Data-Driven BFCM Success: A Guide for eCommerce Merchants

November 1, 2023
Shopify, eCommerce, & DTC

Elevate Your BFCM Sales with Strategies Backed by Data

A guide on winning BFCM and beyond through Google Analytics and consumer data

As the calendar pages flutter by in what feels like a faster time than ever, the eCommerce world is gearing up for the most awaited shopping season of the year: Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM). BCFM is, without a doubt, one of the most pivotal moments in the retail calendar. 

Traditional BFCM marketing tips, such as site-wide sales, digital ads, and email campaigns, are already warming up on the field, yet they are no longer the sole players. As we step into 2023, the role of holiday shopping data-driven insights becomes paramount.

The essence of successful eCommerce now hinges on harnessing consumer behavior and data. This evolution is not just a trend but a reflection of years of market observation, adaptive strategies, and technological innovation. With BFCM 2023 on the horizon, integrating sophisticated data analytics is not just an option; it's an imperative.

Designed to unveil how to transform your online store's BFCM strategy using the power of data, this guide shows you how to boost sales on Shopify and all eCommerce stores. From understanding customer preferences to optimizing your marketing efforts, data is your unparalleled ally in this journey.

Ready to elevate your success this holiday season? Here are our top Black Friday/Cyber Monday strategies, showing you how to boost sales on Shopify and more.

The words “SALE BLACK FRIDAY” are written on a clothing tag against a red background.

How employing a data-backed BFCM strategy can help your sales skyrocket

The world of online shopping is vast and anonymous, so understanding your potential customers is critical to effective marketing. Customers have different needs and behaviors, and treating them all the same is a missed opportunity. Here are our data-based Black Friday tips for eCommerce stores, especially those built on Shopify.

The power of customer segmentation

Customer segmentation is the practice of dividing your customer base into groups based on common characteristics. This might include demographics like age or location, purchasing behavior, browsing history, or engagement level with your marketing campaigns.

Why is it important?

Segmentation allows you to create more personalized and effective marketing strategies. For example, you might send different email campaigns to first-time buyers versus repeat customers. This relevance increases engagement, loyalty, and, ultimately, sales.

How to segment your customers:

1. Use your eCommerce platform’s analytics tools (like Shopify Insights, Google Analytics, or similar) to gather customer data. Look at purchase history, browsing behavior, and any demographic information you have.

2.  Based on the data, identify meaningful segments. Common segments include:

Loyal customers or those who purchase frequently.

High-spender customers who make large purchases.

Bargain hunters who respond to sales and discounts.

First-time visitors to your site.

3. Tailor strategies for each segment by creating targeted marketing campaigns for each segment. For example:

For loyal customers, offer loyalty rewards or exclusive early access to new products and limited promotions.

Showcase your premium products or services to attract high spenders.

Highlight sales or offer limited-time discounts to your bargain hunters.

When it comes to new visitors, introduce your brand and offer a first-time purchase discount.

Quick tip!

Segment smartly post-BFCM using Google Analytics to identify customers who haven't purchased recently. Craft personalized emails with a special touch, like a unique discount or a showcase of new products that match their past preferences, to rekindle their interest and loyalty.

Using Heatmaps for customer behavior analysis

Heatmaps offer a visual representation of user activity on your website, illuminating areas that attract the most attention and interaction. These areas are highlighted in warmer colors, indicating places where users click, hover, or spend time. 

A minimalistic web browser interface with a central heatmap gradient from yellow to peach and a cursor icon pointing at it.

To implement heatmaps, first, choose a tool that is compatible with your eCommerce platform, like Google Analytics. Integrating a heatmap tool involves adding a code snippet to your website. 

Once set up, let the heatmap gather data over a significant period, particularly during high-traffic events like BFCM. This data is invaluable for understanding customer behavior and optimizing your site layout.

How to utilize heatmap insights for BFCM

The insights from heatmaps can be transformative for your BFCM strategy. Identifying the 'hotter' zones on your website enables you to strategically place special offers and key conversion content in areas that receive the most engagement. This ensures that your BFCM deals are prominent and accessible, guiding customers smoothly through their purchasing journey and potentially increasing conversion rates.

Other data-driven BFCM strategies

Beyond heatmaps, several other data-driven strategies can significantly impact your BFCM success:

Predictive analytics 

Use predictive analytics to forecast buying trends. This insight is critical for effective stock management and promotion planning, ensuring you're prepared to meet customer demand.

Chatbot analytics

Analyzing interactions with your site's chatbot can uncover frequent customer inquiries or concerns. This information is vital to enhancing your customer service and addressing common issues proactively.

A/B testing

Employ A/B testing to compare different marketing strategies. This real-time testing allows you to refine your approach, focusing on tactics that resonate most with your audience.

