The countdown to Black Friday has begun and hopefully your preparation is well under way. Black Friday signals the beginning of the Christmas shopping frenzy for many people. For retailers, it’s a chance to grow their sales and attract new customers.
However, now may not be the time to make sweeping changes to your website or invest in new software, but there is still plenty you can do to boost your chances of success. So, if you’re taking part in this year’s Black Friday on 24th November, here are some tips from Andy Richley, marketing manager at the ERP software company Khaos Control.
Use targeted online advertising
Black Friday is primarily an online event, so this is where you need to focus your efforts. Your potential customers are likely to be faced with numerous distractions when they are shopping online, so you need to do your best to put yourself at the forefront of their minds. You can’t simply rely on them finding you via search results, especially if you are competing against bigger brands. Instead, you could use online advertising to target your potential customers.
Running a remarketing campaign is a particularly good way to get more from your advertising because it allows you to specifically target customers who have already shown an interest in your business. So, if they have previously visited your website but not purchased anything, you can create adverts that will appear when they visit certain subsequent sites. This way they’ll be reminded about your business and be more likely to return to it.
Social media is key
You could also advertise on social media sites you know your potential customers use. Social media ads can be incredibly targeted, so you stand a better chance of reaching precisely the people who are likely to buy from you.
Although social media is a powerful platform for promoting your sales and updating customers using it can be time consuming. It’s best to prepare the messages you plan on putting out beforehand and you could even schedule them if it’s appropriate. This way you can simply concentrate on your reactive messages when things get busy.
Be more strategic about emails
At the very least you should have plans to promote your Black Friday sale to customers on your mailing list.
You could do this via a generic email you send out to all your customers but it’s even better to send out personalised emails. One way to personalise your emails is to identify the offers specific customers are likely to be interested in, based on their past spending habits. Or, you could send an email giving your most loyal customers early access to the sale.
During the event you can then email people who have abandoned items in their shopping cart to nudge them to complete their purchase.
Work on your website’s design
Your website should clearly sign post people to your Black Friday sales, so anyone who visits it won’t fail to notice the deals you are offering. You could make simple tweaks like changing the branding on your homepage, or including a dedicated sales tab in the website’s navigation. You could also use banners to promote your sale across various categories.
It is a good idea to showcase your best deals by creating a landing page for any Black Friday adverts you create, or emails you send out.
Make contingency plans
Plan how you would respond if you suffer a glitch that results in negative publicity from disappointed customers. By responding quickly you may be able to salvage the situation.
No matter how well you prepare, you may still experience some glitches along the way. Putting together a plan for how you’ll handle anything that goes wrong can save you a lot of stress.
Website’s crashing on Black Friday is not uncommon, so work out what you would do if it happened to you. Could you complete orders over the phone instead and if so, how would you let customers know this? Write out a holding message for your site beforehand, clearly spelling out what you’d like customers to do next. Perhaps you’d like them to visit your social media pages for the latest information for example.
Be in charge of your stock
If you don’t have an accurate view of your stock levels, you can end up overbuying products, which can harm your profits. Or, you could oversell and disappoint customers, which is unlikely to win their loyalty and could damage your reputation too.
Manually keeping an accurate record of your stock levels is a time consuming process and it can easily lead to mistakes too. If you base your stock replenishment decisions on inaccurate or out of date information, you could end up creating unnecessary waste. Given the technology available nowadays, there’s no reason why you should do this because you can easily automate your record keeping.
Also analyse what products attracted the most sales and which ones were most profitable.
What worked for you and what didn’t go so well? Were their parts of your business that struggled to cope on the day? Black Friday can put an unprecedented demand on your business operations, so you need to know where your weak spots are.
Get your stock management right and you’ll be able to focus on running your business with the confidence that you can make your customers happy while also making a profit.
Prepare your staff
Don’t forget to review your staff schedules to make sure you’ll have enough people to take on the extra workload. Certain areas like customer services may benefit from extra support. You may also need to arrange to have certain people like your web developers on standby, in case you need to call on their expertise.
Make sure everyone is briefed on their role and knows how to deal with scenarios they may encounter. Putting together checklists for crucial processes can be useful and help avoid mistakes being made when people come under pressure.
Black Friday can be a particularly busy and stressful time for retailers but if you get your planning right, it can be one of your most successful periods too. In 2016, an estimated £1.2bn was spent online on the day itself (12.2% more than in 2015), and during the Black Friday peak period, which lasted a week, consumers spent around £6.45bn.
So don’t miss out on what can be a great opportunity to attract new customers, retain existing customer and sell more!
Andy Richley, Marketing Manager, Khaos Control
Image source: Shutterstock/MIKHAIL GRACHIKOV