Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2019: Top Tips for SaaS Companies

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2019 fast approaching (on November 29 and December 2, respectively) SaaS businesses are set to launch their Black Friday strategies and attract new customers. With only days to go, we asked our experts for their top tips on how software companies can step up their Black Friday and Cyber Monday game. We combined their advice with the data we collected from our database of thousands of Paddle customers. This is what we ended up with.

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Make existing customers feel valued

Sure, Black Friday is a great time to target new customers, but don’t forget about the potential to upsell or cross-sell to your existing customer base. To tailor these offers use the insights you have into your customer segments and promote relevant offers to each of them in order to up their spending with you or to purchase additional products. 

To make these offers more appealing, consider the below tactics: 

  • Offer them a for-your-eyes-only sneak peek and discount on the products that will be on sale before you open this up to the rest of your audience on your website and social media. 
  • Offer them a lower discount than the main Black Friday one but apply this across multiple products in your portfolio (e.g instead of 30% off your main product, give a 20% off all/some products).

    Julika Loecklin, Head of Seller Success

Offer the right type of discount

Not all discounts are born equal. When deciding which product(s) to discount, you’re typically faced with three main strategy routes:

  • Blanket approach: Discount equally across your product range
  • Flagship discount: Discount only your best selling products
  • Legacy discount: Offer high discounts on older or non-popular products to increase your user base through these in order to upsell to them later on 

    You can opt for just one of them or choose a combination of the second and third tactic.  

    Depending on the goals you’ve set for Black Friday, as well as whether you see this campaign as a standalone campaign or as part of a longer term initiative, you can decide on which of the above is right for you.

    Johan van Meeuwen, Account Manager
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Offer the right level of discount

We recently blogged about how high or low you should go with your Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Our data from last year’s season suggests that the most lucrative discount rate range is between 30% and 40%. 

Each company and its product(s) are different, though, so don’t take this decision lightly. Do your research on what your competitors offered last year; what is considered common within your industry (essentially, what have relevant audiences grown to expect during this season); which of your initiatives over the previous years brought the highest ROI etc. before crystallizing your Black Friday strategy.  

Johan van Meeuwen, Account Manager

Offer segment-based discounts

On top of the above, it’s worth considering another approach led by different audiences you want to target during this period. You can estimate the potential revenue different segments can drive based on how large your pool of target users for each segment is. The main segments you can look into with this approach are: 

  • Prospects (customers you want to target but have never purchased from you before)
  • Users currently on free trial / demo of your product
  • Previous trialers who never converted
  • Existing customers (especially those in sub-group of customers you could upsell or cross-sell to)
  • Customers who have churned 

Once you’ve uncovered which segment demonstrates the highest potential of driving revenue, you might want to offer them bigger or exclusive discounts compared to the rest of the users. 

Paul Tebbs, Account Manager

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Team up with other companies

You may not have the necessary resources or budgets to reach new customers out there in time for Black Friday. If this is the case, consider partnering up with one or more software companies so you all benefit from each other’s promotions. This is probably one of the most cost efficient ways to get your message exposed to new but relevant audiences. 

The idea is simple: You reach out to another company out there that targets the same or a similar audience or whose products are complementary to yours. For example, if your product is a project management tool tailored to the needs of content teams you could reach out to a business selling content management software. 

What happens next is either party pushes the other party’s promotion to their audience through their online channels (e.g. newsletter, social media, blog etc.) or even through a product bundle.

Tip: Prefer to reach out to companies with similarly sized customer base or revenue as yours. Of course, you can’t be 100% sure, but use any industry knowledge you may have access to as well as any information you can get from their website to assess whether they would be a good fit. If they’re disproportionately smaller than you then your message won’t travel far whereas if they’re considerably bigger they will more likely be reluctant to promote your offer without any monetary rewards.  

Paula Recker, Account Manager

Take advantage of end-of-year budgets

You may have heard of “rollover” budgets, but this is not as common practice as you may think. This means that any budget you don’t use within the quarter or year essentially you end up losing, you don’t just transfer it to the next one. Black Friday presents companies with this unique opportunity to increase sales not just thanks to their offers during that period but also by promoting a messaging of making the most of your remaining budget just around when you’re about to lose it. Often, Q4 sales quotas are higher than previous quarters, so for any SaaS companies cultivating sales-assisted deals Black Friday and Cyber Monday would be a good time to close those deals based on potential end-of-year IT budget surplus.

* However, remember that not every business runs their financial year based on the calendar year, so it’s always worth knowing your customers and your market. It’s not unusual for many companies amongst them to end their financial year on a different month and/or budget differently to what described above.

Paul Tebbs, Account Manager

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Step up your affiliate game

Pushing your Black Friday promotions through your affiliate network can be a lucrative tactic during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Consider increasing their commission during this period to incentivize them to prioritize your deals over other affiliate partners or competitors who may also be running promotions around the same time on their network.

Wahid Tashkandi, Account Manager

Bundle products

Bundling products can prove to be a great Black Friday strategy. Essentially, instead of just offering a discount to potential buyers (same value for less money), you offer them an additional product as part of a bundle deal (additional value for the same money).

Use your product performance data to decide which products to bundle, for example look into the organic sales of different products individual customers have purchased previously to assess which combinations could work well.

Paul Tebbs, Account Manager

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Turn your existing customers into brand ambassadors

Maximize your selling potential through your existing customers. They already have first hand experience of your product(s) and (hopefully) they love it. There are two ways you can achieve this:

  • Encourage them to gift your software to a third party offering a special discount for these cases.
  • Create a limited time referral scheme and reward them for each new customer they bring you. (Don’t forget to specify what the timeframe for this promotion is!)

