How Klaviyo and Electric Eye can help Shopify-powered brands succeed on Cyber Weekend and beyond

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Editor’s note: Andrew Rosensweig is a project manager at Electric Eye, a digital marketing agency based in Columbus, Ohio. Electric Eye is a brand partner with Klaviyo.

Every year, online spending during the holiday season reaches new heights—and for a lot of brands, that means an attempt to maximize sales. Planning for a large retail event can be overwhelming, but with the right strategy you can gain the confidence needed to make the upcoming Cyber Weekend a rousing success.

The team at Electric Eye can help. An ecommerce agency specializing in strategic design, development, and marketing—Electric Eye has turned dozens of Klaviyo clients into Shopify-powered sales machines. Their unique insights can help your company have a profitable holiday season—and many of the seasonal strategies you’ll learn will improve your sales year round.

Keep reading to discover: 

Please note: If you’re new to Klaviyo, check out Honest Ecommerce’s “Klaviyo for Shopify” course on how to get started.

How to prepare for Cyber Weekend

For most direct-to-consumer (DTC) businesses, the holiday season is a massive opportunity to drive sales. With an increasing dependency on smartphones, more access to wi-fi, and cheaper data plans, consumer behavior has shifted at an exponential rate towards buying online. The implications from COVID-19 exacerbated that shift in 2020, and it’s expected to leave a lasting impact.

With your audience spending more money online, how do you prepare for the most monumental event of the retail season? 

First, you need to ensure everything in your email program is fundamentally sound. Are the emails you’re sending performing well? Regardless of whether your answer is yes or no, there’s always room for improvement—and deliverability is a good place to start.

Check out a breakdown of the key metrics you need to keep in mind for deliverability—and ask yourself if you’re hitting those benchmarks. But your deliverability isn’t the only item to investigate. Are your open rates low? Are you sending to the right audiences? Have you A/B tested different versions of your emails? Keep reading to dig into each topic. 

Smart segmentation increases engagement

It’s important to send emails to your most engaged subscribers—and avoid sending every email to all of your contacts.

When you send emails to a group of subscribers who interact with your emails regularly, you’ll have a greater chance of encouraging them to take your desired action. The more contacts you send to that don’t open or engage with your emails, the more your sender reputation is negatively affected. 

A/B testing helps click-through rate (CTR)

Incorporating A/B tests into your Cyber Weekend preparations is a great way to figure out how you can get more people to open your emails and click on your content.

If you’re new to A/B testing, subject lines are a good place to start. Whether you use a question or an emoji to catch your subscribers’ attention, try pushing your boundaries and get creative so you know what works before the holidays hit.

If you’re seeing subpar click rates, try to take a hard look at your email content. Ask a trusted source for candid feedback—sometimes when you’re too close to your own work, you may overlook potential issues. 

Is your content clear and intuitive? Do your subscribers have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of your email before they get to your call-to-action (CTA)? You may be surprised at the increase in the rate of engagement with something as simple as moving your CTA higher up in the email hierarchy.  

Do you have too many CTAs? Is your content compelling? Try running an A/B test to see what content is receiving the highest number of clicks. If it’s not working, try different layouts. 

You can also test your email send times. It’s a little less applicable to time-sensitive holiday promotions, but having a clear understanding of when your email performs best is worth pursuing.

Whatever tests you decide to run, it’s essential that you only test one thing at a time (i.e., an emoji in your subject line or a different send time). That way you can accurately measure the success or failure of your change. 

List maintenance boosts engaged subscribers and growth

While you’re working to achieve good deliverability leading into the holiday season, it’s also important to strike a balance between growing your email list and email list maintenance—it’s important to scrub those unengaged contacts from your list.

And the most efficient way to grow your email list is to place ads on Facebook, Instagram, and with Google Ads. If your site has a great user experience along with compelling offers, the increased traffic will ultimately boost the number of your subscribers. 

The cost-per-click (otherwise known as the CPC, or the amount you’ll pay when someone clicks on your ad), is only going to get higher as more brands start to ramp up their spending heading into the holiday season. The sooner you get in the mix, the better. Check out our Facebook and Instagram Ads Course for Shopify to get started.