Social media insights 

Leverage analytics from your social media platforms to understand where you get the most engagement. This knowledge helps direct your advertising efforts more efficiently, ensuring better use of your marketing budget.

Each strategy brings a unique angle to your overall BFCM campaign, providing a comprehensive approach to reach and engage diverse customer groups. With these data-driven methods, you will gain insights that could reshape your digital strategy for the long term.

The word “marketing strategy” is written on a piece of gift wrap paper weighted down by a mini Christmas tree on a wooden table alongside varying holiday-themed items like gifts, hot chocolate, peppermint sticks, and pinecones.

Leveraging Google for data-driven insights

Ensuring your business thrives during key events like BFCM requires robust analytical tools. Google Analytics offers such capabilities, providing detailed insights that are crucial for strategic decision-making. Utilizing data analysis tools during BFCM can significantly enhance a brand's competitive edge, enabling more informed marketing strategies and better customer engagement. Here’s how to use it:

Google Analytics: your new best friend

At the forefront of Google's offerings is Google Analytics (GA). In the eCommerce world, using GA is like having a trusted advisor by your side, providing you with crucial insights into your online audience. Google Analytics empowers brands, big and small, to navigate their digital footprint with precision, ensuring every step taken is informed and intentional.

How to implement GA4 and Google Tools 

Bigger and better than the tools before it, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a force to be reckoned with. Here's how to harness its power:

1. Setup your account

To begin, establish a new GA4 property. It's crucial to run this alongside your existing Universal Analytics property to preserve access to historical data. This dual setup ensures a smooth transition without data loss.

2. Track your events 

GA4 shifts the focus to event-based tracking, which requires a more hands-on approach than pageview-based tracking. You'll want to identify key customer interactions on your site to track as events. This could include actions like 'add to cart,' 'checkout initiated,' or 'product viewed'. Set these up in GA4 by going to the 'Events' section in your GA4 property and configuring them to match the interactions you want to monitor.

3. Build your audience

Audience definition is pivotal in GA4. Utilize the 'Audiences' feature to segment users based on their behavior. For example, you might create an audience of users who abandoned their cart without purchasing. To do this, navigate to the 'Audiences' section, create a new audience, and set the criteria based on events you’ve set up, such as 'add to cart' but not 'purchase.'

4. Discover enhanced reports 

GA4 offers a suite of detailed reports that can be accessed directly from the interface. To get enhanced insights, look at your reports under the 'Life Cycle' and 'User' categories. These reports can provide a comprehensive view of user interactions from their first visit through conversion. For even more detailed analysis, use the 'Explorations' feature, which allows you to build custom reports based on the specific data points most relevant to your BFCM strategy.

5. Integrate with Google Ads 

For retargeting and building lookalike audiences, integrate GA4 with Google Ads. This can be done within the GA4 interface by linking your Google Ads account. Once linked, you can import GA4 events as conversion actions in Google Ads, allowing you to create highly targeted campaigns based on user behavior captured in GA4.

Quick tip!

Google Ads are your holiday allies. Create targeted campaigns based on user behavior data from Google Analytics. Focus on retargeting ads for visitors who browsed but didn't buy (more details on that below).

Take the insights further

For those seeking even more insights from GA4, Google's own Analytics Academy offers comprehensive tutorials. Additionally, platforms like Moz and HubSpot provide masterclasses on leveraging GA4 to its fullest.

Exclusive Insight from a Google Pro 

To provide even further value on this topic to our audience, we reached out to a Google analytics expert to get exclusive advice straight from Google for our community. Audrey Stone is a Principal Analytical Lead at Google, mentoring business owners on analytics for the Google for Startups Founders Fund. Audrey shared her wealth of knowledge with us, providing us with some best practices for event tracking, and other insider ‘hacks’ from inside Google’s team. She even especially tailored her tips for the heightened traffic period of BFCM weekend and the holiday season. 

Buzzbassador:When and how should you set up Google Analytics 4 for the biggest online shopping season of the year, the holidays?

Audrey: “The moment is now, and it's more omnichannel than ever. Prioritize key revenue channels and BFCM moments. Supercharging your influencer program? Ensure Referral tags for attribution reporting. Driving BOPIS (Buy Online Pickup In Store)? Create a unique event to track these specific transactions and build a high quality audience. Checkout this guide to get started.

A few more helpful tips: 

Audience: create relevant audiences (e.g. purchase funnels drop-offs, high spenders, etc.) to re-engage them during the holiday season and beyond 

Custom insights: create a custom insight (hourly for web streams) and be notified about key changes in user activity

Collect the most relevant data to your business (custom dimensions & metrics), create your KPIs (calculated metrics) and set up the most relevant custom reports to monitor how your business performs.

