Black Friday used to be exclusively for the American market but over recent years has also made its way over the pond to the UK and is a huge event for retailers and marketers.
For a retailer and its digital marketing team, Black Friday is an all-encompassing event that can make or break a year. So how can you get the most from Black Friday this year? We Influence has asked its marketing team and come up with these top tips.
Read on to discover what you need to do to make sure you get more returns this Black Friday…
What is Black Friday?
Black Friday is the name for the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, which is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. So, this year, Black Friday will fall on the 27th. The day after Thanksgiving has been regarded as the beginning of the US Christmas shopping season.
It has always been an American event which over recent years has also made its way over to the UK, thanks in large part to American companies such as Amazon and Asda. They began to hold Black Friday promotions that led to hilarious and ridiculous footage of shoppers scrambling and fighting for just about anything they could grab.
It’s fair to say the in-store Black Friday in the UK has worn off. It’s all about online deals now. But the event has led to so much cash for retailers that it’s now a week-long event (yay?).
How has Black Friday changed UK shopping?
This is a difficult one to answer because over the past decade our shopping habits and lives have changed so much. We’re more online and using mobiles much now than in 2010 when Black Friday was really starting in the UK.
Since the early 2010s, retail sales figures for November have been catching up with December, where the UK’s Boxing Day was always the most popular shopping day. However, now the months are broadly similar, according to the Office for National Statistics.
In 2015 and 2017, November saw more sales than December, a sign that shoppers want a bargain in the build-up to Christmas. Since 2010, our change in internet habits have been reflected in sales – average weekly internet sales in November have more than tripled.
YouGov’s polls following 2019 Black Friday found that over a quarter of Brits said they spent more last year than in 2018, and nearly three-in-ten held off on their purchases before Black Friday. 19% said the sales were a factor that motivated them to start Christmas shopping.
What to expect for Black Friday 2020?
Obviously, 2020 has been something of a write off and with the UK in lockdown, online shopping is heading for a potentially record-breaking festive period.
Online shopping traffic grew 108% from the beginning of April to May – the first full month of lockdown, passing last year’s Black Friday traffic every day, according to marketing data platform PriceSpider. Traffic on 3rd May grew to record levels of 233% as compared to an average day before the lockdowns were put in place.
Sales from 22nd April to 28th April were also up 22% compared to last year’s Black Friday weekend. Categories such as food and beverage, health and beauty, hardware and consumer electronics saw an increase of as much as 589% over last year. This trend has largely stayed the same for this year with most of us staying home.
You can see where we’re going with this because Black Friday could be set for bumper sales, despite economies dipping and unemployment. The growth in online shopping, and our hesitation to go anywhere, comes at the cost of traditional retail, which is expected to see a loss of $2.1 trillion globally in 2020.
What is more, according to new research from customer experience management firm Sitel Group, 73% of UK consumers moved to online shopping for items they would typically buy in-store. Plus, 48% of consumers also said they would stop doing business with a brand during COVID-19 if their customer experience was poor.
What do you need to do to get the most from Black Friday?
We’re going to run you through some key areas, either general tactics or related to specific areas of digital marketing, that you need to sort before Black Friday arrives. Each one will help set you up for the best return for the week preceding this bumper shopping day.
Research from Klarna and Retail Economics found 71% of British consumers are reluctant to shop in-store in the lead up to Christmas. In fact, 56% say they expect to do more online shopping this year than in previous years. 33% hope to grab a bargain during Black Friday as most say they will be spending less this Christmas due to financial uncertainty.
Plan and Be Organised
Ah, the old six ‘Ps’ of planning is a favourite that never goes away: Prior Planning Prevents P*** Poor Performance.
Just like bank holidays and Christmas, for Black Friday you need to get your s**t together. This includes everything in your digital marketing service – emails and content in particular. Emails are especially important as it is the preferred means of communication during the pandemic, according to 37% of UK consumers.
Planning your email marketing strategy and teasing it out ahead of time is important so your customers know what offers they can expect. Surprisingly, just over 20% of marketers plan more than three months in advance for their peak email season.
