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From the Expert's Desk: George Sylvain's Comprehensive Guide to BFCM 2023 Marketing

October 24, 2023

Discover BFCM 2023 insights with George Sylvain. A candid look at effective strategies and thoughtful advice for the upcoming holiday season.

From the Expert's Desk: George Sylvain's Comprehensive Guide to BFCM 2023 Marketing

We're thrilled to partner with our BFCM guru George Sylvain (formerly VP of Mareting/Ecommerce at Fellow) to bring you some of the best marketing strategies for BFCM 2023. Alongside his suggestions, we're adding in some data insights from our annual BFCM data analysis.

Black Friday is a great time to get new customers.  It’s also a great time to make sure last year’s customers come back.  I tend to focus on new customer acquisition because I find that for my high-value brands I work on there’s still room for profitable acquisition. But there are a few key ways to maximize the value. 

Most important things for merchants to prepare:

Don’t run out of inventory! It might be too late for this tip but I highly recommend making a quick forecast model based on recent sales trends, as well as with data from what specifically sells well for your business during Q4. 

1. Test your Holiday Ad Creative Now

I personally am running tests of my holiday creative to gain early signals into which creative hooks and concepts will resonate so I can be ready to scale my ad spend starting late October.

  • Begin by testing various ad creatives to determine which resonates most with your target audience.
  • Monitor metrics such as click-through rates (CTR) and thumbstop rates (try a custom calculation of “3 Second Video Plays / Impressions” inside Meta.
From Meta Ads Library, you can see Chubbies is testing different ad images and copy for their Flannels.

2. Analyze Last Year's Offers, Discount Level and Conversion Rate

  • Review the performance of last year's BFCM period.
  • Identify which promotions and mechanics that you ran had the highest email clickthrough rate, highest conversion rate.

Merchants are prone to repeating themselves. But sometimes there is evidence that the deals you ran last year did not do as well as they could have, even if it felt like a successful year.  I recommend assessing the relationship between discount level & conversion rate as best you can, while accounting for traffic changes, to assess if one of your 2022 promotions was less effective than it could have been.  Conversion rate should generally trend up as we get closer to BFCM and then again trend up as you get closer to the last-day-to-order in time for Christmas.  Bear that in mind and consider revising your promotional strategy. 

  • Segments has data suggesting that emails that lead with urgency have high open rates and click rates. See the screenshot below of popular subject line phrases and their open rate and click-through rates.
Segments BFCM data insight: Sales on Black Friday were almost 5x the daily average. Given that the average discount ratio on Black Friday reached 19.75%, it might be interesting to compare the efficacy of this discount level with the overall conversion rate.

3. Revisit Pricing

  • If you haven't already, it’s about the last possible chance to consider price increases to account for inflation, if you want to run discounts without falling afoul of the laws. NOTE: You need to have maintained a specific price in the market for some substantial period of time before it’s legal to promote it as a markdown during holidays. 
  • Factor in costs, competitors' prices, and perceived value to ensure profitability while remaining competitive.

4. Create New Bundles 

  • Combine best sellers and products frequently bought together.
  • Consider bundling two popular products and offering a slight discount to entice purchases. Definitely look into bundles where you receive 2 of the same item and receive a discount.  
  • Analyze past data of products purchased together, both from last Q4 and this year, to identify products that complement each other and have a history of joint purchases.
  • Collection pages full of bundles can perform very well during Q4, even if they don’t normally. Often the largest savings can be given on a “Buy 4+ items” type bundle and you may be surprised at the extra revenue selling even a handful of these can make.
Segments case study: The Good Patch leveraged Tresl Segments Product Relations feature to find top cross-sell items to build new winning bundles.
“I was interested in understanding our Product Relationships from a marketing and targeting perspective – I wanted to uncover any purchase patterns between top selling items. In using the Product Relations tool, I noticed that most top selling items have a very strong cross-sell item affinity. As bundles perform well for us, I decided to test a “Duo” concept, pairing the best seller with its top cross-sell item. To date the Duo line has done very well and I have plans to continue expansion with insights from the Segments tool!” –Lauren from The Good Patch

 5.  Aggressively Grow Email List - Starting now

Get aggressive about collecting new emails, via competitions (e.g. sign up to win a big price), or increasing the offer on your First Time Customers discount. 

