How to Maximize Sales on BFCM 2023

Freemius
13 min readNov 8, 2023

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It’s time to discuss your weekend plans 💰 For BFCM 2023, that is 😉 With less than three weeks until the end-of-year sales fever hits, software product makers and entrepreneurs need to get their (discount) ducks in a row.

Why BFCM 2023 is an Important Opportunity for Software Product Makers

There’s no getting around the fact that BFCM (Black Friday Cyber Monday) is the biggest sales event of the year. Some stats from 2022 worth noting:

  • Almost 200 million Americans shopped over the BFCM 2022 weekend.
  • While Black Friday deals in 2022 totaled a record $9.12 billion in sales, Cyber Monday deals in 2022 generated even higher figures at $35.3 billion. Since Cyber Monday deals are targeted at eCommerce sales specifically, this makes it worth noting for online sellers like software entrepreneurs.
Splish splash

In a recent WP Product Talk episode, Zack Katz, Katie Keith, and Matt Cromwell discussed tips and strategies for executing a successful BFCM sale for WordPress products. They noted that while Black Friday and Cyber Monday are big events in WordPress (and SaaS), some companies don’t take part. This may be because entrepreneurs and SMBs feel like BFCM is geared towards bigger players with larger advertising budgets and the like. Ergo, smaller players feel like their promotions are drops in the BFCM sales ocean and, therefore, aren’t worth the effort. On the other hand, many companies that do take part in BFCM are often misguided by strategies that aren’t backed by evidence. This brings us to:

The Importance of Measurable Data and Insights

If you’ve had a Black Friday Cyber Monday sale, you can track key metrics like sales conversion rates, average order value, email conversion rates, etc., to gauge past successes and areas of improvement to take forward into the next year. But even with these metrics available, there’s still room to incorporate the tried-and-tested strategies that others have used successfully.

If you’re gearing up for your first foray and have no data at your disposal, consulting other sources for insight and advice can be an effective way to address this deficit.

The great thing about software ecosystems like WordPress is that experienced community members are usually very eager to give practical advice. Try these four tactics to land top tips:

  • Read blog posts like this one by Alex Denning of Ellipses. It offers in-depth, experience-based advice on setting up a BFCM sale.
  • A simple search on YouTube can yield excellent results.
  • Follow these 56 WordPress experts to see what they have to say about their sales strategies for Black Friday 2023 and Cyber Monday 2023.
  • And on the topic of social: don’t be afraid to ask if any experienced software entrepreneurs would be willing to provide some tips.

Let’s examine the practical steps to prepare for your Black Friday Cyber Monday 2023 sale.

Set Up a Dedicated BFCM 2023 Landing Page

It’s fair to question if setting up a dedicated landing page — as opposed to, say, putting a banner on your homepage — is worth the effort. After all, it involves a decent amount of design and implementation.

But choosing to forgo a landing page means you’d miss out on the following benefits:

  1. It creates hype for your BFCM sale through the use of FOMO triggers like countdown timers and showcases your products in a new and exciting light.
  2. It generates case-specific data. In other words, users who purposefully visit your BFCM landing page are likely interested in your products and the deals on offer. Having these insights allows for data-driven quick wins like segmenting those users into dedicated email lists. You can then send them informative emails about the products they’re interested in, as well as coupons and special offers.

This blog post provides great insights on the essential elements that make for a high-converting BFCM landing page:

  • Clear messaging.
  • Mobile-friendly design.
  • Clean design elements.
  • A sense of urgency.
  • An appeal to FOMO (fear of missing out).
  • A call-to-action.
An example of a Black Friday landing page (from Elementor)

A dedicated landing page is the first step for executing a successful BFCM sale. The second one is spreading the message to new and existing customers.

Marketing Strategies

Considerations for First-Time BFCM Sellers

While advice from other entrepreneurs is certainly valuable, there’s no substitute for experience. Therefore, you should try multiple marketing strategies to see which one(s) works best for you. Examples include:

  • Creating a BFCM email campaign.
  • Live chat support.
  • Bundle deals (check out our article about selling WordPress Product Bundles).

Something else to consider if you’re new is spending some money on paid advertising on social media and search to grow your follower base. It’s a worthwhile investment since you’ll be able to directly target your desired audience based on demographics and other filters.

Set Up Polls

Speaking of social media — while pulling off successful campaigns across social platforms is an art in and of itself, using polls on Twitter (or other channels where entrepreneurs like you hang out) is an effective way to generate feedback and engagement. Spitballing here, but you could create one along the lines of Which of my products would you like to be discounted for BFCM 2023?

