Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. In the USA, it is a legendary day of crazy shopping in real-life malls. The last years though, technology has overtaken most parts of our lives. Therefore, this concept has been overshadowed by swelling e-commerce spending and the growth of Cyber Monday where electronics are sold at low prices.
There’s no lower hanging fruit for Black Friday marketing than a day when everything is discounted. Consumers know Christmas is just around the corner and it is on just one set day. You have urgency, scarcity, money off, all ready and waiting to help you sell. However, that does not mean you can sit back. Everyone else wants in on the act too. So, how do you take Black Friday and turn it into a major payday for your brand?
1: Black Friday Marketing – and beyond
Make your Black Friday marketing part of your wider strategy since it makes a massive noise in the retail world. Last year, shoppers spent $4.45 billion online across Black Friday and Thanksgiving. This year, that figure is likely to be higher: in 2015 78% of shoppers went online to research or purchase through the holiday season. This year, 92% will. They will be focusing their attention on Cyber Monday, but online attention will be higher across the holiday season than ever before.
What does all this mean for your Black Friday marketing strategy? It means that if you take Black Friday in isolation and build campaigns that rely on the data you already have and use it to target offers to the right customers, you will win big. If, however, you stitch Black Friday into a holiday marketing plan that includes Cyber Monday, Christmas, Thanksgiving in the USA, and the January Sales, you will gain more.
Remember, we are not the only ones who are strategic. Many marketers tend to forget that we are also consumers. Consumers know the holiday season is long. They plan their way through it. They scout out deals on coupon sites, compare notes on forums, and they buy on Black Friday to give at Christmas. We need to understand how our customers are planning their holiday season and we need to support them in their plans. The average family in the USA spends just shy of a thousand dollars during the holiday season, and only $139 of that amount of money is for themselves. So making your Black Friday, Christmas and January campaigns sing in tune makes sense.
Black Friday is an awesome opportunity to collect useful data for the coming holidays and the upcoming year’s campaigns. Many Black Friday purchases are made with Christmas in mind: demographic data is a poor guide to the things a man might buy for his wife’s sister, but last year’s purchase data is pretty solid. If you already did this last year, congratulations, you are ready to start sending some highly targeted emails.
Email workflows dynamically fork consumers onto different email lists, depending on their behavior in response to the emails they receive. Demographic data might have you marketing golf clubs and fishing rods to middle-aged men and denim and earbuds to the younger crowd. However, if your customers are all shopping for each others’ Christmas presents, it makes sense to work off their behavior – the same way you would onsite.
This kind of dynamic personalization does not have to be super accurate to work, and it can be implemented even if you do not have much data to work with, allowing you to accurately target customers without freaking them out or waiting a year and crunching this year’s sales and clickthrough data.
Moosend offers workflows that can be ‘infinitely segmented. Use as many layers of filters as you need to make sure that each customer is getting relevant offers, and make sure users can be on more than one workflow simultaneously.
3: Money Off
Coupons and deals are the big movers for consumers. The average consumer spends 2 hours a week looking for coupons and deals online, and 57% of them insist they would have abandoned a purchase had they not been offered a promotional coupon. Try offering targeted coupons in emails – money off the products those consumers are likely to buy- to fuel your upselling and cross-selling efforts; if that same customer has already paid full price for the hat, offer them 20% off the sunglasses. If they considered a $69.99 jacket, but then left the site, offer them a $99 one with 20% off and you and they both win.
It also makes sense to develop a presence on the couponing and cashback sites consumers are using, if that is appropriate for your business model. This is where consumers are going already, so it makes sense to meet them there with discounts.
Remember that consumers often like coupons because they offer a small reward and a sense of achievement and control. Don’t go all-out with discounts – use them strategically and let customers play! The holiday season is a perfect time for this. Use timers, cut-offs and flash sales to encourage coupon use by building scarcity and urgency. And remember to keep reminding your customers how soon Christmas is.
4: Email – and beyond
There’s no question that email is the best way to drive sales on Black Friday, and pretty much every other day. However, it works best integrated with other media. Emails can be used to deliver other forms of content – not just images, but social feeds, videos, downloadable content and newsletter content like blog posts. It does not have to be either/or; experiment with a mixture.
