A Post-Black Friday Reflection: An Annoying Flood of Emails or an Opportunity in Disguise?
After the Thanksgiving madness, many consumers welcome the kickoff of the holiday season with Black Friday deals and discounts from their favorite retailers. And the “buy now” message continues through the weekend with Small Business Saturday, the newly-born Museum Store Sunday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. What happens in those five days of retail ruckus typically includes a slew of shopping and holiday preparations.
Upon returning to the office, we enthusiastically discussed our Thanksgiving holidays, including how much we shopped, what we found, and deals to take advantage of — that is, if we even shopped at all. A little self-reporting led us to ask several questions of our own experts:
- What works about the post-Thanksgiving shopping kickoff?
- What should marketers do to capitalize on the opportunity?
- What do consumers really want? Is it really an opportunity for businesses at all?
- As consumers and marketers, what resonates with us in terms of promotions around Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday?
- What would we want to see more of? What do we want to see less of?
The answers were pretty enlightening. We compiled responses in relation to Black Friday shopping “trends” with our commentary. Enjoy!
1) Sellers need to align with consumer’s purchasing preferences.
An audience analysis and look at your e-commerce data will reveal what your buyer likes and dislikes, so you can program “recommended purchases” into your e-commerce platform to encourage more buying.
- I would love to see my past purchases or suggestions for things that I might like that are on sale for one day only. Also, there are so many sales going on, I do not feel a sense of urgency to buy. I feel like Cyber Monday, Black Friday, etc. is the beginning of the sale and I have time to buy anytime during the month of December. (Jen Lester)
2) Don’t forget about telling your brand story, especially during high traffic shopping season.
Your brand story is what connects people to your product/service. According to Entrepreneur magazine, branding is “The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.” Emotional branding then, is creating an emotional connection to one company that separates it from the rest, creating brand loyalty over time.
- I think that creating a personal connection to a company is important. Talk about the company owners, their story, and why I should shop there. I am much more likely to shop somewhere where I like their “story” and that was certainly the case this Black Friday. (Annie Humphrey)
3) Cut through the Black Friday “sales noise” by offering deals year-round.
While Black Friday is known to be one of the highest digital and foot traffic times of the year, your business can get lost in the shuffle because EVERYONE is offering a deal or savings. Try capitalizing on the slower times of the year with amazing deals to entice people to buy outside of the traditional shopping season.
- Retailers should hold sales throughout the season, not just on one day, so consumers have more sustainable savings – and retails have more sustainable sales. This extension values consumers, retailers and family time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. (Diane Amdur)
4) Experiment with other communication methods beyond email if the e-blast approach isn’t yielding conversions.
Think about all the emails you receive around the holiday season. A lot right? Consider other communication outlets like Facebook ads or radio announcements to reach buyers beyond the inbox.
- Honestly, I find all of it overwhelming and just wish it would stop. I can’t believe the number of emails I got leading up to Black Friday, over the weekend, and into this week. (Karin Rutstein)
- I was a sucker for many of the holiday deals simply because I love shopping, but I can say the 50+ emails in my inbox everyday deterred me from swiping my credit card at any beloved retailer. Ironically, what inspired me to buy during that time were creative direct mailers, because I could review them on my own time and my mailbox was less crowded than my inbox! (Angela Gibson)
- I feel there’s too much clutter around this timeframe. Unless you’re going to have a strong discount or promotion of some kind, your voice might get lost in the cacophony. When advising our clients, we recommend alternative digital strategies that allow us to rise above the noise. For one of our clients, Master Samurai Tech, we helped develop leads through email nurturing campaigns and social media paid campaigns that provided multiple content-heavy, value-add tactics culminating around Cyber Monday with a hard pricing discount and call-to-action. This strategy of not offering sales for sales-sake, but as a strategic, culminating discount resulted in an almost 20% increase in appliance repair training enrollments. (Terri Lee)
5) Try disrupting the marketplace with a new campaign idea to drive sales.
Everyone will be offering deals and savings so why not think outside the box by doing something completely different and meaningful? Perhaps create a campaign that reflects your company’s mission and values. Forget about the sales and pushing people to buy and try reaching consumers on an emotional level, creating such a positive impression about your brand that they naturally feel compelled to buy from you because of what you stand for.
- I really like REI’s “Opt Outside” campaign; it was more bucking the trend with an “anti- Black Friday”, rebel attitude. It has worked so well for them that they have implemented it as a core business strategy. And it garnered attention because it disrupted the marketing waters with something different from the mainstream “shop til you drop” message. (Connie Tran)
6) Don’t just offer sales for one day–try a week-long approach.
You may subconsciously turn away customers by only offering sales on one day of the week. Try offering a sequential series of sales throughout the entire Thanksgiving week for those proactive consumers who get holiday shopping finished before the turkey is even placed in the oven.
- The stores stressed the black Friday deals and Cyber Monday deals on those specific days, but then had those same prices and sales all week long. To a consumer, that feels like they aren’t getting a good price. I feel like marketers should still give those GREAT deals through the week and then have an extra, even BETTER deal on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It feels like it was a bit of a “bait and switch” with the sales. Especially for people who actually go Black Friday shopping. (Korisa Geiger)
7) If all else fails, offer a discount and be transparent in the deal being offered.
We aren’t saying forget doing sales around this time of year, but we are recommending it be thought through so your campaign gets as much traction as possible. There’s something to be said for the traditional and digital ads that we see everyday–they work on a vast majority of consumers. Show consumers how much they are REALLY saving and that transparency will go a long way in getting them to “add to cart.”
- As a consumer, I was waiting until Black Friday to make some purchases. I have been targeted with ads pretty heavily through Instagram, and I waited until the sale to pull the trigger and purchase. As a consumer, I expect ALL companies to have deals on Black Friday and if I get to a site that doesn’t offer a deal, I move on. If you are a company looking to make sales on Black Friday, I advise doing some sort of discount, even if you don’t advertise it. But if you are one of the company’s taking a stand on Black Friday and the deals (i.e. REI’s “#optoutside) market the hell out of the “zag” while everyone “zigs.” (Rosa Been)
A common thread in most of our reflections centered on the digital and social media aspects of the Black Friday frenzie. Many of us were primed with promotions online and via email, which tells us that if businesses are not playing in the digital world, they likely missed out on the active and engaged shoppers making purchases. In a recent Denver Post article, Adobe Systems reported that E-commerce sales for many businesses were up about 17 percent this season. Furthermore, shopping on phones is becoming a “norm,” for consumers.
The lesson we learned…
Emails and Facebook ads flooded our mobile devices. Many brands are discount-dependent around this time of year, but we believe, businesses should actively market deals and offers throughout the year to create a little more consistency to their bottom lines, versus relying solely on one time of the year to do all the work–and don’t forget to find unique ways of getting your message out!