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Cyber Monday for Small Business Owners: The Ultimate Guide

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky

Contributor at Fundera
Rieva Lesonsky is a small business contributor for Fundera and CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company. She has spent 30+ years covering, consulting and speaking to small businesses owners and entrepreneurs.
Rieva Lesonsky
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While there are a handful of sales leading up to it, Thanksgiving kicks off the official holiday shopping season. Just hours after Thanksgiving dinners end, shoppers crowd stores and jostle to get the best deal of Black Friday. And a few days later comes Cyber Monday, the online equivalent of Black Friday. Behind those busy shopping days is plenty of planning and marketing strategy on the part of businesses to entice shoppers to visit their stores.

Both of these shopping days might seem like they’re reserved for big box stores that carry massive inventories and all of the items shoppers have on their lists, but small businesses can get in on the action too.

We’re going to go over the tricks and tips for getting your small business involved in Cyber Monday this year and the years to come, successfully. Participating in Cyber Monday can help boost your sales, move inventory, gain new customers, and help you end the holiday season—and the year—strong.

What Is Cyber Monday?

Cyber Monday got its name from the National Retail Federation due to the increase in online traffic and sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving, which they believed was due to people shopping from their work computers.

The term caught on, and even after most Americans had broadband internet at home, Cyber Monday became known as a top day for online deals.

It’s one of the biggest online shopping days of the year. In 2018, shoppers in the U.S. spent more than $7.9 billion on Cyber Monday, setting a new record, USA Today reported. In addition to spending more money than they had in any year prior, Cyber Monday shoppers also favored the option to purchase items online, but then pick them up in-store.

cyber monday

When Is Cyber Monday? 

Each year, Cyber Monday falls on a different date because it’s traditionally held on the first Monday following Thanksgiving.

Due to the fact that the date of Thanksgiving changes as well, you could potentially have a Cyber Monday that falls a week or so before December, or in the case of 2019, a Cyber Monday that actually falls in December.

Dates of the next five Cyber Mondays:

2019: Monday, December 2

2020: Monday, November 30

2021: Monday, November 29

2022: Monday, November 28

2023: Monday, November 27

How Small Businesses Can Participate in Cyber Monday

As long as you have an ecommerce store or the capabilities to process orders online, your business can participate in Cyber Monday. If you don’t have an ecommerce shop already, you still have time to create one with the help of an ecommerce platform. This is going to be necessary to participate in Cyber Monday and if you’ve already been considering expanding your business into the online world, it’s worth the extra work. After all, consumers ages 22 to 37 make 60% of their purchases online, according to a recent survey. Once your ecommerce store is established, you’re good to go ahead and start planning for Cyber Monday.

Come up With a Plan

You’ll want to have a plan in place before Cyber Monday to promote your business and bring people to your business website, in addition to offering them some kind of deal to compete with the thousands of other retailers out there.

“Have everything planned out beforehand. Banners, emails, deals, etc. The faster you have it done, the easier the holiday season will be,” Kuri Khailo, a digital marketing and SEO supervisor at Best Price Nutrition, tells Fundera.

The holiday season as a whole requires a lot of planning so that it goes off without a hitch. Your Cyber Monday plans especially should be thought out and ready to go before the big day.

Consider what’s worked and what hasn’t in previous years and take that into account when deciding your marketing approach and the sales you want to offer. Schedule emails and start hyping up Cyber Monday with scheduled social media posts highlighting offers as well.

Get Extra Help for Shipping and Processing

The last thing you want is for Cyber Monday to roll around and the orders to start pouring in only to realize you don’t have the bandwidth to process the orders and ship them out. Depending on how big your business is and whether you outsource any of these processes, this could be a huge problem if your sales increase on Cyber Monday and beyond.

So what can you do to be prepared? Learn from others who have perfected the process. “We had more of our staff handling online orders than normal. This way we were able to get orders started and shipped as soon as possible,” Jeff Moriarty, of Moriarty’s Gem Art, tells Fundera.

“We had some late shipments the first year, because we didn’t know what to expect, but since increasing the manpower, we haven’t run into those issues again,” he explains. If you’re able to either take data from a previous Cyber Monday, or another high sales volume day, you can better predict how much extra help you’ll need for things to run smoothly.

Remember, many of the people shopping on Cyber Monday are buying holiday gifts for their friends and family, so they want their items in time for their celebrations. Give your customers realistic shipping expectations so they know what they’re signing up for, and then follow through.

This is also a good time to review your holiday shipping policies and check with your shipping providers for their holiday-related deadlines.

Get Listed on CyberMonday.com

One thing you can do to get additional Cyber Monday promotion for your business is to register and get listed on CyberMonday.com. The deadline for this is at the end of October each year, so if you missed registration this year, mark your calendar to sign up for next year. The website also features coupon codes and special savings offers for customers.