The polls are in

Email Marketing

There’s a fine balance to figuring out your email marketing strategy for BFCM. You should be sending out emails to your list, of course, but bombarding them from the beginning of November until the big weekend will likely result in many unsubscribes. Luckily, there’s a workaround: Send out an email communicating your upcoming sales campaign, and include a button that allows your customers to unsubscribe from BFCM emails specifically if they don’t want to receive them.

With this potential hurdle bypassed, how many emails should you be sending? There are different philosophies, and — again — you’ll need to find what works for you, but:

  • A good rule of thumb is to send one or two emails leading up to the big weekend. One of these could even include a save-the-date function that allows customers to add your sale to their calendar.
  • Then, send one to three emails per day throughout the sale. Stellar WP — the company Matt Cromwell works for — sends out two per day, while Zack Katz sticks with three a day for GravityKit, starting with an ‘early’ one in the morning and ending with a ‘late’ one by or just before the evening. The former should get prospective customers’ hearts racing, while the latter is where you move in for the sale via last-chance tactics.
An example of an early BFCM campaign email (from ICONIC)

Okay — we’re already onto the actual sales weekend itself. Let’s look at tips and pointers for ensuring a smooth operation.

Executing a Successful BFCM Sale

Pricing Black Friday Deals and Cyber Monday Deals

Your pricing strategy will — again — be unique to your needs and your inventory. However, bear in mind that for BFCM customers, the whole point is shopping to snap up deals. And in a post-pandemic, high-inflation market where consumers are feeling the pinch, they’re going to be looking for bargains. As 7Learnings puts it:

High discounts of 20%, 30%, or 50% are exactly what customers are expecting on Black Friday… Items with high price elasticity should be given higher discounts. Your best bet is to discount items that have a high profit margin.”

Finally, don’t center your pricing strategy exclusively around coupons. What you should be doing instead is using them in tandem with discounts, which will draw more visitors to your website.

Getting Your Promotion Out Into the World

It’s almost always unwise to put all of your eggs in one basket. Be sure to use multiple distribution channels — a dedicated Black Friday Cyber Monday landing page, email campaign, pop-up ads, and more — and see which ones work best for future reference. You can gauge which channels are most effective by offering different coupon codes that link back to each channel individually. Alternatively, you can use UTM links with Google Analytics to see which channels bring in the most traffic and conversions.

Example of a Black Friday pop-up ad (from Gravity Forms)

The Importance of Urgency and FOMO to Maximize Your BFCM Deal

The BFCM sales dance is all about creating urgency and FOMO, and there are a few ways to do this.

  1. Remember the countdown timer on the dedicated landing page we spoke about? It’s certainly useful, but it won’t necessarily incite the decision to buy immediately. Consider offering coupons that are limited according to tiers (50% off for the first 500 users, 30% off for the next 1000, etc.). This strategy is useful for selling software because it creates a finite perception of products that have a seemingly infinite ‘inventory’.
  2. You could also build anticipation with a giveaway in the form of a free one-year product license for one (or more) lucky user(s) who subscribe to your email list. It’s a double-win: you get to grow your subscriber base while marketing your product to new prospects too.
Example of MacBook Air M2 giveaway competitions being run as part of various WordPress companies’ BFCM sales strategies
  1. Are you still feeling uneasy about discounting your products? Another strategy to entice customers is offering extra site activations in each license instead of dropping prices. The ins and outs of why this works are discussed at length in this Freemius blog post, but it boils down to the fact that the bulk of users who go for this deal won’t use the extra site activations. In other words, more sales — not more admin😏

https://youtu.be/yE949oGhKXo

Automatically Apply Coupons at Checkout

To make life easier for all parties involved (the customer as well as your marketing and support teams), ensure that customers can checkout with an automatically activated coupon instead of having to manually enter a code. It reduces friction during the checkout process and helps them make a purchase as fast as possible.

Reduce Checkout Friction with a Single Coupon Code

Let’s say you decide to implement a 50% discount for a software product with a high subscription renewal rate but would like to offer a 30% discount for its lifetime license. Leaving it up to the customer to select the correct coupon for their preferred billing cycle creates an unnecessary obstacle, which is likely to reduce conversion rates and lead to lower sales. If your sales platform allows, use the same coupon code consistently across your entire BFCM promotion.

With Freemius, you can create multiple coupons with the same coupon code and different settings, and the checkout will automatically apply the coupon according to the state of the cart (the product, number of licenses, billing cycle, and more).

For example, in the screenshot above, you can see an execution of a BFCM campaign with three discounts/coupons using the same coupon code:

  • A 50% discount on the first payment for the first 100 buyers (this will only work for new customers).
  • A 40% discount for the next 300 buyers (this will work for both existing and new customers).
  • And finally, a 30% discount for the next 500 buyers, allowing the same buyers to buy multiple discounted licenses and also discount renewals

Extend the Sales Date

Don’t treat Black Friday and Cyber Monday as two separate promotional events. Instead, ride the sales wave by including a late discount or last-chance sale on Cyber Monday that follows through from Black Friday.

