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Holiday Success Plan: An Early Gift for Merchants

The Ecwid E-commerce Show hosts Jesse and Rich are joined by a new member of the Ecwid team, Josh Berkstresser, head of Education Strategy.

They discuss the new Holiday Success Plan, which Ecwid is rolling out as a pre-holiday gift for its merchants. Are you ready for Black Friday? Are you making the most of the current surge in online commerce? The team encourages you to make your Black Friday plan and start marketing it yesterday. Set your goals high, promote across channels, and have your calendar, drive your actions. And find out how to unleash the power of the gift card.

Show Notes:

  • Plan
  • Communicate
  • Set up
  • Breathe
  • Follow Up

Also:

Transcript:

Jesse: What’s going on, Richie?

Richard: How’s it going? Jesse?

Jesse: Life is good, I guess; it’s the holiday season, it’s sales come easy this time of year, right?

Richard: E-commerce right now feels a lot like picking stock, throw a dart at one, and probably win. So if you’re not winning right now, you got to start reading the emails, start listening more, and applying this stuff because it’s booming right now.

Jesse: Yeah. I mean, 2020 is crazy here. One thing is that everybody in e-commerce is doing quite well. Not everybody, of course, but like most people are doing well. More people are shopping online; more people are buying online. There’re a lot of older people that had basically never really bought online that are now purchasing online all the time. The boomtown is still going on, and now with the holiday season this year, there are people that were on the pod. Actually, My Amazon Guy was saying that Amazon is already predicting crazy volume this year. You can’t even really get into Amazon right now. So now is the time. If you’re listening, do some stretches, prep plan, get ready because it is going to be a good year. But you can’t wait until Christmas and then and then get your sales. You do have to get started now. So, you know, get ready to take some notes. And then as far as getting started early, so other people that we’ve talked with have mentioned this is the year of shipping. So with all this extra online shopping, there comes online shipping. So there are boxes piled up in front of my door, it seems like almost every other day. So everybody is doing the exact same thing. So packages are delayed. This is happening, and it’s going to get worse so that what people are doing is they’re moving their whole calendar earlier. We’re saying Black Friday, Cyber Monday; there are Black Friday sales happening right now.

They were happening in September. I guess the takeaway from that is like just get started early. Don’t wait. Don’t think that “I’m not going to send up my best sale until Cyber Monday.” Like, maybe you do that early. So anyway, that’s my little note here. I’m throwing hot tips early before we even brought in our guests. Maybe I better save something for the guest here. So with that, we have a new employee at Ecwid, a lot of new employees, but only the best and brightest make to the podcast. So let’s bring him on. Josh Berkstresser. Josh, how are you doing?

Josh: I’m doing pretty good. How about yourself?

Jesse: Fantastic. You know, like I said, best and brightest and also people that have education in their job titles.

Josh: Perfect Venn diagram.

Jesse: Yeah. So, Josh, what exactly do you do here? Pulling an old movie line.

Josh: That’s a really good question. I was hoping both of you could tell me today when I joined the podcast. Yeah. I joined a month ago. And, you know, as we’ll talk about later today, Ecwid, it’s one thing that attracted me to it. Right. It has a lot of educational content. This podcast is sometimes included or always included. Sorry.

Jesse: No, we’ll see to be determined.

Josh: Yeah, but you know, the podcast, the blogs, the videos, the Help Center. It already has a lot of great learning content. And what I’m looking to do is to make that more strategic and focused. The thing that really attracted me to all of this, and then I even learned in talking to everyone, is we want our merchants to be successful. And by merchants, I mean you, the listener. Right. So you decide to go on this endeavor to take your goods or someone else’s goods and try and sell them to people in a unique way. And I want to help you be successful in that and hopefully make you be a billionaire.

Jesse: I love it. We’ve got a billionaire in there, too. So if you’re listening and if you’re a billionaire, please give us a shout. We want to see you in the pod.

Richard: Your story on the show.

Jesse: All right. A good intro. Now, Josh, specifically, I think we’re going to be talking about because of the timeliness of the Black Friday, Cyber Monday success plan. So a lot of people, if you’re avid readers of our emails, you probably are already on this plan, already following it. If you’re like the audio-only people, we’re going to kind of give you a little taste of that and hopefully driving into the online content. Josh, I’m going to hand it off to you a little bit. I mean, what’s the kind of the basic steps that people are going to want to follow here to get started?

