Well, hello there. It’s Catherine Langman here. Welcome back to another episode of the Productpreneur Success podcast. So it’s December now. Can you believe it? I can’t quite believe it. It’s been a wild ride this year. I’m not going to dive into diagnosing and analyzing the year that’s been just yet, but yeah, can’t believe it’s December. Many of you, my dear listeners, you would just recently finished your Black Friday, Cyber Monday promotions. It’s been a incredibly busy, busy time of year for you e-commerce business owners. So on today’s episode, I really wanted to kind of dive into a little bit of analysis of the Black Friday to Cyber Monday promotion and what we saw work really well and what we saw didn’t work so well, and what we can use and take out from that to then move on and run a Boxing Day promotion.
So some of you listeners probably saying, thinking to yourself, “What on earth is a Boxing Day promotion?” But of course, for those of us in the Commonwealth countries, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and other countries in the Commonwealth, the Boxing Day sale or the Boxing Day promotion is a pretty big deal. In fact, it’s usually a much bigger deal than Black Friday. So let’s take some learnings from this recent promotional period and apply them to Boxing Day. I do want to acknowledge, I know that many of you are probably just kind of thinking, “Oh, I’m just tired. I need to have a break. I can’t possibly do another big promotion straight after Christmas. I need to have some time-off with my family,” and if that’s where you are right now, I’m going to have some ideas to help you with that as well and to still take advantage of this Boxing Day promotion and still have a break.
So let’s kind of dive into it. I guess just to kind of kick us off, I did a little bit of just quick research into what Boxing Day is all about because I didn’t really know the history of it either. It is sometimes known as the Day of Goodwill or the Day of Offering. I’m pretty sure there’re religious historical connotations, but the reason it was called Boxing Day is because it was customary for tradesmen to collect their Christmas boxes on that day. Yeah, that’s where it came from anyway. But the whole Boxing Day sale concept has been around for a really long time and I remember as a kid growing up, you’d see footage on the news, on the television of absolute stampedes of crowds stampeding into the department stores to get their hands on some bargains.
And of course, that doesn’t really happen so much anymore because many of us are shopping online, especially this year. So much more civilized to shop online compared to having to haul your bum into the city stores and compete with hundreds of other people for a bargain. That’s certainly not my favorite way to shop. I much prefer to sit in my comfy lounge chair with a coffee in hand and shop online. So anyway, that’s kind of where Boxing Day came from. I guess when it comes to deciding whether to run a Boxing Day sale, I think those of you who have listened to me for a while or know me, or have worked with me, you would know that I’m not a fan of constantly running discounts or sales. I think that if you run big, deep discounts all the time, all you’re doing is making less money and you are training your audience to wait for the next sale or offer. You end up working really hard for very little to show for it at the end of the day.
However, there are two to three times a year where doing something big like this can be worthwhile. So generally speaking, it would be an end of financial year, a Black Friday and maybe Boxing Day, or end of calendar year type clearance sale. It can be useful for a couple of really good reasons. One being, obviously, it’s a great way to clear out old or slower moving stock. Secondly, you’re always going to have a bunch of people on your list during your audience who haven’t quite decided to buy from you yet. Sometimes it can just be something like this sort of a promotional event that will kind of get them over the line to give it a go. Oftentimes, you need customers to trial your products. Once they’ve done that, they’ll fall in love with them, hopefully, if they have good products of course, and come back and become repeat customers.
So that it can be useful if used sparingly. Having a sale event can be a really useful thing to do. Now, one small caveat to this two to three times a year rule for running a big sale event is for those of you in kind of more fast fashion type product categories, the sales cycle for you guys is definitely a lot shorter these days. I see that many fast fashion brands these days are rolling out new products and then clearing off old products in a much, much shorter period of time. It’s not just seasonal anymore. It’s usually kind of every four to six weeks. So that’s a little bit of a different kettle of fish. But even you guys in fast fashion, I’m sure you’ve got stuff, odd sizes or less popular lines that haven’t moved this year. So an end of year Boxing Day sale or clearance sale is the thing to do to get it moving.
