By Joseph DeFalco
Summer wasn’t even over before word of this year’s most anticipated Black Friday deals began to leak online. In this frenetic holiday sale world we live in, Black Friday is the mother of all shopping days. It is the one day you can pick up the best deals on TVs, video games, laptops and, honestly, anything that comes to mind.
In 2015, Black Friday sales totaled more than $13 billion, a combination of both online and brick and mortar sales. Businesses recognize the enormous economic boost of the shopping holiday, but sometimes it can be daunting to implement a plan to market your business for Black Friday. As a small business owner, you won’t be competing with the likes of Best Buy, Target and Walmart. But you can take advantage of the shopping holiday to attract customers and get a jump start on your holiday sales. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know:
E-Commerce is growing. Sales are on the rise overall, but e-commerce is where the growth is for Black Friday sales. Time Magazine reported that online sales grew 14 percent in 2015 over 2014, leading into the highly anticipated Cyber Monday following Thanksgiving. At the same time, sales at brick and mortar stores fell more than $1 billion between 2014 and 2015. On Black Friday and Thanksgiving combined, shoppers spent $4.45 billion online, according to Adobe. Of those online shoppers, one-third used their mobile phones for purchases and smartphones represented a record 22 percent share of online sales, up 70 percent from 2014, according to Fortune Magazine.
Email marketing works. Whether you send e-newsletters or e-blasts, email marketing works. In 2015, email accounted for more than a quarter of all online sales on Black Friday. The key to spurring customers to open your emails and click through to your website is to create enticing subject lines and use powerful calls to action.
Creativity delivers results. In order to know what’s likely to work for your business this year, you need to know what worked last year. Did you have discounts, contests or social media promotions that drew traffic and resulted in sales last year? Was there one channel that worked particularly well, like your website, Facebook, e-blasts or an advertisement in a local newspaper? If you have Google Analytics tied to your website, look at the sources of your online traffic and see if you can tie sales into particular holiday promotions.
Once you know some of the trends when it comes to Black Friday sales, it’s time to get creative. We’ve put together some ideas to help you market your business this holiday season:
- Offer door busters. Consider a special deal to the first 10, 20 or 30 people who buy on Black Friday. If you operate a gym, think about offering a discount for new customers who buy a one year or multi-year membership on Black Friday or through the holiday weekend. This will encourage people to come into your business for a tour and create a sense of urgency because there are a limited number of discounts available.
- Host a Black Friday event. Invite the public in for coffee and cookies on Black Friday, maybe even invite a local choir to sing holiday songs. Better yet, team up with the businesses on either side of yours for a festive group event. Promote special discounts available only during the event.
- Offer special deals to those who sign up for your email list. Offer a unique discount to those who sign up for your marketing emails. People will sign up for the Black Friday discount, but you will reap permanent benefits in the form of emails you can add to your ongoing marketing efforts.
- Provide free or discounted shipping. The goal is to maximize Black Friday sales, so you want to eliminate obstacles for potential customers. If the shipping charges are high, it may encourage people to leave shopping carts online before checking out and that’s what you want to avoid.
- Help a charity. The holiday season can sometimes seem all about commercialism, but given the opportunity, consumers do want to help others. Offer them a chance to do both and they will be grateful. Ask your customers to bring in a canned good to help a local food bank in exchange for a discount or give a portion of the day’s profits to a local charity. Not only will you help those less fortunate in your community, but you will build brand loyalty among your customers who love your willingness to help those less fortunate.
If you have an e-commerce website, it’s important to optimize your digital presence in advance of Black Friday. In 2015, Neiman Marcus’s website crashed at 8 a.m. on Black Friday, causing anxious shoppers to encounter error messages for at least 24 hours. Make sure this doesn’t happen to your business and make sure you are ready for the impending sales bonanza.
- Update your homepage with information about Black Friday sales.
- Make sure your web pages load quickly; you don’t want to lose customers to sluggish website performance.
- Consider creating separate landing pages specifically for Black Friday sales so that you can track the source of your web traffic, be it through email marketing or social media. Make sure the calls to action on your landing pages match the language used in the original messaging so as not to confuse people
- Launch or enhance your pay per click campaign geared to Black Friday shoppers. Bid on search engine ads so when someone searches for a particular word or phrase that’s applicable to what you sell, they will be directed to your website.
Advertise directly on social media—Facebook and Twitter both offer advertising options that let you narrow your target audience to very specific parameters based on age, location, gender and interests. Social media advertising can drive new customers to your website based on the profiles of your existing customers. Also, make sure to monitor your social media channels so that you’re engaged with your customers online and available to answer questions they may have.
Promote all of your Black Friday deals and events on social media, as well as links to your website. If you want to incorporate a holiday theme into your social media marketing, like “Whether you’ve been naughty or nice this season, we have a deal for you…,” go ahead. Be clever and funny, this is a fun time of year and people are typically in high spirits.
Joseph DeFalco is a marketing account executive at CMA with more than 10 years of digital advertising experience for B2C brands. He can be reached at email@example.com. Looking to create a robust marketing campaign for your business? CMA can help! Contact us at 800-852-4269 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.