Josh: Our approach to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday success plan was really. Most of you who are listening are probably received the majority of these tips and know a variety of different emails, a variety of different blogs, articles, podcasts. What I wanted to do is, if we really think about where we are this year, even if you’re listening to this close to Black Friday, the year of COVID, the year of increased e-commerce, in just 2020 in general, it’s a stressful time for everyone.

In my opinion, experience, one of the easiest ways to combat that stress and not feel overloaded and try to be successful is to have some sort of easy to follow the plan and allow your brain to focus on the things that should be focusing on. And so we wanted to uplift that for you, that step out so that you can don’t have to waste your energy on that and provide you with a nice easy to digest, week by week plan to success. That’s based on our insight on all of our successful merchants and even us as being a successful organization. And obviously, that should start with a plan, just like how we created a plan. You should also create a plan. Jesse mentioned at the top of the show this idea you don’t want to wait till Christmas. Waiting till Christmas is too late, even potential way into Black Friday, maybe too late to wait till the month of December. And so you can still probably be successful.

But coming up with this plan of like, what is it that I want to achieve for my store in Black Friday, Cyber Monday this year? Are you looking to just expand your customer base? Great. Let’s create a plan around that. Are you looking to release some new products, maybe increase sales? You don’t have to have the same objective to have a successful Black Friday like everyone else. Don’t expect to go in saying, “I want to have the same objectives as Amazon.” Amazon has very different objectives as far as what they want to be successful for Black Friday. One of the ways that you can go successful is by setting the right expectations for yourself. And once you do that, you can start to plan out and look at the weeks and use it as a guide. OK, so I’ve thought about that; I really want to focus this year on expanding my customer base. Black Friday is a perfect time to do that because of increased traffic.

And add on top of that, most people don’t want to go to a mall. Most people don’t want to go. Even if you think about Small Business Saturday, that’s probably going to be hugely online, probably the first time ever. That’s traditionally an in-person activity. Not this year. So you have the potential to increase your customer base because they’re going to get to you. But this isn’t the field of dreams. So just because your store exists doesn’t mean that people are magically going to appear at your store, even know that your store exists or that you have the goods that they’re looking for.

Jesse: Yeah, it makes sense. Of many things you’d mentioned there, like your goal for this year, other people might be like, Michael’s this year to cash in on all the work I did previously, too. You’ve acquired all these customers. You made some sales before. You’ve done all this stuff. And now, you might have a very holiday-friendly item, as not everybody does, but maybe it’s great for gifts, it’s great for a splurge. OK, you gather those emails; you have all the pixels out there now. You need to need a blast. Just saying there could be different goals for people. It might not always be acquiring customers. It might feel like I have the lists. Now is the time, and yeah. How can I get out to these customers? This is the time, right? For most people.

Richard: It’s a really good point by both of you. Just give a little bit of an analogy here that I think would be good for the listeners to do. They’re trying to figure out, well, what would be. Josh is pretty much put together a map for you to be able to follow. Here’s the structure. You’re going to plan. You’re going to schedule; you’re going to go a little deeper into it. And again, hopefully, you’ve already read this in an email. But this is worth rinsing and repeating is here’s a map.

But one of the things when you have a map. You can’t really take full advantage of the map if you don’t do a little bit of self-awareness and know where you are and know where you’re sitting in the process. Someone who’s listening to this right now just started this store, and they’re here in this podcast for the first time. Because it’s COVID, and they want to do a side hustle, and they don’t know if their jobs are coming back. Someone has been on Ecwid for three years, and they’re diving deep, and they want to cash in like Jesse’s talking about. So really, a little bit of self-assessment and then just diving deeper into the guide again, even if you have read it, is really just knowing where you are and knowing where your business is.

You might have much higher goals than your business is ready for right now. I think taking the time to know where you’re at right now and where your business sits is super important to decide what is that next step. I was going to ask you, Josh. What is it in the planning process? What is step one when you start to plan? What does that even mean?

Josh: We have that that laid out here too. And one of it is what we’ve been talking about, which is setting your expectations, setting your measure for success for this holiday season. And once you know what that measure of success is going to be, then the next thing I’m going to do is to do some quick assessment. So to Jesse’s point, let’s say I have that really hot item that I know traditionally. Let’s say I’ve had a store for a few years that I know traditionally it has performed well. Let’s look at those numbers again, using the reporting within the Control Panel, see how well it’s performed and with whom. That’s going to be important to find out who’s my target audience, what’s my list, and then start to gather that information so that I’m ready for the next stage, which is to craft communication. But really, this initial step is so that when I’m ready for the next step communication, my communication is targeted and relevant. That way, it is successful because there may be some spent involved. I want to make sure I’m not wasting my money. That’s all considered part of overhead.

