It’s officially the month that is both loved and loathed by retailers and consumers alike. With November on our doorstep, it’s less than four weeks until Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend but the highly anticipated event can cut profits just as easily as it can boost revenue. With competition tougher than ever retailers need to find a way to stand out from the crowd with their Black Friday marketing.
The magic of Black Friday
Adopted from our neighbours across the pond the now-week long event has become the Thanksgiving of retail. Each year sales figures are broken both in the US and here at home making Black Friday the biggest sales event of the year. Last year saw an increase of 12% compared to the year before in UK online sales alone, resulting in a total figure of £1.23bn.
Unsurprisingly, each year also sees an increase in the number of retailers clamouring to win new customers and get their current ones spending more. With consumers enticed by rock-bottom prices and extravagant deals, this often means slashing prices and extending limited time offers. While Black Friday can certainly conjure up new customers, it can also see profit margins vanish in the retail race to the bottom.
Standing out on Black Friday
To pull the proverbial Black Friday rabbit out of the hat retailers will need to start getting creative with their offering. This means finding unique ways to attract and convert customers, not smoke and mirror marketing. It also means ditching the unrealistic pricing and sticking to margins that will protect your bottom line and still leave your customers happy.
To do this, look at putting quality over quantity with more creative and targeted content. Whether it’s the deals you offer or the channels you use to reach out to customers, all of your content can be used to not only attract more customers but also attract the right kind of customer.
If you’re still wondering how exactly to do this, just sit back and enjoy the show. We have a few Black Friday marketing tips up our sleeve.
High quality content
The best way to improve the quality of your content is to… improve the quality of your content. While it may sound obvious, the focus on low prices and staggering deals can often have an adverse an effect on content quality over Black Friday. After all, why bother with the usual high-quality lifestyle shots when you can just scream the price at people in bold red letters?
Regardless of the time of year, images speak to people. We remember 80% of what we see compared to just 20% of what we read and generally respond to visual content more favourably. An image can also make us feel something that can’t be succinctly expressed in words, and the effects are instant. These facts don’t stop being true just because it’s Black Friday. While a great price might seal the deal, the emotional pull is still the quickest and most authentic way to make that first connection.
These email examples from Chubbies and Huckberry show two different but equally effective ways of doing this. While Chubbies have used humour to show off their comfy shorts, Huckberry has used a simple and classic lifestyle shot. In both cases, the main message is the quality of the product, and the quality image reflects this. The Black Friday offer is understated in comparison but is exactly in keeping with their brand and is much more enticing as a result.
Omnichannel or multichannel, just make sure it’s cross-channel. Utilising all available lines of communication is vital for retailers to cut through the Black Friday noise, but it’s even more important that these communications are consistent with each other and your other branded content.
This serves a practical purpose, with each channel helping to boost total impressions while consistency ensures there’s no confusion about pricing or deals. Perhaps more importantly, it will also help to reinforce and therefore differentiate your brand at a time when most retailers end up seeming interchangeable.
Do something new
Introducing something new over Black Friday is a great way to distance your brand from the price wars and add some extra value that will set you apart from the competition. This can include a new product or service, but can also just be something new to your offering. For example, a new delivery option such as a pick-up point scheme, or even a new email newsletter. You can add these as permanent additions with Black Friday as a launch day, or introduce them as a limited time Black Friday exclusive to create urgency.
While you can use a discount to help promote your new offering, such as offering free delivery on your new option, the main purpose of this strategy is to avoid falling into the Black Friday price trap. Instead, focus on promoting the offer across all your channels and build some suspense by keeping the details of the new offering a surprise until a week before the big weekend. As well as helping to get customers excited about what’s to come, a slow build up means you can get involved and compete with early campaigns without offering costly discounts for an extended period.
Honest Beauty developed some limited edition beauty kits that were exclusive to Black Friday. While the affordability and the value is a highlight, the exclusivity of the product is the main draw here.