Social feeds can be embedded in emails to deliver social proof and to bring email and social audiences together. More importantly, they let you get more use out of your landing pages, grow your list and generate more leads, and ad-happy social media channels (looking at you, Facebook) have mechanisms to deliver content to tightly targeted audiences. Consider uploading it to Facebook and using Custom Audiences to target ads and emails to the same people. When people get social ads and email marketing at the same time, they are more likely to convert to paid customers.
At the same time, social can actually be used to grow your list. Finally, don’t forget to make everything as shareable as possible: make images Instagram and Pinterest friendly with just one click and include social share buttons on the product descriptions your email links to as well as in the email itself.
5: Help Out
Christmas is coming. Black Friday is a stock-up day when consumers with foresight shop for the future: even the 60% of consumers who plan to spend money on themselves this Black Friday are spending only an average of $140, out of a total average spend of $935.00. This is an ideal opportunity to bring content marketing together with search and email.
Your customers have many of the same problems that you do. You need data, so you know what emails to serve them. They need information and ideas, so they know what to buy for friends and family. Help them out! Offer gift buying guides based on demographics, like for teens, older women or certain skin and hair types. This is fertile ground: you are basically explaining people preferences to each other. That means there are ample opportunities for humor along the way!
If you want to go to town on this, consider offering detailed guides on how to use the products you are selling.
Obviously, there’s more room to do this with some products than others, but an ideas slideshow for home furnishings or clothing can work just as well as a how-to video on a new digital camera. Once these assets are created, they go on generating traffic. Post them to Instagram or Youtube and link to your website from them to get double the mileage. Moreover, you can embed them in your email campaigns too!
Black Friday happens when it happens. It is a time and stock-limited event. You do not have to head emails like: ‘when they are gone, they are gone’ to take advantage of this. Even worse it comes just before Christmas, the most urgent time of year for shoppers. Remember that you have urgency and scarcity working for you already.
Consider emails with countdowns in the email, or with ‘X days to go’ in subject lines. This is a fine line – you want to come across as helpful, not spammy. However, it can be effective because it speaks to anxieties that people are feeling already.
To build on this, create urgency ‘ramps’ and ‘islands of scarcity.’
For instance, use a time-limited pre-Black Friday offer, or a countdown to use urgency to encourage investment. Once a customer has downloaded the coupon, they are tied in by loss aversion, and they are much more likely to purchase. To create islands of scarcity, draw your audience’s attention to a certain category or line of goods that’s near selling out. There you can play on that scarcity to build perceived value and encourage purchase.
7: Subject Line
By now, most email marketers can repeat that Ogilvy line about the headline being 80 cents of your advertising dollar in their sleep. However, it is still true. Inboxes will be crammed with generic Black Friday subject lines. Other email marketers will be screaming at customers in RABID CAPS and gesticulating in emojis. The trick is to stand out, while still being identifiable as valuable and relevant. Subscribers need to know it is a Black Friday email, understand what the value is, and still be able to see it against the swarm of ‘X% off Black Friday’ that will be buzzing around their inbox.
After I spent the whole post hyping the effects of urgency, this is going to sound a little odd, but bear with me.
Urgency makes for sucky subject lines.
In an Econsultancy study of Black Friday email subject lines, urgency was the most strongly negatively correlated attribute for a subject line. It is the worst choice you can make. The best choice is to try to encourage curiosity. Moreover, if you manage to create curiosity you will stand out even more. We can only work to leverage the power of urgency and scarcity if we are working with something customers already care about. People care that they can get a $999 TV for $400 on Black Friday; they do not care if they get it from you.
Remember consumers do not experience Black Friday in isolation. It is part of a rhythm that includes Christmas and Thanksgiving in the USA, and consumers are preparing for it too. Meet your consumers where they are. Savvy consumers are looking for deals on coupon and cashback sites; they are buying on Black Friday to give at Christmas, and they are waiting until Cyber Monday for some purchases. Beyond that, there’s urgency implicit in the event: everyone knows their purchases will not be this cheap for another year. However, it is up to you to call attention to that urgency and to sweeten the deal with free shipping, coupons in emails, and targeted communications. Remember the art of the crafting awesome Black Friday subject lines!