I’m trying to run my business, make sure my margins are good. But also I just want to get the right people to see my stuff because I want them to purchase it or become a customer of my shop. So in that planning phase, it’s setting my expectation and then using that as my barometer to find out the information I need to help me. Maybe I’m just a huge drop shipper, and I love redistributing other people’s goods. I’m going to look through some trend reports and see what people saying are is going to be hot this winter season. Is it going to be masks and custom masks and with cool presents and stuff? Is it going to be Star Wars, or who knows? But if I can look at those things, I can also maybe work out some stuff, get some new inventory and that I think will sell well. So that’s what I would say is really crucial in that initial plan phase.

Jesse: I think you can also; this is for people that have a little more of a history as well. You can take a look at what products had certain spikes at this time as well. You might have this idea of “oh, I know how much I sell,” and you’re thinking of it for the year, but perhaps there’s a specific item or two or a category that really sells this time. It sells well this time of year, probably a little more gift friendly or, again, splurge friendly. They wouldn’t normally spend this much on a shirt, but, you know, it’s their Christmas presents to themselves. I don’t know, just sort of those trends are going to exist, but you have to look for the data, and then you have to if you still have time to get that from suppliers reorder, be ready. Like you don’t want to run out of stock on Cyber Monday because there’s still another month left.

So, yeah, good things to think through and think about the planning for that. And then, you know what I think of planning as well. Yeah. You can sit there and plan and think, but at the same time, what do you do next? You have to start; you have to look at a calendar and start picking dates when you’re going to do things. Don’t just think about it. You have to do stuff, too. That’s what we do, and that’s what everybody should be doing for their seidel’s as well. So anyway, up the calendar, but it’s there anyway going on. Josh, when you’re thinking of, you identify the products, what you want to do, what is the next thought process people want to go through?

Josh: Build that hype. Back to your point of pulling up the calendar and now coming up with some sort of communication strategy and looking at all the different channels. And we provide you with quite a bit of cool tips on how to leverage the different channels for different types of marketing. And this would be when if you decided in the planning process. Hey, I think I’m going to employ some sort of coupon or discount strategy for Black Friday, which lots of consumers are looking for, especially in 2020. Then that’s what I’m going to communicate, that I want to build that hype around like, hey, I’m going to have this for cheaper than other people maybe, or I’m going to give you a discount on shipping. Or maybe you decide to really focus on communicating a return policy because you’re focusing on apparel or something. And that can ease people’s anxiety when purchasing stuff online.

Whatever it is, your angle is going to be for that holiday season. You want to put on the calendar. How am I going to communicate this, and how many channels as possible? It’s really not what channel; it’s how many channels am I going to be in, and how am I going to be on each channel? You just need to be in all of them at this point as effectively as you can be. And start to think about what does that strategy look like and actually do it, have those things scheduled up in Mailchimp or inside the Control Panel.

Jesse: Going back to the discounts thing. I think sometimes people are like, oh, yeah, I want to do a discount, and I’m going to do a discount for this day and to do an email. But that’s great. And you should, but you might want to do a couple of them. And so that’s why you want to think about planning ahead. And Josh, you mentioned several of them. Right. But like, if a discount you can afford is 10 percent. By the time people have read your third 10 percent off an email, they do not see it anymore. So you have to mix it up like that.

You want it to be 10 percent one time, maybe the next time it’s five dollars off, or it’s a deal on a gift certificate, or that the number might actually be relatively similar. But you’re sending out an email. You want people to click on it. They’re getting lots of emails; you’re getting a lot of stuff. And Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, they don’t really care about your sale all that much. So you have to make them care, and you have to mix it up, even though, you know, in your head, it might be like, no, I can just do 10 percent. That’s my limit.

Your customers don’t really care about your limits. They care about what they want to buy. And so mixing up those sales a little bit like, you just kind of have to do it. You know, everybody’s doing it, by the way, like, so don’t feel bad about it. You know that we have our plans in place for different emails, and everybody’s doing it.