Aside from paid ads, you may also want to consider affiliate marketing. Leveraging an influencer’s audience to drive traffic to your site can also help grow your email list. 

But unchecked list growth isn’t necessarily helpful or healthy to your business. It’s important to monitor the quality of the traffic coming to your site and to refine your list as new subscribers are added. 

You can easily set up what’s called a sunset flow in Klaviyo—it’s an automation that flags people who are unengaged. It also excludes them from your email sends—or suppress them from your list altogether. If you don’t have a sunset flow set up, here is the documentation on how to get started.

Keep track of key holiday dates and initiatives

Part of the prep work leading up to Cyber Weekend is figuring out what sort of offers or promotions you’ll run and when. And you’ll need to know all of the key dates throughout the holiday season—not just Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

There are lots of important dates to know for your target audience. But simply sending messages to your subscribers on these days isn’t actually a strategy. 

In Klaviyo, you can tailor your approach to help create relevant messages and send your emails strategically. That way, you’ll avoid spamming your contact list with emails, hoping that they’ll eventually cave and make a purchase. 

Some dates to keep in mind:

  • Black Friday Preview
  • Black Friday
  • Cyber Monday
  • Giving Tuesday
  • Shipping Cutoff Approaching
  • Shipping Cutoff Deadline
  • Virtual Gift Cards
  • New Year’s Eve

Here’s an example of how the team at Electric Eye approaches these key dates. For the Black Friday preview, there’s an early promotion that’s sent exclusively to a VIP customer segment. This gives the team an advanced preview of what sales could look like on Black Friday.

Back Friday is very competitive, so you often see brands starting their deals well in advance. It can be hard to stand out in the marketing crowd on Cyber Weekend, so starting your promotions early can help get your audience’s attention. 

But just because your deals are out early doesn’t mean you can slack when it comes to the actual day of Black Friday. Some customers will wait to make a purchase until they see what your competitors are offering. 

I’ve seen brands send out a Black Friday Preview email that says, “Get ready, this is what we will be offering.” I dislike these emails, because when the item’s not yet available for sale, it could lead to disappointment or frustration for the customer. 

Instead, brainstorm on how to engage your subscribers and get them to your site ahead of Black Friday—and set clear expectations. 

Another tip: Create and share content like a holiday gift guide so that when your subscribers see a Black Friday deal hit their inbox, your brand is at the top of their wishlist.This strategy also helps to prepare your audience for the increased volume of holiday emails. If you suddenly appear in their inbox every day or—worse yet—multiple times a day when they’re used to seeing your emails less frequently, you could run the risk of your audience unsubscribing or marking your emails as spam.

It’s also best practice to keep your promotion consistent Black Friday through Cyber Monday. Why? Because when you change the terms of the offer, you could leave some customers feeling dissatisfied or duped. It’s also confusing to keep track of varying discounts. Finally, if you abruptly change the promotions on your paid ads, you’re not giving the ad platform algorithms enough time to adjust and optimize your performance. When in doubt, keep it simple. 

Giving Tuesday can also add a human element to your promotions and is a nice way to align your brand with a charitable cause. You can offer to donate a portion of your proceeds from Cyber Weekend, for example. But you don’t have to wait for Giving Tuesday to give back—this can be a year-round commitment from your brand. Help people in need, help the environment, help animals—choose whatever charity you like, but just make sure that it aligns with a cause that resonates with your target audience and your brand’s values.

As the shopping season continues, it’s important to let your customers know the final day they need to complete their purchase in order to receive it in time for the holidays. Providing clear messaging to your customers can help set realistic expectations and avoid disappointment. And when it’s too late to send your products, promoting a virtual gift card can provide a solution for your last-minute shoppers.

By the time New Year’s Eve rolls around, some people might start feeling burned out from the holiday spending. But that isn’t the case for everyone—some people may have just received gift cards or money, and they’re itching to spend it. Create compelling content that helps your subscribers ring in the new year with your brand. It can be an extremely effective way to appeal to the segment of customers who didn’t purchase during Cyber Weekend.

