It’s that time of the year again when businesses and consumers start getting ready for one of the biggest sale periods on the calendar – Black Friday! Although it’s more than a day nowadays as it pushes on through to Cyber Monday with that whole weekend being one big sales frenzy. And then before you know it, it’s Christmas but we’ll save that for another blog.
For this blog, we’ll have a little dive into Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) and look at it from a small business perspective with some pros and cons of getting involved and then some tips you can implement if you do get involved.
What’s the difference between Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
Is held on the last Friday of November, which is the day after US Thanksgiving; in 2020, it is on November 27th. Founded in 1952, Black Friday is one of the busiest and most profitable sales events of the entire year, with highly promoted sales, and it has been the single biggest shopping day of the year in the USA since 2005. It is a day of major discounts, fantastic deals, and time-sensitive benefits. Black Friday sales are held throughout North America, in the UK, and Europe, Australia, and many other nations.
- Black Friday is store-based & online and dominated by the larger chains and their ‘doorbuster’ sales. We’ve all seen images of massive queues outside a Walmart and then the ensuing chaos when the doors open and everyone starts fighting over flat-screen TVs. Online will be a huge part of Black Friday in 2020 as a lot of retail outlets will be closed or have major restrictions due to COVID.
Otherwise known as “Blue Monday”, Cyber Monday is the Monday after the US Thanksgiving holiday. In 2020, it will fall on November 30th. It’s essentially the digital equivalent of Black Friday, which, as mentioned, has been a traditionally in-store shopping experience.
- Cyber Monday is online only and dates as far back as 2005 when promoting the idea of going online to buy stuff was required. People needed encouragement from retailers to visit and purchase from their websites. It’s also seen as a way for smaller retail websites to compete with the larger chains.
Aren’t they the same thing?
Yes and no. Black Friday was born at retail, born of bricks-and-mortar, born in the offline world. Cyber Monday was the online world’s answer. So back in the day, you’d physically hit the stores on Friday, then digitally hit the stores on Monday. The deals may also differ as a way for retailers to keep momentum and interest going.
Nowadays though, Black Friday is as much a digital event as it is a physical one and it will be even more so in 2020.
So, should your business get involved?
There are a lot of opportunities to boost sales, especially in the short term, but you can also build some long term brand awareness as it’s such a major annual event. There is a lot of ambient hype about it. However, there are costs attached. Not only must the increased costs of packaging, distribution, and returns-handling be calculated, but the long-term impact on consumer perceptions can irrevocably alter the nature of the relationships that your business may have with its customers, especially its core customers. And then are you going to do some paid advertising promoting your involvement in the event? Otherwise, you may have a big enough social media presence or a big enough database to promote your involvement.
While this event undoubtedly works for major corporations, these companies also have the resources to afford to participate in these events. As a small business, you may not have that same financial security.
Our mantra here at ClickSend Towers is, after preliminary evaluation and objective setting, to generally give something new a go, test and learn, and then decide whether to do it again. So I guess the best way to know whether to get involved is to get involved at least once.
Ultimately it’s for the business owner and his/her team to decide. We can provide some Pros and Cons from our own experience and from the experience of some of our small business customers and here be some.
Some Pros and Cons
1. Buzz, hype, and shopper enthusiasm
PRO: Consumers know about BFCM sales events. There’s an ambient level of awareness and interest and in some ways, the promotion of the event/s is done for you. There’s always a high level of enthusiasm from a large section of the population looking towards getting a bargain.
CON: You may become too known for your BFCM sales to the point customers expect you to have one every year. This may discourage them from purchasing from you outside of the event. Some smart lifecycle marketing will help with this.
2. Lots of businesses get involved, competition is fierce
PRO: The beauty of being a small business is you’re generally more agile than the bigger retail beasts. If you have great offers on great products you can get a smart marketing campaign with some sharp and witty messaging out much quicker than your larger competition. Leverage low-cost channels like email, SMS, and social media before, during, and after the event/s. We’d recommend working your social media following and database as hard as possible.
CON: The competition from other retailers is intense, big retail chains will have crazy loss-leader ‘door-buster’ specials to get people queuing up well before opening. They will also have much larger marketing budgets and it can get expensive to get cut through to a wider audience.
3. Quickly shift old stock
PRO: It’s a great opportunity to shift old inventory quickly. Inventory that you’d be marking down at some stage or even disposing of if not sale-or-return.
CON: Customers are price-sensitive on BFCM and it’s very easy to shop around in our digital world. You could find yourself needing to discount on your discounts to close sales.
4. A big increase in awareness and traffic, physically and digitally
PRO: You can generate a lot of extra footfall into your store and thus a lot of exposure within your area that will hopefully generate some new, loyal (local) customers. You can also, and even more importantly in 2020, drive extra traffic to your website and capture a lot of valuable data.
CON: You need to be sure that you can adequately serve all this footfall into your store and/or all traffic to your website. Do you have adequate staff cover? Do you have bags (if you offer them)? Do you have enough till rolls? Is your website robust enough to handle a surge in traffic? We have a blog coming very soon that’s all about making sure your website is ready – stay tuned. Is the eCommerce side of your website working? Do you offer enough payment options? Is the fulfillment side ready to process all the orders? Do you have mechanisms in place to keep customers updated on their orders? SMS is very, very good for this we hear. ? Is your website optimised for mobile – mobile accounted for two-thirds of traffic share in 2019.
