Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) have long been the pinnacle of the holiday shopping season. Retailers and shoppers eagerly anticipate the massive deals and discounts accompanying this retail event. However, the landscape of BFCM is evolving rapidly, and to navigate it successfully, retailers need to adapt and strategize effectively.
Recently, we hosted a webinar featuring four seasoned eCommerce marketers, each representing a different retail vertical.
- Harry Mourelatos, Head of Digital Marketing & eCommerce @ Plaisio Computers [Electronics]
- Maria Papagrigoriou-Pirda, eCommerce Manager @ Psichogios Publications [Book Publisher]
- Theofanis Stavroulis, eCommerce Manager @ Pharmacy295 [Pharmacy]
- Yannis Marogiannis, Digital Project Manager @ notos.gr [Department store]
In the webinar, we discussed the changing dynamics of Black Friday, core strategies for success, and lessons learned from past seasons. Here are the key themes and takeaways from our insightful discussion.
Changing landscape of Black Friday: What to Expect
Expect lower consumption and a more competitive landscape.
The Black Friday and Cyber Monday period is becoming increasingly challenging, especially for online channels. Given the economic outlook and inflationary impact on consumer budgeting, we expect the Black Friday volume to decline or remain the same compared to past years. Shoppers will be more selective when picking out the best deals and spend more time comparison shopping, particularly around non-essential items.
Black Friday promotions are traditionally centered around retail and consumer products. But this season, we expect to see a broader range of services outside the traditional retail sector entering the fray. For instance, the insurance, automotive, supermarkets, and services sectors have increased their promotion around Black Friday deals. This diversification increases competition as it contends for the consumers’ limited attention during this period.
Focus on Cyber Monday
We are predicting a shift in promotion towards Cyber Monday to avoid the excessive competition around Black Friday marketing. This is particularly true for Greece and other European nations, which Cyber Monday tends to be an afterthought. It should be part of the overall promotional planning; therefore, budgets should be allocated accordingly.
Higher mobile usage
We expect to see a higher reliance on mobile shopping this year, with a projected 73% of shoppers using mobile devices compared to 71% in the past. Consequently, it is ever more essential that the websites, apps, and any other shopping platform you provide are optimized for mobile experiences.
Shorter offer period and conversion rates
In the past few years, we have seen Black Friday deals extended to the rest of November as retailers kick off smaller-scale promotions leading up to the big sales day. This year, we expect to see deals more concentrated during the week of Black Friday, with most conversions occurring on Black Friday and Cyber Monday days. Similarly, the site conversions during the weeks leading up to Black Friday will be lower than average, given that customers will hold off purchases until the deals.
Key strategies and advice for Black Friday success
General best practices
Strategic planning, waaayyy in advance
Start planning your BFCM and holiday campaigns early. You should go into the BFCM period with a well-defined commercial calendar and a specific budget for each campaign and channel combination. A good practice is to run a customer funnel analysis based on your existing customer base, general goal for your business, and last year’s campaign data and allocate the budget accordingly based on each stage of the funnel. For example, if you aim to acquire new customers, put more resources into building brand awareness with paid media, CPC Ads, and influencer sponsorships. However, you should not neglect the rest of the funnels (e.g., conversion-oriented messaging campaigns, post-purchase engagements) to ensure overall success.
Prep your customer service team
The BFCM season will also see an increased volume of complaints, inquiries, and changes/returns. Therefore, it is essential to prepare your customer service teams to handle the surge in volume. One of the critical components of customer retention is excellent customer experience during and after purchase. So do whatever you can to keep them happy for extended customer lifetime value.
Ensure operational readiness
You have invested in sales and marketing to bring new and returning customers, but the website went down due to the surge in traffic or insufficient stock for purchase. Sounds familiar?
For a successful BFCM outcome, aligning all your operations, starting with supply chain, inventory management, packaging & shipping, and return & exchanges, is critical. At the same time, ensure your IT infrastructure is scalable to keep up with the volume and that your inventory database is up to date with retail and online stores.
Consistent messaging across the channels
For whichever offer or deal you have planned, it’s essential to keep a consistent and strong message across all the channels you employ to maximize its effectiveness. For example, you can introduce a Black Friday personal discount code via an email campaign, send a push notification when the deal launches, and trigger an on-site pop-up reminder of the same offer when the shopper adds an item to the cart to ensure checkout conversion.
Eye on profitability
BFCM is known for extravagant offers and unpassable deals. Yet many retailers fall under the profitability trap where they forgo their margin for topline or order volume. Always keep your eye on profitability.
Instead of site-wide offers, consider running category-level promotions. While it takes a bit more planning to manage multiple campaigns on category levels, it allows more control over your inventory level and profitability.
Customer acquisition is important, but what makes business thrive is profitability.
Theofanis Stavroulis, Pharmacy295
Promotional tactics and tips that stand out from the crowd
One of the consistent themes that the webinar panelists zoned in on is promotional offers. The offers must be genuine and attention-grabbing to be effective in a crowded BFCM space.
Here are all the tactics and tips we discussed during the webinar.
