The popularity of Black Friday has exploded since it was first introduced to the UK in 2010.
Before then, most of us knew of the US shopping frenzy only from television images of consumers pushing, shoving, and even fighting their way into the most popular stores; since Black Friday traditionally takes place on the day following Thanksgiving (or the fourth Friday in November), the date didn’t mean that much to most people in the UK.
Amazon is largely credited with bringing Black Friday over to our side of the pond. In 2010, the online retailer started offering Black Friday discounts in Britain. In the years that followed, Amazon’s Black Friday deals became more popular, more widespread, and other retailers followed suit, both online and offline.
In 2013 Black Friday went mainstream, with Asda, amongst others, running flash promotions within stores, leading to chaotic scenes as consumers rushed to grab heavily discounted electronics, hardware goods, gifts, and more, all served on a first-come-first-served basis. The more people heard about the discounts, the more people rushed to get their hands on them.
Depending on your views, Black Friday is either a commercial success, or a social ill. Either way, as an e-commerce store owner, it’s an important date, and an opportunity to make a lot of money. And, since you will be doing all of your selling online, you won’t even have to worry about overcrowding, fighting, shoving, and all the rest.
So, here’s four tips that should help you get ready for the big, black day. Get ready, it’s coming fast.
Create a Promotional Calendar
Staying organised is essential when it comes to successfully planning and carrying out your promotional ideas.
Creating a promotional calendar is a great way to ensure that you get all of your promotional content out at the right times and in the right places. Once you know what discounts you will be offering and when, you can use your calendar to set things like:
- Dates and times when you will update the graphics and banners on your site.
- Dates and times for your promotional email campaign deployment.
- Date, times, and details of which social channels you will share content on.
- Dates you start and stop running advertising for each promotion.
Having and keeping to a plan will make it much more likely that your promotional campaigns will be a success. Else you risk getting overwhelmed and, in the midst of all that confusion, may forget to carry out essential tasks.
You can simply use a printed calendar or a free or paid online tool such Google Calendar or Hootsuite respectively.
Plan Out Your Returns Policy and Add Additional Payment Options
Black Friday is all about gifts. This means that many of your Black Friday customers will be purchasing items which they don’t usually purchase. One of the most off-putting things for the unsure buyer is a poor returns policy – especially when it comes to expensive items.
As such, during the holiday season, many online and offline stores will offer more liberal and extended returns and exchange policies. In order to remain competitive, you may have to consider doing the same. In general, your returns policy should extend at least until the January 1st, since this is first opportunity many people will have to return unwanted presents.
Additionally, you may want to consider adding some new payment options to your store. If, till now, you’ve only accepted Visa and MasterCard payments, you should perhaps consider allowing PayPal or even Bitcoin payments. Increasing the number of ways people can pay is fairly quick and can lead to improved conversion levels. For more information, see our recent blog “4 Payment Processing Companies for Online Stores”.
Choose Which Channels to Focus Your Promotional Efforts On
Your customers are likely to favour certain channels more than others, so you need to make sure that you communicate with them via the channel which suits them (not you) best. Attempting to run an effective promotional campaign on too many channels will lead to poor campaign performance.
Only you can decide which channels to focus on. But here’s a little advice to get you going.
- Blogs are a great way of improving your search engine ranking. This is especially important in the holiday season, since the types of people looking to purchase your goods are likely to expand. And those who are unfamiliar with your market are likely to start with a search engine query.
- Email marketing is a great way to reconnect with existing customers. Use your customer database to offer fantastic deals to people who you already know are interested in your goods and you’re likely to see your conversion rates jolt upwards. Remember, use targeted campaigns to get the best results.
- Social Media, done well, can allow you to connect with people at a time when they are much more open to making a purchase. Consider widening you target demographic when placing ads on sites like Facebook and Twitter, and schedule and post interesting, topical news to drive traffic to your store.
Prepare Track and Measure Results
Once you’ve set up your Black Friday campaign, you will want to know how it performs. This will ensure that next year you will do even better.
Tracking results is fairly straightforward, so long as you have the right tools. Solutions such as Hootsuite and HubSpot will generate reports based on the amount of engagement you get on social media, and you can use Google Analytics so see how your site itself is performing.
Look at what works and what doesn’t, and use this information to guide your campaigns moving forward. The more you refine your process, the more effective it will be.
Black Friday is an important date. And, like anything, in order to make the most of it, you need to be prepared. Follow the four tips presented here and you should be well positioned to capitalise on this consumer event. So, what are you waiting for?
Are you preparing for Black Friday? If so, what are you doing to prepare? If not, why? Let us know with a comment.