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      Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2020: What to Expect and How to Score the Best Deals

      To say everything has been different in 2020 is an understatement. Ever since COVID-19 hit, life has been turned around, from work to school to play. That goes for the upcoming holiday season, too. You might have to carve the turkey over Zoom this Thanksgiving.

      And the typical shopping sprees that follow on Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be different too.

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even posted a guide on how to safely celebrate Thanksgiving during the pandemic, including the holiday shopping season. They advise staying close to home and skipping the in-store doorbuster deals in favor of bargain hunting online.

      But just because things have changed doesn’t mean you still can’t get into the holiday shopping spirit to nab the best deals of the year. The good news is you can still score major bargains while staying safe. We consulted the experts to help you do just that!

      Create a Budget

      “Given the economic impact of COVID-19, some Americans’ budgets will be tighter this holiday season,” says Sara Skirboll, Shopping & Trends Expert at RetailMeNot. “Nearly a third of Americans impacted by COVID-19 (30%) say they will have less money to spend on holiday gifts this year.”

      There’s a good chance COVID-19 may have impacted your budget, so the first step should be assessing exactly how much you have to spend, which may be a very different number than last year. Even if wallets are a little slimmer this season, many families are forging ahead, as usual, to create a bright spot for the holidays after a tough 2020.

      “Consumers are searching for normalcy this year,” Skirboll says. “In fact, 66% of Americans will spend the same amount or more on holiday shopping this year to create normalcy for their family.” Decide what’s reasonable and responsible for your own family.

      The Crowds Will Be Online

      Unsurprisingly, data shows that most people will be shopping online instead of in-store this Black Friday.

      “While we expect the same amount of people to be shopping during Black Friday, online traffic will be significantly higher than in-store traffic,” says Jon Vincent, founder of “This is due to the fact that retailers will be pushing their customers to shop online and avoid a potential COVID-19 liability in their stores. The last thing retailers want to hear is that a super spreader event happened during their in-store Black Friday sale!” predicts a 25% increase in online shopping during Black Friday compared to Black Friday 2019. Traditionally, retailers offer their best Black Friday deals exclusively in stores, but now retailers will be putting their best doorbuster deals online.

      “This will limit the reasons for people to shop in stores,” Vincent says. “In fact, we highly recommend you do not go to the stores at all this Black Friday because every deal can be grabbed online safely from your home.”

      Know There Are Still Deals

      It’s no secret that many retailers are hurting after a tough year. While you might assume that means they’re less likely to slash prices, surprisingly, the opposite is true.

      “Retailers will be very aggressive this year,” says Jeff Rosenblum, co-founder of digital agency Questus. “They are facing pressure to generate revenue to offset the decrease in traditional retail sales and maximize the performance of their digital storefronts. Shoppers can capitalize on this pressure by taking advantage of attractive discounts and promotions.”

      This could be one of the best years ever for Black Friday bargains.

      Make a List

      Man sitting at a desk writing in a notebook.

      Retailers have always offered doorbuster deals that were too good to turn down to get people in stores with the plan that people make impulse buys while there.

      “By shopping online, it helps cut down on those last-minute impulse purchases,” Vincent says. “We suggest you do your research ahead of time by viewing the Black Friday ads in advance and creating a shopping list. By having a well-researched shopping list, you’ll feel better about sticking to it instead of being tempted by a different deal that you might see online.”

      Determine if the Price Is Right

      Just because something says “Black Friday deal” or “Cyber Monday sale” doesn’t mean its price has been significantly slashed. It’s up to you to do some detective work to determine if you’re actually getting a good deal.

      “There is a two-step process that consumers should follow to ensure they are getting the best deals,” Vincent says. “First, on, each retailer’s Black Friday ad is leaked weeks in advance. Take your shopping list and visit the retailer’s website that day to see what the current price of the item is. This will give you an indication of how hot a Black Friday deal is. For example, if the current price is only $10 more than the Black Friday price, the deal might not be that great. Finally, compare prices with other retailers, starting with If Amazon’s price is significantly higher than the price being offered during Black Friday, you know it’s a great deal.”

