerce Hosting Package
- WPEngine’s E-Commerce Hosting Packages
- Kinsta’s Business 1 or Higher Hosting Packages
Recommended CDN – BunnyCDN
What is a CDN? A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a distributed set of servers around the world that hosts your static files and speeds up the delivery of those files to your visitors.
It’s another way to speed up your website significantly.
I use and recommend BunnyCDN which has 59+ servers in locations scattered around the world serving literally trillions of assets every day (over 350,000 assets a second!).
We recently replaced RocketCDN (which is made by the same people as WP Rocket) with BunnyCDN and instantly gained a speed boost.
Have you ever wondered where your sales are coming from? If I asked you, could you find out?
There are two tools that I relying on to tell me this and they each do slightly different things, but you need both to get a full picture.
First, we have MonsterInsights with the E-Commerce Tracking add-on and now (just recently launched) the Paid Ads Tracking add-on.
MonsterInsights is a WordPress plugin that primarily adds the tracking code for Google Analytics. With the E-Commerce Tracking add-on, it adds the ability to track your WooCommerce sales so you can connect the dots in a number of ways:
- Get raw figures about what sources are giving you how much revenue
- Create funnel tracking using Goals and E-Commerce metrics so you can see how specific parts of your site are converting (say, something important, like your checkout page conversion rate) in the broader scheme of things.
- Find out all sorts of other cool things like time it takes people to buy on average, what landing pages convert people, etc.
If you don’t have MonsterInsights installed on your site, you’re doing yourself a disservice:
The second tool is called Metorik, which is a SaaS that connects to your store and gives you awesome sales reporting.
In fact, you can create Dashboards of your most important sales metrics so you can, at a glance, get the status of your store and spot anything that might be wrong.
I like the fact that Metorik lets you drill into just about any part of your sales data and create custom reports based on things that you care about.
For example, if you were selling wholesale as well as retail, you could create separate reports.
Or if it’s sales season (Black Friday yo!) you can create a special dashboard to monitor those specific coupons and how the sales are progressing.
These kinds of insights are invaluable and, in my opinion, another indispensable tool:
2 Important Website Optimizations That Will Increase Sales & Are Fast To Do
Since we’re already in October, I don’t believe there is enough time to do a whole ton of optimizations to your website and leave time to test those optimizations.
There’s just two that I believe to be the MOST essential that you can pretty much bet will yield a positive improvement regardless.
1. The Most Important Checkout Page Optimizations
The first set of changes that I know will yield positive results is all about your checkout page and applying e-commerce best practices there.
A lot of store owners have under-optimized checkout experiences and it is a source of significant drop off that can be easily rectified.
Before making any changes ensure you have your stats tracking setup with MonsterInsights and ideally if you can set up a Goal funnel in Google Analytics to track the cart page and checkout page conversion rates, that would be best.
Next, go through and make the following changes to just the checkout page:
- Remove the menu from the top of the page, this goes for social icons and other stuff too. But leave the logo linked.
- Reduce the number of fields you have to fill out as much as possible (don’t need to collect Company Name? Hide it!). You want to make the form seem as friendly and easy to fill out as possible.
- Add social proof in the form of testimonials or 5-star reviews near the payment options – and just trust me on this one (I’ve tested it), it always seems to work better in odd numbers, so either add 1 or 3, not 2.
- Be very clear and explicit about shipping costs (people double check this at this stage).
- Give 2 or more payment options, people like choice in how to pay.
If you implement these all, expect a big lift in conversion rate on the checkout page. The sooner you do this the better because it will be at this higher conversion rate during Black Friday!
2. Homepage Optimization Tips
The next one is your homepage, and this is another place where a lot of stores are under-optimized.
Black Friday is a time of ultra-short attention spans!
Can people understand within 30 seconds what you’re all about? Is it obvious what your company sells?
If you can’t honestly answer yes by reading your homepage headline, surrounding copy, and looking at your image and primary call to action (usually the first button you see) then you need to work on making that ultra-clear.
This might mean:
- Rewriting your headline (it’s disturbing how many store owners have “Welcome to [store name]” as their main headline!)
- Replacing your primary image with the main product you want people to see.
- Changing the call to action button text and making it bigger/standing out more.
Next, you need to figure out how the rest of your page should flow.
A good structure should look something like this:
[Headline & Primary CTA]
[Category section 3-6 primary categories]
[Call to action for current promotions or newsletter]
[A bit about why you do what you do – humanize company]
[More products or categories]
Make Your Discounts STAND OUT
Every year Black Friday gets crazier and crazier because companies now know the power of concentrating on this sales-driven holiday.
Likewise, consumers also know that this is the time when the year’s biggest deals will be on display and are ready with cash in hand to purchase.
Do you know what this creates?
According to Campaign Monitor, “116.5 million emails were sent on Black Friday, more than any other single day.”
That’s a lot of emails!
It means there’s a ton of marketing messages that people are getting in their inboxes and having to sift through to find the deals that they want.
Simple deals like a boring “10% off” offer don’t cut the mustard anymore – it’s time to get more creative.
