7 Tips for Fine-Tuning Your Black Friday Online Marketing Strategy

Ron Dodby Ron Dod

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While Cyber Monday and other holiday promotions have gotten lots of attention in recent years, Black Friday is anything but dead. In fact, Black Friday sales are still growing every year—they’re just spreading across multiple platforms and channels, making it more important than ever to see the big picture in holiday sales and employ best practices to create an integrated omnichannel experience

If you’re in retail—whether online or brick and mortar—you’re probably gearing up for your holiday shopping season to make it profitable and productive. No matter what your channels are, a solid online presence can be a cornerstone of your Black Friday sales strategy. These seven tactics are professional tips for creating exciting and energized Black Friday promotions that will kick your holiday shopping season off with a bang. 

1. Create an exciting omnichannel message and experience. 

Your customers aren’t just in one place anymore—they’re everywhere at once. They’re on shopping apps, in brick and mortar stores, and on social media, and they’re often using more than one at the same time. In 2018, 54 percent of shoppers made purchases both online and in-store between Black Friday and Cyber Monday—so, to capture their attention and their business, it’s key to present a consistent and engaging message on multiple platforms. Try promotions that drive engagement through multiple channels, such as offering customers special deals on items that they buy online and pick up in-store. 

Omnichannel Marketing

Social media, in particular, is more important than ever to your Black Friday numbers. Many consumers will be checking in with their favorite brands on social media to see if they’re offering holiday deals, and you shouldn’t leave them hanging. Know which social platforms your customers use and target those aggressively with pay-per-click advertising, coupons, live feeds, and any other tools you may have at your disposal. And if you’re in need of some inspiration, check out the creative social media campaigns that big brands like MeUndies and Kohl’s have used to give customers a Black Friday they’ll never forget. 

2. Look at (and learn from) last year’s Black Friday data.

Go into your Black Friday preparations with a good idea of what worked and what didn’t last year. Try to get the most complete data that’s available on your Black Friday KPIs, and look at the whole picture across multiple channels to get the real story. 

7 Tips for Fine-Tuning Your Black Friday Online Marketing Strategy

Although KPIs will be different for everyone, some important Black Friday data points to look at will typically include:

  • Your most (and least) profitable items during the holiday season.
  • Whether last season’s loss leaders did their job of getting customers in the door.
  • eCommerce platform conversion rates. 
  • Which sales and marketing channels your customers used the most, and which channels if any are growing and/or shrinking.
  • Foot traffic in brick and mortar stores, if you have them.
  • Social media engagements, including views and shares. 
  • Social media sentiment that indicates how your customers feel about your Black Friday experience. 
  • Popularity of BOPIS and BOSS options, if your business offers them. 
  • Return rates on products purchased on Black Friday.

Similarly, it’s important to have solid data tracking in place for the upcoming season to ensure that you’ll have robust data to look at next year. Take a look at what metrics you’re currently tracking and ask whether they’re telling the most important stories to your analytics team. 

3. Target abandoned carts with remarketing tactics. 

In a crowded store on Black Friday, you wouldn’t expect someone to simply decide they could do without what was in their cart and walk out—but online, it’s a different story. Cart abandonment is rampant in online retail, and it can be particularly frustrating during the holiday shopping season when your business is already doing everything it can to offer deals that convert. Fortunately, numerous options are now available to deal with cart abandonment. 

There’s no shortage of remarketing tools available for businesses of all types. Some come built right into common advertising platforms such as Facebook and Google Ads, and they’re remarkably powerful and allow the same precise audience targeting that you expect from these platforms. If you want to go deeper, look into multi-platform integrated retargeting. Not following up on an abandoned cart is a missed opportunity, so don’t let it get away—use remarketing tools to draw your customers back to the purchases they almost made. 

4. Allow for an increase in your PPC budget.

The holiday season sees a big increase in cost per click on PPC advertising due to higher bids from just about every retailer with an online presence. That means that competing effectively on your most important keywords may require a temporary budget increase for PPC campaigns, so be sure to clear it in advance. 

getting maximum ROI from your Black Friday PPC

Additionally, use some key techniques for getting maximum ROI from your Black Friday PPC, such as:

  • Making your PPC ads Black Friday-centric. 
  • Bidding on long-tail keywords that target customers farther into the sales funnel and often offer increased conversion rates
  • Bidding on keywords such as “(Your Brand’s Name) Black Friday” that will help customers discover what deals you’re offering and defend your brand’s keywords against competitors’ ads. 
  • Setting rules in advance regarding under which circumstances you’ll increase budgets, such as what ROAS targets your campaigns need to be hitting to be worth it. 
  • Writing and submitting your ads in advance to make sure they’ll be approved well before the big day. 

Finally, set a reminder to bring your budgets back down once Cyber Monday has come and gone, and give any special Black Friday campaigns an end date—you don’t want these highly specialized budgets and campaigns running any longer than their intended endpoints.

Email marketing

5. Build hype for your promotions with creative email marketing.

Email marketing is one of the most important tools to communicate with customers about your Black Friday deals. Growing hype for your Black Friday promotions is all about getting the customer fired up, and the broad creative palette offered by email marketing is the perfect way to do that. 

Email marketing is a creative’s paradise—there are usually no character limits or restrictions on which types of images you can use, so take the opportunity to create some memorable messaging. That means that there are all kinds of interesting and effective Black Friday email campaign tactics available to you, from simple announcements to humorous GIFs to special coupons and contests. Of course, you don’t want to overload your emails with wild animations or thousands of words of text, but it’s definitely worth putting some time into creating emails that engage your customer base and put your brand’s signature style on display. 

6. Optimize for mobile. 

woman in yellow jacket using mobile phone and holding shopping bags

The past five years’ explosive growth in mobile commerce has created a new mobile-centric mindset in online retail, and that extends to Black Friday, where over one third of sales now happen through mobile phones. That means that all of your Black Friday-related digital media should be optimized to display correctly no matter which device a customer uses to look at it, and that mobile should never be considered an afterthought, but rather a primary mode of engagement for today’s consumer. 

Keep in mind that customers may be using their mobile devices to find the best deals as they move around a physical location such as a mall. This makes a great opportunity for geo-targeting your ads to let your customers know where they can find what they’re looking for, and offering mobile-exclusive coupons through an app can be a great way to drive omnichannel engagement. 

7. Emphasize urgency in your marketing. 

Urgency is at the core of the Black Friday phenomenon. People wouldn’t be packing stores early in the morning if they thought the deals would be available forever, so communicate that urgency in your marketing materials. 

Some great ways to create urgency for Black Friday promotions include:

  • Countdowns on your website or social media that tell customers how long they have until a deal is gone. 
  • Copy that emphasizes the temporary nature of your deals, including trigger words like “now,” “hurry,” and “over.” 
  • An inventory reference function on your deals that lets customers know how much of an item is left in stock (This can be built into PPC ads using Google’s Ad Customizer template and syncing it with your Business Data library.)   
  • Offering additional promotions such as free shipping as limited-time offers. 

Maximizing your Black Friday online presence is a fine art that requires some trial and error and a little bit of willingness to go out on a limb. But with some smart planning and attention to best practices of digital marketing, it’s possible for anyone to use the many tools available to give your customers a best-in-class Black Friday. 

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