      Learn Where to Shop — and When

      “Take advantage of key retail holidays like Cash Back Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Prime Day, and Free Shipping Day,” Skirboll says. “You can score deep discounts on everything from apparel and electronics to beauty, toys, home goods, and more. Shopping on these occasions will help stretch your dollars further. Scour the internet for what’s on your shopping list as some retailers might offer it at a better price or have better offers. Don’t assume you’re getting the best deals until you have searched for coupons and cash-back offers. Do your research and price compare.”

      Take a two-step approach by searching for a sale or coupon code and combine that with a cash-back offer to stack your savings.

      Often, the bigger the retailer, the better the deal. “Traditionally Target, Walmart, and Best Buy have been the best places to find deals during Black Friday, and we expect that trend to continue this year,” Vincent says.

      Even DreamHost will have a Black Friday sale.[a]

      Go Big This Black Friday Weekend

      Our automatic updates and strong security defenses take server management off your hands so you can focus on generating sales.

      Search Online to Your Advantage

      Hands holding a smartphone while shopping online.

      Getting a pop-up ad online for something you just searched for can be annoying, not to mention a little creepy. But that can actually be connected to you landing the best price.

      “There is great value to be garnered by letting brands know you are in the market for a specific product,” Rosenblum says. “When shoppers go on search and social media for specific products, their data is shared with retailers who will then target shoppers with advertisements and promotions. While most of the press and conversation we hear is about data privacy, it’s important to note that data can be a valuable tool. When shoppers search for products, the data signals are analogous to walking into a retail store and asking a salesperson for assistance finding specific products.”

      Practice Online Safety

      Technology can work for and against you. “Beware of email phishing,” cautions Skirboll. “It’s best not to click on links from senders you don’t recognize. Be sure to hover your mouse over links without clicking to see if the address is really taking you to where it says it will. Before sending any personal information over the internet, make sure the website has ‘https://’ at the beginning of its web address. The ‘S’ at the end of HTTPS indicates that the website is secure and your information is encrypted, which makes it safe to enter a credit card number or other personal information.”

      While it’s fine to look up reviews or compare prices using public Wi-Fi, avoid logging on to any sites with sensitive personal information, warns Skirboll. Public Wi-Fi is often vulnerable to people who are looking to steal your info. To ensure your computer and personal information are safe, use anti-virus software on your computer or mobile device, and keep it up to date.

      One last tip: Always buy with a credit card when you can.

      “A credit card provides additional protections over a debit card in case of fraudulent transactions,” Skirboll says. “If your card number is compromised, it’s easier to dispute any charges that you didn’t approve. Using a card also decreases the transference of germs compared to shopping with cash.”

      Be Social Media Savvy

      If you don’t already follow your favorite brands on social media, now is the time to do so, and sign up for their email newsletters as well. They sometimes will post special sales and offers exclusively for their followers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

      “Shoppers should monitor Twitter and Facebook feeds from major retailers to look for announcements on when the Black Friday deals are live,” Vincent says. “However, their announcements are sometimes hours after the sales have gone live and the most popular items have sold out. We suggest that you also follow on Twitter (@EarlyBF) and Facebook. We monitor each retailer’s website in real-time to look for when the deals are live and we will be announcing these sales on our social media feeds.”

      And don’t forget to use apps to your advantage. “Be resourceful—check apps like RetailMeNot to find the latest sales, deals, and cash back offers from thousands of retailers,” Skirboll says.

      Put Your Health First

      Black Friday was built on doorbusters and fleeting in-person deals. But to make adjustments during the COVID-19 era, you can get the same bargains without having to leave your house.

      “There is no reason to visit the physical stores on Black Friday this year,” Vincent says. “While the in-store shopping experience will be made as safe as possible, all of the same deals will be available online, so we do not feel that it’s worth the potential health risk to visit the stores. If customers do end up going to the stores on Black Friday, they can be comforted by the fact that retailers will be making social distancing and mask-wearing mandatory in all stores. Extra staff will be wiping down high-touch surfaces to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Wearing a mask, practicing social distancing while shopping, and using hand sanitizer once you are done shopping are the best practices you will want to follow.”