Richard: And I guess, yeah, there’s one other thing. I’ll play devil’s advocate for just for a second here. You know, back to you got the map and your structure now, you know you, and you know your product. So some of the businesses out there, the discount helps move it. There could actually be a listener right now who’s hearing this that they might not want to discount their product. They might want to hype up because maybe they’re a certain brand or their luxury brand, or they don’t necessarily want to discount this. So there are other ways of doing it.

Back when Josh was talking about hyping it up, and you also mentioned Star Wars early on, like it’s a perfect example. Star Wars doesn’t come out with the movie. When we used to go to movies, they don’t just like, hey, it’s in the theaters now. No, it was on a bus. It was wrapped on billboards and everywhere in your hyping it up.

So I would just say, hey, I’m by no means saying don’t discount. I’m just saying knowing your product and knowing your market and knowing what you’re trying to do; this might be a great time to just hype it up as to don’t even really mention price, because maybe they’re buying this gift for their significant other. You talking about it, how no other product is like this in this way is going to be the thing that makes them buy that, not because you discounted the price. So, again, please don’t take it that I’m saying don’t discount because there’s plenty out there that will move because of a discount. But I think you get it. And I would love to hear your feelings on that, Josh, when you’re phrasing it as a hype it up now.

Josh: Oh, no. I mean one hundred percent. So an interesting thing that you could do is think about when you were talking about that is almost personalizing the shopping experience. Right. So I could easily, as a merchant, create a guide, much like how we created a guide for our merchants. You could create what you think is the holiday guide. You could even split it up by the demographic if you wanted to. If you kind of had that insight, that research of like, oh, cool, you have some, you know, 18 to 30 fives.

And your family, I don’t know if people refer to their kids that way, but yeah, I got three, 18 to thirty fives from this part of the country. But you could you can have products that you think would align well with that. You know, when you think about it again, this is a brilliant point. Almost everyone’s going to have some sort of discount. Lots of different shops are selling the same thing. So it isn’t just about “do you offer it the cheapest?” It’s also a shopping experience — easily engageable. You know, when I go to Anthropologie, which I do every year for my wife, it’s very easy for me to pull up their holiday guide, and I can kind of pick things from there.

Right. And so that’s super powerful when even the shopping experience can be stressful. I’m shopping for ten, twenty, thirty-five different people, especially when I’m looking for, like maybe those things that I put in stocking stuffers that are ten to twenty to thirty dollars. That actually almost becomes harder than the bigger purchases. No, I super support this idea of it’s not necessarily just the discount, but also how am I presenting my product, am I grouping it together? This other idea of, hey, you purchased this product, purchased these other two products, goes really well with these, make sure you get this cable. Customers hate purchasing one thing and not realizing they needed to three other things with it. I think that’s all part of it. And that, again, would be part of a campaign, whether it’s partly an email channel. It could be a banner on your site, a special landing page that you created where you kind of group some products together and use the site designer to achieve that. Yeah, I think that’s a fantastic point.

Jesse: Perfect. So kind of along with that, so when you’re going to start sending these emails if you’ve looked at your calendar, some of the things we mention here, you can’t just whip that up in one day, right? Like, you can be like, man, I wish I had taken pictures last week or, boy, I wish that I had the proper camera to make a video to describe this little feature that I want to talk with this video, like on this email. So, again, planning ahead, making sure you have the right assets. Anyway, I love those emails. They’re great, but they sometimes take more than half an hour’s worth of work to send it up to your customers.

Josh: There’s only so much Mountain Dew and Red Bull at your local 7/11 to help you really plow through those items.

Jesse: For sure. For sure. Like you’re going to thank us for starting early on this stuff.

Richard: So what you’re saying, Jesse, is you can’t wait until Black Friday to get that new camera, to take your pictures, to get this done, because then you’re going to miss it, right?

Jesse: Absolutely. And there’s probably a Black Friday sale earlier. So, you know, hit those cameras. Now, get all the assets you need, like, and then, you know, be ready to communicate. Josh, you mentioned several of the things, obviously emails kind of the easiest, cheapest way you like. I would just say that’s table stakes for everybody out there. Like you should be sending emails. You know what? You mentioned some other channels out there. What what are you recommending this year for people to communicate with their customers?