So now, before we dive into some tips, actionable tips for your Boxing Day sale, I want to walk through some learnings and observations from this recent Black Friday, Cyber Monday period. The first thing that I want to say here is the offers that we saw at Black Friday that really did not work were the ones that just were a bit more complicated. You had to think about it. So for example, spend and save type offers where you had to use different coupon codes. It’s too difficult. People just weren’t converting that well with those sorts of offers where customers had to really think about, “Okay. Well, which category do I fall in? Which code can I use?” So when you think about it, that sort of a promotional weekend, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, it was so busy.
Everyone just had to take one squeeze at their Facebook newsfeed or their email inbox and we were all on the receiving end of a lot of marketing. So if it’s too hard and people have to think about it, they just weren’t going to to do it. They weren’t going to put the effort in. So offers like that where it was just a little bit complicated and people really had to think about it in order to figure out what to do and how to claim the offer, they just fell dead in the water. So the offers that did work really well with a really simple ones. It was like a flat rate discount or a discount that it could have been an up to a percent off, so maybe not flat rate across the board, but discounts that were automatically applied.
So using an app like the automatic discounts app in your Shopify store, and I’m sure there are similar apps or plugins on other website platforms as well, that made it really, really simple. It made it simple for people to understand what the offer was and what the value proposition was, but also how to get it without needing to put any brain effort into figuring it out. So really simple offers are the way to go when it is a busy promotional period.
Another thing that we definitely noticed was a bit of a problem for some people, and this has got nothing really to do with their strategy. This was Facebook ad platform being a bit tricky. I’m just being nice with that word, I think. It’s been a bit of a dog’s breakfast in reality on the ad platform over the last month or so. There was just some weird stuff going on with ad accounts being shut down for no good reason and then being reinstated, and ad campaigns that had been running for a long time suddenly turning themselves off or turning themselves back on, or suddenly being declined and so on and so forth.
But the other big problem that did start happening is products were not being approved for the catalog. So if you’re doing catalog sales type retargeting ads, which I would certainly advise that you do, and most of our clients, if not, all of them, were running lots of ads, including retargeting and catalog sales ads over that promotional period. So it turns out that including gift cards, as well as things like hand sanitizer or personal protective equipment like face masks, if you’ve got those sorts of products in your catalog, you need to exclude them from your product feed when you are setting up your catalog ads in Facebook because they are going to be declined. Then that can have impact and negatively affect the rest of your ads. So just keep an eye out for those sorts of products and make sure that they’re excluded from your catalog.
Next thing that I want to mention as an observation about what worked and what didn’t work for the big Black Friday promotional period was email marketing. Now, this was a big topic of discussion in some of our groups because I think we’re all human as well running her business, right? We could see our own email inboxes were being pretty crowded with a lot of marketing emails. I think, as business owners, a lot of people discovered or found that they were experiencing some higher unsubscribe rates on their email list because they were sending more emails over that period of time. By and large though, we still saw that email was the channel that had the highest conversion rate and brought in the most money across that promotional period.
It was not necessarily the businesses that were sending an absolute ton of emails. We had clients having their record days and getting record sales for their businesses and only sending one email a day. Some of our clients sent more than one email a day, but at the end of the day, I really want to encourage all of you guys. Obviously, it goes without saying that I expect all of you guys to, all of your listeners to not be spammy douche bags with the way that you email your list. We’re not here to be shouty, salesy ad type email senders. That’s not what we do, but we are business owners and the whole point of having an email list and inviting people to subscribe to our email list is because it is important to us in our business and it is a means to make more money in our business.
Of course, at the end of the day, we really only want people on our email list who are wanting to buy our products and for who our products are interest. Sometimes people just no longer need what we sell. So it’s best for them to unsubscribe. We certainly should expect to receive more unsubscribes when we are sending more emails at a highly promotional time of year, but that is not a reason to stop sending them. Okay? So you still want to go through the promotion and keep sending your emails. If you are finding that you’re getting a really negative response because of it, then certainly readdress what you are putting in your emails and how you’re crafting them so that you can successfully email your list without being a pest.