You could even consider a surprise extension that stretches into the week following Cyber Monday. This is an effective strategy because not everyone will be available (or able) to purchase during BFCM. As a result, you’ll generate more sales while winning favor with those who weren’t able to get caught up in the sales hype.

Example of an extended Black Friday sale (from National Geographic)

Focus on Discounting the First Payment (and Avoid Discounting Renewals)

It may seem counterintuitive not to discount renewals for BFCM customers. However, because they’ll reap the same benefits as their full-paying counterparts, offering them a special discount on renewals isn’t exactly fair, is it? Moreover, additional support demands from bargain hunters (more on this below) will inevitably take their toll and could impede your ability to improve your products and your business.

Make it clear that the discounted price applies to a limited subscription period (usually one year) and that thereafter, renewals will be billed in full. You owe it to yourself, your products, and your recurring customer base.

There are also other perils to heed during Black Friday and Cyber Monday…

The Risks of Selling on BFCM

Should You List New Products?

BFCM seems like an excellent opportunity to launch a new product. The market is hyped and primed to buy, so they would likely be keen to snap up a shiny new offering for a limited-time-only discount.

When launching a new product, it’s important to receive as much feedback as possible to improve and fine-tune it for your audience. The problem with launching a new product during BFCM is the risk that you have no way of knowing which customers are more about the price point than the actual product and if they fit your ICP (ideal customer profile). If your product’s initial user base consists of many bargain hunters, you risk getting feedback from the wrong people. Consequently, you may end up changing or improving aspects of your product that are less relevant to your actual ICP.

Fewer Renewals

Tragic as it may be, a good chunk of Black Friday Cyber Monday bargain hunters will be less likely to renew their subscriptions at the regular price. For them, buying your product at a discounted price is usually a means to an end rather than a long-term solution. Of course, this problem isn’t unique to BFCM as customers looking for the cheapest solution will always be around. However, it’s worth preparing for.

According to Matt Cromwell, bargain hunters tend to have higher support demands, usually cancel their subscriptions within less than two years, and often insist on discounts when they do decide to renew.

Starting Your Sale Early

First off, it’s worth noting that there are different schools of thought on having an early access sale versus sticking to the BFCM window. Some entrepreneurs feel that making customers wait — say — three weeks for a discount on a product they want right now is counterintuitive, while others believe that early sales devalue your offering.

Also, bear in mind that because sales are high over this period, running it for considerably longer than the usual BFCM weekend could leave you with a large portion of customers who paid less than the usual price but have the same support demands — bargain hunters or not. The choice is yours to make but be prepared to meet the post-sales demand of many discounted customers if you choose to go in with an early sale.

Example of an Early Black Friday 2022 sales email (from Columbia)

How Freemius Helps Its Sellers Make More Sales During BFCM

Freemius is passionate about helping our partners — creators and companies who use our platform to sell their software products — generate solid profits during BFCM. Over the past several years, we’ve leveraged our partners network in a collective effort to cross-promote each other’s products by showcasing promotions on a dedicated BFCM landing page. And practicing what we preach 😇 we provide a single coupon code that buyers can use on the checkout page of any of the listed products, making for a seamless experience.

Freemius BFCM landing page

To participate, partners need to opt in to be part of our collective campaign. We then add banners to their User Dashboard and transactional emails to market the Freemius BFCM landing page to all participating sellers’ users and customers.

Promotions via the User Dashboard

As per the above screenshot: When a user logs into the Freemius User Dashboard of a participating seller, they’ll see an eye-catching BFCM banner that takes them to the landing page.

Promotions through Transactional Emails

In some transactional emails, we attach a footer banner linking to our BFCM promotion. The BFCM footer will only be included if the developer of the corresponding product(s) has agreed to enter Freemius’s BFCM promotion.

Please note that these promo perks are exclusive to software companies selling with Freemius. Feel free to get in touch if you’d like to join the club 😏

Wrapping Up + Moving Forward After the Madness

After Black Friday Cyber Monday, it’s vital to consolidate data from your different channels — emails, social media, web analytics, etc. — and piece it together. From there, you can study the data and draw insights (while the post-sale rush is still fresh) and document them for 2024 💸😉

Although it’s important to be well prepared for BFCM, you shouldn’t be overly worried or fixated on it, especially if it’s your first time partaking. Roll with the punches, learn from the experience, and see how you can improve in the next round. It’s bound to only get better and better with each year.

Originally published on the Freemius blog on November 8, 2023.

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Freemius

Monetization & Insights platform for #WordPress #plugin #developers.