Set up custom funnels or leverage standard funnel reports (Purchase Journey and Checkout Journey reports) to view how users are progressing through your site and review drop-offs

Buzzbassador:What about interpreting and using the data after BFCM is over to power repeat purchases and further acquisition through the rest of the holidays and beyond?

Audrey: “Attribution is like a layered cake. The two complementary flavors of inter- and intra-channel reporting work together to solve for top-to-bottom leading indicators. How does one platform's RoAS look on the whole? Vs. How does Search assist YouTube or Web drive to App? Layered insights in the Traffic Acquisition report sweeten and expand a single-layered RoAS or CPA. The cherry on top? Bringing all channels into 1 place like GA4 benefits the creation of Predictive Audiences that can help you reach users who are likely to make a purchase in the next seven days.”

An open laptop displays a Google Analytics 4 dashboard, highlighting a business’ sales trends. The laptop is on a wooden desk with Christmas ornaments, books, and a small vase of winter pine branches.

Utilizing Google Analytics for Effective Holiday Campaigns

To harness Google Analytics for boosting sales during the holiday season, it's essential to translate customer behavior data into actionable marketing strategies. Here’s how you can do this effectively:

1. Craft win-back campaigns

After BFCM, use the data collected to identify customers who made purchases last year but haven’t engaged recently. Segment these customers in Google Analytics by setting criteria based on their last purchase date and recent activity. Then, target them with win-back email campaigns offering personalized deals or showcasing new products that align with their past interests.

2. Choose Google Ads for customer attraction

For Google Ads, focus on retargeting campaigns. BFCM is the best time of year to get people from throughout the ten months prior who were on the fence to over the fence. Use data from Google Analytics to create audience segments based on users who visited your site but didn't make a purchase. Target these segments with Google Ads, showcasing products they viewed or similar items. You can also consider using Discovery Ads to reach potential new customers based on their interests and online behavior, leveraging Google's machine learning to place your ads in optimal locations. However, remember that it is much cheaper and easier to convert existing customers and past hesitant shoppers who are already familiar with your brand than to convert completely new visitors.

3. Follow real-world examples

Small and medium-sized businesses often excel with tailored Google Ads. For instance, a boutique clothing store might use Dynamic Remarketing Ads to show specific products viewed by the customer, leading to a higher click-through rate. A local electronics retailer could find success with Search Ads targeting particular keywords related to their top-selling products during the holiday season.

4. Gather insights from experts

Enhance your skills by taking advantage of the free courses at Google Analytics Academy. Experts in the field provide comprehensive training on using Google Analytics to its full potential, from fundamental principles to sophisticated data analysis techniques. This knowledge is crucial for interpreting customer data accurately and optimizing your holiday campaigns for better performance. By applying these insights, you can refine your marketing strategies to be more data-driven and aligned with current best practices.

5. Explore success stories

Examining success stories of businesses that have leveraged data analytics can provide both inspiration and practical guidance. Check out these nine success stories in business analytics for inspiration, reminding you why it matters. These examples demonstrate how data insights have transformed businesses, offering a blueprint that you can adapt for your BFCM strategies.

Adopt these practical steps to effectively use Google Analytics to drive sales and engagement, turning the holiday season's heavy traffic into a golden opportunity for growth and customer retention.

A phone lays on a white table displaying an online store powered by Shopify and Shop Pay. The phone is surrounded by Christmas ornaments and winter pine branches.

Quick tip!

Prioritize your repeat customers. As Forbes points out, it costs less to encourage repeat business than to acquire new clients. Use data analytics to identify your most loyal customers and direct your marketing efforts towards them. Tailored discounts and personalized communication can significantly boost their lifetime value.

Wrapping up on the New BFCM Data Playbook

As we edge closer to Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) 2023, it's clear that the traditional playbook for this pivotal sales period is evolving. Transform your online store's strategy with a key focus: leveraging data for informed decision-making. Whether you're enhancing your presence on Shopify or any other eCommerce platform, the power of data cannot be overstated.

We’ve looked at how customer segmentation, heatmaps, and Google Analytics can unlock new levels of understanding and engagement with your audience. From tailoring win-back campaigns to refining your Google Ads strategy, every step is a move towards a more personalized and effective approach to sales. Transforming your data into actionable insights that resonate with your audience for maximum success.

The expert advice we've explored underscores the practicality and applicability of these strategies. Small and medium-sized businesses have a unique opportunity to use these tools to their advantage, crafting campaigns that speak directly to their target audience's needs and preferences.

Are you eager to capitalize on these proven Black Friday Cyber Monday Shopify eCommerce strategies? Reach out and let us know if you need help. Also, if you’re looking for tips on another huge part of brands’ BFCM strategies - influencer marketing - we’ve got you with our detailed Influencer Marketing for BFCM how-to guide

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