      If you’re nervous about shopping in-store this year, you’re not alone.

      “Most Americans have concerns when it comes to holiday shopping this year during COVID-19,” Skirboll says. “Nearly nine in 10 (87%) are concerned about COVID-19 when thinking about holiday season shopping. Among those concerned, top concerns include other shoppers not following CDC guidelines (57%), being around other shoppers (57%), being around crowds during Black Friday shopping (54%), waiting in long lines due to reduced store capacity (50%), or shopping in stores with others (47%).”

      For those reasons, Skirboll says 75% of shoppers will prefer online shopping for holidays, and 18% plan to complete holiday shopping online only. A whopping 88% of consumers say they will not shop the traditional in-store doorbuster deals this year, and Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping will occur mostly online as more retailers choose to close on Thanksgiving.

      “In-store will continue to have an important role,” Rosenblum says. “A lot of people have quarantine fatigue and are excited to get back to stores, and there are some categories where it’s really important to touch and feel products.”

      Those who still feel the need to shop in person: Ensure retailers take health and safety precautions seriously. Before going to the store, Vincent advises visiting the retailer’s website, going to the store locator page, and selecting their local store location. There should be information on that page that lists the steps the retailer is taking to make their stores safe to shop in.

      Next, when you visit the store, look for signage at the entrance that indicates that social distancing and mask-wearing are mandatory. If you don’t see those signs and there are customers without masks, avoid the store. Any time you see unsafe practices, the best thing to do is simply leave and stick to stores that respect their customers’ health.

      Support Small Businesses 

      Mom-and-pop shops have been hit especially hard this year, with many of them forced to permanently shutter their doors. That’s why it’s crucial to support small businesses as much as you can during the holiday season.

      “Small businesses have to follow the same restrictions as larger retailers, which limit the amount of shoppers they can have in the store at once,” Vincent says. “To safely support your local small business, see if they have a website where you can place an order online or by phone. This will help them limit their in-store traffic so that other shoppers can shop in their stores. Finally, do not expect small businesses to match the extremely low prices you will find at a major online retailer. However, even if you have to pay a little more, it’s good to know that a local small business is benefiting from your sale.”

      You’re Cordially Invited

      Join DreamHost’s Facebook group to connect with like-minded website owners and get advice from peers and experts alike!

      Are You Ready for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals?

      While 2020 may have been a dumpster fire wrapped in a trainwreck, Cyber Week should deliver some solid discounts (along with much needed holiday cheer).

      Whether you decide to shop sales in-person or stick to online-only deals, taking the time to budget, create a wish list, and price check before you shop can help you get the most bang for your buck this holiday season. And no matter the time of year, it’s always important to practice online safety.

      So tell us: Do you have any holiday sales hacks? Follow DreamHost on Twitter or Facebook and share your best tips for saving big on Thanksgiving weekend.

      Above all, have fun, stay safe, and happy shopping!

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      How to Prepare Your Website for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

      You probably haven’t started thinking about turkey and cranberry sauce, but maybe it’s time you did.

      No, you don’t need to go grocery shopping or plan your Thanksgiving feast quite yet, but as your hosting experts, we’re telling all you website owners out there: you need to start strategizing for the epic holiday weekend.

      Mark it on your calendar and circle it in red: November 23rd is Black Friday. And don’t forget its sister shopping day, Cyber Monday.

      The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is a record-shattering buying event that you’ll want to get on board with. Last year, Adobe Analytics reported that Black Friday brought in more than $7.9 billion in sales, a nearly 18 percent increase from 2016.

      Those aren’t the only eye-opening numbers; a survey reported that more than 64 million Americans shopped online during the holiday shopping season’s harbinger weekend. That’s a lot of potential customers — and potential sales — for your business.

      Here’s the catch: if you aren’t anticipating the Black Friday e-rush well ahead of time, you could be looking at a mass exodus of your site’s visitors, who will happily take their credit cards elsewhere for the year‘s biggest spending season. Cue the flying-money emoji: 💸💸💸

      People are increasingly turning to their screens for Black Friday deals, rather than battling crowds in retail stores. Black Friday in-store shopping decreased nearly 2 percent from 2016, and dollars spent online during Black Friday 2017 — a whopping 5 billion — increased by 16.9 percent from last year, making it a record year for e-commerce.