Josh: Yeah. So obviously, their own store is a channel, right. So if you have people who visit you often, that may even be more impactful than an email because they’re actually going to see and look. Facebook is going to be a super popular place to get out to certain demographics. People are seeing those ads on there all the time. Same thing with Instagram and Pinterest. But, you know, depending on your demographic and if you’re also looking to acquire new customers, maybe other customers, TikTok is obviously super huge. And the great thing with TikTok is Jesse’s point of it takes a lot of time to produce stuff. TikTok, not so much. Just whip out your camera, put it on a little tripod, and pick yourself up a 10 second add real quick.

Same thing with the new Instagram loops. Instagram is trying to do a similar thing with TikTok. You know, create those stories. You can even have your stories planned out and feature a different product. And each story, you got a 24 hour time period or one week time period. It was like there’s a lot of fun, creative approaches you can take that shouldn’t take a lot of effort. And the other thing that I would say is don’t be afraid to repurpose assets, don’t be afraid to repurpose previous communication and just change some things here and there. Slap on a Black Friday banner to a product photo that you’ve had before that you’ve known has worked. You’re not really looking to start from scratch here, right? You’re just really trying to be more effective and tailored in this one, the two month time period. I’m all about working smarter, not harder.

Jesse: I hear you there. And I also heard that we could get a ten-second TikTok video audio to promote this podcast. So wait, let’s, please record that. We’re going to spit that back at. No, I don’t want to TikTok. So anyway. Oh well, we’ll come back to that.

As far as using multiple lines of communication. So a lot of people are using MailChimp. We did a great integration with Mailchimp just this year. This is something I used because I want to work faster, work smarter rather than harder. When you do an email blast out of MailChimp, it’s already kind of built into the process where you can also send it to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And it’s basically if there’s a link to your email. So like little hints to everybody there, like it’s built into MailChimp. You sent the email. You can, and then you can adjust the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter messages, and maybe you should be doing something custom for those platforms. I know. Of course. Yes. You’re going to do all the special stuff.

But if you just want to, like, get stuff done to keep moving on with your day, it’s a nice little feature to have. So anyway, well, shout out to MailChimp there, everybody. Just now, check if you’re listening or we’re helping you out. But anyway. All right. Well, hold that TikTok thought here anyway. What what do you think? So advertising as well. I don’t want to go in-depth here because Richie and I have had multiple podcasts about just Facebook ads or just Google shopping. But like, if you’re not out there if you haven’t been doing that, this is probably the. Time to launch these things like they if they don’t work in December, they’re probably not going to work in February. Right. Like this is probably the best time to start advertising, at least free marketing know. Anyway, I’ll stay off my soapbox because we’ve had a whole podcast about that. But like Richie or Josh, anything you want to add on advertising. So to shut me up a little bit.

Richard: It’s all about awareness, right? If someone doesn’t know about you, the odds of them buying your product are slim to none. And I think kind of taking a lot of the conversation we’ve had so far; we don’t know where the customer is in the buying process. I mean, inherently, there’s not that much different going on in Black Friday and Cyber Monday other than this thing known as Christmas that gets a bunch of people to buy a bunch of stuff. I mean, it’s not like people shop more in the winter. They do just as much shopping all year long. They’re just buying presents for other people.

So I think when it comes to advertising, maybe just thinking that out and how you work with your creativity, or maybe you talk about you never maybe used to talk about it as a gift, but now you actually mention a gift, or maybe you do something playful. Back when we used to get together and have white elephant gifts and stuff like that. Could you do price grouping like is it a 20 dollar friend? Is it a fifty dollar friend to visit? A hundred dollar friend. Right. You could sell your products like that. So it’s really, I would say, play with the advertising a lot more right now because advertising also from what we’ve experienced multiple times over, sometimes it’s a lot like. College in and where the quantity number of beers mattered more than the quality of the beer. Sometimes it was just getting out enough there. You don’t know what creative is going to hit with your customer always. We’d like to think we do. But if the movies always knew what that hit was going to be, they would only make that movie. And we know that’s not the truth. Right. So except for now, when now they’re just doing 14 versions of The Avengers because it happened to work the first time, but yeah, I would just say be playful with it and try to mix up your advertising and find different ways to think of it as this time of the year is about gifts and about giving things to other people. Probably aren’t talking about that the rest of the year, but this time of the year, you are.

Josh: I have nothing else to add, except for your dig got 14 different versions of The Avengers. We’ll save that for another podcast again in person.

Richard: I’ll send some boxing gloves.

Jesse: We’re taking that offline. The Avengers argument.

Richard: Nothing against The Avengers fans!

