Top Questions Brands Have About Black Friday Cyber Monday (and our Answers)

illustration of notepad, folder, igloo, question mark bubble, BFCM prep
Posted in
SMS Marketing
Published on
Oct 16, 2023
Written by
Lydia DelRossi
Lydia is a Senior Client Strategy Manager at Attentive. She spends her logged off hours playing cello and singing, cooking, & watching NCAA football with her husband.
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Close your Google search tab, and bookmark this blog post for answers to your biggest BFCM questions, like how to grow your list ahead of the holidays, types of messages to send, and A/B tests to run.

Get inspiration for your holiday planning by browsing BFCM examples, message templates, and more in our BFCM Planner, and explore our BFCM content collection.

Over the last several years, the holiday shopping season has gotten longer and longer. Before e-commerce took off in the US, Black Friday was the day to shop if you were looking for the best deals—and usually involved pulling an all-nighter to make sure you got a good place in line. Then, Cyber Monday became popular as more consumers began shopping online. And soon enough, we had an entire Cyber Week.

Now, holiday sales are beginning even earlier. Price-conscious shoppers are spreading out their purchases and hunting for deals. Early birds even kicked off their holiday shopping during July’s Amazon Prime Day (rather than waiting for October’s event). 

Whether you’ve already kicked off your holiday marketing calendar, or are still finalizing your plans, we’re answering the top SMS questions brands have about the holiday season so you can feel prepared going into the biggest shopping period of the year (even if it’s already started).

How do I increase my sign-ups now, so I can text and email more subscribers during BFCM?

To maximize your list growth now, you need to promote your SMS and email programs across all your marketing touchpoints. Make sure to include the value they’ll get from both channels, whether that’s exclusive content and discounts, or early access to shop.

  • Start with sign-up units on your mobile and desktop websites, since that’s where your customers are actively shopping.
  • Use your other marketing channels, like email and social media, to encourage existing subscribers and followers to sign up for text messages, too. 
  • Drive SMS sign-ups at checkout on your e-commerce site.
  • Invite your customers to opt in while they’re shopping in your store through Text-to-Join keywords.

You can also try new list growth strategies. For example, swap out your regular sign-up units with Spin-to-Win to give your customers a fun new way to opt in. Or activate display rules, such as exit intent, to control when and where you’ll show your sign-up units.

For more Black Friday marketing strategies and tips for optimizing your marketing efforts, tune into our on-demand 2023 BFCM Preparedness Checklist webinar.

How should I collect data leading up to BFCM?

Focus on collecting both zero- and first-party data leading up to the holidays (and year-round) to get the fullest picture of who your customers are

You’re likely already collecting first-party data through your owned channels, such as products your subscribers have browsed or purchased on your website, how they’ve engaged with your texts and emails, and more. 

To get the most out of this type of data during the holidays, make sure you’ve connected your product catalog to your SMS and email platform so you can use that information combined with first-party data to tailor your messages (think: back-in-stock, low inventory, etc).

When collecting zero-party data, think about what information would be relevant to your strategy and what you want to achieve with it. Some of the easy ways to start collecting zero-party data ahead of the holidays include:

  • Asking shoppers to take an on-site quiz
  • Adding a Preference Collection step to your email and SMS sign-up units (to collect data like gender, shopping preferences, first name, and more)
  • Sending Two-Way Journeys™ to learn more about subscribers through keyword responses

What types of triggered journeys should I have set up?

At minimum, you should have a welcome series that includes a coupon reminder and a virtual contact card, browse and cart abandonment reminders, and a post-purchase flow.

If your e-commerce site is powered by Shopify (or if you’ve shared your product catalog with Attentive through our API), consider launching back in stock, price drop, and low inventory messages

If you already have these automations up and running, focus on adding more strategic branching (based on product or engagement data), A/B testing timing and content, and launching a “Joined a Segment” journey (also called “Magical Journeys”).

What content or messages should I send between BFCM and Christmas?

It depends on what your brand’s promotion calendar looks like, but some strategic opportunities include:

  • Drive repeat visits (and purchases) through multi-day SMS campaigns, such as 12 days of Christmas, 8 days of Hanukkah, and more.
  • Nurture new subscribers who opted in to your text messages and emails during Cyber Week. You can automate this through Magical Journeys based on when they opted in, or use segmentation to send them one-time campaigns.  
  • Segment your text messages and emails based on your subscribers’ locations. For example, instead of promoting heavy winter coats or other cold-weather gear to those who are in warmer regions, send them to your product pages with shorts, dresses, etc.

While BFCM and Christmas get the most attention, there are several smaller holidays in between, including Giving Tuesday, Green Monday, National Free Shipping Day, and more. Explore our 2023 text messaging calendar for more key dates (and message ideas for each).

What types of conversational text messages should I send?

Holiday two-way conversations via SMS

Two-Way Journeys:

  • Add Two-Way Journeys to your welcome flow to start collecting data on new subscribers—like their favorite products, how often they want to hear from you, or who they’re shopping for.
  • Help subscribers find their new favorite product, or help recommend the perfect gift by texting them with a short quiz. It can be as simple as one question, such as “what’s your favorite style” or “what price range are you looking for” if they’re shopping for someone else.

Attentive Concierge™:

  • Add Attentive Concierge to your text message strategy, and our team of live agents will provide real-time support to any subscribers who text your brand with questions or issues. 
  • For example, if someone abandons their online cart, you can send a triggered text message asking if they have any questions or are looking for something in particular. Then, our team will be ready to respond to whatever the subscriber texts back with.

Should I use segmentation when I’m sending text messages and emails?

