It’s almost that most wonderful time of the year and nope, we’re not talking about Christmas! Black Friday and Cyber Monday are fast approaching. Keep reading.

Noticed Christmas decorations in-store already?! It can only mean one thing… Black Friday and Cyber Monday are fast approaching on the 23 and 26 of November respectively.

According to the giant American news-based pay TV channel CNN, consumers in the US spent over $5 billion in 24 hours on Black Friday in 2017. Now we’ve got your interest, right? Down Under, Aussies didn’t quite reach the $5 billion mark (keeping in mind, we have a smaller population) but we did splash out over $200 million on Black Friday last year according to The Sydney Morning Herald. Meanwhile, as mentioned in our Click Frenzy post, Australia Post reported a 27% increase in volume between Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2017.

People are clearly excited and willing to spend up big during this period, which equates to a massive opportunity for all retailers. We know retailers start planning for Christmas in July and we’re here to tell you that if you haven’t started planning for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, get started now!

Want in on what’s likely to be this year’s biggest shopping weekend? If that’s a yes, it’s time to get planning and here’s how.

 

Step#1: Outline your objectives

Too many brands jump on the Black Friday bandwagon at the last minute. This often means all they’re offering customers is stale discounts on unsold stock. That could mean promoting deals under the Black Friday banner that are exactly the same as those on offer throughout the year. That’s hardly exciting for customers. According to Australia Post’s report, shoppers are now choosing to wait for bargains, so why disappoint?

In 2016, Which? (no, the question mark is not a typo) analysed one year’s worth of pricing data for 35 popular products on sale over Black Friday. They found 60% of items were sold for the same price or cheaper at other times. That’s not cool.

Thanks to studies like this one, people are cottoning onto these tactics so this is no longer just a matter of performing below par during these events instead of maximising sales: we’re talking about a potential risk to long-term reputation for repeat offenders. 

On the flip side, by deciding on a clear and valuable strategy early on, retailers are far more likely to succeed, both in terms of customer perception and with the kerching of the cash register! Define what the aim of the campaign is early, set both the budget and clear KPIs right from the start. If you’re struggling to do this, know the aim might vary depending on what your brand values are. This is a good question to ask when defining which metrics to track.

Here are some sample goals - using Black Friday/Cyber Monday to:

  • Gain new customers
  • Clear old stock (out with the old, in with the new!)
  • Boost sales
  • Build brand awareness/recognition

From here, you’re well placed to deliver on a campaign strategy that sees your brand investing appropriately from the beginning, depending on the goals at play.

 

Step#2: Check (and double check) your brand’s technology capacity

Having too many people landing on your website at once can potentially crash your site. Sure, we’re talking about an enormous amount of traffic for this to happen but ideally, you want to ensure your infrastructure can handle a considerable spike in traffic so you’re prepared.

Performance test ahead of time. First-up, look at traffic levels from last year as this will help you to determine expected user load and other potential scenarios. Next, it is important to run various tests including stress tests (to understand capacity limits) and soak tests (to determine ability to handle continuous load). If you’re finding bugs and other issues, optimise queries or page loads, consider temporarily increasing infrastructure or applying a content distribution network (CDN) to deal with traffic surges. Also consider keeping the UX simple and seamless so customers can easily browse, click and buy. This can also help with load times by minimising the data needed to display products. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry! A site that’s offline is a site that’s losing sales.

 

Step#3: Effective customer segmentation

Chances are, your email marketing is going to be in overtime leading into Black Friday - remember, the average consumer is already receiving an insane amount of emails as it is! So you need to cut through the noise.

An effective email marketing strategy involves teasing your customers with news of what’s coming, sneak peeks, flash discounts… you get the drift. You want to ramp this up sooner rather than later so you’re building momentum right up until the big reveal on Black Friday and then Cyber Monday.

Proper segmentation is the key to increasing sales via email. It takes into account how customers interact with the channel throughout the year and individual purchasing behaviour. Your audience will see the level of personalisation and you’ll reap the rewards. Send exclusive/larger discounts to people you know are regulars and who spend up big with your brand. Or even encourage customers to sign-up for deals, without saying what those deals will be. If you know certain customers have shopped on Black Friday before but don’t engage with your brand regularly, remind them of what you’ve got planned. Also in weeks prior to Black Friday you could encourage wishlisting which then provides an opportunity for you to email customers if a wishlisted product is discounted. The bottom line is that with so many emails flooding inboxes over a shortish period, Black Friday emails are likely to be either ignored or deleted.

And don’t forget about abandoned cart emails! According to Barilliance, average cart abandonment rates on Black Friday in 2017 for Australia was 70.6% - that’s a huge stat! Set-up targeted abandoned cart emails to help keep that number as low as possible.

 

Step#4: Create engaging content that speaks to your target market

Retailers are always getting savvier and one common tactic we’re seeing more of is keeping Black Friday/Cyber Monday landing pages live throughout the year. This means the page is building search authority and SEO status over time as opposed to trying to start from scratch each year. The only downside is when retailers don’t change old meta descriptions until the last minute or just simply forget to refresh page content.

Getting started on your Black Friday campaign sets your brand up for success. Factor in site pages and off-site content, how to incorporate key messaging based on speed, delivery and so on. If you are using Avenue, consider how you can take advantage of Promotion Pages which map to the Promotion Engine in Pronto Xi. This type of custom content can really help to differentiate a brand from the masses offering similar discounts and products.

If your brand wants to embrace its inner rebel, you could take a stance against Black Friday. A couple of years ago REI, an American retailer of outdoor clothing and gear, encouraged customers to spend the day outside in the great outdoors instead of participating in the sales event. They did this by boycotting and suspending all retail activity including online sales. This then became part of their brand narrative as a year-round campaign dubbed #Optoutside. Regardless, these businesses still capitalised on the marketing opportunity the day presents. Your plan of attack is vital - always ensure you’re creating content that truly resonates with your customers and stays true to your overall brand.

 

Here's to a successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday!

Preparation and planning are the keys to a successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday (or both). If this is your first rodeo with Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday, treat it as a learning experience. Stay motivated and ambitious, set realistic expectations and remember to enjoy the ride!

 

Need help with these key retail events or even your Christmas plans? We’re always here to help! Contact us today!