Alice Bedwell
Alice Bedwell
Posted 22 August 2023

6 lessons from last year’s Black Friday for a smoother launch

Topics: Black Friday

Black Friday is only getting bigger each year. Sales are running for longer and starting earlier. The objective for retail marketers has now become about capturing customer attention prior to the event itself. According to Tech Radar, October is now the new November. So this year, it’s time to do everything in your power to get there first. 

When faced with a busy and high-pressure quarter, it’s tempting to just jump into the thousand things you need to do. But for retailers that participate heavily in BFCM activity every year, it’s vital to not discount the insights you can get from previous year’s performance.

We reflected on some of the changing trends and pitfalls from last year and found 6 lessons you can take into your strategy this 2023.

1. Build a two-way understanding ahead of BFCM 

As we highlighted earlier, many retailers are leveraging earlier promotions as an opportunity to stand out before they’re competing with the deluge of promotions over the BFCM weekend. Our first piece of well-earned advice ties into this preparedness: make sure your customers know what you’re doing for BFCM, when it will be happening, and what to expect. And, on the other side of the coin, this preparation period is the perfect time to make sure that you truly understand your engaged, loyal, and VIP customers. Use your behavioural and affinity data to be ready to engage them with relevant messaging as you head into the season, it will be worth it, we promise.   

This 2023, make it easy for your customers to know well in advance your brand knows what they’re looking for. If your customers are not clear what’s on offer and when, you could find that they hold out. The downside of earlier promotion is that, if poorly communicated, shoppers could wait for deeper discounts or additional value. To avoid this, make sure you set expectations clearly and early.  

Be the brand that communicates early, and understands its customers this Black Friday.

2. Exclusive Previews and Discounts 

All hail the special treatment. Exclusive previews and early access to Black Friday deals for your loyal customers win. The only lesson here is: do more.  Here are a couple of examples of brand messaging that gets ahead of peak:

The US brand, Mavi Jeans, created a sense of urgency while encouraging customers to join their loyalty program to unlock rewards and get early access to their Black Friday sales.

Space NK offers customers the ability to join the Black Friday waitlist to get exclusive early access, as well as a break-down on Loyalty Points, reward Balance and Tier Status.

Black Friday is the perfect opportunity to reward your VIPs and target the people who spend the most money with you throughout the year. Segment out your prized, high-spending customers and offer them early access, free shipping, “buy this, get that” offers with a ‘just for you’ look and feel. 

Offering exclusive early access to your loyal customers helps to drive engagement and increase brand loyalty just in time for the festive period.

3. Omnichannel Excellence

During your Black Friday preparation, getting a full and accurate picture of your customers across your online and physical stores will be the key to seamless Black Friday journeys. Are you aware that your customer bought those sandals already in- store or are you sending them discount emails for the very sandals they bought at full price? 

Black Friday isn’t only about getting a purchase. It’s about obtaining valuable data from your customers on their shopping preferences at a time when they’re more likely to engage than usual.  Examples of activity like this could include capturing data on a customer’s skin type, preferences, and concerns through a quiz, or allowing your customer to browse or create a wishlist/giftlist for the holidays. Retaining the right customers during this time to later bring them back to shop is just as sacred as a purchase. Remove any barrier that might keep them from staying subscribed.

4. Offers with urgency and additional value

Offering limited-time deals or significant discounts but only for a select quantity encourages shoppers to act quickly while creating a feeling of exclusivity.

Equally, bundle deals or complimentary add-ons with select purchases help to increase the perceived value that customers receive from their purchase, giving them more of an incentive to buy.

One thing we know from previous years is that value doesn’t have to be monetary. Last year, ‘the Black Friday for good’ campaigns yielded huge amounts of engagement and as long as this is in line with the brand’s overall mission and values and not  ‘green washing’, good things will come.

A great example from last year is from Armedangels whose strategy for BF was focused on discouraging fast consumption. As a brand with sustainability front and centre, they advocated for slow shopping by announcing a discount valid for the whole month instead of a few days. 

Leading with value-first campaigns can reap great rewards while aiding brand awareness. Get the balance right over the peak season and you’re golden.

5. Nail the UX

If there was ever a time to de-siloe your marketing team, it’s now. Make it your mission to ensure your website and checkout process is optimized for heavy traffic flows this Black Friday. A smooth and hassle-free checkout experience can prevent cart abandonment and boost conversions. 

But don’t just optimize for the purchase, optimize for the browse too. With the rise of mobile shopping, ensure your website and online store are mobile-friendly. Many customers will be shopping on their smartphones and tablets, and a mobile-friendly site can significantly improve their experience. 

Contingency planning this year will be the difference between a quick website fix and your website being down for hours, resulting in a substantial loss of potential revenue. Align the whole team ahead of time for the smoothest launch.

6. It’s more than ‘just Black Friday sales’

The holiday period, kickstarted earlier and earlier each year, is a multi-month retail marathon. We often hear from our clients that a good BFCM, featuring healthy customer acquisition, opportunities for reengagement and retention, is a key indicator in predicting a successful trading year to follow. When it comes to your strategy this year, of course, current trends and changing customer preferences are always something to adjust to. But keeping a good hold of your fundamentals: knowing your brand and, just as importantly, your customer, maintaining your stamina, and building a sustainable, tech-enabled, data-powered strategy to take you through the season is the best approach we have seen. 

Ometria is a Customer Data and Experience platform built exclusively for retailers. Our CDXP helps retailers create consistent, omnichannel experiences that drive retention and build long-lasting loyalty.

Need advice on ensuring your well crafted promotions make it into the inbox? Check out our deliverability guide on the Black Friday content hub.

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