Before reading this blog post, perhaps read the first post in the series, which goes through nine levers available to write a Black Friday success story. If you’ve already read that – move on to this one!
Everyone knows how frantic this time of year can be. Whether you work in retail or e-commerce, Black Friday (and the holiday season) is around the corner and organisations are preparing for what is historically and generally the biggest quarter of the year in terms of sales.
Expectations are high as shoppers go wild for discounts and deals. Cutting through the noise can be both difficult and expensive. Prices in digital media start increasing weeks before and CPMs have been known to increase up to 50% the week before Black Friday (BF). Combined with heavily discounted products, this can have a detrimental impact on your bottom line, despite a spike in sales.
But let’s ask the question that is on every marketing executive’s mind this time of year – is there a way to maximise sales without offering discounts?
Well, a deal doesn’t necessarily have to mean a discount. Here are some tips and tricks on how you can create a successful marketing campaign in time for Black Friday without offering lower prices.
Planning is key before Black Friday
If you haven’t already planned your BF ’21 campaign, you better get your hands dirty and start now! In an optimal scenario, you should plan at least six months in advance for your Black Friday campaign. Planning is essential in order to ensure you have your ducks in a row, both from a product perspective (see our previous article “Go beyond discounts and deals…”) but also from a marketing perspective.
«By creating a solid marketing plan well in advance, you will allow for sufficient time to be both creative and smart – which in turn can save dollars!»
By creating a solid marketing plan well in advance, you will allow for sufficient time to be both creative and smart – which in turn can save dollars!
Align resources and partners
Make sure you align your marketing team and that you involve other departments and partners (E-com/product team, IT, creative and media agencies) to ensure that everything from merchandising, stock levels, site performance and customer service is optimised. Working with a dedicated agile BF team can be a good way for you to achieve the speed and results you wish for, but it may require some preparation. Thus, planning and alignment is a must.
Alignment with other departments will ensure a better customer experience when the campaign is running. Why? Because you have already anticipated and prepared for increased engagement on-site (and in-store), you have sufficient stock levels to meet customer demand, and customer service is all set to handle increased volumes of incoming queries.
Reflect on the past
Spend some time reflecting on what has gone well and what didn’t go well in the past. De-briefing after a campaign period is as important as planning ahead for the next campaign. By doing so, you can ensure you continuously optimise the things that will contribute to increasing sales.
Customer in focus
When you put together your marketing plan, take a close look at who your customers are – existing and potential – and what their drivers are. This will give valuable insights as to what to say to them and where to communicate with them.
When you’re not trying to outcompete your competitors based on offering the highest discount, you need to think outside the box.
«What can you do to ensure you offer your customers something even better than lower prices?»
Offering a seamless, personalised customer experience is a given. However, you should also consider the following:
- Consider offering your customers something exclusive, perhaps in terms of product (exclusive to your brand), top sellers, combination deals (partnerships with other brands) or simply making them feel special by giving them the sense that they have received something out of the ordinary.
- Create special Black Friday branded landing pages where you display your exclusive deals. This will not only highlight that you’ve got something special to offer your customers. It will also be an opportunity to leverage the benefits of SEO (given that you planned this well in advance). By using special landing pages you can also add tickers which create a sense of urgency. You can even re-use them by simply “re-branding” the storefront.
- Always make sure you have optimised your creatives and landing pages for mobile. The “mobile-first approach” is no longer an option but a must, not only for marketing channels such as SEO/SEM but also for ensuring that you deliver the best customer experience possible across all devices.
- Engage with your customers early, with the sole purpose of collecting customer data. Offering customers the chance to access exclusive products and deals in exchange for an email address is a great way to build up your database. You can also launch a teaser campaign before, with the sole purpose of driving traffic to the site. This allows you to get your hands on 1st party data that can be used later on during the campaign period.