      And don’t underestimate Cyber Monday’s money-making potential; in 2017, Cyber Monday brought in $6.59 billion online, a 16.8 percent jump from the previous year and markedly the biggest online shopping day in history. A record-breaking day for e-sales, in fact.

      Meaning: to make waves during the holiday shopping season, your site has to be whip-quick and bug-free, not to mention stocked with quality products and smart navigation.

      So what’s on your Black Friday/Cyber Monday To-Do list? Well, you need to prep. And we can help.

      First, we’ll talk strategy, helping you plan out the best ways to get your sales in front of customers. Then we’ll get into the nuts and bolts of prepping your sites for the e-crowds, one technical task at a time.

      With a website primed for a critical weekend of sales, you can put on your stretchy pants and enjoy another slice of pumpkin pie — while you watch your business grow.

      Create Your Marketing Strategy

      Whether your small biz is a team of one or one hundred, you need to have a pow wow, STAT. It’s crucial that you organize a Black Friday Plan of Attack before your site gets left out in the dust. With an increased focus on online sales during the holiday shopping season, you have to be ready. Start with baby steps.

      1. Take Stock (Literally and Figuratively)

      It’s smart first to take a look at where your business stands. What are your goals? How established is your brand? How is your social media presence? And what are you hoping for — in sales terms and otherwise — for the big Thanksgiving shopping holiday?

      Calculating percentages in daily planner.
      Knowing where you are and where you want to go helps you to set appropriate goals and put a plan in place to accomplish them.

      Then there’s physical merchandise or if you sell a service or non-physical commodity, virtual goods.

      In the case of tangible products, you will need to take stock of your product and increase inventory (and shipping supplies) in anticipation of sales, especially of your best-selling items, so that those ever-important buying days run as smoothly as possible. Keep a spreadsheet of inventory handy — this can help you stay organized and be useful if contingencies arise (more on this later).

      Regardless of what you sell, you need to make sure you have the tools in place to run a sale on your site, and figure out the kind of sale you want to offer — based on lifetime customer value or cost per acquisition stats — or if you’d be better to provide more out-of-the-box savings, like service upgrades or add-ons.

      So, make some calculations and gather your data — you need this information for our next stage of planning.

      2. Plan Out Your Sales

      Believe it or not, consumers are researching products and scouting deals well ahead of time — like, now. So it’s important — crucial even — to take time to get organized by mapping out the sales you’re going to offer for the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend. Plan ahead to avoid messy last-minute sale scrambles and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants deals. (Yikes.)

      The sooner you have a plan in place, the sooner you can bring attention to your deals and prep customers to bring their holiday dollars to your shop.

      A simple Excel sheet works well for outlining planned sales; identify products or a set discount, regular and sale prices, the sale timeline, and how you anticipate promoting that sale.

      Holiday sales map spreadsheet.

      You may need to talk with your supplier (if it’s not you) to work out the production details of increased demand.

      Also, keep in mind that most Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers haven’t completed their holiday shopping at the end of the Thanksgiving spending spree. (In fact, only a minuscule 12  percent reported being more than halfway done by Black Friday time last year.) By the end of the November-December holiday season, shoppers will have spent more than $691 billion, so don’t see Black Friday as the end-all, be-all.

      In your plan, include actions (and additional incentives) that encourage Black Friday shoppers to return to your site throughout their holiday shopping — and eventually, to become loyal customers.

      3. Plan How to Spread the Word

      Now that you know what kind of sales you’re going to offer, you need to disseminate that information effectively to consumers. Advertise well ahead of time and prep your customers for buying.

      Now, hopefully, you’ve invested enough of your budget into marketing thoroughly for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, but if not, there are easy and low-budget ways you can advertise — creatively.

      Email Marketing

      Email truly is a star marketing tool, and a healthy, growing email list is invaluable for your small business or website. Sending messages to those who have chosen to be engaged with your business allows you to tailor personalized messages that have the most impact come buying time.