For this, we suggest you (shameless plug) get our Advanced Coupons plugin because it will open up a lot of different types of deals. WooCommerce core only lets you do the basic stuff.
- If you’re on a budget, use our free version.
- If you have a small amount to spend, please use the premium version of Advanced Coupons.
It really is amazing (because we built it first and foremost for ourselves!)
Here’s the thing that I know… the cost of this license will pay itself back in, max, a couple of extra product sales. And the best thing is, you’ll be able to use that for the entire next 12 months!
The Premium version opens up even more flexibility such as:
- BOGO (Buy One, Get One) deals (Read our guide on WooCommerce BOGO coupons here)
- Adding surprise free products to cart automatically (Check this guide on making free offers in WooCommerce)
- Auto applying a coupon (Read our guides on auto applying coupons here & here)
- Using a URL to apply coupons (Read our guide on URL coupons here)
- Advanced shipping deals (Read our shipping discount guide here, and these two posts here & here)
- Tons of cart conditions to put restrictions on your coupons (Check this guide on subtotal cart conditions applied automatically!)
- and loads more (check the full list of feature here)
Black Friday prep is probably one of the busiest times of year for a store owner (and rightly so). It’s our time to put the pedal to the metal and go hard at it.
But don’t burn yourself out staying up till midnight deploying popups manually or sending emails by hand at the right times – schedule them in advance!
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”Benjamin Franklin
Now that we’ve been through Black Friday multiple times we have a playbook that we faithfully execute and improve each year.
This is all scheduled ahead of time and tested thoroughly. Even while our website is working hard for us during Black Friday, we’re able to still get some sleep and know that the deals are still going out like clockwork.
The good news for you is that 99% of tools (including Advanced Coupons!) has scheduling so you can write, deploy, and test things like emails and popups and coupons ahead of time and schedule them to start when you want them to.
Along the same lines and going hand in hand with the idea of scheduling everything, I suggest you also leverage automation this year!
Here’s some ideas:
- If you need to push order information into a Google spreadsheet
- Have your blog posts go out on your social media pages
- Unlock a course when they purchase over a certain value
- Send the person a review request email after a number of days
- Ask someone to tweet about your giveaway
The Automator plugin for WordPress is like Zapier, but without the gateway keeper fees. It’s a great tool in the “no code” movement that can help you automate routine tasks, but also help you be more hands off with your marketing tasks to let you get more done.
If you aren’t collecting push subscribers then you’re missing out on another potential way to “own” your audience.
There’s power in being able to push messages out and direct traffic to things at will and that is what push notifications do.
It’s the notifications that pop up on your phone to alert you of things. They also can be on your desktop computer (browsers have this functionality baked in).
Push Notifications have the advantage over email of attracting a very high click rate in comparison to email.
For example, I’ve had emails do a 25% open rate and 2% click rate. Whereas my push notifications for the same message will be a 3-4% click rate.
We use PushEngage for collecting push notification subscribers. It’s very unobtrusive and you can set up auto-responders like you can in an email marketing tool.
I also like their innovation around e-commerce as well, for instance, you can trigger a push notification after a cart is abandoned to draw people back to the store.
During Black Friday you would want to set this up to send a push and draw them back to the site within a couple of hours (otherwise they might miss the deal!)
One of my favourite pressure points for increasing the conversion rate of deals is to introduce a countdown timer.
There’s a concept in marketing called Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt – I first read about it in Robert Cialdini’s excellent book Influence.
Countdown timers apply constraints to the availability of the item and make people feel they need to take action for fear of missing out.
We use and recommend OptinMonster for this task because you can add your countdown timers to your popups then too and it makes it super easy to control.
This Year’s PRO Tip: Run An Early Giveaway
And finally, I have a unique PRO tip for you that if you execute on this early and get it out to your audience well before your Black Friday sale starts, you could collect literally thousands of new email addresses that are interested in your products.
At the start of November, kick-off a giveaway where they have to enter their email to enter. Then send that email to your email marketing software as a hot lead for your Black Friday sales.
The key to this is:
- Offer a SIZZLING hot prize – something that will blow people away and make them want to share
- Ensure the prize is highly desirable to your exact ideal customer, this is your filter to ensure you get less junk entries.
- Allow them extra entries if they share the giveaway on social media, via email, whatever. You want to encourage as much viral spread of your giveaway as possibile.
- Start it early, on the 1st of November to give your audience time to enter, and then share it to get extra entries.
I’ve tried multiple giveaway tools in the past, both SaaS versions and WordPress plugins and have settled on using RafflePress.
I like it because it offers the biggest range of extra points earning options. It also hooks up nicely with my email marketing software.
It’s also easy to use and set up and performs solid as a rock. I know my visitor’s entries are going to track properly and will not go missing mysteriously.
I hope this post gives you a kick in the right direction and added a lot of things to your to-do list between now and Black Friday.
If it sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is.
You don’t have to do it all though. Maybe pick off the top 2 or 3 strategies that sound promising to you. Get your site optimized and ready, and work your way through it.
There’s one thing for sure though, you won’t regret trying and you’ll kick yourself if you don’t give it a go!
Good luck this sales season!