- Customer Experience
- Ecommerce Marketing
Black Friday Marketing Strategies: Building Strong Customer Experiences and Driving Sales
Megan Wenzl | Aug 15, 2023
Nov 16, 2021 | 11 minute read
BFCM is just around the corner – what are you doing differently this year?
Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM to the ecommerce set) is growing every year, and continues to represent a huge opportunity for retailers, on and offline. The jewel in the crown of the ‘Golden Quarter,’ BFCM gives many brands the chance to finish the year strong, swelling their bottom line, shifting stock and acquiring new business.
However, as with any big feeding frenzy, there’s competition. Consumers are savvy, and they’re getting smarter at shopping round – wise to market trends and more adept at predicting the best price drops and competitive downpricing. As retailers, our tactics are getting stale –making it harder to stand out in the noise and chaos of BFCM.
This article offers an opportunity to reframe the way you approach the huge opportunity that BFCM represents. Read on to discover eight fresh tactics that can help you either come at the sale season from a different angle, or offer your audience something that is a little bit different…
Cause marketing is having a moment. Boosted by the surging interest in social causes brought about by the pandemic, consumers are currently very receptive to brands that give back. 66% of the public think brands should take a stand on social and political issues, while a significant 79% of Americans say they feel a deeper personal connection to companies with values similar to their own.
Aligning your brand to a carefully selected cause marketing campaign can be a great way to plant your brand values flag in the sand. Not only will this help you stand out from more traditional marketing campaigns run by competitors, but it’s also a great opportunity to capitalize on the increased traffic the sales season generates to win over new customers who are attracted to your values and altruism.
Of course, it’s important to ensure that you’re coupling your business to a cause that will resonate with your target audience – BFCM is not the time to be rocking the boat or causing controversy. If judged correctly, an authentically framed cause marketing campaign can help counter (or at least distract from) the ethical “ick factor” that’s sometimes connected to the overconsumption BFCM can inspire.
One final bonus that a BFCM cause marketing campaign carries is the opportunity for better ongoing PR and the chance to reach out and reconnect to shoppers after the sales have finished, to update them about the campaign’s success.
BFCM is often framed as a chance to amp up conversions, get increased numbers of sales across the line, and inflate your bottom line. The sales period can be reframed as an opportunity to look beyond this low-hanging fruit and instead jump at the chance to collect valuable zero-party data.
The willingness of shoppers to interact with brands increases during BFCM. Customers are browsing with intent – they’re looking for ways to improve their experience, be that through lower prices, special deals, or limited offers. The smartest brands will be using this year’s BFCM as a chance to harness the influx of shoppers to learn more about their audience, what’s attracting them and how they can best be served.
By shifting focus from the value of sales to the value of data gathered, brands really optimize both the quantity and the quality of the information that they collect. This means that (with some advance planning) they can continue to benefit from the spoils of BFCM long after the event has ended. By leveraging this valuable insight into their audience, they can then improve customer experience and refine their ongoing marketing efforts.
BFCM often sees brands reaching out to their audience in novel, eye-catching ways, so it definitely pays to get creative with finding ways of gathering zero-party data from your sales shoppers. From quizzes and polls on social media, to “find your style” type questionnaires, the overall focus should be on adding value to their experience, at the same time as learning more about them with a view to future personalization.
Reviews can be a great way to gather this kind of zero-party data – especially as increased sales mean the increased potential for large amounts of feedback to be gathered. Okendo’s Attributes feature in particular offers the opportunity to obtain really nuanced and granular personal detail from your customers.
For many brands, BFCM represents the opportunity to sell as much as possible to anyone and everyone. Broad campaigns are designed to highlight huge discounts and time-limited offers – leveraging scarcity value to reel in as many shoppers as possible. However, if you’re looking to benefit from a fresher, slightly more sophisticated approach, then you might like to weigh up the benefits of singling out your most loyal VIP customers for star treatment this BFCM, by focusing all your attention on them.
While BFCM can represent a great acquisition opportunity, as new customers are tempted in with discounts, the benefits of retention-focused marketing are well established. When surveyed by Loyalty Lion ahead of BFCM, 52% of shoppers said that they would prioritize shopping with brands where they have points and rewards in their account over the peak, while 68% of shoppers said they preferred to return to the comfort of brands they knew and trusted in the first half of the year.
This suggests that shoppers will be paying closer attention to the brands they know and love during the sales season – retailers should be ready to reward and encourage this behavior. What kind of campaigns or strategies can you deploy to best charm your VIPs? Early access to sales prices is a great way to show your appreciation for existing customers. Another idea might be to offer increased loyalty points or an additional discount for members of your loyalty program.
In addition to helping you target your promotions around your most profitable audience segment (returning customers spend 67% more than first-time shoppers) promoting special VIP customer discounts can also help encourage other customers to join loyalty programs.
BFCM offers the chance to harness an uptick in purchases to learn more about your products and the way that they’re being received. In order to fully capitalize on this opportunity, you will need to do some advance planning.
Carefully considered strategies will need to be deployed if you’re to collect the maximum amount of UGC and reviews over this important (but relatively brief) timeframe. Communication is key – you need to ask your customers to provide the information needed in a timely manner, which appeals to them and encourages cooperation – and you need to do it in a way that helps you keep customers engaged, rising above the noise of all the other brands clamoring for attention and attempting to place demands upon them.