You can appeal to shoppers and stand out among competitors by being more creative than the standard price discount deals. Options like bundled deals, 1+1 offers, gifts with purchases, tiered discounts, and even free shipping can be extra incentives for shoppers than a simple percentage off.
Plan multi-wave campaigns
Run multi-wave campaigns surrounding hero products. This approach helps “tease” your audience, gather new leads, and build excitement for the big deal day. The emphasis on hero products also works towards a similar effect to draw attention to your brand.
Build up anticipation
Tease your customers with sign-ups for early access, sneak peeks, gift guides, and targeted landing pages. Combining sneak peeks with wish-list builders is beneficial in multiple ways. It helps customers track and quickly access items they want to buy during BFCM sales. Simultaneously, it allows you to gain valuable insights into customer interests, which can be further used for personal targeting and advanced inventory planning.
Use channels to your advantage.
Adopt a multi-channel approach by using all channels in your arsenal. For example, aside from email campaigns, you can use push notifications for time-sensitive offers or targeted pop-ups for personal discount deals. You can also use chatbot and exit-intent on-site with exclusive discounts related to the shopper’s journey. These messaging channels work together to enhance your overall reach and conversion goals.
Dedicated BFCM landing page
Invest in SEO and create Black Friday-specific landing pages to maximize link juice. Consider using the same landing page as in previous years for sustained link-equity.
Run flash deals
It’s a common tactic that still works wonders in generating a sense of urgency and FOMO for shoppers during Black Friday week or day.
Don’t be afraid to “spam” your lists
Shoppers expect increased brand communications during this period and even anticipate good deals. So don’t fear increasing the number of touches (communications) with your customers. That said, you should still be mindful that the messages you send are consistent, interesting, and personal.
Segment and personalize your customer engagements
Rather than running a generic campaign for all your target customers, try to build customer segments based on customer needs and send more targeted messages for each segment. For example, Plaisio sends targeted campaigns to VIP customers and category shoppers.
Reward your loyal customers
Identify your VIP and loyal shoppers from previous years, and run focused campaigns towards this audience with unique offers personal to the segment. Give this segment an edge, such as early and exclusive access to certain deals, to reward them for their continued brand loyalty. Response and conversion for this segment are by far the highest among all email campaigns.
Engage micro-influencers and vertical content
Collaborate with niche influencers who are product specialists. This is more effective than working with an influencer with a large following. Nowadays, consumers are more interested in learning about a particular product before purchasing rather than blindly following a name. Double down on vertical content channels like TikTok.
Flexible payment options
Financing options such as Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL), or installment payments are helpful options for shoppers when making big purchases. Consider offering services with BNPL solutions like Klarna or Affirm. They serve as great conversion tools, particularly for high-ticket items.
Maximized customer lifetime value after Black Friday
The Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) shopping frenzy may bring a surge of new customers, but retailers often grapple with retaining these newly acquired shoppers for the long term. Our panelists shared some ideas to continue engaging with customers beyond the BFCM period and ultimately maximize their lifetime value.
Offer on next purchase
One effective way to keep customers engaged is by providing an enticing offer on their next purchase. For example, Plaisio customers would get a coupon redeemable 30 days after the Black Friday event if the order amount exceeds a certain value. By doing so, you not only encourage repeat business but also reward customers for their loyalty.
Implementing a loyalty program can be a game-changer in retaining BFCM customers. Loyalty schemes can offer various perks such as points, exclusive discounts, early access to deals, or even personalized product recommendations. These incentives encourage customers to keep coming back and remain loyal to your brand. Consider introducing an attractive offer, such as extra points, if a shopper signs up for your loyalty program during this period.
Collect data and analyze customer insights
The surge in transactions during the BFCM period generates a goldmine for data. Post-BFCM, it’s crucial to organize and analyze these customer data for insights. This data-driven approach allows you to tailor your marketing efforts, recommendations, and communication to match individual customer needs, enhancing their overall experience long after the sales periods.
Excellent post-purchase service
As mentioned previously, exceptional post-purchase customer service is paramount. During BFCM, there may be an increased volume of inquiries, complaints, returns, or canceled orders. Promptly addressing these issues and ensuring customer satisfaction can significantly impact their perception of your brand. Be prepared to handle these situations efficiently to keep customers happy.
BFCM as a branding opportunity
While BFCM is primarily associated with discounts and deals, it’s also an excellent branding opportunity. Your brand’s values and social impact can resonate with customers. Use this period to showcase your brand’s values, mission, and commitment to causes that matter to your target audience. This can create a deeper connection with customers who identify with your brand’s values and may lead to long-term loyalty.
Discover more Black Friday resources
- Black Friday Checklist: A 52-Spot Last-Minute Audit for Retailers
- Black Friday statistics: The 80 most important stats for retailers
- The 27 best Black Friday campaigns of all time
- How to Prepare for Black Friday: A Retailer’s Guide
- 10 Creative Black Friday Strategies for Retailers
Get Ready for BFCM 2023
Black Friday and Cyber Monday continue to be vital events in the retail calendar. To succeed in this ever-evolving landscape, businesses must adapt their strategies, prioritize personalization, and focus on customer retention long after the shopping frenzy subsides. Following these key takeaways, you can position your business for a successful BFCM season and beyond.