Personalised deals and offers
In the end, offering deals and discounts is an inescapable Black Friday requirement. However, there is a way to make sure these discounts are more appealing to your customers and are kind to your bottom line at the same time. Most average order value (AOV) strategies can easily be adapted to meeting your Black Friday demands and are beneficial to both retailers and customers.
Your ecommerce data holds the key to creating deals and offers that appeal to your customers. Looking at shopping behaviour and purchase history across individuals, customer segments and your entire customer base will reveal what types of deals, prices and products work best for your audience. You probably already use this information to send follow up emails with product suggestions, or with cross-sell and upsell recommendations on your site, but these tactics work just as well on Black Friday.
Here are our top discount strategies for surviving Black Friday:
- If you already use your data to bundle products based on what customers usually purchase together, for example a laptop and laptop case, then why not offer a special Black Friday discount on whole bundles.
- Email customers an extra discount code for a specific category on your website based on their purchase behaviour and profile.
- Email customers product suggestions based on their purchase behaviour a week before Black Friday as a personalised reminder. Follow up again on the day with a special discount code they can use on any of the product suggestions.
- Ask customers to complete a short survey to receive tailored offers early on the big day with a bonus discount code. You can also turn this into an acquisition campaign in the run-up to Black Friday by promoting it to potential customers with a different discount for new customers.
This simple campaign from Younique creates a beauty bundle with a special price and highlights the actual savings from buying these products together on Black Friday.
These strategies all result in giving the customer personalised offers that appeal directly to them, so they get to cut through the Black Friday barrage and you get to target customers who are more likely to convert. Most of them also draw on curated commerce or bundled products, making for bigger baskets at the checkout and a very happy bottom line.
Think before and beyond Black Friday
Retailers have increasingly started their sales up to a week before Black Friday and continued it beyond Cyber Monday. While offering rock-bottom prices for this long can be a struggle for smaller businesses, online retailers still need to stay competitive during this time. Additionally, customers that purchase on Black Friday don’t have to be a one-off. With the right strategy, new and first-time buyers can be nurtured into a loyal customer base.
Offering sneak previews in the run-up to the weekend has become a popular campaign tactic to get customers excited and put the retailer's name in mind when the day finally comes. Simply slashing prices for over a week can significantly impact margins and will undermine any Black Friday potential, but simply enticing customers with offers to come won’t cost a penny. This works even better with a personalised touch, as with some of our discount strategies above. Even a simple countdown on your homepage can be surprisingly effective and draw customers in on the day.
Sephora is just one of the many retailers that use the preview tactic as a way of building excitement and getting their name out there in the run-up to the big weekend.
The best thing about Black Friday is the potential for new customers, but new customers don’t mean much if they never return. Securing a second purchase can be simple to do and is the first step in a valuable customer relationship, but is often forgotten about in the price rush.
To look beyond Black Friday, offer to email a discount on a future purchase at the end of the checkout. This means you don’t have to put customers off by asking them to create an account before they purchase, but still take advantage of the opportunity to open a valuable communication channel. You can even date the voucher so customers must wait until December to use it, bringing in valuable Christmas traffic as well.
Alternatively, offer deals on gift cards, for example a free £10 one with every £50 gift card purchase. Pushing gift card purchases almost guarantees a returning customer, and quite often it’s a different customer altogether. Most purchases that use a gift card often far exceed the gifted amount, resulting in a much healthier AOV.
Target offers a simple discount on their gift cards; they allow them to be redeemed November 29th, but you can make them redeemable in December for a Christmas boost.
Happy customers, happy retailers
Black Friday is an ordeal for everyone, not just retailers. For every perfect deal and amazing price consumers find, there’s twice as many unopened emails and clogged social media feeds. This should indicate to retailers that even the best offers are bound to be lost in the mayhem. To be heard over the noise retailers will need to stop obsessing over price and start obsessing over the customer. As with any other day of the year, only the most creative and targeted campaigns will come out on top.
If you want to know more about optimising your digital marketing for customer satisfaction this Black Friday or any other day of the year, call one of our team today.