Johan van Meeuwen, Account Manager

Think beyond discounts

If offering a discount on Black Friday and Cyber Monday is not an option (or you’re simply not keen on the idea), then it’s time to become creative with the incentives you offer. Explore other options that can add value to your target users, such as offering a free consultation with one of your experts, running a free webinar, or offering a download of one of your resources for free (for example, if you host ebooks or whitepapers on your site that you usually charge for, consider promoting your “best seller” as a free resource for a limited period).
 
Paula Recker, Account Manager
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Cut through the noise

There are many ways in which to amplify the reach of your Black Friday offers. Surely you’ve come across advice online, or even been in numerous strategy meetings, where the idea of running a sweepstake or hosting a competition (with the reward being a free or discounted version of your product) is proposed as a good way to help your promotion reach a wider audience.

Of course, all the above are perfectly good tactics to use to attract more potential customers, however they are no more relevant to Black Friday than any other time of the year, plus you’re risking these messages getting lost in the wider buzz around Black Friday. 

Instead, opt for a “star promotion + nice to have” strategy, meaning you can complement your main deal by bundling in limited edition/time content or some company swag (or other goodies that you know your audience will love). These are nice-to-haves and relay a message to your audience that you’re going above and beyond this period, with the main driver of sales still remaining the discount on your main product.

Harrison Rose, Chief Customer Officer and Co-Founder

Be the first one in (and the last one out) 

The snippet on the right demonstrates US user interest around Black Friday and Cyber Monday over the past 10 years:

Interest around Black Friday and Cyber Monday is increasing YoY (with a consistent positive trend in the last 5 years). What the above also demonstrates is that interest around Black Friday is substantially higher than Cyber Monday. However, don’t disregard how inflated the former is due to interest in retail offers and how much more relevant to software businesses the latter is due to focus being placed solely on online offers. 

Looking closer into peak and low points, interest around Black Friday starts to peak around two weeks earlier than around Cyber Monday (although they’re only a weekend apart). Similarly, interest doesn’t die out as soon as these days are gone, but it remains considerably high for a few days (sometimes up to a week) afterwards.

What the above means is that in order to capture as much of relevant Black Friday traffic as possible your offers should span across a longer period and not strictly over just two days (and the weekend in between). Set your promotion live one or two weeks before Black Friday and let it run until you see interest flattening a few days following Cyber Monday. 

Here’s an example of one of our customers here at Paddle: Realmac launched its Black Friday deals two weeks ahead of Black Friday 2019. 

Erika Varangouli, Senior Content Marketing Manager

 

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Pre-launch in a spectacular way

Over the last 5 years we've helped hundreds of software companies grow by launching new versions of their software products.

Before you even launch your Black Friday deals, get potential customers excited by setting up a countdown a week or a few days in advance. Don’t just leave it there, though. Add a feature to your site to allow users to sign up for email alert(s) when your promotion goes live. This way you can expand your existing email base of potential customers but also target these site visitors more efficiently once your Black Friday campaign kicks off. 

Hide.me made the most of this tactic when they launched their countdown two weeks ahead of Black Friday.
 
Paula Recker, Account Manager

Make buying as simple as possible

Optimizing your website and checkout process to engage and convert more visitors is best practice anyway, but consider taking it up a notch for Black Friday. How can you shorten the user's journey from a landing page to checkout? Can you help users get to the same result by reducing the number of clicks they need to do? Black Friday presents a great opportunity to optimize these flows. 

A great example of what even simple tactics like this can bring in return is the results our customer, Razeware, achieved last year during Black Friday. With their focus placed on incentivizing their existing client base to upgrade their subscriptions, Razeware worked on simplifying their purchase flow and building a seamless user experience. This, combined with their strategic discount offering, led to a whopping 960% increase in transactions and in 942% increase in revenue for that period. 

You can read more about how Razeware achieved these phenomenal results with Paddle here

Paul Tebbs, Account Manager

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Be strategic with your marketing budget

Black Friday presents a great opportunity for marketers but it can also turn into a marketing budget black hole. Before deciding on which channels you’re going to invest the best part of your budget, dive into any available data you have on previous year’s performance. 

For paid strategies, be aware that targeting specific terms during this period can prove to be a very costly practice so you can quickly max out your budgets with time still left on the clock. Instead, start your paid promotions early on (align with an early launch of your Black Friday offer - see above) and get ahead of the curve by bidding on competitive terms while costs remain low.

Paula Molinar, Digital Marketing Manager

Use the right marketing channels in the right way

Marketing channels like your social media accounts and email marketing can prove very efficient at this time of year. But even if you’ve set up accounts across multiple social media platforms, use these wisely in this case. There’s no point in spreading your resources too thin and publishing minimal content across all of them. Instead, focus on those where your following and reach are greater and increase your content output across social and email to spread your message to wider audiences more efficiently. 

If you’re selling internationally you might find that you’re performing much better on one social platform in one market versus a different one in another. This is absolutely normal, as different countries and audiences form different social habits on different platforms. Uncover your top performing social channel(s) for each of your core markets in order to maximize the results of your Black Friday campaign internationally. For example, if you have a big presence in China, Weibo might show as the platform where you perform the best, however try pushing the same content in the UK on Weibo and… well, you get my point. Similarly, LinkedIn might be your main social traffic driver in the US, but in Germany you might need to be active on Xing to achieve similar results.

Over the last 5 years we've helped hundreds of software companies grow by launching new versions of their software products.
 
We share with you the tips on the emails that really work, the horror stories to avoid, the best practices to apply, together with with actual data on pricing.
 
Erika Varangouli, Senior Content Marketing Manager
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