5. Increase your customer base
PRO: There’s a lot of people out and about on BFCM looking for bargains and some of them may hang around after the event. You have an opportunity to attract new customers that may purchase at times outside of BFCM or you may get customers buying from you that would normally go somewhere else.
Con: Most new customers will probably be bargain hunters and you may not see them again until the next BFCM or at all. Consumers have a hell of a lot of choices at their fingertips nowadays and loyalty is more of a dream than a reality.
That’s just a few Pros and Cons. If you can offer some bargains via your store or even more so via your website and you’ve got a good database to promote to and are active on social media we’d say get involved.
Market research conducted in August 2020 found that 20% of consumers had already begun their holiday shopping, with almost half of respondents intending to begin well before December. Consumers are poised to spend more than ever this coming BFCM weekend!
As a business owner, if you’ve not already begun your BFCM marketing campaign, now is the time to do it! Email and SMS are effective and cost-efficient ways to engage with and inform your leads and customers about the sales season and encourage them to visit your store – physical or digital. SMS, in particular, elicits delivery rates near 100% and open rates of 98%. There is no more affordable nor effective method of communicating with consumers than via text message marketing.
Some Marketing Tactics that Work
1. Begin Advertising Early
Get ahead of the competition by beginning your campaign earlier, before other businesses begin the Black Friday advertising bombardment. Capture consumer attention and anticipation as early as possible to get them thinking about and looking forward to your sales. Promote engagement with:
- Sneak peeks
- Product launches
- Refer-a-friend incentives
- Flash sales
- VIP events
Your clients may be hesitant to shop ahead of the Black Friday weekend, expecting further discounts on products. Encourage sales ahead of Black Friday by offering a price guarantee, so your customers can buy with confidence.
Don’t forget, even Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving Day are also massive for sales and revenue…
2. Boost Subscription with Early Access
People love feeling special. Reward existing customers and new subscribers with early access to sales before they are open to the general public.
3. Create Urgency and FOMO
You want your customers to be compelled to buy now. Achieve this by providing details on flash sales, exclusive offers, limited stock, and build up to the main sale by advertising goods which will be available from a specific date – but which won’t last long! Be very specific about this in your communications.
4. Use Multiple Channels to Promote
Multichannel marketing is not just something for the big boys! And by multichannel we don’t mean television, radio, print, and outdoor (which is generally for the big boys). We mean much more agile, simple, cost-effective, and efficient channels like email, SMS, and postcards.
Set up a nice little multichannel campaign in the lead-up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and after, and send out text messages, emails, and postcards every few days to build anticipation and keep your offer front of mind.
Here is a simple little multichannel campaign:
- Introduce your participation – Email ?
Promote your business’s involvement in BF or CM or both. Don’t drill into the detail too much at this stage, save some of that for later. Throw some big bold headlines like 50% OFF ALL STOCK to catch attention.
- Promote some of your best offers – Post ?
Now follow up on your business involvement announcement by promoting some of your hot offers. People expect bargains during BFCM so get promoting your best ones to drive anticipation.
- Offer additional purchase incentives to encourage action – SMS ?
If you don’t already offer free shipping, this is a great one for engendering trust with your customers. Offering free shipping gives you an extra benefit to promote, while also reassuring customers that they won’t have an extract cost tacked on at the end of the transaction.
- Remind that sales will end soon – SMS ?
Yep, here’s where a little FOMO via SMS marketing messages will help drive action and boost sales ??
- Thank your customer and keep them informed in more ways than one – Email ? SMS ? Post ?
Once an order is placed, thank your customer for their transaction and provide their order info by an automated email. Then keep them informed of their delivery via SMS notifications and then a really nice gesture that works is a follow-up Thank You postcard after delivery.
5. Re-Engage with Past Customers
Previous customers lapse for an array of reasons. Remind them who you are and invite them to re-engage with your brand by sending a welcoming SMS to those who have not purchased with you for a while. Promote all your great offerings and offer an incentive to buy now.
6. Timing is Everything!
Schedule and stagger your marketing campaigns and plan your strategy for communications timing from the outset. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend that businesses avoid sending marketing messages:
- in the evening
- early in the morning
- on a Monday morning
- at the end of the weekend
Be mindful of different time zones your customers may be in. For example, your 9am text blast may be ok for customers in your state, but you may end up alienating your customers who live in a timezone 3 hours behind you.
7. Personalise your Marketing
Who is your target audience? What do they want to see from you? Tailor your content to suit your brand and your target customer. Ever email and SMS message should:
- Greet the recipient by name
- Send local-based event invitations
- Consider their opt-in preferences
- Consider and respect their time zone
- Reward loyalty with exclusivity (VIP offers, events, etc.)
8. Incorporate MMS
People are increasingly image-oriented and the human attention span is diminishing. Capture your customer’s attention quickly with imagery.
MMS marketing and rich content are a fun way to provide greater value and persuade consumers to buy more. Images, animations, GIFs, and links all work effectively to further engage your audience and promote your brand in a more sophisticated way.
9. Follow Up
Thank your customers after Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over. Extend the dialogue between you and your customers by sending messages to:
- Seek feedback about their experience
- Test future product ideas
- Encourage ongoing customer loyalty through loyalty programs
- Build trust and a rapport with your customers
- Extend the sales period
And one of the most personalised and engaging ways to say thank you is with a postcard. In a world where customers are bombarded by emails, remarketing assets, banners, and pop-ups in the digital world a humble postcard really stands out in the physical world. And they work in a mail environment because they stand out from all the junk mail and windowed letters people receive. Give them a go it’s super easy with ClickSend’s Cloud Postcard service.
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