      Black Friday deal from Best Buy.

      Electronics giant Best Buy hypes up Black Friday discounts with anticipatory email messages.

      Email messages can prep your most loyal consumers for upcoming sales, reward frequent buyers, and specific types of communications (like abandoned cart emails) help wary or slow-to-act visitors to complete unfinished purchases.

      Your promotions can also help you to build an email list. It’s like an epic circle of benefits.

      You’ve got mail! Learn how to build an epic email list your WordPress site.

      Social Media Marketing

      While social media tends to cast a wider net in terms of marketing, these platforms can help you tease upcoming promotions and provide creative ways of distributing deals. You can also boost your posts to target specific audiences or reach a larger crowd for only pennies on the dollar. Tailor your content to each platform for maximum effectiveness.

      Create a calendar to help you determine and plan out the best times to distribute marketing content — then stick to it! Consistency rules.

      Pay-Per-Click Advertising

      Sure, the saying goes that the early bird gets the worm, but if you’re planning deals late in the game, all hope is not lost. While SEO and other organic traffic drivers take time to implement, pay-per-click advertising allows you to pay for more clicks (hence the name) right now.

      If you’ve got more of a marketing budget at your disposal, you can utilize PPC to have more control over your search engine rankings and at best, turn clicks into customers and see strong ROI. The basic steps: create an ad and make bids on virtual auctions for top placement in search engines. Check out Google AdWords to learn more and start generating more traffic to your site.

      4. Keep an Eye on the Competition

      With a tidal wave of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals flooding every inch of the web, your small biz needs to set itself apart against other small operations and big-name retailers.

      Ecommerce business owner on laptop.

      Extra touches can help distinguish your site from others; consider offering a gift (or an additional discount on future return purchases) with each sale, expedited or free shipping, special packaging, or customized thanks-for-shopping messages from your business. Watch your industry competitors and work to have the leg up.

      Rifle Paper Co. discount offer.

      Rifle Paper Co. incentivizes customer purchases with bonus gifts.

      And even if manpower or budget limitations restrict you from including additional incentives, always provide hassle-free returns and friendly, prompt customer service. Emphasize the personality and care offered by your small business versus big-box retailers. Customers like to support small businesses and, in most cases, will appreciate, remember, and reward a more intimate online shopping experience.

      5. Build (More) Buzz

      In addition to your organized marketing efforts, you can boost the hype for your Black Friday steals by engaging in additional awareness-building activities. A few suggestions:

      Craft Winning Copy and Create Alluring Graphics

      Time is on your side; with your early-bird preparation, you can plan out and prep copy that is engaging, personable, and error-free. Same with photos and graphics; planning ahead guarantees you have attractive visuals that impress and persuade. Putting special attention into even these most basic of website fundamentals can significantly improve your users’ experience during their holiday shopping.

      Utilize Hashtags

      Insert yourself into the popular topics of each week by taking advantage of trending hashtags. The viral hype will seamlessly (and effortlessly) aid in spreading the word about your products and upcoming sales. #blessed

      Build in Scarcity

      Shoppers will naturally feel a sense of urgency to buy if they know your limited-edition, few-in-number, or wildly-discounted product won’t last long. Use language that reminds shoppers to act quickly to score the best deals.

      Madewell discount offer on Instagram.

      Powerhouse retail brand Madewell offers customers a product exclusive — enticing buyers to act quickly.

      Display Shop Signage

      Well before the actual Black Friday/Cyber Monday crowds hit your e-shop, you can outfit your site to prep visitors for approaching sales. Consider updating your homepage with a special Black Friday header or landing page signage that cements SALE into your customers’ minds — especially those who are conducting their holiday gift-giving research now.

      Anthropologie website homepage showing discounts.

      Clothing company Anthropologie displays sale signage on their site homepage, inviting visitors to engage.

      Update Your Blog

      Hopefully, your blog is regularly outfitted with quality posts that are relevant and engaging. If it’s not, get writing. A blog consistently updated with useful content brings visitors back to your site and builds your brand. Use friendly, personable language that establishes you as a trusted authority in your field or industry.

