Whilst it’s been a phenomenon for many years in the United States, notable for its huge sales the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday has now established itself as a key date for retailers over here too.
Even though we’re less likely to spend a Thursday in mid-November eating turkey and pumpkin pie, the tradition for UK retailers to have a one day price plummet is one that very few seem reluctant to miss out on.
Over £1.4bn was spent on online sales in the UK on Black Friday 2017 – up nearly 12% on the previous year
Thankfully, the chaotic and newsworthy scenes of shoppers scrambling over cut-price TVs and vacuum cleaners have subsided in the last couple of Black Fridays, with many retailers now opting for more considered and conservative promotions lasting over the weekend until Cyber Monday, to fit in line with their wider marketing activity.
So while you’re unlikely to get an Xbox for under £50, you might be lucky to receive a 20% discount off the usual listing price instead, giving you a decent-sized saving in the run-up to Christmas.
As every business is different, there’s no one size fits all approach to nailing your Black Friday campaigns but we’ve picked out 15 points for you to consider in the run-up to Black Friday 2018.
15 Steps To Black Friday 2018 Success
1. Plan, plan… and plan some more
The last thing you want to do when you launch your Black Friday promotion is to underwhelm your customers with another generic discount.
That’s why it’s imperative to carefully plan out a calendar of promotions so you’re not cheapening the effect of a big price drop.
If you send a weekly newsletter with offers or incentives, scale these back for a few weeks so you can still make a big splash on Black Friday and have enough momentum to run into the Christmas season.
2. Set your goals and targets
Success means something different to just about every business owner and marketer in the game, so take time out to set some key metrics and targets you’d like to achieve.
The whole idea behind Black Friday’s rise to prominence is that it is based upon a sense of excess, but you shouldn’t feel like you have to aim for a 400% increase in sales just to play along.
Set benchmark figures from previous years or similar campaigns and aim for what you think should be a realistic and achievable goal.
3. Pick the right products
Whilst it’s easy to get carried away and drop down your prices to drive more sales, you must not lose track of your bottom line.
Don’t sell yourself short and sacrifice margin for the sake of a few extra sales. Doing so will only cost you more in the long run.
It’s estimated that around 86% of retailers in the UK took part in a Black Friday campaign during 2017
4. Get creative ahead of time
As soon as the clock hits 12 am on Black Friday, the biggest brands will be on the ball and generating sales straight away, but you don’t need the budget of John Lewis or Curry’s to be in the race.
Make sure you plan your content marketing, creative, copy, social campaigns, landing pages, blog posts, discount codes well in advance to get sign off and automate or schedule any roll out where you can.
5. Build suspense
In an age where everything is served to us almost instantly, a little suspense can go a long way.
In the week or so preceding Black Friday, consider dropping teaser emails or social posts to your customers to let them know you’ve got a big promotion on the way.
6. Brief your front-line staff
An influx of orders and enquiries can spark a rise in contact requests for your customer service staff so make sure you’re well-staffed and fully briefed.
Answer phones quickly and courteously, respond to emails in good time with succinct and helpful responses and be lightning quick with your live chat so you don’t lose any precious conversions.
Big savings on electronics, technology and gadgets are all sought after in Black Friday sales
7. Optimise for conversion
Once you’ve invested so much time and effort getting people to your product pages, you don’t want to lose them so carry out a quick conversion rate optimisation audit.
Make sure your product pages have clear calls to action and contain everything they need to make an informed purchasing decision. This could be information on delivery, returns or product specification right through to visual clues showing stock levels and availability.
8. Be clear on your returns process
Whilst eCommerce has transformed the way we shop, the biggest barrier affecting retailers still seems to be the returns process.
Regardless of how you want to deal with returns, make your returns policy crystal clear on your product listings and service pages so you don’t lose out due to poor on-site information.
9. Ensure your website can deal with the volume
Even if you’re not anticipating a huge surge in visitors, you should get in touch with your hosting company ahead of time and make sure there’s a contingency plan in place if you get a sudden spike in traffic to make sure your website doesn’t go down.
UK online sales were up 3% between 11am and 5pm on Cyber Monday 2017, compared to 2016. The peak minute for purchasing goods was 4:38 pm, towards the end of the working day.
10. Be clingy
If you are lucky to get an influx of new visitors you want to leave a lasting impression, even if they don’t buy from you on the day.
Implement retargeting adverts, abandoned basket, tracking pixels for social media and make sure you can still convert long after Black Friday has passed with some timely and relevant remarketing.
11. Engage with your new customers
Following on from this, once you’ve gone through the expense of attracting new customers you don’t want to let them go lightly.
After the dust has settled on Black Friday, send over some incentive-driven newsletter emails, push them to follow you on your social channels or follow up with review invitations to generate that all-important user-generated content.
12. Widen the net
The possibilities for eCommerce websites are endless now with multiple marketplaces and even social media platforms acting as additional revenue streams for online sellers.
If your order infrastructure allows, consider listing on Amazon, eBay, Esty or even creating shoppable posts across your Facebook and Instagram channels to drive new sales away from your website.
One in 13 searches alongside the term ‘Black Friday’ included the words ‘Amazon’ or ‘Argos’
13. Prepare for a night shift!
Chances are that even if you work the usual office hours of 9-5, your customers will be looking for a bargain well into the evening.
Preparing for a late shift means that not only are you able to track your orders as they come through, but you can also be on hand to answer any quick customer queries or deal with website errors rather than come back in the morning to a nasty shock.
Just make sure you have the capability to work from home, including setting up any VPN or secure connections required to access your key systems.
14. Learn, reflect, go again
Once the dust has settled, your sales have returned to their normal level and your staff have recovered from the madness of Black Friday it’s a good idea to reflect and take stock on what worked and what didn’t.
Start your planning for next year while it’s still fresh in your mind, incorporate similar tactics into other seasonal sales or simply vow to never do it again if the cons outweighed the pros.
15. Or be totally different… and don’t play along
Whilst Black Friday seems to be here to stay and almost every business feels the need to be involved, some are actually making a point of not following the crowd.
In the last few years, outdoor retailer REI has taken the step of actually closing their physical and online stores on Black Friday to grant their employees an extra day off.
While this checklist on how to prepare for Black Friday is by no means exhaustive, hopefully, you’ll now have some tools under your belt to make it a success.
Above all, the key takeaways should be to focus on what’s best for your business. Plan ahead, take a chance but not a risk and make sure your customers are at the core of your activity.
There’s still time to plan for Black Friday 2018 so contact Kanuka Digital today if you want to drive extra sales in the run-up to Christmas
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