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6 min read

CRO fixes you need to make before Black Friday

This article was updated on: 16.11.2022

Black Friday represents a huge opportunity for businesses that sell products online. This year we’ve already seen a notable shift in the way consumers shop, heading online as a result of the ongoing pandemic. Although high street stores are now open, it’s likely that consumers may feel more comfortable shopping online as we continue to navigate through this tricky period.   

With this in mind, it’s wise to make sure your website is fully prepared in the run up to the big day and Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is a great way to get your site up to scratch.

Here are some simple CRO techniques you can use to drive more sales to your business this Black Friday, the holiday period and beyond.

1. Prepare your website for additional traffic

If your Black Friday marketing campaigns are successful, you can expect to see increased traffic levels on your site.

While this is a huge positive, it also presents a huge risk; if your website isn’t capable of handling such traffic levels, you risk losing sales on Black Friday and into the future, as customer’s question the quality of your site. There are only two certainties in CRO that will guarantee an increase in conversion rate, the first is lowering price, obvious right? The second is load speed, getting your content to your users at speed will boost conversion performance. 

There are a variety of technical considerations available to you to better your site’s performance. Generally, they fall into one of a few broader tasks:

a) Speeding up what you already have

The first port of call for businesses preparing for Black Friday traffic is to speed up what you have. This means reviewing the current speed of your site (using a tool like Google’s own Page Speed Insights or Pingdom Tools) and following their recommendations for improvement – which are often as simple as reducing the sizes of your images or removing unnecessary elements.

b) Separation of concerns

This refers to the reduction of reliance on your own server in order to improve load speeds and make your website more resilient. You should consider the use, for example, of a content delivery network (CDN), which means your imagery is hosted outside of your own server, thus reducing the requests and workload in favour of splitting that load.

c) Improving your hosting setup

If you have the budget to apply here, it’s worth investing in improved hosting setups which not only speed up your website, but also protect it from attacks and keep it more secure. One example is to move to a cloud based server setup, whereby the requests can be balanced across multiple servers rather than relying on just one.

2. Mine your data for user insights

We’ve all been there; there’s a minor issue on one of your pages or a small glitch that you will get round to fixing soon… but more often than not, ‘soon’ never arrives.

Now’s the time to get your website up to scratch and fix all those little issues that might become a much bigger issue when your site takes the full strain of Black Friday traffic!

The fundamental purpose of CRO is to make a site as user-friendly as possible. Mining your data can therefore provide valuable insights into how users are using your site and any issues therein.

If you’re using an analytics platform like Google Analytics, you can derive insights into any device-based issues, stumbling blocks in the conversion journey and poorly performing pages. Use these insights to identify areas for improvement ahead of Black Friday.

For example, you might review the bounce rate of your key landing pages as part of this process. If you know your campaign will be driving people toward certain products, it’s worth making sure those product pages are working as well as possible – and that means that they have as low a bounce rate as possible, and a high conversion rate. If there’s a page that’s clearly not working for your users, fix it or consider promoting an alternative page.

3. Create specific Black Friday landing pages

Successful CRO is about encouraging your users to a desired outcome which, around Black Friday, is likely to be a sale.

The first hurdle for any CRO campaign is stopping users from bouncing. Make sure the users click intent is apparent upon landing by using bespoke landing pages, this will be beneficial to get users to start their journey and limit the risk of them leaving to shop with a competitor.

As the holiday has matured online and audiences are more aware of it, retail businesses are using Black Friday specific content to drive sales, as opposed to simply sending people to their regular product pages. Having bespoke landing pages for Black Friday that link the users click from Ad to landing will give the user confirmation that they are in the right place and ease them into the conversion journey. 

4. Test, test, test and learn

Learning exactly what your users will respond to before Black Friday will give you a big advantage. Use data and learnings to shape your key Black Friday landing pages and messaging, split testing messaging around discounts and deals can lead to better conversion rates come Black Friday weekend.

For example, some customers respond better to percentage discounts, others to numerical values – so “25% off” vs “Save $50”. Some prefer added value deals over discounts, so consider what you can offer, such as ‘free shipping’ or an additional product with purchase.

You can also derive meaningful insights from your PPC campaigns. Using Google Ads’ Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) allows advertisers to split test combinations of multiple headlines and description lines. You can get a clear picture of what messaging your users will respond best to. You can use this insight to inform your Black Friday on-page messaging, as well as which USPs or offers will drive engagement on other channels.

5. Measure, analyse and refine for next year

Whatever changes you decide to make between now and Black Friday, the biggest long term gains will come from learning from the successes and failings of the season.

A CTA not working as it should isn’t a complete failure, but an opportunity to learn. Both positive and negative data is helpful from a CRO perspective. It highlights what works, what doesn’t and equips you with the evidence you need to avoid making poor decisions in the future. So don’t stop at Black Friday. Analyse your site frequently, create your hypothesis and test new ways of improving your website so your users can convert easily.