Power Up Your eCommerce Plan With This Black Friday Marketing Strategy
Published October 27, 2021.
For marketers and brands, 9 PM on Black Friday can feel like the final few minutes of the moon landing. It’s the time at which sales typically reach their apex and your team finally discovers whether their hard work and strategy paid off. When it does go to plan, eCommerce stores can expect to make around 30% of their annual revenue over the November holiday season. But if it doesn’t: Houston, we have a problem!
Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) get tougher to navigate every year. Shoppers are overwhelmed with options and paralyzed with decisions, plus wise to the tricks and nudges marketers are using to get them to spend more. That means brands must start each BFCM campaign earlier, be more creative, and hang in there longer after checkout is complete.
The prize? It’s a once-a-year opportunity to clear excess inventory in time for Christmas, acquire new customers, and fill the funnel for the future.
Where Can Brands Go Wrong With BFCM?
Inevitably, as a consumer, you are going to see this in November — brands you haven’t heard from in weeks or months will start peppering your inbox with their BFCM automated flows (although your spam folder is probably the more likely destination.) Is there something new? Sadly not. For the most part, the products are from the current inventory list, but with — wait for it — a 20% discount! Don’t be that brand.
Black Friday weekend is the busiest time of year for stores and marketers. It’s noisy and intrusive, but customers indulge us because there are deals to be seized. Without proper planning, however, eCommerce stores find themselves discounting items that could have gone for full price, going out of stock due to an unexpected demand or spending heavily to convert customers who are never heard from again.
Some brands even skip the whole experience altogether — particularly if you’re a luxury retailer, BFCM discounts may not be a good fit for your long-term strategy. You could even emulate REI, the outdoor-gear retailer that chooses to give employees Black Friday off to #optoutside instead - which is very much on brand for them.
But if you’re in, go all in. Here’s how...
Adjust Advertising Plans To Fill the Funnel
Prep well ahead if you want to feast over Thanksgiving. That means seeding the funnel from a distance, building interest and excitement, educating leads, and getting customers used to seeing you in their inbox and on their social media feeds. As customers engage, segment them by interest, behavior, and demographics so that you’re delivering a relevant message at each touch point of the customer journey.
That might sound like the conventional funnel, but this one comes with an expiration date. Because once Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to unleash the BFCM discounts and special offers. At this point, your list should be warmed up and your customers aware of your products and brand values — ready to convert. Rather than trying to pitch a discount to new prospects — never a good idea — you can invite them to storm the checkout with a fully loaded shopping cart.
Bear in mind that generating leads through paid social advertising means competing in an even more crowded marketplace around the holiday season. The average CTR for Facebook ads during the year is 0.89% across all sectors. Although conversion rates can increase by up to 36% over Black Friday weekend, it’s harder to grab a slice of the pie.
Plus with the iOS App Tracking Transparency changes, it’s more expensive than ever!
Try These Strategies
- Bring in the influencers to build buzz around your brand in a more authentic way that speaks directly to their audience.
- Offer early-bird specials and VIP sneak peeks to break out of the same cycle everyone else is using.
Launch Time — Discounts Done Right
Discounts are most effective when they’re delivered as an unexpected reward. But everybody expects a BFCM deal, so surprises have to be more sophisticated.
- Offer an alternative. Who knew that 20% of shoppers prefer free shipping to a discount? Similarly, gift wrapping or personalization can unlock responses that price reductions can no longer reach.
- Save your best deals for your most loyal customers. VIPs spend three times more than your other customers, but usually make up only around 5% of your list.
- Encourage customers to spend more, not less. Use your discounts to lure buyers toward higher-ticket items or bigger shopping carts, instead of offering them from the outset storewide.
- Likewise, discount certain product categories only, not the whole store. That adds an element of exclusivity.
If you do run discounts, all your deals should be prominent on your landing page. Ideally, you want to separate them from the everyday stock with a distinctive color scheme, theme or mega-menu. Consider adding payment options such as “Buy Now, Pay Later” or one-click checkout. Nothing extinguishes the buzz of a big discount like a long, convoluted checkout process. Shopify recommends ditching the coupons and codes altogether, because they add friction and customers find them annoying. Instead, run dynamic scripts that apply discounts once a shopping cart reaches a specific target.
Don’t overlook A/B testing just because it’s Black Friday. In fact, make it a priority to test send times, discounts versus other offers, even copy lines and creative. If your e-commerce store is about to be swamped with shoppers, there’s a lot of valuable insight to be gathered for your ongoing marketing strategy.
Leverage SMS and Email To Boost Conversions
Although the trusted approach is to set up a solid funnel to grab attention on social media, nurture leads through email or content marketing, then convert with discounts when BFCM weekend arrives — it’s not always that simple.
Customers can reach your eCommerce store over the holiday season from all angles, with or without intent, for the first time or as a repeat visitor, happy to browse or ready to buy. Whatever route they’ve taken to reach your store, the frightening reality is that around 75% will leave by abandoning their cart.
Without SMS, Messenger, and email to retarget them, weeks or months of hard work (and budget) could be lost at the final hurdle. The key takeaway? Don’t overlook lifecycle marketing. SMS in particular can boast open rates as high as 98%. Exploiting SMS will also force everyone to keep mobile top of mind when crafting their strategy.
Bear in mind that around 60% to 70% of your customers are going to view your Black Friday campaign on mobile. That means your site has to be responsive, your emails dynamic, and your checkout process as frictionless as possible.
Reap the Rewards After the Season Is Over
Smart marketers know that the week after Cyber Monday is often just as popular as the two weeks leading up to Black Friday. After all, there’s no rule that says you have to shut down the sale when the clock strikes midnight. If everything has gone to plan, your store has a lot of happy customers, many of whom are first-time purchasers. Now is the time to turn them into brand loyalists and maximize their customer lifetime value.
From Conversion to Delight
- Offer incentives for referrals, who typically generate 16% higher revenue than average customers and are four times more likely to refer other customers themselves.
- Upsell your related products based on previous purchases. If you’ve just treated a new customer to a Black Friday discount, they’re likely to have a positive opinion of your store.
- Continue to reward loyalty. They may have arrived as a BFCM shopper, but you can make them a VIP and grow their average order value or secure their subscription.
- Have a plan for returns. Around 30% of products purchased online are returned, and 80% of consumers expect their returns to be free. Now is not the time to turn a return into a positive customer experience rather than a negative outcome. A straightforward return policy and process can build trust which leads to repeat purchases.
Up for the challenge? Reach out to Hawke Media today with these points in mind and watch your eCommerce profits soar over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday week.
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