BFCM is a busy time for retailers, and as a result, automations to help facilitate these kinds of pushes are essential. Well-written flows which will trigger with perfectly optimized timing can help you to optimize your collection of UGC. Okendo can help, with the powerful Sequences feature enabling automated flows that incentivize and reward the submission of UGC.
Using BFCM as a means to collect more user-generated content means you’re setting yourself up for enhanced sale success long after promotional pricing has ended – shoppers that interact with content generated by Okendo are 4-5x more likely to convert.
Here’s a curveball – win big this BFCM by boycotting the event entirely. Going rogue in this manner might feel completely counterintuitive, but more brands are taking this stance. Coupled with a well-considered marketing strategy to clearly communicate the reasons behind your brand opting out of the flash sale mob mentality, this tactic has the power and potential to bring some real PR clout.
Sneaker brand Allbirds offers a great example of a brand that swam against the BFCM current and actually increased their prices by $1, instead of offering a discount. The additional money that they raised through this BFCM levy went towards funding ‘Fridays For Future’, the movement founded by climate activist Greta Thunberg. An excellent example of both flying in the face of BFCM norms combined with cause marketing. Their decision earned them extensive media coverage, support, and approval.
This refusal to join in with the frenzy of slashed prices taps into an increasingly prevalent and more mindful consumer psyche – meaning it’s likely to win you new fans and enhanced loyalty. With so many brands participating in a “race to the bottom” making a public stand to go against the flow is a great way to differentiate. As long as your motivation and justifications are crystal clear, there’s a lot to be gained, so polish up your comms strategy and associated marketing campaigns, and dare to be different.
Another angle that you can approach BFCM from is retargeting. We know that during this period, interest and activity from shoppers are at sky-high levels. With an increase in traffic and attention being paid to brands and marketing online, rather than pouring your budget into new, high-profile holiday campaigns, why not go after those shoppers who you know have already expressed an interest in your products?
Shopping sessions significantly increase during BFCM, and people are spending more time looking at products – eager to bag a bargain. It can be a great time to show them items they’ve already viewed to highlight a price change, or even just to lure them back to your store so that they’ll explore more of your range and sales pricing.
As we’ve already established, shoppers have a tendency to want to shop with a brand that is tried and tested during BFCM, so by remarketing you can tap into this existing interest and pre-established trust, running campaigns that are more personalized and which avoid some of the inflated pricing on holiday-related advertising keywords.
The rise (and growing opportunity) of SMS marketing should be of interest to all retailers – regardless of the proximity of BFCM. Recent research suggests that 93% of Americans open SMS messages, 81% have opened an SMS from a business, and 94% have clicked through a link within SMS. In fact, SMS marketing is predicted to rise 52% by 2023.
How does this represent a novel angle for your BFCM strategy? SMS campaigns can be a great way to stand out from the crowd ahead of widespread adoption – giving you a direct line of communication to your customers in an instant and accessible manner.
Another big benefit of SMS marketing is the fact that most BFCM shopping occurs on mobile devices. 2019 Nosto data showed a 6% increase (61% to 67%) in traffic share on phones year over year, vs a 3% decrease (31% to 28%) on desktop. By communicating with your audience via this medium, your messaging is appearing on the same device that can instantly deliver on their impulsive curiosity.
A few best practices should be observed when leveraging SMS during BFCM. As a very direct form of communication, ensure your cadence of contact isn’t excessive – instead keep your messages punchy, high value, and infrequent enough to feel like a rare opportunity. This kind of approach could line up well with a focus on retention-based messaging, and the focus on VIPs mentioned earlier in this article.
Finally – don’t let established norms dictate the timing that you place around the promotions you run this BFCM. There’s a growing trend for the spread of BFCM campaigns in terms of timing. It’s fair to say that there’s no longer a hard and fast rule when it comes to launch dates or the expiry of promotions. Brands should feel free to get a bit creative and play with timings as they see fit.
There are lots of ways that you can stand out from competitors by shifting your promotions in terms of timing of delivery, from teaser campaigns, exclusive early access, or flash sales that drop when people are least expecting it.
You can also play with the intensity of your sales period. Either expand or compress it – giving your customers access to shop for more bargains over a longer period of time (and increasing the likelihood of them sharing your offerings) or hiking up the intensity and pressure of a sale to get results in a more condensed and urgent time frame.
Each year, retail pundits hypothesize over BFCM and the likelihood of its growth starting to finally slow. And yet, year on year, it continues to pull in bigger, better numbers. The opportunity that BFCM represents should not be ignored, but increasingly, success will be governed by the ability of brands to get creative and playful with the way they approach the sale.
BFCM will undoubtedly continue to represent an important element of the ecommerce calendar for many years to come, and getting involved as a retailer can feel non-negotiable. However, it should be remembered that the sale also represents a chance to swim against the tide – shaking things up, to accept a little risk for the potential of a big reward. Ecommerce is constantly evolving, so as far as BFCM goes, be a changemaker, and don’t just follow the flock. Instead, make calculated choices to stand out and rewrite the rules.
This BFCM, lean on Okendo to gain deeper insight into what makes your customers tick, improve their experience, inform their purchasing decisions and inspire them to continue to engage with your brand.
Megan Wenzl | Aug 15, 2023
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