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“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

That popular quote, attributed to Benjamin Franklin, should inform the way you prepare for Black Friday. Black Friday is one of the biggest retail days of the year.

US retailers earned $7.9 billion last year on Black Friday alone.

There’s a big pie out there—how do you make sure you get a bigger slice?

1) Begin a Buzz-Creating Campaign

The first step you need to take is casting your net wider. You have a core audience that already buys from you, but the more you can expand that in the lead-up to Black Friday, the better off you’ll be on the day.

Make sure you have a strategy that’s coordinated across all your marketing channels (social media, email, etc.). Think about setting aside some money to invest in promoted posts on Facebook, Instagram and other channels.

Depending on what demographics you tend to target, Snapchat and Pinterest are very effective and often underutilized platforms—they have a high conversion rate even if the audience is smaller.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Create a countdown to Black Friday; combine it with time-sensitive specials.
  • Give people sneak peeks of the deals you’ll offer on Black Friday, itself.
  • Target influencers and give them samples or specials.

2) Make Your Specials Attention-Grabbing

This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people get this one wrong.

You can’t go into Black Friday with pedestrian discounts and expect to do well. Find something you have good margin in and cut it to the point where people sit up and take notice. If you can, focus on items that are popular already—you’ll have a leg up on getting the word out.

If people aren’t excited about the specials you’re offering, there’s no reason for them to share them. You can afford to take a hit on margin if you’re doing volume.

Don’t be afraid to cut back in the interest of getting your name out more.

3) Save the Most Compelling Deals for Your Best Customers

Here’s an idea: create an email that focuses on only the best customers you have—highest volume, most money spent, whatever criteria you wish to use.

Then offer them some truly eye-opening discounts.

You can afford to cut deeper here because it’s a very small segment. This is the kind of thing that builds up brand loyalty. If you’re taking care of your best customers, they remember. And even if you take a margin hit, that pays dividends down the road. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.

If you can turn good customers into true believers and brand ambassadors, that’s worth more than a few extra dollars on the table now. Keep your top deals for those people and you’ll reap dividends down the road.

4) Build Up Your Back End

All the deals in the world don’t matter if your site’s down.

If you have some truly compelling deals and you’ve put the word out beforehand, you might get some traffic tsunamis. Your web server has to be able to keep up.

If you’re planning to migrate, get it done as fast as you can. Your infrastructure has to be ready for anything, or you might find yourself with the complete opposite of the Black Friday surge you were expecting.

This may seem self-evident, but brands as big as Nike have screwed it up. Don’t be one of them. Talk to your IT department now and find out what kind of load your site can handle—if you have to migrate, you’re already behind the eight ball. Don’t wait till tomorrow.

5) Keep Mobile In Mind, Too

Mobile sales are absolutely skyrocketing year over year when it comes to Black Friday.

Last year, 61 percent of Black Friday sales came from mobile devices, and they drove 46 percent of online revenue. That’s up 18 percent from 2016, and all indications are that this trend will continue.

Is your website optimized for mobile?

Browsing on a smaller screen is harder, so improving your website navigation and streamlining as many steps as possible will ensure less abandoned carts and more sales.

Try to offer one-click purchases to your mobile customers, and make sure your website is light enough to load quickly even over slower cell phone data networks.

If you don’t focus on mobile this year, you’ll get left behind.

6) Streamline the Checkout Process

Checkouts matter, especially when you’re dealing with impulse buyers.

If your checkout is slow, hard to navigate or has too many hoops to jump through, you’re going to lose customers and have more abandoned carts. Read our checkout guide to make sure you’re getting the steps right. Make sure you’re not taking your customers all the way to the end of the process and then putting roadblocks up.

7) Don’t End Things With Black Friday …

So, once you’ve gotten through Black Friday and Cyber Monday you can relax, right?

Not on your life.

If you want to really maximize this holiday season, Black Friday’s not just a sales day—it’s a springboard. You can capitalize on all that attention you created and all those new customers you drew with offers and reminders that hit throughout the holiday season.

Remind them of when they need to ship to make sure their gifts arrive. If you offer wrapping services, let them know. Save a few offers for throughout the holiday season to make sure you don’t miss out on those late-season buyers.

Remember, Black Friday’s only the beginning.

Have Yourself a Better Black Friday

This day is one of the biggest retail days of the year. Get your prep work done in plenty of time to be ready for the surge of customers you’ll have the day after Thanksgiving.

If you make it special for your customers, they’ll make it special for you.

Black Friday sets the tone for the rest of your holiday season. Get it right and you’ll be set—get it wrong and you’re in trouble. Apply these tips and your holiday season will be a smashing success.

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