Jesse: Just the 14th one that they got you. All right. And now, hey, if you’re an e-commerce store and you’ve figured it out, Avengers one-three-five-seven-eight, you’re still going to do all the way to 15 and 20. Roll out the greatest hits, guys. Package all your products together, just like The Avengers. Anyway, let’s try to tie together for you. Now, people are done with the planning. They got the communications strategy ready to rock and roll. Let’s bring us into more like Black Friday, Cyber Monday here. What are some extra things that people should be thinking about specifically?

Josh: Yeah, so shipping. I would imagine that’s the single biggest thing. Really two things. And even though the next step is set up, that stuff doesn’t require a whole lot of conversation because that’s just kind of the nuts and bolts of going into your story, which you’re already doing every day, every week.

But when we think a little bit about beyond set up and we think about Black Friday holistically and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday and that first weekend for Christmas and the day before Christmas, what we’re really, really thinking about there is customer retention, the customer experience, and not just the shopping experience. At this point, we have set up, or you have, hopefully, set up the front-facing shopping experience and the guides and the groupings of the pricings and recommendations of stuff. But what are you doing, or what are you’re thinking of doing after they make that purchase? And thinking of?

One of my favorite things, when I talk to people about this, is the Hertz customer journey; Hertz, the car rental company, and mapped out their entire customer journey. And most organizations go through this often. But one of the things I found most surprising about their customer journey map was the first step was booking a vacation, and the last step was returning to the airport or getting to their terminal. So you had points on this map that Hertz isn’t really responsible for or does not have a lot of control over. They don’t necessarily have control of you getting past security to your terminal, nor do they have a lot of influence on how you decided to book your trip before you even thought up like I need a rental or whatnot. But thinking of those things does allow them the opportunity to think of how I can, in my sphere of influence, ensure that my customer is taken care of in the best way possible.

So that means things like return policy and whatever your return policy is and whatever you decide works for you, that it’s clearly communicated before purchase and after purchase. And maybe, again, I can’t stress enough how important it is to highlight that return policy, highlight the sale and discount policy coming up with maybe some sort of engagement, and thank you strategy for after they purchase things. Hey, you purchased this, don’t be afraid to come back and maybe pick this up a few weeks later or, please come back to us for this, or let’s say you have a complicated product. Here’s how to use this product. I recently bought a tripod, and the very first thing I got was an email with ten YouTube videos within two weeks saying thank you for purchasing this. Here are our different videos and how to use it. Fantastic. Keep me engaged with that product, and I’m going to keep coming back to you.

So that’s really what I’m sure you guys will have some further additions as well. But like this idea of keeping the customer happy post-purchase, because that’s what’s going to keep them coming back to you. And that’s ultimately what we want for you. And what you want is once they’ve made those purchases, if they’re new customers, lock them in. It’s cheaper to keep those customers than to keep having to increase your ad spend or increase your ad buy or create these creative assets that aren’t going directly to sales.

Jesse: Yeah, speaking my language, Josh, of course, it’s hard to get sales, right? You finally get one, don’t screw it up from that point. Deliver it on time. If it’s late, let them know, communicate, make sure the tracking numbers are going there. Is there a way to surprise and delight when they open up the package as well? If it got shipped from Amazon FBA, there’s not much you can do, but it’s shipping from your home. Is there something a little bit extra that maybe wasn’t even on their website when they opened it up like, wow, this store is awesome? I’m going to tell my friends about it. I’m going to take a picture posted on Facebook or whatever, you know, those little extra things you can do.

And actually, you mentioned that tripod; you got a bunch of YouTube videos that didn’t cost that company anything. It cost money to probably set up videos and everything like that. But once they get this going, that’s just an automated email. It’s the same thing as an abandoned email that you can set up through Ecwid, set up through Mailchimp. It’s a follow-up email, essentially. So very easy to do. But you remembered that, right, mentioned on the podcast. Those are very, very easy things you can do to keep that customer coming back.

Richard: I would say overcommunicate, and I would just double down on what you guys were just talking about over-communicating, especially if shipping is getting as you’re referring to, is going to be happening. I can’t remember the exact stats, but it was quite surprising when I saw them where I was saying, like, if the customer was going to receive the product late, like you telling them and being in constant communication with them on what was going on, exponentially help the positive feedback, even if it was late. Like, of course, they’d rather have it on time or don’t you need to get into that. But you over-communicating is going to be. So if there’s maybe, there’s something creative you can do where you’re just you haven’t even shipped the product out yet, and you’re getting them excited for it, or you’re letting them know YouTube videos, same thing.