Using segmentation can make a big impact on sending more personalized campaigns, which tend to lead to higher engagement and ROI. 

A few common SMS segmentation strategies we see from our customers include:

  • Engaged vs. unengaged: Your engaged subscribers are more likely to click your next text, so they might be your go-to segment for driving revenue. But don’t forget about your unengaged subscribers. Focus on nurturing them with your best offers or new products.
  • Location: Using geo-targeting helps you personalized messages based on where your subscribers live. For example, if you sell items that are more useful in the winter, you can target subscribers located in colder regions.
  • VIPs: How you determine VIP is up to you—whether you have a formal VIP program, or it’s based on subscribers actions and behaviors (such as total dollars spent). Be sure to reward this segment, and include it as part of your loyalty and retention strategy.

You can segment your emails based on their engagement levels. We suggest creating two key segments: 

  • Super engaged: Recipients that have opened an email in the last seven days 
  • Never engaged: Recipients that have never opened an email, and have never purchased from your brand

Here’s why this strategy pays off: You can send to more super-engaged subscribers without impacting your deliverability or ROI, because their engagement tends to hold steady. Meanwhile, we’ve found that users who haven’t engaged within the first 10 automated emails (or 100 campaign emails) after signing up probably won’t make a purchase. That’s why you can target this group with fewer messages featuring the most enticing offers to drive opens and conversions. 

Pro Tip: Send to these two segments separately from your daily campaigns and journeys. Doing so will help you isolate the two ends of the spectrum, and learn how to best engage every part of your audience. 

If you’re looking for a more advanced segmentation strategy, we recommend targeting the following segments, too: 

  • Recipients that have opened an email between 8 and 60 days ago 
  • Recipients that have opened an email between 61 and 180 days ago 
  • Recipients that have opened an email over 180 days ago

Check out how Pura Vida Bracelets segmented their Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaigns based on engagement, or learn more about segmentation strategies and best practices.

What strategies can I use that don’t include discounts/coupons?

Holiday non-promotional message

There are several incentives you can try that don’t include discounts or coupons. If you’re trying to grow your SMS and email subscriber lists without offering a discount, you can try the following strategies on your sign-up unit:

  • Limited-time offer or first access to shop a new product
  • Free shipping
  • Loyalty or rewards points
  • Entry into a giveaway 

For your campaign and triggered message strategies, check out this blog post that includes 10 examples of content you can send to build loyalty and drive revenue without a discount.

How do I let subscribers opt out of certain messages or content without opting out of SMS altogether?

Instead of letting subscribers opt out of campaigns, invite them to opt in.

First, create a keyword campaign with Two-Way Journeys. Next, text subscribers with a campaign message that invites them to reply with a specific keyword if they’d like to receive the specific messages or content. Then, you’ll add those subscribers to a segment that you can use whenever sending text messages that are part of that campaign.

For example, Paper Source launched a series where they’d send a text for the 25 days leading up to Christmas. They invited subscribers to text COUNTDOWN if they wanted to be part of that campaign. This made sure they reached only the most engaged subscribers, while avoiding fatiguing those who didn’t want a daily text (while also preventing opt-outs from the channel).

What should I consider when texting and emailing my subscribers outside of the US?

First, you should be familiar with which holidays and shopping moments subscribers outside of the US will be celebrating. For example, Boxing Day is celebrated more heavily in the UK and Canada than it is in the US.    

Next, consider how English may differ in the UK vs. Canada vs. the US. Be sure to use the correct spelling and localized language for each region. For example, “holiday” (i.e., going on holiday) in the UK is generally what the US refers to as vacation. Instead, the UK uses terms like bank holiday or festive season.

Finally, keep in mind the different rules and regulations these different countries have when it comes to text message marketing. Read our recent survey findings to learn more about texting consumers in the UK and Canada.

What types of A/B tests should I run?

Think about what you’re most curious to learn about, or what you’re looking to optimize. If your focus is:

  • List growth: A/B test your sign-up units. You can play around with different elements, such as your sign-up offer, language, imagery, and colors.
  • When to send: A/B test your journey and campaign send times to see what drives the most conversions.
  • Message engagement: A/B test the engagement of messages that include an image vs. plain text; emoji vs. no emoji; call to action vs. no call to action; percentage discount vs. dollar off discount.

There are also A/B tests we specifically recommend for your email marketing program: 

  • Subject lines: The subject line is the gateway to your email, and it’s crucial to grabbing your subscribers’ attention. A/B testing different subject lines allows you to understand what language, tone, or style resonates best with your audiences. 
  • Content: You can A/B test the images, copy, calls-to-action, and layout of your emails to better understand what types of content drive the highest engagement. And increased subscriber engagement isn’t just important for driving revenue—it leads to improved deliverability, too. When your subscribers engage with your emails, it sends a signal to email providers that your messages are relevant. 

These are just a few of the A/B tests you can start running. The good news is that A/B testing is extremely easy in the Attentive platform. You can run multiple A/B tests at a time (e.g., run a test on your sign-up units at the same time as testing your campaign message engagement).  

No matter what you choose to A/B test, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Only focus on one hypothesis per test. So if you’re A/B testing send time, make sure everything else (copy, offer, etc) is the same between all variants. Or if you’re A/B testing an image on a sign-up unit, make sure the language, offer, and fonts are the same. Otherwise, you won’t be able to prove which strategy was actually successful. 
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat. A good A/B test should be repeated at least three times to make sure it’s statistically significant. If you’re testing sign-up units, we recommend running the test for two to three weeks.

Be sure to explore our 2023 BFCM Planner to get SMS message templates, sign up for our planning webinar, and get inspired by how other brands have achieved holiday success with SMS and email.

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