Black Friday – chaos or opportunity?

Black Friday banner

While Thanksgiving hasn’t yet made it over the Atlantic as something to celebrate in South Africa, Black Friday certainly has. From September, and in some cases even August, businesses, both online and otherwise, begin marketing campaigns aimed at this shopping “holiday”.

When is Black Friday?

Traditionally the day itself is the Friday after Thanksgiving – this year it falls on the 29th of November. The sales don’t stop there though. They now extend all the way through the weekend to Cyber Monday.

You’d be mad yourself not to take advantage of the opportunity to boost your year-end sales. The question is, are you ready for Black Friday?

What’s the big deal about Black Friday?

Of course shoppers love a good bargain, and the urgency and slight hysteria around Black Friday only add to the drama of it.

Since those shoppers have to buy from someone, retailers clearly profit from increased sales over the weekend itself, both of items on special and of other products that customers buy while they’re there.

There are other less obvious benefits though. Getting your brand out there is one of them and this can be done in many different ways. For example, running promotions or contests and using social media to spread the word – both of the contest and of your brand. See this blog for more on contests and this one for more on social media.

The real gold here though is the opportunity to attract many new customers, not just for one sale but with a much longer term view. Start building a relationship with them during the Black Friday sales, and you could be looking at a lifetime of value to your business.

Making Black Friday work for you

To really get the most from this holiday, you need to know what you’re doing. Let’s look at some important steps:

1) Know your audience

There’s no point in putting together a big marketing campaign that attracts people who aren’t going to buy from you. Be very clear on who your customers are. Then tailor your entire Black Friday campaign, and any promotions or contests, to appeal to them.

2) Prepare the road

If you do your marketing well, you’re soon going to have some high levels of traffic coming through your site. Make sure your site is polished well in advance. Optimise your promotional images and test elements like page speed. Make sure all the payment options work, trust elements like guarantees and returns policies, or the Google Customer Reviews badge, are highlighted, and that shipping rates are all up to date.This website readiness checklist will also get you thinking in the right direction.

At Comalytics, we’re ready to go on your behalf:

  • We’ve doubled the capacity of our system by upgrading our infrastructure and server management software.
  • We’ve boosted site speed by streamlining our database housekeeping and file management processes.
  • We’re continually monitoring what’s happening on your site, so we’ll be the first to know if anything goes wrong.

3) Get new customers through the door

People need to know you exist before they can buy from you. Decide on the marketing channels you will use, then give them extra attention in advance of Black Friday. These could be online advertising, social media, SEO or numerous other options. Remember to optimise these so anyone searching for Black Friday deals can find you.

4) Leverage current customer loyalty

People who’ve bought from you before (and are obviously satisfied) already trust you. Make the most of this:

  • Draw people who haven’t bought from you in a while back into the fold with a Black Friday email campaign.
  • Offer regular customers special discounts or promotions, knowing they will probably buy something else, or more than they planned to, while they’re there. Speak to us about plug-ins that can help you here.
  • Ask customers for reviews – these will provide social proof to potential new customers.
  • Create as much excitement as you can throughout all your channels, be they emails, social media or other forms of advertising.

5) Increase AOV in different ways

While your customers, both old and new, are visiting your e-commerce shopping cart site for Black Friday, you want them to buy as much as possible. Increase your average order value (AOV) by offering free shipping or a gift over a certain threshold total, suggesting product bundles that come at a slight discount to the cost of the individual items, or up-selling or cross-selling related items. Urgency tactics also work well e.g. “discount available for Black Friday weekend only” or “while stocks last”.

6) Plan to succeed (and to fail)

Knowing you’re going to have high demand over the Black Friday weekend, make sure you have additional stock on hand and that your shipping provider is ready to deal with those extra deliveries. Also let your customers know in advance about any alternative ways to contact you, just in case your site goes offline (or they do) due to a system or internet failure. Omni-channel options are never a bad thing anyway, especially at crunch times like Black Friday.

7) Provide support

Temporarily increase your customer service team to deal with the extra queries that are going to happen along with the additional sales. Tools like Live Chat are extremely effective during high-volume events like this.

8) Maximise the opportunity

Ideally you want to get an email address from every visitor to your site if you possibly can. Plug-ins like the newsletter registration pop-up can be very helpful here too. Use these emails to build your database, and be sure to connect regularly with your subscribers to offer ongoing value. Loyalty and trust can take time to build, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

9) Learn from your successes and your mistakes

Every Black Friday is an opportunity to find out more about what works for your business and what doesn’t. Then you can apply that to subsequent Black Fridays – and other holidays too. After it’s over, take some time to mine your data, using Google Analytics, your sales figures and any other statistics you can gather. Then use that to fine-tune your strategy for next year.

The bottom line…

For e-commerce stores, Black Friday is a retail opportunity not to be missed. Plan well, implement sensibly and ask us for support wherever you need it. You’ll not only boost your immediate sales, but also build a database of loyal customers for the future.

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