Black Friday is now the main global shopping season for brands and it’s nearly upon us, with buyers getting ready to do battle with sharp elbows in the rush for the prime bargains – and that’s just the advertisers, never mind the shoppers.
So now is the time to start planning if you’re going to get new customers and get ahead of the field, says CEEK Marketing Founder and CEO Charlie Terry…
While the last quarter of the year is always a crucial one for retailers, competition for customers in autumn/winter 2022 is going to be hotter than ever.
The cost of living may be biting and various sources suggest consumer confidence is low, but we don’t expect that to translate into a significant dip in major shopping event sales.
Quite the reverse. Customers will be shopping for the same Christmas gifts but with an even keener eye for a bargain.
True, we may not see the same volumes of sales online as the past two years, both of which were significantly altered due to lockdowns and a lack of physical retail.
However, there are expectations that ecommerce levels will still be higher than in 2019 – and expectations higher still.
One big difference in 2022 is the changing way customers are sharing their data and retailers’ ability to target them in the critical weeks running up to the big sales.
While Google’s cookie deprecation may have been pushed back yet again, Apple’s iOS14 tracking update has already had a dramatic impact on platforms like Facebook, which have not improved considerably since last year’s BFCM period.
What this all adds up to is a need for brands to engage with their Black Friday activities today – and to do so with first party data firmly at the heart of their strategy.
In short, you don’t want to be “buying in” to the advertising space during peak periods, you want to be paving the road for success long before the traffic starts to spike.
First, you need to start with brand awareness. Trying to muscle into the market at the end of November when everyone else has the same idea just pushes costs up and conversions down.
Stay out of the melee of new names and increasingly desperate messaging by starting early and calmly.
Giving yourself this time and space gives you the opportunity to think about exactly the type of customer you want to acquire.
Black Friday is most-certainly the annual festival of the avid bargain hunter. You may be able to entice them in with a one-off deep discount but is this really the long-term customer you want to cultivate.
Perhaps the very first question you need to ask is, do we want to play in the Black Friday space at all?
But, assuming this is the ideal opportunity to boost your customer base (and it really is), when you have considered your brand approach, you need to plan the communications strategy with military precision.
What offers are going to entice the right kind of customer? Where can you add value without dropping price? What are the best channels of communication? Does physical mail surprise and delight, cutting through so much digital noise?
Or does a well-timed aspirational shoot mid-Instagram feed really whet the customer’s appetite more than anything else?
However you capture the attention, your aim must be to focus on the fully rounded, omnichannel experience if you’re to achieve your all-important goal – building up your first-party data.
By spending now on customer acquisition, you’ll have more first-party data in the crucial days around Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the longer Christmas period to drive sales more cheaply. This is top of funnel stuff.
In practice, this means pulling together a coordinated effort. Take search, for example – paid ads on Google, put together with careful audience segmentation and targeted content has the potential to attract high-intent customers.
However, paired with strong organic search that delivers high SERP performance, it becomes a very powerful tool to acquire customers.
Given that SERP performance depends highly on a quality web or mobile experience, you can see how your paid search strategy also includes strong SEO and website optimisation too.
You need a similar attention to detail on social. Organic traffic is vital but don’t be afraid to enlist the help of the key influencer community.
Unsurprisingly, most successful influencers make more than half of their annual revenue during Q4 alone.
But the battle for their services intensifies the further you go into the year. Catching coverage at the crucial late October/early November tipping point is key.
And let’s not forget the workhorses of the digital world – email, SMS and push notifications. Now, more than ever, consumers don’t want to miss out on a great deal.
Getting them signed up to newsletters and alerts is a win-win for all concerned, especially the advertiser who will be paying a lot less to access their customers via first party routes.
By acting today, getting your paid advertising and supporting omnichannel digital marketing strategy in place now, rather than joining the virtual throng just before the doors open on Black Friday, you can avoid unnecessary cost, build effective brand engagement and access the lion’s share of the audience’s attention, just at the critical moment.