Black Friday / Cyber Monday 2017 Observations – Was It A Success?
Another year and another barrage of Black Friday & Cyber Monday deals have come and gone. We have no doubt that your inboxes were flooded by a deluge of offers to entice you to part with your hard-earned cash. But how about from a marketing perspective? Is the Black Friday weekend, Friday through to Monday as big an opportunity for retailers as it appears to be for consumers? Many retailers begrudgingly cut their margins and offer site-wide discounts that they typically wouldn’t want to offer. Is it a case of being left out in the cold if you don’t participate? I would put forward that the answer to that final question is no.
What Does Black Friday Mean To Consumers?
Unless you live on a remote island in warmer climes with no internet, the chances are that you will encounter some form of marketing related to the Black Friday weekend. Brands make sure you can’t escape it. TV, Radio, and Newspapers are filled with offline marketing ads. Move into the online space and every website you visit, email you receive, app notification, and social media post will no doubt be geared towards Black Friday. The result of this bombardment of advertising is that consumers, whether subconsciously or consciously, are simply placed in the mindset of ‘time to begin festive shopping’. With Halloween and Bonfire night out of the way here in the UK, the next big event in the calendar is Christmas.
We have worked on multiple Black Friday weekend campaigns with our clients (in both B2B & B2C arenas) and we have observed the same trends. Regardless of the strength of the discount, or even if there was a discount at all, overall sales and enquiries went through the roof purely down to the fact that this yearly shopping (or marketing) event was on the forefront of everyone’s mind. Consumers who are browsing online are being exposed to a huge amount of advertising. Buy this, save X% on that, don’t miss out on this one day only deal – the list goes on. Consumers are ready to part with their cash as part of the whole event. As the figures are slowly released over the coming days we will no doubt see that 2017 represented the biggest ever Black Friday weekend in terms of sales and revenue in the UK.
By simply being active and present and in front of existing and new customers via social media, email marketing, and your website, you will likely see an uplift in sales and traffic purely due to the whole Black Friday ‘event’.
Most brands make it incredibly difficult to avoid their sales pitches. See the Currys/PC World website below. Spot the Black Friday deals.
‘Black Friday Is Just A Marketing Gimmick’ – Savvy Brit Speaks Out*
Well yes, it is really. Are the large discounts on offer really that large? Were the prices of certain products raised a few weeks ago to actually bring the new discounted version back down to a normal price? That depends on how cynical you are and how much time you have on your hands to monitor the price of things you’re interested in online.
This article from the Independent suggests that 3 in 5 Brits believe that Black Friday is nothing more than a marketing gimmick. I also expect the same publication to be reporting the inevitable 2017 Black Friday weekend record sales article imminently. With the sheer volume of shoppers heading online over the weekend, online and offline stores certainly won’t feel like they were missing 60% of the market as they weren’t shopping.
*We would like to hazard a guess that a large portion of that 60% purchased something this weekend. How could they not!?
How Can You Improve Your Black Friday Marketing Strategy?
Black Friday marketing strategies need three key components to be successful:
- Create your marketing plan early. This should be finalised and signed off 2 weeks before Black Friday.
- Offer value – if you aren’t offering discounts, create some great content and engage with your audience. Don’t feel pressured into slashing your margins.
- Produce great content – this is a given, but it also applies to the delivery and deployment of the content over the weekend.
Online shopping typically consists of 4 daily trends at set times:
7am-9am – Commuters are browsing on their smartphones and tablets at cat videos on YouTube, scrolling through Twitter and checking their emails. They are typically browsing during this time.
12pm-2pm – Lunchtime – the workforce is using their lunch break to pass the time away browsing a wide range of stuff online. Social media plays a big part in the lunchtime routine.
5pm-7pm – Post work – The commuters and people slacking off from work are back online and they are browsing again. People who have made it home and are now relaxing for the evening are likely to begin the shopping process.
7pm-9pm – And relax – the second wave of online shoppers will be coming online. This includes parents and commuters who will be fully settling in for the evening in the comfort of their own homes.
This is a very basic, but typical view of your customer base, especially if you operate in the B2C arena.
So why is this information useful?
Well, as part of your Black Friday weekend marketing strategy will be paid advertising, email marketing and social media content. These marketing channels will require planning and scheduling to make sure you reach your customers at the right times. Black Friday always sees a surge first thing when people wake up in the morning and when they are finally at home for the evening around 7pm. Consumers are keen to see what deals are out there. So schedule in your content and paid ad bids to reflect the shopper’s mentality at different times of the day. It makes sense to do this right? Absolutely. But, we are still amazed at the many ‘set and forget’ marketing strategies being deployed which means content and bids are only going out/being optimised between 9am and 5pm.
Love it or hate it, Black Friday gives everyone an opportunity to increase overall sales and enquiries. Regardless of what the 60% say, the remaining 40% or 26 million people in the UK , still represents a huge opportunity. Now that we have got Black Friday out of the way we can move onto December and January sales. You’ve already got your marketing strategies in place, right?
And just when you thought the Black Friday deals were over, some incredibly kind retailers extend their offers by a further 24 hours! Was this all part of the marketing strategy or is it a genuine act of kindness from the retailers? The answer is the former.