  • If you are able to grow the rate of sign-ups during September- October you will have a larger audience of people ready to shop during your hero BFCM shopping event. 
Segments BFCM data insight: Almost 40% of returning customers' revenue came from those whose last purchases were within 2 months. Moreover, over 50% of BFCM's new customers signed up within 12 days before BFCM. Targeting these potential customers with exclusive offers can lead to higher conversion rates.

6. Analyzing BFCM Customer Data From 2022

Check out Tresl Segment's latest BFCM data analysis for more numbers and data.

  • Review the percentage of new customers acquired from Q1-Q3 who made repeat purchases during BFCM last year.  E.g. if 22% of newly acquired customers during Q1-Q3 bought during Q4 last year, barring significant changes to your business and product lineup, it’s reasonable to assume 22% of 2023 new customers might buy in Q4 this year.
    a) Recommend using this data as a baseline for demand forecasting (see the inventory comment above). 
    b) Strategize on methods to increase this percentage, such as loyalty programs or exclusive offers.
    c) Make sure this segment of “Newly acquired customers Q1-Q3 2023” is synced to your email, SMS or direct mail program. 
  • Review the percentage of customers newly acquired during your BFCM 2022 sale who have made a subsequent purchase after December 2022. 

    a) Often, the LTV of BFCM shoppers is lower than that of others.
    b) This might affect your maximum-CAC calculations that you use in advertising. If it turns out the LTV of the shoppers you acquire during BFCM is much lower, then you will not want to overspend on New Customer Acquisition ads during the sale period. 
    c) Conversely if those customers are just as valuable or more valuable, it’s worth knowing that now because ad auctions get more competitive & CAC costs typically rise during BFCM.
Segments BFCM data insight:  Majority of BFCM customers are new, but only 13% return to shop again. This suggests the need for more aggressive post-purchase engagement strategies like loyalty programs and targeted email campaigns to keep them.

7. Plan Segmentation to reactivate last year’s holiday shoppers. 

  • Create a segment of people who bought specific items last holidays, (or in previous years), especially those items which are giftable or otherwise receive spikes in sales during Q4. 

    a) Target these smaller high-intent audiences with specific messages on Meta, Email & SMS with specific communication referencing their previous year’s purchases.  
    b) Don’t spend too much on them on ads but it’s reasonable to think the first few thousand dollars of ad spend aimed at this group will be highly effective. Don’t rely solely on email to convert this group. 
    c) Offer them loyalty rewards or early access to sales.

    BFCM New Customers: 

    a) Create a segment of 2023 BFCM newly acquired customers using Segments and sync that Audience to Meta ads.  
    b) Use it as an additional exclusion audience for all your New Customer Acquisition BFCM-sale ads.  You need this audience to be strictly focussed on New Customer Acquisition and sending an additional signal to Meta can help. 

    Create Segments of people who Engaged with BFCM Emails or were Active on Site but not purchased yet during BFCM

    a) Ensure you have a specific advertising campaign or email flow for this group - getting them to convert is a great way to maximize your sales. 
    b) Sync this into your Retargeting on Meta. 

8. Direct Mail Strategies for Segments

  • PostPilot: Utilize PostPilot or similar direct mail program to deliver highly targeted post-card offers about VIP sales and special dates. 

    a) Send loyalty or early-access sales to last year’s BFCM customers
    b) Send “save the date” for your BFCM sale launch to this year’s newly acquired customers. 
pile of printing papers

9. Audit & Maintain Welcome & SMS Flows

  • Do another pass on your welcome flows.  Here’s a pro tip that people often don’t do.

    a) Once someone has received a welcome email or SMS with a discount code, don’t let that link click back to your homepage.  
    b) Instead, send that traffic to your highest converting collection, PDP or landing page. 
    c) This becomes especially important during your big sale.  Ensure your welcome flow emails all are changed again, during BFCM to both include the latest discount link & point to the Sale collection page or Sale PDP. 
  • Pause Klaviyo Smart Sending - this is a period where you do want to send customers more than 1 email in a 16 hour period. Sorry in advance to my own email inbox. 

Kudos to George for the great tips. With his knowledge and our data analysis, let's gear up for an exciting BFCM season!

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