But I would just double down on that. Why not over-communicate? Because that’s something that if you want customer retention anyway, they’re going to feel more connected to you, so you may as well go that route. All I could do, and I thought I might not say something, but it was all I could do. Bite my tongue during your Hertz customer journey story, though; even though I love that whole process, at what point in the process did the customer journey say? And then they’re going to be hopping into an Uber instead of renting a car anymore.

Josh: That’s why you go through that journey map like every year.

Jesse: Bringing it all the way to the holidays here. We mentioned some follow up and stuff. One thing I would also add, and I know it’s mentioned in your article, is like particularly with shipping again. Maybe we will rank on Google for shipping again. If this is going to happen, which I can pretty much guarantee the last week before Christmas is going to be a mess. Like everything to me late, this is your time for your last-minute promotions for gift cards. Gift cards can be delivered electronically. They can print them. I have frequently bought a lot of presents that are gift cards on December twenty-third and twenty-fourth because I forgot. Like going to the grocery store to buy like a twenty-five dollar, fifty dollar gift card. I’ll probably still do that. But wouldn’t it be better if I bought them a gift card from a particular store that shows that I put some thought into it.

If you send your customers that lifeline, they’ll appreciate that because there’s a certain point in the month of the holiday season when they are panicking. Like this happens to me every single year, by the way, I will definitely do this. It’ll be the last minute. Oh, I forgot about this. Forget about that. No chance to ship. No, you can’t. Even overnight at this point. Gift card promotions. And the beauty of selling a gift card is you get paid in like a day or two, right? Like it comes from your PayPal, Stripe, you get paid. You didn’t actually ship anything. It might be a month or two before you actually are out that money. Just from a cash flow perspective, it’s nice to offer that up, and your customers might be looking for it. So anyway, a little shout out to gift cards. I’m always a fan. That’s my point.

Richard: I mean because you could even play with that, too, in that. Maybe you don’t mean we are talking about discounts earlier; maybe you don’t discount your product. But you discount the gift card or something like that, so you could almost encourage I’m literally just thinking this up as you brought that up, you could almost sway somebody to buy a gift card because it’s not just that person becoming a customer of yours, they actually helped you acquire a new customer because they hand in that gift card off to somebody else. I think that out a little bit more on exactly how that worked. But there’s definitely something playful there where you could say, maybe you’re not getting together in person this year or whatever, and you can send them this card and almost literally entice them to go the route of the gift card as opposed to getting caught up in the shipping.

Jesse: Yeah, I actually think this will be a big year for gift cards, especially because there will be fewer get-togethers, fewer people getting together for the holidays. Whatever holiday, there’s going to be less of them. Or the holiday is still going to happen; get-togethers might not. So would you rather just email the gift cards separately in an actual physical letter anyway? There’s a lot of different reasons why I think gift cards are going to be pretty big this year. And so, again, thinking ahead, you might have a product that just says gift card, OK, that’s fine, but you could do a little bit better and maybe make a square graphic. Dress it up a little bit; it’ll take a little bit of time. But what is a gift card look like when your customer buys? It isn’t just an email with a code. OK, fine, but not fantastic. So, again, thinking ahead, looking at the calendar, there’s still time. But, yeah, it’s going to be a big, big year for e-commerce. So hopefully, we’re giving you some ideas here. Now, Josh, what did I miss? What was I supposed to ask you that I forgot to ask you?

Josh: So the one last thing that I would like to talk about, and this is less about the marketing and advertising product, but to breathe, take a moment for yourself. In the best of times, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, is stressful. We are definitely not in the best of times as far as easygoing and 2020. Oh, man. 2020. It’s overused tripe at this point, but it exists for a reason. And in our article, we put in two links, one to help you be more productive in running a small business and another one. And this is important to me. And this is why I like to bring into a lot of our education this idea of resilience, taking time for yourself, recharging because it’s just going to be a lot of work. And to be quite honest, those few days around when Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are happening, that is actually a good time for you to take a little bit of time for yourself to monitor your site, make sure nothing’s broken or anything, and trust in us to keep your site up and running on the Ecwid side.

