By Matt Winn

For many shoppers, the idea of fighting the Black Friday crowds seems crazy compared to shopping online from the comfort of home. This explains why the ecommerce space has experienced such massive holiday growth over the years. In fact, 2012 Black Friday sales reached over $1 billion for the first time in history, a whopping increase of 26 percent from the previous year.

With this type of growth expected in 2013, your ecommerce site has an opportunity to earn some serious sales. To help you make the most of it, here are five tips for a successful Black Friday:

1.       Use email early and often: With customers receiving dozens of marketing emails on Black Friday, holding off your email messages until that day is a surefire way to get lost in the clutter. Instead, start your Black Friday messaging by sending previews and reminders of your deals early, then sending another round of emails to your base on Black Friday itself. Doing so will help improve the chances of your discounts being seen and remembered.

2.       Spruce up your homepage: Your homepage is a very important selling tool for Black Friday, especially if your website receives a lot of traffic from search engines or paid search ads. This means that you should highlight your most attractive discounts and most popular products directly on your homepage. Doing so will encourage shoppers to click further into your site, helping to decrease bounce rates and the potential for lost sales.

3.       Strategically plan coupons and discounts: While it may be easy to arbitrarily set your discounts, such as “50% off everything in the store,” doing so can be a fast way to lose profits. Instead, incorporate basic calculations, such as product costs, shipping costs, and profit margins into your discount amounts to ensure you come out ahead of the game.

4.       Increase average order value: Once you have your discounts in place, find ways to increase the amount of each order. In other words, how can you convince shoppers to spend more with you upon reaching your site? Some ideas include: providing free shipping at a certain amount (e.g. “Free Shipping with a $50 Order”) or offering gift cards at a certain purchase amount, such as a $10 gift card with a $100 purchase.

5.       Leverage social media: Social media is a great place to provide instant communications to your most loyal customers. Take advantage of this opportunity by sharing flash sales or exclusive deals to your social media followers – not only will it make them feel special, but it will increase the chances that they’ll make a purchase from your ecommerce site.

With these five tips in mind and a little elbow grease, your online store can serve as a well-oiled machine on Black Friday. Best of luck!

Matt Winn is the Marketing Communications Manager at Volusion, a leading provider of ecommerce solutions for businesses of all sizes. Matt has created hundreds of ecommerce articles, videos and seminars on all things related to selling online, ranging from online marketing to web design and customer experience. @Volusion.