The biggest shopping day of the year is going to look a lot different in 2020. We explore how businesses can grab the attention of customers and stand out from the crowd on Black Friday.
Black Friday in 2020
Black Friday is on the 27th November 2020. Traditionally a US custom that takes place after Thanksgiving, it has since taken the world by storm. For most people it makes the start of the festive season, as we start thinking about Christmas gifts for loved ones. Its certainly big business – Brits are expected to spend £6.5 billion on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
As the name suggests, Cyber Monday is the online iteration of Black Friday, the latter usually taking place in brick-and-mortar stores. This year will be completely different. With the ongoing pandemic preventing many offline businesses from opening, customers have shifted their shopping habits online. As we explored in a previous blog piece, the pandemic has irrevocably changed the way we shop. Even traditionally-offline shoppers are predicted to increase the amount of online purchases they make by 160%.
This is excellent news for e-commerce businesses, as it allows them to reach previously-unreachable audiences. Black Friday is the biggest opportunity of the year, if you know what you’re doing. Here, we explore some marketing techniques that can help you cut through the noise and win the attention of potential customers.
The best time to start your Black Friday campaign was yesterday. The 2nd best time to start is now. For those new to the concept, it would be easy to assume that it’s a 2-day event – the Friday and the following Monday. However, this hasn’t been true for a number of years.
In a bid to out-do each other, businesses have been starting their campaigns earlier and earlier – some as early as Halloween. Black Friday has become Black Friday Month. Every brand is keen to win the consumers’ wallets before their competitors do, and sometimes you need to play the game. Leaving your promotions to the actual day, when the noise is at fever-pitch, is risky. We’d only recommend this if you operate in a less-competitive sector or if your products are unique to your business.
Retailers in particular should start early. Consumers are extremely price-sensitive around Black Friday. Combine this with wider macro-economic factors (a struggling economy and low consumer confidence) and you get consumers that will scour the internet for the best possible price. By starting your campaign early, you can take advantage of lower advertising costs and drive conversions before the bigger brands aggressively discount their products.
On the subject of discounts, you’ll likely feel compelled to use them. A discount is a great way to get customers over the line, from consideration to conversion. It’s what Black Friday is all about, and it’s wise to provide one if you have room in your margins. This isn’t strictly necessary for all businesses. Now we’ll run through a couple of marketing strategies that could help you stand out without costing a fortune.
Use Black Friday to Expand Your Audience
Black Friday doesn’t have to just be about driving sales. It can also be a great time to expand your audience and grow your following ahead of the all-important ‘golden quarter’. As we mentioned earlier, traditional in-store Black Friday shoppers are going digital this year. This means new people to turn into fans of your brand.
You could launch a paid social campaign that emphasises brand awareness in the run-up to Black Friday. Entice users to follow by using the promise of incentives, e.g. “follow our page for exclusive Black Friday discounts!”. Exclusivity is a key aspect to building an online following. You need to make users feel like they can’t get the same content (or discount) anywhere else.
This is good for building both social media fan bases and mailing lists. Email marketing can be extremely effective on Black Friday. Firstly they have guaranteed delivery (assuming it doesn’t go to junk). It’s therefore much more likely your audience will see your communications. Posting organically on social media can sometimes feel like rolling a dice. There’s no guarantee that your content will get the visibility you need around Black Friday, with so many competing businesses posting at the same time.
Nevertheless, we advise making the most of all your channels. You may want to consider using channel-specific UTMs or discount codes so you can see which are generating traffic.
Consider a ‘Green Friday’ Approach
Black Friday & Cyber Monday have faced a growing amount of backlash in recent years. This is partly due to the rise of the ‘conscious consumer’ which we discuss in our green marketing article. A growing number of people see Black Friday as an example of ‘relentless consumerism’ and want to encourage society to shop more ethically and responsibly.If being eco-friendly is already a part of your brand identity, it’s a no-brainer to utilise this to transform Black Friday into Green Friday.
First, it starts with communication. In the build-up to ‘Green’ Friday you should announce on your social media channels that you won’t be heavily discounting products like other businesses, and explain why. Outline the green credentials of your business in a series of posts and fold in shocking facts on how Black Friday contributes to environmental harm. Electronics are highly sought-after during the event, and greatly add to the 50 million tons of electronic waste we produce each year.
The next step is to take action. An option you could consider is to donate a cut of your Green Friday profits to a charity that aligns with your brand. For example, our clothing project Living Thing is donating a percentage of profits to tree-planting charities. Rather than saying “we’ve raised £500 for charity”, instead say “together we’ve planted 100 trees”. Consumers want to see results, not numbers.
Not only will this do wonders for your brand image, but it means you don’t have to heavily discount products to keep up with the bigger businesses.
This is going to be a Black Friday & Cyber Monday like no other. The monumental shift to online shopping means e-commerce businesses will have more competition than ever. Thankfully, your campaign doesn’t have to be restricted to the two days. November is Black Friday Month in all but name. Start early to gain an advantage over your competitors, use the event to expand your audience and galvanize your existing fanbase to find success this holiday season.