Black Friday is dead, all hail Black Friday

Black Friday is dead, all hail Black Friday Headshot

By Justis Saayman, Principal Marketing Consultant

Black Friday one of my favorite topics.

But in the last few years, some merchants have announced that they won’t participate in Cyber Week sales. They say the discounting is too deep and that the event even promotes violence.

I think that is short-sighted. Plenty of merchants will offer deals, whether they are discounts or other types of specials to lure customers. If managed correctly, Black Friday can also set the stage for success throughout the year.

Fifty percent of something is better than 100% of nothing if you don’t participate.

Here are six tips for making Black Friday a win.


Change up your data capture

I’ve got a colleague that explores new sites every November because she has a teenager that asks for gifts either from specific merchants or products my colleague isn’t familiar with.

That is happening to a lot of shoppers. People visiting your site for the first time, finding you through searches because of gift requests, and paying attention to ads that they normally swipe left on. That is the embodiment of the holiday season.

So leverage this behavior to grow your email list. Make sure your data capture strategy is designed to a) not chase anyone off (ditch the overkill pop-up), yet b) crafted to encourage a second purchase. Look at peppering smaller pop-ups (possibly with offers) throughout the site. Even if they aren’t buying for themselves, they will likely make a purchase for the family member that steered them there.  

Clothing brand Weird Fish offers shoppers a chance to win a shopping spree if they share an email address. That could cover the next gift-giving occasion.  


Review your triggered campaign settings

People are in buying mode on and near Black Friday. They want to check off items on the holiday lists of their loved ones and (maybe) do a little self-gifting. You must make sure cart and browse abandonment emails are sent quickly before shoppers move to a different site.

And consider multi-stage cart and browse abandonment campaigns in the event they are doing a bit of comparison shopping. Make sure you are able to automatically disable the cart or browse emails once they’ve purchased the product.

Gift retailer Whistlefish keeps the cart abandonment message light and simple.


Timing is everything

Make sure your triggered recovery campaigns (browse and cart) are timed to your buying cycles.

Think about what your company sells and how the timing works. In Europe, travel after the holiday is quite popular and travel companies sell a lot of packages in late November and early December. Other merchants might get more interest closer to Christmas - especially if they offer expedited free shipping or items that typically fall in the last-minute impulse purchase category.


Create a sense of urgency

Flash sales are very popular on Black Friday. Amazon has shown us that. Use basic personalization options like countdown timers to create a sense of urgency for any special offer. For emails, the countdown timer needs to accurately reflect the time left at the moment the email is opened.

Countdown timers are also very important when it comes to free, express or regular shipping deadlines.

Mothercare uses the countdown timer for its early access to a 50% clothing sale. Note that the copy talks about the early access sale going on but the countdown timer lists 11 hours. That’s because the countdown timer reflects the time left when the email was opened.


Product recommendations are critical

Your shopping list could have some vague requests on it like “black puffy jacket”. Offering product recs on the web is absolutely critical for shoppers who might not know exactly what they are looking for. Helping online shoppers with the discovery is important to the reason they went online, to begin with - convenience.

Chocolatier Thorntons candy offers some mix and match recommendations that offer a bit of extra value and the possibility of covering gifts for more than one person.  


Social proof matters

Thinking about turning off or scaling back your social proof content? Think again. When people are working off wish lists, and shopping with merchants they might not be as familiar with, they’ll want that social proof in the form of product and store ratings and reviews.

This is a particularly good time of year to use social proof as part of product recommendations. While behavior-based product recommendations are critical with returning customers, crowdsourced recommendations, such as trending products or bestsellers, can help those gift shoppers trying to sort through that puffy jacket collection.

Toolstop presents its social proof product recs in a particularly engaging way. The content is dynamic, so those numbers will be pulled in real-time when the email is opened.


Don’t ignore merchants saying Black Friday is hyped and unnecessary. Instead, use it to get your holiday marketing plan off to a great start.