By planning in advance you are able to create various pieces of content to improve conversions from your customers. You can review previous content and email strategies that led to high conversions and take inspiration from or implement them. It should be easy enough to look at your previous Black Friday email and content strategy for inspiration.
Ceri Foulkes, our Content Manager, says: “When creating Black Friday content, think about the channels you have available and make the most of them.
“Do you need a landing page for your campaign? Do you need content for emails? Or gift guides for social media? Plan all of this well in advance so you have all bases covered when your big sale goes live.”
Optimise for Mobile
While much of the Uk continues to be in some kind of lockdown, can you really expect customers to all be sitting at a computer? Nope. So, you need to optimise your emails, content and digital marketing services for mobile use. Users rely on their smartphones and tablets and are more likely to check them than a computer.
Research continues to show a growing number of consumers are doing their holiday shopping on mobile devices. In 2018, mobile devices accounted for 40% of total online sales. In the 2018 US holiday season, 51% of web traffic was done on mobile devices while desktop traffic dipped. So, you need mobile-friendly content.
This includes making sure that your email can be read easily and quickly by users on the go. Include your call to action buttons, ‘learn more’, ‘buy now’, and many more – they all increase the likelihood of readers continuing to your site. They also help mobile users access offers easier, unlike a hyperlinked image or banner.
Customer experience online has become more important during the pandemic. User experience is, obviously, crucial to any site, but customer experience (CX) is crucial. As we’ve said, 48% of consumers say they would stop doing business with a brand during COVID-19 if their customer experience was poor.
Obviously, some brands and areas of retail can do things that others can’t. For example, ordering online with a pick-up curbside is most improved customer experiences during the pandemic, compared to virtual experiences, according to 43% of UK shoppers. This, of course, is utilised by supermarkets but click and collect is still a strong option for brands.
You need to remember that more than a third of consumers view brands more positively because of policies they implement due to COVID-19 that may negatively impact their experience. But it doesn’t mean you can let your CX standards slip as when experiencing difficulty with a product or service, 41% would rather find the solution themselves.
When they do want help, though, 14% of consumers feel a digital representative, like a chatbot, would best understand their problem and assist them. This may be due to speed or response, but it shows that tech and having your UX service sorted is key to a winning customer experience.
SEO Can Help Too
While much of this has focused on email, content or general digital marketing, SEO can help you succeed throughout the Black Friday period. Creating pages early, best practises, links and using a recurring page for the event are all ways that can help you.
When we say best practices of SEO, this includes keywords, content, internal linking, site speed and user experience. The most important SEO best practice is to get your main ranking keyword added to your content. Make sure it’s in the page title and H1 heading. Content is best written around keyword themes rather than specific keywords.
Site speed is important to Google, so make sure that your website is loading as quickly as possible. Check what speed scores your competitors’ sites are getting and use the top performers as a baseline. Some of the techniques to improve your site speed include compressing image sizes and lightweight CMS themes.
Strong internal linking will help to guide users and search engines through your site, such as linking to landing pages from your homepage clearly. Improving the user journey can have a positive impact on your conversion rates. Having good internal linking will also ensure that authority trickles through the site properly.
Finally, use a recurring URL, not a new URL for each annual event. It’s frustrating to create a new page each year, for one thing, but you also have to start the process again. Give the landing page for your Black Friday events a meaningful URL that reflects that it’s used each year, like sale/black-friday. Don’t put the year in the URL. Just don’t.
Prepare for uncertainty, be empathetic
While retailers may be expecting a bumper Black Friday due to Christmas spending being brought forward and a year or restricted spending, this is unlikely to be the case.
The research by Klarna and Retail Economics found that households are expected to tighten their belts, as 36% of shoppers expect to cut back on festive spending. Just 12% expect to spend more on Christmas this year than last.
As shoppers look to carefully manage their finances, 76% say they will rely on personal finances – earnings or savings – to fund their Christmas spending this year, rather than take on debt via credit cards.
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