- Involve your creative team or agency as early as possible and make sure to create a truly engaging campaign that uses communication in a smart way to take the focus off not offering a discount. Consider a multiple-step campaign approach with separate landing pages with for example quizzes, a sneak preview or a count down towards the actual day.
Right place, right time (with the right message)
The build-up to the actual campaign date is where your savings lie. Launching a campaign before everyone else not only means that you can get your hands on better prices when it comes to media buying. You are also more likely to get hold of more inventory and better placements, which means increased visibility/SoV at a lower cost.
Some marketing channels worth putting some extra love and focus on are listed below. But remember that content should always be adapted per channel, device and stage of the funnel. It’s all about the right message, at the right time, in the right place!
«…remember that content should always be adapted per channel, device and stage of the funnel.»
Social Media – With a creative idea, you can engage your existing customers in an effective way in both organic and paid social media. Use paid channels to broaden your reach early on in your campaign, boosting organic posts that show high engagement and competitions or quizzes to drive traffic to your site (remember to try and get them to leave their contact details), moving on to tactical sponsored ads when your exclusive offers are up for grabs.
Micro-influencers or Key Opinion Leaders (KOL’s) – Given the high engagement and trust that influencers or KOL’s have with their respective followers, this is a great way to build brand awareness and build hype around your products. By carefully selecting partners who are aligned with your brand and creating deeper collaborations with them, you can create new trends, widen your brand’s audience and draw customers from various channels to make purchases, both online and in physical stores. (In China alone, the KOL market is estimated to be worth over €450 billion in 2021)
Events – We’re not talking about large sponsored events here, which can generally be very expensive. There are inexpensive ways to engage with your customers, be it in a physical store or even just outside primary locations such as shopping centres, underground stations etc. Handing out samples, pampering in-store or offering them a chance to be part of a competition, can suffice. By giving your customers special attention face to face, you can increase your brand awareness and increase the chance of a sale by over 50%.
Paid Search – Set up ad groups focusing specifically on the campaign and set up audiences to capture customers showing interest in your brand and products prior to the campaign period. This will allow you to remarket to these audiences when the time comes. Ensure that you have a sufficient or unlimited budget to leverage the most out of this channel and make sure your shopping campaigns are set up with your exclusive products when the time comes.
Organic search – Planning well ahead will enable you to use optimised landing pages in a smart way to maximise the potential from an SEO perspective. This allows you to potentially get good enough rankings and drive traffic for months in advance. Ensure that you have relevant content and a clear call to action (CTA) that is in line with other communication on the page for an optimal customer experience.
«Ensure you have relevant content and a clear call to action (CTA) that is in line with other communication…»
Email and SMS – Customer data is worth gold. Customers who are willing to leave their email address so that you can get in touch with them is the first step towards a sign of loyalty. Having a database is especially valuable when it comes to peak seasons such as Black Friday, as it’s an inexpensive way to communicate with customers and build loyalty. Clever segmentation, understanding those segments and carefully tailoring your content can prove extremely effective and be a large contributor to driving sales. In fact, loyal customers are 5 times more likely to make repeat purchases and be ambassadors for your brand and refer you to their friends and family. Offering loyal customers the chance to preview an exclusive collection can be more valuable than offering a reduced price.
And let’s not forget about KPIs
As with everything, success can only be measured if you have defined what you want the expected outcome to be. Providing clear KPIs ensures everyone knows what their role is and how their actions contribute to the overall business goal.
Delivering a great campaign doesn’t have to mean you automatically have to reduce your prices in order to attract your customers to make a purchase. By planning ahead, being creative and putting your customer first you can engage with your potential buyers in a way that shifts the focus away from the price. Don’t forget to consider the whole customer journey – it’s not enough to simply bring your customers through the door to your store – you need to ensure you look after them all the way, past the purchase through to delivery.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss anything further, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want more Black Friday tips? We’re throwing a breakfast seminar on this topic in Gothenburg on the 22nd of October. Sign up for the seminar here.