If you run a business that sells digital products, you should probably be taking part in Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Consumers are in the right mindset and actively looking for deals. If you’ve never put your products on sale during this period, you're missing out.
Last year we launched Squash 2 around the time of Black Friday, and while the sales were good, I look back now and think it was probably a mistake. I should have gone with a more general sale for all of Realmac's products, so with that in mind, that's exactly what I decided to do this year.
I wanted the deal to be fairly decent, so I went with 50% off everything in the Realmac store via a coupon code. I know from experience if the deal isn't good enough, customers will just pass on it. If I went much higher than 50%, I knew I’d be leaving a lot of potential revenue on the table. Anything between 40-60% off seems like a safe bet.
Paddle (our payment provider) has a handy feature that allows you to append parameters to the end of a URL. This allowed me to make sure the coupon code got automatically applied when the user clicked the promo link in the email. This was an essential aspect in offering the deal as it lowered the friction for users making a purchase. It also avoids typos and support emails about where to enter the coupon.
Press & Marketing Emails
I emailed 30 or so press contacts a few days before the campaign was due to start. I chose to spend some extra time customizing each email, as opposed to sending a bulk email using MailChimp. Unsurprisingly, I always find sending personal emails helps build better relationships and results in better press coverage.
Here’s the basic outline I used when emailing the press:
Spending the extra time to email the press seemed to work nicely as the offer got listed on some popular sites, including MacStories, MacRumors, and designernews.co, together those websites drove a few thousand extra hits to the Realmac Store.
A lot of marketing is the same, everything from launching a new product to running a discount sale. You need a strong pitch, and a way to reach as many people as possible. As with all marketing campaigns, every bit of exposure you can get counts.
Paddle had approached us a few weeks before Black Friday and asked if we were doing any deals as they were planning an email campaign of their own to around 100K Mac users. I jumped at the chance, being able to reach another group of users would undoubtedly help.
I put together four separate promotional emails and scheduled them to go out over the space of five days. Here are the headlines for all the emails that went out during that time, including the one from Paddle:
- 🔥 Black Friday — Save 50% on everything! (Thursday)
- ⚡️ Black Friday: Time is running out to save 50% (Friday)
- On Black Friday, 50% off iOS books, Rapidweaver and more (Friday / Paddle)
- 🤖 Cyber Monday Deal — Save $300 on the Ultimate RapidWeaver Training Bundle! (Sunday)
- 😱 Sale Ends Today — Hurry! (Monday)
As the Realmac mailing list is also over 100K users, it means more than half-a-million emails got sent. Yikes!
I know it’s a reasonably aggressive email campaign, but the Cyber Monday Deal was a different email based on our RapidWeaver Training Course. I also customised the headline and body copy for each of the Black Friday emails to make it clear where in the deal we were.
It’s a hard balance to get right. The campaign was definitely on the upper end of the spectrum as to what users would tolerate, but as you’ll see from the sales graph, every time we sent an email the revenue went up.
Interestingly Monday produced our most significant day of sales. I think this was due to the Cyber Monday email, and it also being the last day to get a discount on the Black Friday deal. It could also have been because everyone was back to work on Monday and catching up on email.
I tweeted about both deals a fair amount over the same period, but from looking at our web stats, it appears they sent very little traffic to the store.
Revenue & Numbers
Realmac turned over $50,000 during this sale period. I was surprised by this, mainly because RapidWeaver 7 was released around 18 months ago (Psst. RW8 is due in 2018). Had I had a much newer product to offer, I believe the sales could have been double what they were.
I've included some graphs below showing direct sales revenue, email campaign details (for Black Friday), and website traffic for November.
- Total revenue for the five day sale period was $51,676.85
- Saturday 25th was our lowest day of sales at $4,188 (no emails sent)
- Cyber Monday (27th) was the highest day of sales at $15,988
- The BlackFriday and CyberMonday coupons were used over 1,300 times
- Email open rate was between 43.6% and 47.4% (above average for the industry)
I've talked about this for years, but a good mailing list is far too important to ignore. You can tweet and post to Facebook all you want, but from my experience email always wins. I’m not saying social networks are useless because they aren’t, but I believe that if you put more time and energy into growing an email list, it will serve you better in the future, time and time again.
I'm happy with the way the campaign turned out; it goes to show the importance of app marketing. I could have skipped Black Friday (as I'm not sure I agree with it, but that's a discussion for another time), but if I had, the company would be worse off. The more revenue we make, the longer I can ensure Realmac continues building and developing great software, and perhaps more importantly, support the people that work at Realmac.