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Black Friday/Cyber Monday Debrief

Anton shares what worked (and what didn’t) for this years Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions.

Some highlights:

  • Instead of starting from scratch every holiday, Anton has started to spend time soon after holiday sales to write a page-long debrief on what worked, what didn't and ideas for next year. This is incredibly helpful when looking into sales strategies the year after. 
  • The one issue this year that was unfortunate is there was a big delay in his emails. Since his emails are sent through a shared server and millions of other emails on top of his were also sending out, some people did not receive his Black Friday emails until Saturday.
  • On the other hand, the strategies he laid out in THIS podcast worked incredibly well. Starting early in November and using some re-marketing ads was definitely a success this year.
  • Side note...Anton will be in Saigon for most of December and if there is a crew out there, comment below and he will plan a meet-up.
  • Transcripts

    Hey, what's up everybody. Anton Kraly here from Ecommercelifestyle.com. Welcome to another episode of the E-commerce Lifestyle Podcast. Coming to you from my car on the way to the office. We'll see how this one sounds with the audio quality, because typically when I've recorded these things in the car, I've used my Google Pixel 2 XL, whatever that phone is called. Then I recently just switched back, I got one of the iPhones, one of the new iPhones. Let's see if this sounds better or worse. Let me know, send me a message if you're listening to this, and let me know what you think.

    But yeah, I know I haven't done a podcast in I think it's been like two or three weeks. But I hope you can excuse me, hopefully you understand why. If you're an e-commerce guy or girl, you definitely understand that this is our busiest shopping season of the year. I'm recording this on Wednesday, I don't even know the date, I think it's Wednesday, November 28th. This past Monday was Cyber Monday, the Friday before was Black Friday. Pretty much the majority, the bulk of this month has went into working around those two days to making sure that we can do what we're supposed to do and make as much money as we possibly can for our businesses.

    I wanted to hop on here quick to kind of just go over some things that we noticed this year, hopefully you can get some takeaways to plan for your next Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But also just a strategy that I've been using for years now that I highly recommend that you integrate into your business as well. This will work whether you're doing e-commerce or really anything. But what we always do and I didn't do this in the beginning, but after a few years in business, what I realized is every time a holiday would roll around, whether it be 4th of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, whatever, I would be looking at the computer being like, "Okay, we have a promotion. Let's get some emails together, let's get some ads together, let's try to figure this out."

    It was kind of like resetting and starting over from zero every year. Again, just sitting there starting at a blank screen trying to figure out what are we possibly going to promote, how are we going to use our messaging, when are we going to send emails, how many emails, what segment of the list. Then I finally realized, like, "You know what? This isn't the first time I've done this." And I started to document what had worked. So basically what I did was look back originally at my previous years and look at our numbers, again, when we sent emails, what the open rates were, what the clicks were, what the sales were, looked at what ads we ran, when we started running them, what the results were, what the return on ad spend was.

    Then I started to add them just to a simple Google doc that I have, I Google document. I basically have one of these for each holiday. So I have a Google doc for the 4th July, again, I have one for Black Friday, I have one for Cyber Monday, I have one for every major holiday that we run promotions for in all of our businesses. What I did originally was look at data from the past and pull in the results. What I do now and what I actually was working on yesterday is looking at the most recent results.

    Immediately after the holiday ends, again, for me this was Tuesday night, looking at the numbers, looking at what we did, and then putting literally the keyboard to the computer, I can't say put the pen to the paper, but putting the keyboard to the computer, make notes of everything that you did whether that be running a different type of Google remarketing ad, or sending a different type of email, or trying a new Facebook ad type, or changing your creative, or using Facebook Messenger and doing broadcasts, or using SMS marketing. Whatever it was, add it to your notes so that way next year when it's early November, and you're starting to get everything in order for the holidays, you could just pull up that document, look back at what happened to your business in 2018 and think, "Oh, well, these things obviously were worth doing. Maybe these things weren't. Maybe I'll change this thing here, here and there. Because the results were not what I expected." Definitely do that now because the way our minds work going into 2019 when there's a million and a half things to think about every second, yeah, we forget quickly. My advice if you're already running a business, go ahead and make this document today. Mine aren't long, basically like a page long debrief. I had to have stats. Again, then I just have hypothesis for why I think things worked, and maybe why I think things didn't work. Now, as far as some takeaways I'll give you, every business is different, so I'm not going to go deep into this.

