Apprentice winner Mark Wright: Slow and steady wins the Black Friday race

For example, M&S’ executive director for marketing, Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, has hinted that 2014’s event was not an overall success for the retailer. More recently, ASDA has sparked controversy in announcing it will not be participating in the event at all – despite the fact 2014 saw an increase in online sales of 92 per cent and in store purchases of ten per cent.

The main problem here is that the connotation of “heavy discount” is inherent within both the terms Black Friday and Cyber Monday – and although retailers are very likely to receive a significant increase in sales across those two days, there is concern for consumer drop off in both the week before and after the event.

From a marketing perspective, Black Friday provides the opportunity to convert an already engaged audience. Easy right? Not quite. The main issue retailers and their marketing departments will face, stem from this experienced consumer purchasing pattern, where I imagine many will be trying to focus on a strategy that quells such buyer activity – or lack of – whilst winning over new customers.

At Climb Online we have been working hard for a number of weeks to try and safe guard our clients as much as possible against this consumer drop off online, whilst ensuring they gain a good chunk of the market share on 27 November.

Right place, right time

With an increasing number of users converting to online shopping on a daily basis, it is no secret that you need to have good front page Google presence to be in with a chance of securing online sales. This goes for Black Friday too. Despite the incentive of heavy discount, it is very unlikely online shoppers will trawl pages and pages of search results to find and compare a particular product.

Integrated approach

An integrated digital marketing strategy that utilises as many relevant channels as possible will provide you with a far greater reach, whilst enabling you to target consumers who are not proactively searching for products or services online.

In developing this integrated approach, it is so important to take into account both the demographic and consumer behaviour of your buyer personas. Do they prefer desktop, mobile or both? What terminology and keywords are likely to appeal? Are they engaged with remarketing campaigns and do they really work? The latter, for example, could be your key to success in tackling post Black Friday consumer drop off.

Customer connection

Although Black Friday is all about mass discount, a longer term marketing strategy in the build up to and following the event provides the opportunity to engage with and recruit new customers! Creating ads or social media posts that really connect with your consumers are likely to convert sales, whilst increasing customer retention after the sale frenzy has died down.

Start early and follow up

Let’s take a leaf out of Amazon’s book. The guru of Black Friday started its discounted promotions at the beginning of November and is predicted to convert a vast chunk of the market share at the end of the month. Starting early engages consumers in the build up to the event, particularly if a teaser campaign or drip feed of offers are promoted. Continuing this marketing strategy post Black Friday is just as important – and reminds customers of your offering just as they are starting to think about Christmas.

Ultimately, although Black Friday is predominantly about sales, the event in itself provides an amazing opportunity to convert a readily engaged audience to your service or product. Use this and maximise it, as in the long term you are more likely to reap the greater reward.

Mark Wright is director of digital marketing agency Climb Online.

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