And don’t forget to offer product demonstrations and other educational content during the holiday season.

Another strategic approach to email marketing year round is to create engaging content that doesn’t need a sale or promotion in order to be valuable for the recipient. Alongside paid ads and organic social media posts, this is a rock-solid tactic that can help your brand grow.

Retarget the subscribers who got away

One of the most powerful things you can do with your campaign strategy is to leverage audience segmentation for retargeting. 

For example, if your customers receives a promotional email and makes a purchase on Black Friday. After they’ve made their purchase, does it make sense to continue to include them in your email campaigns throughout the weekend? Probably not. 

And what about subscribers who clicked on some of your emails? A lot of brands use the customer journey—or what’s called an Awareness Funnel—to determine the right messaging based on where the customer is in the buying process. Here’s the breakdown of the Awareness Funnel used to formulate your retargeting segments:

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Decision

The first item listed in the funnel is “awareness.” Are your subscribers aware of your brand? Have they seen or opened your emails? If they have, then there’s some interest. How much interest can be determined by the actions they take after opening your emails. Have they clicked your email and visited your site? 

At the bottom of the funnel you have “decision.” Have they viewed any of your products? Did they abandon their cart? Did they complete a purchase? Different subscribers are at different stages, so try and speak to them accordingly. 

For example, you can create a segment of people who’ve clicked on a certain email. If someone has viewed a product recently, or perhaps viewed a product a certain number of times, that can be a clear indication that they’re interested. If someone has recently made a purchase, create a segment to exclude them from your campaigns. 

How to update your flows

Ahead of Cyber Weekend, take the time to audit your email automations (or flows, as they’re referred to in Klaviyo).

Take a good look and reconsider your subscriber’s journey with respect to the promotions you’re running. This could be a great opportunity to include additional emails and promotions that potentially incentivize repeat purchases. 

Are you offering promotions in your flows that might compete with your holiday deals or—even worse—confuse your email subscribers? It might be worth creating alternate emails so that you can temporarily switch over while you’re running holiday promotions. 

This is most easily accomplished using Klaviyo’s A/B testing feature. You can create an alternate email and when you’re ready to switch over to it, simply change the way they’re weighted (so version A of your email goes from 100% to 0% and version B goes from 0% to 100%). After the holidays, you can easily change it back.

The implications of iOS 15 and privacy settings

As you plan out your retargeting strategy this holiday season and beyond, it’s important to account for the implications from Apple’s iOS 15 privacy updates. 

iOS 15 will permit people to opt out of sharing some information—the biggest impact being that open rate data may be hidden. This means your email open rates may become an unreliable metric.

How do you adjust? I recommend adopting a retargeting strategy that uses segments of the people who didn’t click on your email. That ensures that you’re reaching your audience with fresh content while accounting for the new privacy measures.

Where SMS fits in

SMS can be a game-changer for your business—and not just during the holiday rush. If you haven’t tried SMS marketing yet, you could be leaving a lot of opportunities for increasing your revenue and deepening connections with your customers on the table. 

Klaviyo has built SMS seamlessly into their platform so that you can get up and running in no time. It also supports features that compete with any other SMS app on the market.

As an agency, Electric Eye often hears a considerable amount of hesitancy about venturing into SMS marketing, along with the worry that text message marketing will cause brands to communicate too aggressively with their customers. But texts will only be sent to subscribers who’ve actively opted into receiving SMS messages. They’re a self-selected group of people who actually prefer this method of communication.

Collect SMS subscribers sooner rather than later if you plan on sending texts to your customers during Cyber weekend. Just like in an email program, the prep work pays off—and building a list of subscribers who are engaged with your content will help you hit the ground running when the holiday season is in full stride.

What are the high level objectives for text message marketing leading up to Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM)?

  • Enable SMS on your account
  • Capture text message opt-ins and consent ASAP
  • Incorporate texts into flows
  • Devise your SMS campaign strategy

Enabling SMS on your account is simple. Klaviyo’s guide on setting up SMS will walk you through every step.