      In the next few weeks, consider publishing useful holiday shopping content, like curated gift lists or helpful instruction guides (wink, wink) that feature your products and provide a service to customers.

      A Brit + Co blog post featuring gift ideas.

      Media entertainment company Brit + Co compiles helpful content for visitors — a creative way to feature their products.

      Pitch to Other Blogs and Social Media Influencers

      Influencers are called influencers for a reason. Get your products in front of the web’s most influential people and you could be rewarded with more traffic to your site — and ideally, hoards of new shoppers.

      Free photo prints offer from Mixbook.

      Journal supplier Promptly collaborates with photo service site Mixbook to influence a wider audience of consumers.

      Pitch your products to other sites (for their gift guides, guest posts, or other content), and you’re inviting a whole new set of eyes to explore your offerings. Score!

      Share Positive Product Reviews

      Word-of-mouth marketing is powerful, especially in e-commerce. With prompts on your site or through after-purchase email messages, invite your customers to leave reviews of your products. Share the glowing ones with new customers (and turn them into repeat customers) or to persuade on-the-fence buyers.

      Customer reviews on

      Write and Share Customer Spotlights

      Bring attention to the superstars championing your products or services: your customers. Profile their unique story and how your business helps them achieve success. These stories (like our own tales of a millennial-minded online publication creator or writer looking for a quick way to set up a website) will inspire other consumers to engage with your brand and, ideally, make purchases.

      If you’re looking to go even more out of the box, try these other creative promotional ideas.

      And lastly, know this: according to Adobe, retailers who invested in mobile, email, and social channels have seen a 30 percent increase in sales on average. That could be a major thumbs up for your site if done well. So plan now.

      Prepare the Technical Aspects of Your Site

      Planning the details of your Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales is essential. But that’s only the first step. Especially when shoppers notice the buzz you’ve created and want to make purchases. Is your website up to the challenge? If not, start here:

      1. Consult With Your Hosting Provider

      As is necessary for success in all parts of your website, a site that’s functional and ready to deliver during the fall’s killer shopping holidays depends on your website’s foundation: your hosting provider.

      Your provider should be reliable and helpful, and at the most fundamental level, keep your site up and running 24/7.

      Yes, a good hosting provider is essential. So consider: can your hosting plan handle surges in traffic that may occur during Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales? Can it keep you safe from virtual vulnerabilities? And if your site does go down, will be you be compensated by an uptime guarantee? Based on your needs, you may need to consider upgrading to a plan that can do more heavy lifting during the rush.

      Not sure what plan is best for your site? Chat with us. We’ve totally got your back.

      Need to upgrade your hosting before the big day? DreamHost has the perfect plan for your website.

      2. Set Up Your E-Shop

      Before you can go about drawing in customers with deep discounts, you need to make sure your site is actually outfitted for e-commerce (if you haven’t already).

      Whatever tool you use — like Woocommerce or Shopify — get it up and running well before the big day. Ensure that it’s capable of handling your site’s crowds and that it allows customers to make purchases using simplified checkout processes.

      3. Provide a Safe Shopping Experience

      A vital part of building trust with your clients (and ensuring that they make return visits) is shopping safety.

      Shoppers — especially ones with the seasonal inclination to splurge — want to know that their information is safe on your site. In fact, more than 50 percent of internet users avoid buying online because of the fear their financial information might be stolen. That’s a big reason to think secure.

      To remove worry from customers’ minds, display prominently on your site’s checkout pages signage that proves it’s safe to shop with you.

      Zappos' safe shopping guarantee.

      Zappo’s safe shopping signage puts customers at ease.

      More often than not, your hosting provider can help you get set up with a free or low-cost SSL certificate (an authentication and encryption system — meaning, data is transferred online safely). If you’re a DreamHost user, we’ve got you covered.

      Another way to ease your customers’ minds about security: share the other websites that have featured your products. Display endorsements from other blogs and companies, (it’s okay to toot your own horn!) and give your products and services an outside seal of approval.

      Tubby Todd displaying partner websites.

      Bath product company Tubby Todd boasts the backing of other sites that help establish trust and authority with potential customers.