    But, some things that we experienced this year that were very unfortunate. Overall, I'm not complaining. Two great sales days. But some things that happened this year that we haven't really experienced in the past was a big delay with email sending. So we had a bunch of email campaigns that started at 6:00 a.m. on Friday for Black Friday. Just because, I think, of this year volume and how many people we have on our email lists, and also how many people everybody else has on their email lists, and the fact that the way that we email is on shared servers, unfortunately that's just kind of how it is. Because of that, a lot of emails that were supposed to go out at 6:00 a.m., some people didn't even get until the next day.

    By that point, I'm sure some of them had made purchase decisions elsewhere, or have spent all their money on other Black Friday promos. Definitely lesson learned there, and next year I'm not sure exactly how we can handle it yet, it might be switching service providers for email, but we obviously don't want that to repeat in 2019. That was one of my takeaways. Luckily, even though email didn't generate as much revenue as it usually does, again, not because the emails weren't good, but because they didn't send out on time, we did have a lot of ads that performed really well, a lot of our remarketing ads. And a lot of the strategies that I've actually talked to you about in a previous episode came through in a big way as well.

    If you don't remember, I'll link to that episode below, where I talk about how you should really ramp up your spending literally a couple months before these holiday seasons. That way, even if you're immediate return on ad spend is lower, you're building up your remarketing list so that way when the holidays do come, you have a huge pool of people that you can remarket to on Facebook, on Google, pretty much everywhere and get lower costs per acquisition throughout the holiday season.

    So yeah, just a couple things to know. That strategy works really as usual. Again, the big thing that we're going to look at moving forward is email and how we cannot have that happen again and the reason it happened is because we're sending out whatever, a million emails at the same time, that everybody else is sending out a million emails. So, not fun, but luckily Facebook and Google came through and saved us. Let's say we saved ourselves by diversifying our traffic. But, yeah, that's it guys. Again, lesson for today, if you're looking for one, is go ahead and get your list going, get the debrief in place so next year life will become easier. I would highly recommend making that a habit, something you do anytime after you run a big promotion. It just makes the future a lot easier, and that way we can learn from our mistakes and learn from our wins.

    I'm at the office, I'm going to go in. Oh yeah, quick heads up on a side note. If anybody is listening to this right now, and is out in Asia, specifically in Vietnam, I'm going to be in Saigon for the next month basically. I've lived out there for three years, in Ho Chi Minh City, and I'm going to be back for most of December for my baby's first birthday. We're bringing him out there, they do a big party. Then just hanging out and enjoying it out there. If anybody is listening to this, you're out there in Saigon, or close by, go to EcommerceLifestyle.com and quick on episodes, and then this will be, like, I don't know when you're listening to this. But it should be the first episode, and just leave a comment. Because if we have a crew out there, I'll probably do a meet up and bring people together out there.

    So, looking forward to it, and yeah, I hope everyone had a great holiday season. Don't worry, sales aren't over yet, you still got the first half of December to really pull through. So, yeah, that's it guys. I'm going to head in. I will talk to you next episode of The E-commerce Lifestyle Podcast. Thank you everybody, see you.

  • Allen says:

    Hey Anton – this is EXTREMELY helpful. It all make sense. A few questions I hope you can answer:

    1) Do you typically hype a promotion like Black Friday/Cyber Monday days prior to the actual promotion? If so, how many days an advanced would you say is good to hype up an upcoming promotion?

    2) Do you typically pay for ads every single day, or do you plan a set time frame to run ads that will align with your promotions? In other words, do you think it’s better to run ads all 31 days in January (for example) of 2019, or would it be better to only pay for ads, let’s say a few days leading up to New Year’s and maybe MLK?

    • Anton Kraly says:

      Happy to hear that, Allen!

      1) Yes, we do. We typically change our opt-in call to actions (like on Privy) the Monday leading up to Black Friday. The CTA becomes opt-in to get the Black Friday promotions. Then we email them on Thursday with an early bird coupon code.

      2) We run ads 365 days per year, but we do adjust budgets around promotions. For example, we spend much more in October than we do in September. This is so we can build up our hot remarketing lists for holidays promotions.

      I talk more about that here:

      https://www.ecommercelifestyle.com/q4-ecommerce-game-plan/

      Hope that helps!

      • Allen says:

        Thanks for the response!

  • Lokesh says:

    Awesome

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