Besides reaching out before the deadline, your business will also need to have an active affiliate program with Rakuten Affiliate Network, Commission Junction, Share-A-Sale, AvantLink, Affiliate Window, Pepperjam Affiliate Network, or Performance Horizon Network, according to the NRF.

cyber monday

Tips for Small Business Owners to Make the Most of Cyber Monday

If you’re a small business owner looking to have a better Cyber Monday than last year, or even if this is your first Cyber Monday in business, here are some tips for you to follow for success.

Be Smart About Email Marketing

One of the best ways to get customers to your site is to use a resource you’ve already got: their email. A strong email marketing strategy can go a long way.

When it comes to Cyber Monday, everything happens online so don’t be afraid to reach out to your customers more aggressively about Cyber Monday than you would for any other run-of-the-mill sale you’re offering. “Make sure to send multiple emails to your subscriber list,” Moriarty says.

If you haven’t done this in the past, you might be surprised just how many sales can come from this channel. “Our email list is where a majority of our sales came from. And because our list get tons
of emails from so many stores, we may sure to send two to three emails on Cyber Monday with different subject lines,” he says.

Moriarty isn’t the only small business owner out there using this approach, Khailo also recommends this strategy. “One of the best tips I can give is to send out emails. We send about two on that day, so in the morning and in the evening,” Khailo tells Fundera.

Not only should you plan the frequency of your emails, also work on the content. Some things make customers more likely to want to click through to see deals on your website or ecommerce shop. “Make sure the email is super easy to read, very digestible, and scannable,” Khailo says.

Offer Site-Wide or Store-Wide Discounts

The thing to keep in mind about Cyber Monday is that competition is fierce. Your competitors are also offering deals all day long, so you want to make sure you’re offering some of the best deals around.

Part of what can set your deals apart is offering store-wide or site-wide discounts, instead of offering discounts on only select products. By offering a blanket discount on any product, you’re giving your customers the gift of choice, which they’re sure to appreciate.

Offering sales on only certain items isn’t as enticing as site-wide offers. “We tried this twice and our sales were the lowest. We believe people want more choice in the products and site-wide sales,” Moriarty says. The same sentiment was echoed by Khailo, who says, “We usually do a site-wide deal, super easy, super effective, and this allows for new people to come in and get whatever they want, instead of being forced to get the deals they don’t want.”

Overall, offering a deal that’s applicable to any product will likely result in you making more Cyber Monday sales.

Focus on Lost or Infrequent Customers

While you can, of course, advertise to new customers, there’s something to be said for also taking some of your advertising budget and putting it toward older customers. Consider working on those customers who might not be frequent shoppers or those who have fallen off the grid lately. It’s easier to connect with them and offer them deals than it is to bring in a completely new customer to your brand.

“Instead of spending money to win new customers, you should spend it to win back some customers that you almost had or lost in your funnel,” Daria Serdiuk, marketing manager at the software company Chanty, tells Fundera. “So, instead of throwing money away on ads for new customers, we will retarget people who were interested in our app in the past but didn’t convert,” Serdiuk explains.

Someone who already knows your business and trusts your products or services is far more likely to make a purchase than someone who just learned about your brand on Cyber Monday.

Engage With Your Customers on Social Media

Start stirring up the excitement about Cyber Monday in advance. Use the appropriate hashtags in your social media posts (#shopsmall or #cybermonday). You can also create your own hashtags specific to your business to use in conjunction with these.

Try holding contests, offering discounts, conducting surveys, or giving away free gifts or extra discounts for shoppers who share your posts on Cyber Monday. Promoted posts offer the best chance of getting seen on social media, so you may want to invest some marketing dollars here.

cyber monday

Be Mobile Friendly

In 2019, 57% of Cyber Monday website visits are expected to come from smartphones, with 36% of the total sales to come from smartphone devices, according to Adobe Digital Insights. So if you own an ecommerce website, make sure it’s easy for customers to browse and buy from their smartphones, because a good chunk of them will be shopping from their phones. 

If you own a brick-and-mortar business, your website must be easy to navigate and fast to load on mobile devices so people can find you quickly. The last thing you want is to lose a customer because your website wasn’t optimized for their mobile device or it wouldn’t load quickly enough. Similarly, make sure your website can handle an influx of visitors without crashing. 

How Your Business Can Benefit From Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is one of the biggest days for sales of the entire year. The same Adobe study predicts that Cyber Monday will be the biggest online shopping day of the holiday season with an expected spend of $9.4 billion. With so many people ready to spend—and spend a lot—you definitely want to take advantage of Cyber Monday and offer sales of your own.

As we mentioned above, you want to offer sales across all products and services, make your shop mobile-friendly, use email marketing to your advantage and more. Just because you’re a small business doesn’t mean you can’t also get a piece of the Cyber Monday pie. If you plan well and execute that plan, you should have no problem bringing in more sales on Cyber Monday and throughout the holiday season.

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky

Contributor at Fundera
Rieva Lesonsky is a small business contributor for Fundera and CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company. She has spent 30+ years covering, consulting and speaking to small businesses owners and entrepreneurs.
Rieva Lesonsky

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