Once you have SMS enabled on your account, capturing consent from your subscribers SMS opt-ins is essential. A few ways to acquire opt-ins include offering a subscription on forms, as an added step in a multi-step form, or embedded as a form on a page linked from a welcome series email.

Similarly to email, consider adding in an introductory offer and express a value proposition to your subscribers for signing up. You’ll want to clearly establish what they’ll get if they subscribe to your text communications. 

Since Klaviyo has both email and SMS unified in the same platform, you can add texts directly into your flows. With conditional splits, you can create specific pathways or journeys for your subscribers to follow if they’ve opted in to receive your texts. This way you can deliver content in their preferred channel or reach out via text if they don’t open your emails.

Lastly, establish your SMS campaign strategy. How will SMS work as a partner to email? Perhaps your SMS subscribers will receive sneak previews or special offers that your email subscribers won’t. 

It’s a much more personal mode of communication, so be careful not to overdo it and send too many texts. Only reach out with valuable content that your audience wants to receive and at a cadence that won’t be irritating. It’s a chance to nurture your customer relationships, so don’t bombard your subscribers with too many messages.

A look beyond BFCM

The holiday season is much longer than a single weekend of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. When you set your sights on the long term, the work you do during Q4 can pay off year-round. 

Don’ts

  • Don’t miss an opportunity to introduce your brand and values. Reach out to customers post-purchase who haven’t received your welcome emails. When you use conditional splits in your flows that are based on whether or not a customer has made a purchase, you can better tailor your content. Your brand story and values can be used as a customer retention strategy by maintaining engagement with your customers. 
  • Don’t overload your customers with too many emails or texts. Regardless of the time of year—it could be Black Friday or Good Friday—people who’ve recently purchased shouldn’t get bogged down by more messages for the same sale or promotion they’ve just bought from. 

Dos

  • Do use segmentation and exclude certain audiences strategically. There are plenty of opportunities to re-convert someone who’s recently made a purchase. If someone’s new to your brand but they already see value in your product, with the right messaging and a compelling offer, you can prompt them to make multiple purchases in the future. Consider working this into a post-purchase automation such as a customer thank you flow.
  • Do use loyalty rewards. These are an excellent way to incentivize and “gamify” the shopping experience by offering points and reward tiers. There are apps in the Shopify ecosystem devoted to this such as Rise.ai, Smile.io, Loyalty Lion, and Swell. 
  • Do offer double points or specials. Redeeming points with your brand is a great way to lead customers back long term, knowing that they’ve accrued some redeemable value with you. 

Electric eye has worked with Rise.ai to integrate with Klaviyo. Through this integration, you can display point balances within emails and enhance your subscribers’ experience to remind them to come back and shop to earn more points or redeem the ones they have.

Customer service needs are ramped up during the holidays. Emails that can answer common questions to address pre-purchase questions or provide information on how to use a product are a great way to build engagement with your customers—educational content can help reduce the strain on customer service teams. This information is typically relevant year round, so it’s not only a win for the short term.

Finally, direct your site traffic in the most efficient route possible. I see a lot of brands that advertise a product or collection but then link to their homepage, leaving users to have to track down what they were shown—a clunky customer experience. Instead, link to a product page, collection page, or a dedicated landing page that highlights your specific offer. Try and test what works best for your brand and customers. 

Email and text message strategies to help you grow year round

Thinking like an agency on Cyber Weekend is more than just a short-term strategy. And the work on building your contact list, understanding your awareness funnel, and nurturing customer relationships begins long before the holiday season—but you’ll reap the benefits long after the last present is unwrapped.

When you plan ahead, you’ll have more flexibility to try things that’ll help you stand out from the crowd. Like the team at Electric Eye, follow the data and start testing your creativity in both email and SMS. With a little bit of strategic planning, you won’t leave opportunities on the table this holiday season.

Want to learn more text message strategies you can use in your Cyber Weekend preparations? Check out these SMS tips that’ll help you increase customer engagement.

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