      Visitors to your site will see the buzz already building around your business from other familiar companies and will be more likely to engage. Consider it the e-commerce version of FOMO.

      These trust-building measures that can make a world of difference, especially on those big shopping days.

      4. Create an Easy-to-Find Return Policy

      It’s inevitable: some customers are just not going to love their purchases. In 2015, Americans returned more than $351 billion in merchandise — $68 billion of that coming from holiday sales. Additionally, the return rate for online purchases is more than three times as high as items purchased in-store, and 92 percent of customers said they would repurchase something if returns were easy.

      That being said, if you want to make sure your business stays on good terms with customers, you need to make returns easy and hassle-free.

      REI's return policy.

      REI’s return policy is clear and easily found.

      First, make your return policy easy to find — in a limited number of glances or clicks. Keep your customers loyal by avoiding “the fine print” mentality; clearly state shipping costs, deadlines, and return policies (and make it big enough to read, please).

      5. Fine-Tune for Optimization

      With so many visitors primed for buying, you want every aspect of your site to be optimized for the best possible web experience. With eyes on increased sales, more traffic, and a loyal following, fine-tuning your site in these specific areas will help you build your numbers.

      Make Your Site Mobile

      We could easily inundate you with reasons why having a mobile-responsive site is so important, but we’ve already been there, done that. So instead, we’ll just pass along a few key statistics to prove our point.

      Like the fact that Black Friday is big (no, let’s say B-I-G!!!) for mobile. Last year, both Black Friday and Cyber Monday were record-breaking days  in retail history for e-commerce, with sales surpassing $2 billion on mobile.

      Holy smartphone, Batman.

      Mobile is also crucial for good SEO (more on that below). How? Well, having a site that’s mobile-responsive increases your chances of earning a high ranking in search engines, and therefore, your chances of being found by potential customers.

      Your site can look snazzy on a desktop, but if it delivers a disappointing mobile presence, then you can say adios to your sales.

      Ensure that your site’s template is mobile-responsive. Make sure that on a mobile device, your site loads fast, links work, images load correctly, and any pop-up forms display correctly. Consider utilizing the AMP initiative to upgrade your mobile experience for users.

      Boost Your SEO

      As a small business or web owner, you’ve probably already had a rudimentary education in the importance of SEO.

      Simply put, SEO = positioning your site for discovery in search engines. That is, after all, where most people begin their holiday (or basically any) shopping — a simple search.

      Google search bar on mobile.

      More than any other shopping season, you want your site — and by extension, your products — to have the best chance of meeting the eyes of potential customers. So prepping your website by establishing good SEO is a task of high importance as you anticipate Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

      Even if you’re a beginner, you can take a few small steps to improve your SEO. But remember, SEO gains take time, so get started now — the sooner you optimize, the better.

      If you want to dig deeper into optimization, consider taking a few additional measures to improve. We recently outlined 13 key steps to boosting your SEO, but check out these main takeaways:

      1. Ensure that you’re using a quality hosting provider. (Ahem, over here. Waves.) This can make a big difference. A reliable hosting service that helps your site perform will aid in your site ranking highly.
      2. Choose a site template that’s designed with SEO in mind. There are a lot of themes available out there, but not all will help your site increase in rank. Not only does a well-picked web template provide an attractive layout and improved functionality (which aids SEO, too), but its quality code does wonders for optimization. When choosing a theme, look for ones identified as “SEO-Friendly.”
      3. Use an SEO plugin, like Yoast.
      4. Improve your permalink structure.
      5. Use a responsive design (meaning: works across devices — see the “Make Your Site Mobile” section above).
      6. Get wordy! Long-form content is rewarded by Google algorithms so go in-depth on your blog posts and be comprehensive. Provide value. And don’t forget to analyze and organize content. Perform a content audit if necessary.
      7. Optimize your images. Resize your photos to increase load times and use the right file format. Oh, and no “asdfjk.jpeg” filenames here. Get descriptive on your photo files. Really, it helps.

      Simplify Your Navigation

      The Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping weekend is crucial for your business or website. Fail to simplify your navigation, and you could be looking at potentially lost sales and disengaged — not to mention frustrated — customers.