One piece of advice here that I would suggest is that you really do be mindful of things like your email subject lines, so that you don’t land your emails in spam folders and also, so that you just don’t come across as one of those kind of spammy emails, right? So some tips for your subject lines just so that you can just try and work hard on making them really good quality headlines that are enticing people to open your emails, but also that help you to land your emails in the inbox or at least the promotions folder in Gmail rather than the spam folder. So a few tips that I will just go over here and now with subject lines. Shorter is definitely better. So 50 characters or less is preferable. It can work really well if you ask a question and you know that can be quite an enticing way to get people to open the email and find out their answer.
It can also work well if you use an emoji in your subject line. I do see more and more people doing that. A quick search of my own email inbox, I see more people using an emoji, but not most. You still will stand out in the crowded inbox more by using an emoji or two. You definitely want to capitalize the first letter of every word, but you don’t want to be in a rush to be highly promotional. So no all caps, no exaggerated promotional phrases, go easy on things like exclamation marks and that sort of thing, and don’t be click baity. If you mislead your audience once, they’re probably not going to forgive you. You definitely want to try and use urgency as a tactic in your subject line, but you don’t want to overdo this tactic because again, that’s just a really short road to training your audience to wait to buy in the next sale.
So oftentimes, I’ll use the pre-header line of text to mention things like a discount or a special exclusive coupon, or adding the urgency related text into that pre-header area. So most of you probably know what I’m talking about, pre-header. You pretty much have to fill that in when you are typing in your subject line as well. So whether you’re in MailChimp or Klaviyo as is our preferred platform, you generally have to fill in the pre-header text, and where it appears, so when you’re looking at your emails in your email inbox, you will see that the subject line is in bold and then the pre-header text replace… It’s like a follow on from the subject line. You can keep reading it in your email inbox. If you don’t put a pre-header text in, your email inbox will pull from the first line of the body copy within the email.
So really, trying to be mindful of your subject lines will help you to increase the open rates and reduce unsubscribes by making people feel like they’re just being spammed, if that makes sense. But additionally, within the body of the email, it can be really easy to fall into the trap when you’re running a sale event of coming across as just super salesy in the email and pushing the urgency and the fear of missing out type, you got to jump on this deal now. So if that’s the only kind of tone of voice in the email, it does come across pretty irritating after a while. So it can be easy to fall into that trap and to miss out on more of the value statement type content and really communicating that value to your audience.
So if you can try and build in a little bit more of that emotive style storytelling, and it doesn’t have to be all with copy. It can definitely be with video or with gifts or with imagery and just a well-written and well-placed bold headline text within the body. That’s going to make the reader and the receiver of your marketing emails feel a lot less sold, too, if that makes sense. Hopefully, you’re getting the impression here. It comes down to the design and layout of the email and the choice of images, as well as the words and just being a little bit less reliant on, “Jump on this deal now or you’ll miss out,” sort of highly promotional language.
All right. So, absolutely, the clients that we work with who had the best results from their Black Friday to Cyber Monday promotion, they really nailed that kind of email marketing angle of the promotion. They were also advertising on Facebook. Although, I have to say that at that time of year when there are pretty much the whole world, whole digital world anyway, had jumped on to advertise on the Facebook platform, it is really hard to get much traction with cold traffic ads. So the brands that we work with who had the best results in that promotional period definitely were relying on their warm audiences. To rely on your warm audiences in a promotional period like that, it does mean that you’ve had to be marketing pretty consistently for a longer period of time and building up those audiences over the longer period of time and capitalizing that at this promotional time instead.
