Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, is looming closer. Across the world shoppers and customers will be scouring the internet for the best deals and with less than a month left, you need to ask yourself if your business is prepared.
2017’s Black Friday saw an increase of 17% in online spending, with in-store footfall decreasing by 2% according to analytics by Adobe. With the instant access and flexibility of online offers, this trend will continue to shift away from brick and mortar store visits.
However, massive influxes of traffic, depleted stock levels and ineffective marketing campaigns can turn Black Friday, into a lacklustre event that drives your customers to competitors.
Planned and executed strategically, Black Friday can be a fantastic opportunity to shift slow-moving stock, attract new audiences and convert them to loyal customers who will return outside of sale seasons.
At Venn, we’ve sat down with our experts to help you prepare for the unofficial start of Christmas shopping.
1/ Make sure your website can cope with Black Friday traffic volumes
- HB, Senior Developer
“To prepare for the Black Friday rush, ask your developer to check and assess the usage of your current servers. If you’re in need of an upgrade to your service package or it isn’t scalable, it’s best to talk to your provider in advance.”
A lot of businesses invest in huge marketing campaigns during the build-up to the sale, but don’t consider the amount of traffic they can generate. This can cause major issues.
If your server’s capacity and infrastructure aren’t prepared for Black Friday, then your customers may find themselves battling against the infamous 500 Internal Server Error. Unable to access your website, new and loyal customers will start looking elsewhere for another deal.
With hosting companies offering fluid hosting plans, businesses can easily find one to suit their needs. This can help deal with growing traffic and businesses anticipating a large Black Friday spike can work with their provider to find a scalable plan that prevents their website from going down.
2/ Manage your stock
“If you have multiple applications such as stock management systems and e-commerce platforms, then you need to ensure that all the data is correctly synced. This prevents you from over-selling stock, giving a negative user experience.”
During Black Friday, the best offers tend to fly off the shelves.
Just because a product is added to a cart, doesn’t mean the sale is confirmed and with multiple people at checkout, there’s a real risk that customers may be left disappointed. Allowing customers to get to the end of the purchasing journey only to find out that the products they selected are sold out can result in bad reviews and lost revenue.
So, in preparation for Black Friday, you need to make sure that you have enough stock, the levels are correct, and customers can be pre-warned if products run low.
It’s not all about avoiding disappointment. By letting customers know when stock runs low you’re not just informing them, you’re creating a sense of urgency which could send them rushing to the checkout.
3/ Create an exciting Black Friday video
- Laura Tomkinson, Videographer
“Keep it short and eye-catching. There’s going to be a lot of short social ads prepared for Black Friday and yours need to stand out. Target the right people and keep it relevant, stick to creating content that your existing customers – or lookalike ones – will love.”
Video marketing is an essential method of promoting your business and brand. The same applies to any sales you have planned, especially on the run up to Black Friday.
Creating a teaser can generate early interest and build excitement around whatever you’re offering. To generate a sense of urgency, make sure you include the start and end dates of the sale.
For promotional videos, make sure you place your call-to-action at the end, such as a ‘visit the site’ link or a discount code to use in-store. This is a fundamental part of video marketing and it’s surprising to see how much it is overlooked.
4/ Get the most from your PPC this Black Friday
- Lawrence Jones, Head of PPC
“Black Friday is one of the most competitive times of the year for paid search. Be sure to monitor the early data such as average position and spend. With this data at hand, you can adjust your bids accordingly and ensure that your ads are getting ahead of the competition.”
If you run an online store, you’re no stranger to Black Friday and each year should contain another lesson to help you improve.
When planning, the first thing you need to do is review last year’s data. Analyse which products and campaigns saw the greatest return and which didn’t work quite as planned. This will ensure you can spend your budget on the areas that made a real impact. Alongside this, you can see which messages performed best with your target audience and how much you had to spend to get any real traction with them.
The final step of the review will be to assess the budget needed. Was last year’s enough to last the entire day or did you find that it ran out too early? This information can help you make real budgeting estimates.
Next, you should analyse the platforms you want to utilise. Targeting the ones that your audience frequent and drive the most traffic is going to help you increase conversions. Knowing the platforms and the users that use them means you can create powerful campaigns that target the right audiences.
Around Black Friday, there is a definite burst in searches and a review of budgets is essential. Again, reviewing last year’s data and finding out where it fell short should help influence the amount you use this time around.
5/ Make sure what you’re marketing is marketable
- Leah Tillyer, Head of Client Services
“Making the most of Black Friday is all in the preparation. Planning should start at least 3 months in advance and will have to consider all your customer touch points, from social media to onsite content. Combine an effective campaign with a product worth discounting and you’ll build not just your profits, but your customer base as well.”
A lot of online stores may see discounts as a way of cheapening their products, but with all eyes on Black Friday sales, you simply can’t ignore the sales potential. The lifetime value of a new customer massively outweighs the price reductions and a positive experience will bring them back to your site long after Black Friday ends.
Simply applying 5% or 10% discounts might not cut it though as the average Black Friday discount in the US was around 44%. You can take the savings one step further by offering a saving via an exclusive gift. This won’t just entice your existing customer base, but also any new customers who come across your marketing.
6/ Know your operational limits
- Sarah Toms, Head of Sales
Whether it’s more power on the warehouse floor or ensuring customer communications are as efficient as possible, your business needs to have the capabilities to deal with a sudden spike in Black Friday sales.
This also means knowing when to end the deals. Setting cut off points for next-day delivery, ending discounts on time and monitoring stock levels are all vital to running an efficient e-commerce business.
7/ Don’t forget your existing customers
- Steff Tabah, Marketing & Social Media Executive
“Whether it’s a gift or a discount, your email marketing campaign should prioritise urgency. Coupling the savings available with messaging such as ‘while stocks last’ can inspire your customers to take action, leading to more conversions from your email marketing campaign.”
Exclusivity goes a long way in e-commerce and rewarding your existing customers with early access or specific discounts will help them feel valued. A good way to do this is to use your social media channels to encourage people to sign up to your mailing list in the weeks prior to Black Friday with the promise of exclusive rewards. Not only will this build a bigger audience, but it will also help with remarketing and future paid campaigns outside of sale season.
Black Friday is almost upon us and if you want to make the most of the opportunity, you need to be ready. We’re a digital agency that covers everything from slick web development to creative marketing campaigns, so get in touch today.