But you’re going to have a lot of work to do after all of those sales. So make sure you have the energy to do that because, as we said, that’s going to be equally important as before, and some may argue maybe even more important. It could completely undercut the work you did pre Black Friday if you missed the mark, post-Black Friday, and you owe it to yourself to be mentally in the right mindset, to have the energy physically and mentally to be ready for that. We gave you some tips on that. I know probably most of us here have our own tips of surviving COVID, going on a half an hour walk each day, making sure we walk away from the screen a few times a day just to make sure we don’t drain ourselves, and we don’t hate what we’re doing, which we don’t want you to do, because the customer is going to feel that and you don’t want your customer to feel that. They already feel that, to be honest. So we don’t need them feeling it extra.

Jesse: When and when you get those customer complaints that come in, if you’re drained, your response to them isn’t going to be as nice and pleasant as if you had had a moment to reflect and you take it in stride, and now your email response will be so pleasant they’ll just thank you. And tell their friends about: I had this late shipment from this company, but they were just so nice. So to check this. Yeah, yeah. Take a break. It’s pretty easy to snap back and start arguing with people that give you money. Take a moment, and I’m sure that will help you write better emails, help you do better social posts, and just be a better human being.

Richard: Yeah, that’s a great point, Josh; I’m glad you bring it up. We’re talking specific tactics so much or high-level strategies so often that between those two, we rarely come back to the mind. That piece of it, and it just reminds me of I don’t remember the exact joke. It’s joke-ish, let’s just call it. A lot of people get to do their own business because they don’t want to answer to anybody. And then once you actually get into it, you realize you’re right. I don’t have to answer to anybody anymore. I have to answer to everybody now.

And so you’re wearing all those hats, and you’re doing all those things. And if you don’t take that time to breathe and to gather yourself and get the mind right again, why are you doing this anyway, right? You’re trying to build something, so you’ve got to make sure that the foundation, which is the owner and the employees, are taking care of. So glad you brought that up.

Jesse: All right, good stuff, we got our minds centered. We got a plan ready. I was going to pull up the calendar, get ready for some big Cyber Monday, Black Friday success. Richie, Josh, any last thoughts here before we send people on their way?

Richard: I would just say, what’s the 30 seconds to two minutes or however long you want to do it? There’s no real time frame. But for someone who’s maybe they’re just here in this podcast on Black Friday, or it’s past Black Friday, you know, how can they look at this guide or this plan in such a way that they can learn from it and apply it moving forward, say they’re listening to it January 1st or whatever, because after the holidays.

Josh: It’s a great point. That’s one of the things we took into consideration when creating this plan is there’s no reason why you can’t use this for back to school, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, throughout any holiday, depending on what holidays your products and shop aligns with this same set-up, whether you do it over two months, do it over two weeks, depending on how big or long the kind of shopping holiday is, these steps apply. I mean, these same steps applied to even launching a new store. If you’re listening to this and you’re like, oh, I want to go in into launching e-commerce, it’s the same. These are just how you run a successful shop. Yeah, we’re condensing it into kind of a five-week time period because of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But these are the same tips to be successful — no matter what time of year. Shipping always matters. It matters more in December. It’s more stressful, but it always matters, right? Even if it’s in the middle of October.

And again, I go back to my tripod in order that my partner says it’s going to be here in two days. I want it here in two days. And if it gets here in four days, I’m upset. Is there any reason to be upset? Not really. It’s not like I was about to go to some super fancy photo shoot. Maybe I was, but maybe I wasn’t. But I still had the expectation. We have been, for better or worse, required to expect stuff super quickly. So keeping all of that in mind, just on the day today, the different promotional periods, it’s just going to be helpful. And again, even if you’re hearing this on Black Friday, you’re like, oh, man, I miss those first few weeks. You’d be amazed at how much success you have just in the follow-up tips. And it’s never too late to do that. Well, I mean, it could be, too. I could be like three months after everything’s done. But, you know, after all those sales, if you hear this and Cyber Monday is over, guess what? You still have a lot of opportunities to make an impact in that follow-up with those follow-up emails, looking at those purchases, making sure everyone got the shipping information, having timely responses as you can to their inquiries, etc.

Jesse: Awesome.

Richard: Yeah, that’s great. So so basically what I hear then is we probably should stop the podcast so people can just start applying all the insights you have and guidance and actually utilize every last day.

Josh: Make those sales to get that paper.

Richard: Yeah. Awesome. I think it’s time to get to work here.

Jesse: I think it’s good. Yeah, everybody, you know what to do. Get out there. Get after it. You’ll make it happen.

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