So really, between now and Boxing Day, if you do plan to do a Boxing Day or end of calendar year clearance sale, you definitely want to keep moving with your paid advertising. I think that what I would be doing, if you aren’t advertising to cold audiences, to sell right now because I know many of you would be staring down your postage cutoff dates pretty soon now. So once those postage cutoff dates are finished, for people to actually receive Christmas gifts in time, then work on just the audience building ads, video views ads, for instance, and engagement ads, engaging content where it’s not necessarily selling, but you are still working to build up audiences that you can retarget later, and that later won’t be very far away if you do plan a Boxing Day sale event.
All right. So that was a few, just tips. Well, observations rather, about the recent promotion. Oh, just one other comment there about Facebook ads as well. If you can use video in your ads, then please, please, please do, and it doesn’t mean that you have to get in front of the camera, I promise. Product demonstration ads, really, videos. That’s what really does very well on the Facebook platform. They can be super short. It can just be… Say, for instance, you sell kids sunglasses or kids clothing or something like that. Find a really cute kid and get them in your gear and get them doing some cute little poses, pouting at the camera, turning their head, just having fun, whatever the case may be and it can be 15 seconds. That doesn’t have to be long, but just having that kind of cute or fun and just the movement as well that catches the eye when people are scrolling their newsfeed can do really, really, really well. So just a tip there for the Facebook ads specific.
I guess the other thing that I did want to mention as well, and this is not so much an observation from Black Friday, but this is just some insights from Facebook’s recent 2020 survey is that they have found that audiences… So I guess audiences, people who hang out on Facebook and Instagram have indicated that they do have pretty strong intentions to spend money after Christmas, so between Christmas and New Year. Certainly, it is a time where people are spending a lot of time on those platforms and it makes sense. We’re on holidays, we’re kind of mooching around, wasting time, distracting ourselves, relaxing in inverted commas. So we’re spending time on social media to just relax and distract ourselves.
So people are definitely on the platform, but what happens during that period of time is a lot of advertisers drop off the platform. So it is going to be far, far easier for those of you who do advertise on the platform at that time to get much better results because there are people out there ready to spend money. There’s people on the platform as well. So the audience is kind of captive and because there’s less people advertising at that time, the costs will be cheaper. So much, much easier to get good results, I guess, is the point there. I guess there’ll be people who have received gift cards looking to spend them, but then just other people looking to spend some money maybe because they’re on holidays, they’ve got time to think about it and look for what they want, or maybe they didn’t get what they want in Christmas gifts or whatever the case may be.
So there are going to be people actively spending time on these platforms to see your ads and there’s going to be less competition for the ad space. So the costs will be down and consumers are intending to be spending money, so all good reasons to be running a Boxing Day sale or an end of a calendar year clearance event. All right. So let’s run through a few tips that you might be able to put into place for your own Black Friday… Black Friday, I’m getting all mixed up now, Black Friday and Boxing Day. So we’re talking Boxing Day. Black Friday is done.
At the end of the day, a successful with sale event is going to come down to two things: urgency and exclusivity. I guess the whole point of running a sale is to create a sense of urgency and exclusivity in your customers, which of course, you can’t achieve if you just discount constantly. I’m not going to hammer that points. You guys know my position on that. But if you’re going to be running sales sparingly, you do keep people on their toes and it helps them to feel and think, “Dang, I’d better buy this now or I’m going to miss out on this great deal.” And of course, fear of missing out is always going to be a pretty successful motivator for taking action, which is purchase from you, and that now or never mentality really does create the urgency. The urgency sells a lot faster than, “It will be waiting for you whenever you may or may not feel like it,” or, “I know they’ll run another sale event next week, so I’ll just wait until then.” So I’ll leave the lecture at that point there,
But what I want to suggest is giving your existing audience first access. So this is actually another thing that a few of our clients did exceptionally well with their Black Friday event is opening it up to their email subscribers first a few days early. So with giving your email list first access to these sorts of things, it is a way to treat people like a VIP, I suppose. It makes it worthwhile, people actually being on your email list because they can get first dibs. Then I guess when it is some sort of a clearance sale, often the best stuff goes quickly. So if you are one of those VIPs, then you get to grab what you want before each disappears. Beyond that, of course, you can open it up to your other audiences, whether it’s social media or paid ads, et cetera, et cetera.
