Sep 26, 2023
7 minutes to read
Marketing is about timing. Making sure you reach customers at the right moment, with the right message, is the key to successful marketing campaigns at any time of the year. Around the Holiday Season, people are actively looking for bargains.
With budgets stretched tight — and highly motivated consumers — it’s the perfect time to reach shoppers with a well-thought-out promotion strategy. By considering a few simple marketing fundamentals, you can increase your conversion rate and build up your pool of loyal customers. In this blog post, we'll cover:
The term Black Friday emerged in Philadelphia in the 1960s, referring to the heavy footfall and gridlocked car traffic that was typical of the day after the American public holiday of Thanksgiving.
However, the history of Black Friday discounts occurring the day after Thanksgiving has a longer history.
Since the early 19th century, department stores would sponsor Christmas parades on Thanksgiving Thursday, the most famous of which is probably the Macy’s parade in New York.
These parades were huge brand awareness campaigns, advertising the start of the Christmas holiday shopping season.
It soon became a tradition that the day after Thanksgiving was considered the first shopping day of the US festive season, which led to the traffic chaos that gave Black Friday its name. As competition increased for customers in the key opening hours of the highly competitive season a new tradition was born — the Black Friday Sale.
By offering Black Friday deals, even stores that weren’t sponsoring parades were able to entice extra customers on days when footfall was high. Over time the Black Friday discount tradition was born, and stores competed to offer more and more extravagant special offers. These steep discounts are colloquially called ‘doorbusters’.
In the era of online retailers, the Black Friday tradition has continued, with modern ecommerce repurposing the core of the Black Friday marketing idea, but adding a modern twist, with concepts like flash sales, free shipping or special Black Friday coupons deployed to entice customers.
And instead of shop front displays, since cost per click (CPC) for online ads are extra high on Black Friday, marketers try to get a slice of the increased (online) traffic using owned media like email campaigns or social media channels.
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Consumers are highly motivated and active online around Black Friday. Some retailers pick items that are out of season, to clear stock at a time when people are looking for a deal. Others are aiming to increase brand awareness or drive retention. For retailers who are only looking to get a bigger slice of the increased Black Friday traffic, arranging their marketing strategy around ‘big ticket’ items makes sense.
Large retail buyers negotiate months in advance to arrange massive discounts on the manufacturers’ side, so they can offer prestige items such as TVs, cameras and other expensive luxury products at a reduced price.
The economics of this approach is simple in a traditional retail setup. When customers come in the door, tempted by a loss-leader offer (a product sold below cost as a way to tempt consumers inside), if they buy additional items then the store comes out ahead.
Similarly, stores rely on a price discrimination strategy. Perhaps if you discount a TV by 70%, a person who couldn’t otherwise afford it buys the TV, meaning one additional sale and someone who could afford to buy the TV any other day decides it isn’t worth the queues and hassle to buy the TV at a discount.
However, this approach breaks down in the online space — how do you ensure customers are buying the additional items that justify the offer? And with the ease of check-out that is the hallmark of ecommerce, what is stopping every motivated consumer from redeeming your discount? If customers who would have paid full price anyway end up availing of discounts, you’re leaving money on the table.
High discounts of 20%, 30%, or 50% are exactly what customers are expecting on Black Friday. A discount can be easily implemented, adjusted quickly, and communicated clearly through your website or via email. However, flat-rate discounts don’t work across the board when it comes to turnover or profit, even on Black Friday. Customers react differently to price changes depending on the product, so it’s important to set differentiated discounts on articles based on their price elasticity. For example, items with high price elasticity should be given higher discounts. Your best bet is to discount items that have a high profit margin.
By offering general discounts and treating all customers as identical unthinking units, retailers can potentially leave money on the table. For example, while one person might need a 25% discount to make a specific purchase, another person might only need a 10% discount or no discount at all.
During large shopping holidays, people are already planning their purchases and often have an idea of what they want. Offering a discount on something a customer would buy without the discount is ineffective — and teaches shoppers to expect discounts, meaning customers will hold off on purchases until the next holiday rolls around.
This long-term negative impact on your brand isn't worth the short-term increase in traffic. Brands that solely focus on attracting new customers during the Holiday season can fall behind if they don't also focus on retaining those customers.
Coupons provide a way to move from the general to the specific. In legacy retail, coupons were targeted at audiences who might read a certain newspaper or who provided footfall in a certain area. In modern commerce, instead of relying on general discount campaigns, brands should focus on the customer experience and target their offers to specific consumer groups. Technology can make this easy — as our guide to personalization can show.
Having a customer-centric strategy is the key to building lasting relationships with customers. Customers have more options than ever when shopping, so brands looking to build long-term relationships need to create offerings that are tailored to the customer.
When you’re creating your Black Friday coupon codes, it’s important to ensure that you set a budget for the campaign. Without creating limits around how coupons can be redeemed, and ensuring you set an upper limit on how much the campaign will cost you, you potentially leave yourself open to an embarrassing climbdown if you are unable to fulfill your promised discounts — or leaving yourself open to making a loss on the campaign.
The way to ensure your Black Friday discount codes are going to give you a positive ROI is to create secure and unique coupon codes. Ways to ensure coupons are limited is to use tactics like linking redemption to user accounts and having a general code (for instance BLACKFRIDAY10 for 10% off) that can only be redeemed once per account) or generating an individual unique code for each user (for example BLACKFRIDAY10-91d37h).
The most important first step when preparing for Black Friday is to put together a to-do list. Decide how you want to sort items between discountable and non-discountable items. You also need to decide on the timing for sales across the day (or days, if you are planning to build campaigns around Black Friday). A consumer survey shows that some 59% of women and 48% of men say they start shopping before Black Friday. By preparing in advance you can capitalize on this traffic by having your promotions set up and ready to go before the big day.
By keeping organized, you can also schedule social posts to promote your offers. If you are offering any flash sales, make sure you schedule tweets or Facebook posts to promote them. There are tools, like Hootsuite and Sprout Social that you can use to plan your social campaign. It’s also important to ensure you have your web banners prepared to go live in advance.
Finally, it’s vitally important that you create a workflow to retarget and reengage users who show purchase intent on Black Friday but then either fail to convert or abandon their cart. The first and most immediate strategy is to have an exit modal pop-up on your page when the user goes to navigate away. Having an additional Black Friday discount can turn that opportunity into a sale.
To bolster your Q1 performance, you should view Black Friday as more than just a single interaction with consumers; instead, it should be seen as an integral component of the overall customer experience. This implies that obtaining new customers is not the end goal but rather the initial step in integrating them into your business.
Black Friday top promotions
When you’re building out your Black Friday promo strategy, make sure to research examples — but also try to stay creative. Customers will be used to all the standard tactics — and they all work well. But you can really differentiate yourself by introducing a new or creative way to put a spin on a Black Friday promotion.
Check out our 5 campaign ideas for Black Friday sales if you’re looking for a Black Friday top promo idea.
For more information on how you can power up your Black Friday campaigns, download our report, "How to optimize your stack for Black Friday."
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