      Don’t squander your opportunity by making your website a mess of mazes and riddles. It’s got to be easy to navigate. Whether that means streamlining your design or improving the menu, tidy up your site structure. Simplify searches and checkout processes so that your customer can get from Point A to Point B in a minimal number of clicks — and you can make those sales that much faster.

      Reduce Your Load Times

      A reality check here: no customer (Black Friday frenzied or not) will stick around on a slow site. As attention spans on the web get increasingly shortened, you need to think speed. One major key to a speedy site? Your site’s design. We recently outlined all the dos and don’ts in depth, but here’s what you need to know for the holiday crunch:

      1. Choose a good hosting provider (Check! We’ve got your back).
      2. Optimize your images.
      3. Minify resources like JavaScript and CSS.
      4. Leverage browser caching. If you’re using WordPress, you can use a handy plugin, or utilize our services.
      5. Get rid of outdated or unused plugins.
      6. Utilize expired headers.
      7. Enable CSS sprites.
      8. Implement open-source AMP technology (a new Google-developed initiative designed to help developers build sites run optimally on mobile). Use the AMP WordPress plugin to start.
      9. Once you’ve used your load-speed toolbox, test your site’s performance with Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

      6. Be Available

      While shopping, your customers may have an urgent question about sizing or shipping (or a million other things).

      If possible, be available to answer their up-to-the-minute questions during the holiday shopping weekend. If you anticipate heavy crowds, assemble a team to help address consumers’ pressing needs and leave them with a positive and memorable customer service experience. Enable a live chat function on your site or have a customer service email readily available for them to contact you — and be waiting by the keyboard.

      Warby Parker customer support page.

      Glasses retailer Warby Parker makes customer service easy with accessible buttons.

      (And you DreamHost users, know that you can count on us on Black Friday. We’re just a chat away.)

      7. Test, Test, Test

      The best way to anticipate any potential glitches or problems with your site during the holiday shopping e-rush hours is to test it.

      We know we sound like a broken-record-meets-Jan-Brady, but: TEST, TEST, TEST.

      Think about it: you wouldn’t turn your class’s final term paper in without reading through it, using spell check, or editing for grammar mistakes. And the way your site looks is just as high-stakes for your business, so perform necessary trial runs.

      Test your links for functionality (this handy WordPress tool can help), analyze responsiveness across devices, check load times, and even request feedback from visitors. The more you can correct beforehand, the better.

      8. Plan for Contingencies

      By now, life has taught you that even the best-laid plans sometimes go awry. In your preparation, you should try to account for unforeseen circumstances (like website downtime) and — dare we say it — emergencies you might encounter during the holiday shopping rush.

      Luckily, preparation can help you anticipate some of those potential mishaps. Make a contingency plan for situations that may arise — like an “if ___, then ___” exercise — so that you can quickly correct problems (and keep your blood pressure low because #holidaystress).

      To help prevent unanticipated issues, take a few prep steps, like analyzing your site’s past Black Friday statistics (see the next section) and asking helpers to stand by.

      9. Analyze Your Results

      A good rule of thumb after executing a plan is to review your outcomes. Whether you utilize Google Analytics or another stat-gathering program, gather the data and use it to make informed decisions on how to improve your site.

      Charts on a laptop screen.

      Don’t let those numbers go to waste — they provide you with valuable info about customers’ behavioral patterns and a starting point for further improvement. Dedicate specific time to reviewing last year’s data (as you prep for this year’s shopping rush) and this year’s — so that you can continue to reap the financial benefits of the holiday shopping season.

      Let’s Talk Turkey

      Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a big deal for your website, and the time to prepare is, well, yesterday. If you haven’t started preparing your site and strategy, get started now!

      With a website primed for handling the e-crowds and a winning marketing strategy, you’ll be able to conquer Black Friday and Cyber Monday and turn those seasonal shoppers into frequent buyers.

      It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

      So tell us, webmasters: how are you prepping your site for those Thanksgiving early-birds? How are you planning now to fashion great discounts and draw in shoppers on the web’s biggest buying days? Share your not-so-secret secrets with us on social media @DreamHost!

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