Five strategies for winning Black Friday

Five strategies for winning Black Friday

It’s nearly that time of year again – the Friday after Thanksgiving in the United States, when consumers look towards Christmas and start seriously shopping in preparation. 

Black Friday, as it’s long been coined, is one of the busiest online sales events of the year, with Cyber Monday following shortly behind. This makes November the peak month on the calendar for online sales. 

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic – which saw everybody working remotely and buying remotely too – sales in 2020 grew by a massive 26.5 per cent compared to pre-pandemic 2019. 2021 was different though, with numbers normalising again.

This raises the question of whether figures will ever return to those of 2020 – especially with ongoing supply chain issues, the war in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis all threatening Black Friday sales this year.

“Don’t panic”, says George Linton, Head of Growth at By Association Only. 

“It is globally acknowledged that BFCM (Black Friday Cyber Monday) was quieter last year than we had seen in a while. But there were still huge success stories within that, and for some merchants, it was bigger than ever. 

“The cost of living crisis and the inevitable recession means that shoppers will be in greater need of a bargain than ever before, meaning there is still a significant place for and value in holding sales.”

A recent survey supports this theory too – despite 88 per cent of consumers being worried about the cost of living and 20 per cent expecting to have significantly lower budgets for the festive period, 91 per cent of respondents are still planning as much, if not more, engagement with Black Friday sales this year compared to last.

Of course, no one can predict what will happen, but merchants can at least strategise carefully to maximise their chances of success this year and beyond. So here are our top five tips for ensuring your Black Friday sale is a success, no matter what.

Self-Portrait website on Black Friday

1) Target customers using the information you know about them

They say, “it’s not what you know it’s who you know,” but in ecommerce it’s who you know and what you know about them that makes all the difference. 

Targeting customers with discounted products based on their recent browsing history is a sure way to increase sales. By sending them products we know they are interested in, customers are more likely to convert.

You can also target based on items found in abandoned baskets – shoppers abandon their carts all the time for various reasons, but having the right tools to remind them of their purchase can recover online sales at a solid rate.

And, it’s not as hard as it may seem. Tools such as Klavyio’s price drop flow let customers know when products they’ve looked at have been reduced in price. 

You could also use Nosto’s email personalisation widgets to generate blocks of products that you think your customer might like and insert them into a newsletter, or utilise Wishlist to target customers with discounts on the products they have had their eye on.

Danetti website on Black Friday

2) Use countdowns to create a sense of urgency 

Time really is of the essence when it comes to sale shopping. At the end of the day, the sale won’t last forever, and it pays to remind potential customers of that.

Showing limited stock availability is one simple way of creating a sense of urgency. You can also use countdowns to the end of the sale or have limited-time deals with discounts for say, 24 hours.

Granting loyal customers early access to sales is also a fantastic way to get the ball rolling – consumers who feel special are more likely to purchase if they’re offered a seemingly tailored reward.

Susanne Kaufmann website on Black Friday
Oh Polly website on Black Friday

3) Reward loyal customers

As well as early access to sales, there are countless other ways you can make loyal customers feel special. Consider deeper discounts for top-tier loyalty customers, for instance. 

Tools such as ecommerce customer loyalty and engagement platform LoyaltyLion are great for this, as is Shopify Scripts – small pieces of code that let you create personalised experiences for your customers in their cart and at checkout. 

You can use scripts to create discounts that are applied to a cart based on the items in that cart as well as other cart properties. You can also use scripts to customise the shipping and payment options available to your customers.

For those merchants without an existing loyalty programme, you could create a segment of your most loyal customers based on those who spend a certain amount over a given time, newsletter subscribers, regular shoppers and so on.

If you’re providing a group of customers with a targeted discount, make sure the process for purchasing is as seamless as possible. Use a unique URL rather than a discount code that needs to be entered manually by the customer, for example. This reduces the chance of human error, and your phone or emails being clogged up by “I can’t get the code to work” messages!

Sophie Allport website on Black Friday

4) Ensure your sale is easily discovered

There is little point in holding a sale if your customers can’t find it. Think carefully about the different touch points across your site and consider where you can highlight your sale or sales.

Homepage banners are prime advertising space given that most retailers’ traffic lands there. Consider banners on specific collection pages or product pages, too though.

And don’t forget to add your Black Friday sale to the front of your navigation bar or menu as well as your search dropdown. Utilise right-hand columns, if you have them, and create custom pop-ups – they work!

5) Adopt SMS marketing 

Some retailers are nervous to implement SMS marketing because they think it’s too invasive. 

Don’t ignore the opportunity though – in July 2021, Yotpo surveyed 500 British consumers who had shopped online in the past year. These shoppers spanned six different age groups – 16-17, 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, and 54 plus – and four demographics – Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers.

Of all shoppers polled, over 72 per cent are signed up to receive text messages from at least one brand. There is clear interest in texting, and therefore a prime opportunity for brands to start taking advantage of the channel.

And remember, by law, you can only message customers who have opted into being communicated with by you via text. That means they want to hear from you. Send them your discounts and they will be delighted – you might even see your open and conversion rates soar too.

Last but not least…

… you can always consider running an alternative event to Black Friday too. 

“If your brand has particular values that appeal to your audience, having events that support those values rather than direct discounts to customers can help you to stand apart from other brands and motivate customers,” says Rory O'Hara, ecommerce account strategist at By Association Only. “Donating money to sustainability or environmental causes is a great idea, for example.” 

Or why not launch a new product instead? That’s exactly what Allbirds did last year when it released its Wool Runner-Up Mizzle sneakers in three exclusive colors. Afterall, not every brand is able nor willing to offer discounts or deals, and this can be a great way of creating buzz around a product.

By Association Only is the Shopify Plus agency for the world’s most design-conscious luxury brands. Get in touch to discover how our team of experts can support your brand’s Shopify ambitions.

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