In today’s blog, 10twelve has some tips to help you plan and execute your Black Friday strategy. We’ve borrowed ideas from some of the country’s biggest retailers, and we hope you find something inspirational to help you achieve your goals for the coming holiday shopping season. Even if your products and services don’t have anything to do with gift giving or the holiday season, you can take advantage of the hype around Black Friday to improve your brand recognition and offer your customers something special. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday growing in popularity year-after-year, it pays to come up with your own strategy to drive sales results and help your customers choose you to spend money with on their shopping spree.
Black Friday has been the busiest shopping day of the year since 2005 according to ShopperTrak, the sales tracking system run by the International Council of Shopping Centers. It’s a huge opportunity for online retailers and traditional storefronts to start the holiday shopping season with a bang. Last year, we saw a huge increase in the use of social media to promote Black Friday sales online. With almost 1.5 million tweets referencing Black Friday in 2015 and countless #BlackFriday mentions across social media platforms, you can’t ignore this promotional opportunity for your business this year. Whether you have a strong social media presence or not, it pays to promote yourself with a savvy and timely strategy for Black Friday promotions in the weeks leading up to the big day in November.
There are many different strategies employed on Black Friday to drive consumers to both physical storefronts and online shopping destinations. Whether you choose to create a unique hashtag, offer promotions online, or something else, it really pays to get the word out during the Black Friday fever that grips the nation. It’s vital to get out early since Black Friday mentions online start to ramp up as early as mid-September.
The obvious first stop is promotion and sales. Exclusive deals and Black Friday sales are the primary focus of this consumer-driven shopping occasion. Consider how you want to use the unique opportunity to promote your brand and drive profitability for the holiday season. You aren’t limited to just Friday, either. In the last ten years, Black Friday gave birth to Cyber Monday (and Cyber Week). Use both holidays to help you entice shoppers to your shopping destinations. Use your social media channels to offer web-exclusives, door crashers, and anything else to get your customers excited to shop. Hourly deals can keep the momentum rolling throughout the day (or week), and you can offer deals like sign up bonuses for new customers to get them to shop with you. Other simple ideas like “free mystery gift with purchase” and contests or sweepstakes can be easy to set up and help to build intrigue around your brand in your potential customer base.
One of the most innovative strategies from last year’s record-breaking Black Friday was the #OptOutside campaign by the outdoor retailer REI. Instead of using a traditional campaign to drive both in-person and online sales, REI opted to focus on online sales and give their retail staff the day off. They asked both employees and customers to “opt outside” and take the day after Thanksgiving to enjoy the great outdoors (hopefully using REI products). It was a winning strategy since it promoted the brand with free media coverage and tied in perfectly with the mission, vision, and values of REI. It was a memorable campaign that both promoted the REI brand and improved employee satisfaction in the retail channel.
Another simple idea for your Black Friday social media strategy is getting out the right store information for customers. Any potential shoppers who aren’t sure about holiday hours for their favorite stores will simply stay home when it’s difficult to find out when they can visit. Sure, most businesses have figured out that store hours (including holidays) should be front-and-center on their website, but the best promoters will use social media to drive home the point that they are open for business. You can plant the seed in your customers’ minds with opening hours imbedded in all of your social media posts to remind customers when you’re open. In the weeks leading up to the big day, many consumers will form an attack plan for their shopping spree. Make sure you’re on the list with a strategy to let people know when and where they can shop for your Black Friday bargains.
The cream of the crop in social media for marketers is UGC (user-generated content). While it can sometimes backfire when you fail to deliver a good shopping experience, most consumers want to share positive stories in their social media feeds for Black Friday. Retweets, shares, and original content from your customers can help drive people into the store. The personal reflections and successes of your customers are pure gold in terms of brand recognition. Your best brand advocates are your tweet-happy, Instagramming customers showing off their purchases and spreading the love for your brand. Be on the lookout in your mentions and retweets for compelling stories and great photos to add a personal touch to your Black Friday feed. Have your social media team prepare for the event with new product reviews, hashtags, contents, and anything they can do to deliver branded content for shares and retweets during the holiday shopping season.
When you’re trying to offer value to your customers to help them choose you for their Black Friday shopping, you can do more than just cut your prices and offer prizes. A little education and useful advice can go a long way to show your potential customers that you care about them. Holiday gift giving guides and shopping tips for Black Friday will help prepare your shoppers to tackle their holiday list. Now is a good time to revisit your customer experience surveys to see if there are any holes in what you can offer them. Black Friday shoppers want to be able to tell a good story when they describe their shopping experience with you. Make it easy for them to promote your brand on your behalf with convenient and useful advice that they can actually use.
Free shipping for Black Friday and Cyber Week is another idea, although many retailers already offer free shipping. Look at expedited shipping options and see if you can offer a break on the cost you offer your clients. Consider lowering your shipping fees if you can’t swallow free shipping in your particular business model. There’s a lot we can do as marketers to improve our brand recognition and reach our sales goals without slashing prices and profitability. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes, or think about your recent experiences as a consumer. What makes it a good experience for you? What bugs you at the checkout? These are tactics you should be using all year, but Black Friday is a big opportunity for marketers. It pays to take a hard look at yourself to make sure you face the crowds with your best foot forward.
Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year, and November arrives quickly after the back-to-school and Halloween sales have ended. With the tips above and a focus on providing value to your customers, you too can take advantage of the mania and excitement around Black Friday this year. We hope you found these tips helpful, and good luck with your Black Friday numbers this year! Need help with holiday marketing strategy and a plan for a strong 2017? Contact 10twelve today!