So for best results, of course, I do advocate that you email your list multiple times with any sort of promotion. Those of you who did my Black Friday training bundle, then you can utilize that same strategy. So what I was advising there is to definitely email at least once a day. You might decide that you would like to re-email those who didn’t open it later in the day. That’s entirely up to you, but you definitely will get better results than just relying on one person or one email to go out to your list. So never just email once. It’s just lazy, I think. It’s not lazy. I know that many of you feel like you don’t want to pester your list by emailing too many times, but just understand that the vast majority of people on your email list, they’re not seeing every email that you send.
So change the emails up a little bit each day and email them multiple times, but you will also get much, much better sale results by promoting on, not just social media, obviously you want to post on your social media pages and groups if you have one, but also using paid ads as well. So the reason for these, promoting your promotion, promoting your promotion, in multiple channels is it reinforces the message. So if somebody sees it on social media because they’re just mooching around on their phone just checking out what’s new on social media, and they might see your ad or they might see your post and they’ll think, “Oh yeah, I’ll just put that at the back of my mind, but that looks really good. I need to get back onto that a bit later,” and then they might check their email a bit later and see an email there and get onto it.
So study after study shows that these days, people do need to see your messages multiple times before they take action. The whole idea that there’s a single touch point before somebody buys, it just doesn’t work like that anymore. So to get the best results, we do need to be communicating with our audience via multiple channels. So this is why you want to be posting to social media, running paid ads, as well as emailing your list multiple times. All right. Now, those of you who are thinking, “Yeah, that sounds all well and good, but I’m tired, Catherine and I need a holiday. I don’t want to do this sale event.” I hear you. I’ve been in that situation as well where in my last business before we got to the point where I wasn’t having to be on the tools, so to speak, every day.
If you don’t have other people picking and packing your orders for you, then I’d quite appreciate that you need to take a little bit of a break. So what I did in the early days of that business is to put a really good deal out. The caveat was you had to wait to receive it. So this kind of an offer, it’s never going to convert as well as one where obviously, the customer expects to receive it immediately. However, you will find, particularly if you’re marketing to your existing audience, people are sometimes happy to wait. Quite often at this time of the year, people are shopping when they’re on holidays as well. So they could be quite happy to wait to receive it.
So if you offer a deal that’s too good to be true and it’s really irresistible to your audience, then tell your audience that they’re getting such a great deal, partly because you’re clearing out overstocked inventory or end of season lines, but also because you need them to be patient to wait to receive the order, and then you need to inform them what the postage date will be. You don’t want to make them wait a whole month. But with a good enough deal, you can get away with a week or two. So I guess in reality, it’s a bit like a preorder promotion.
Then the other thing that I always did with this sort of a promotion was not charge for postage. Then when I was back on deck, I would send it express. So does that work? Yes, you will make more sales. You will definitely make more sales than if you are not taking orders at all, or not running any sort of promotion at all. Like I said before, you may not make as many sales as if you were available to post them straight away, but you will definitely make more money than not running this sort of a promotion. At the end of the day, this is the best way that you can set yourself up to take advantage of this time of year where people are actually actively out spending money and shopping. If you can take advantage of this time of year where there are less advertisers on the platforms as well, so you’re going to get much faster, cheaper traction with your ads, so that’ll kind of give you a really good chance to get some good results and just set yourself up for a really successful start to the new year. Okay?
Of course, if you can combine stepping away from the computer and having a little bit of downtime, reconnecting with friends and family, giving yourself a bit of a chance to rest and recharge the batteries, as well as to run a promotion that generates some revenue for you, I think you’ll be really amazed at how inspired and motivated that you feel when you return. All right, guys. So that is what I have for you in today’s episode. I hope you find it useful. And of course, if you do wish, you can download my free promotional and launch campaign guide that I mentioned at the start of the episode. So the link is on the podcast show notes page, Catherinelangman.com/episode-47. That’s it for today’s episode. I will catch you guys next week. Bye for now.