How to Improve Your Marketing Communications Ahead of Black Friday

opinionThe following is a guest contributed post from Robyn Croll, Director of Customer Insights at SmartFocus. 

Black Friday is so challenging for marketers, as it’s the one day a year you know every single one of your competitors is putting their best marketing foot forward and reaching out to their customers – many of whom are your target market and could even be your customers.

This means the competition for attention – whether digital or offline – is at its peak and will be increasingly difficult to cut through all the noise. As email stats from last year showed, Black Friday volumes spiked, yet open rates plummeted. At this time of year, marketers look for ways to set their brands apart and ensure theirs are among the messages that do cut through and are opened.

Don’t forget to make sure your system is up to scratch

Managing contact frequency, testing and segmentation. Many of our customers started their holiday marketing strategy in mid October and are adding additional messages to the campaign calendar all the way through until Christmas Day. If frequencies are not measured, customers who are happy getting two emails a week from brands can suddenly get four or five; the risk of them missing a message is greatly outweighed by them shutting you off completely and opting out.

Testing often gets forgotten, but as many brands send out similar types of messages over Black Friday and the holiday period, it’s a great time to do some A/B testing on subject lines or time of day. Results can be quickly applied to increase engagement of other messages during the holiday period.

Segment and understand your customer journey. Many marketers who have segmented or have lifecycle strategies during the rest of the year, abandon this during Black Friday. Adding in lapsed customer segments, in the hope that the holiday season might bring them out of the woodwork, can spike bounce rates and result in blacklisting and reputation harm.

This is especially bad at a time of year when retailers can’t afford to have their messaging held back. VIP customers who have been receiving special treatment throughout the year won’t react too well to a set of generic recommendations that provide the same offers as everyone else. That’s probably what they are getting from your competition, so this is a great opportunity to cut through the noise with personalized recommendations to keep those valuable customers engaged and buying during the holidays

Here are five optimizations your company can make?

  1. Integrate your creative and story across all touch points – your emails and ads, whether they are on or offline, should have the same look. It makes it easier for customers to connect and remember your brand message, regardless of where they see it.
  1. Make sure your delivery services are ready. This was a big weak spot during Black Friday 2015, with the unexpected shift to online buying. Brands have no excuse this year. Be ready for the rush – last year’s delivery failed and customers expect that not to happen again.
  1. Be ready for the Click and Collect crowd. The move to this multichannel path to purchase provides brands with the opportunity to leverage brick and mortar strengths – sales people and merchandising among others – to add additional items to customers’ shopping bags.
  1. Reach out to key customer segments – VIPS, club members, customers who shopped last year – with offers than incent early Black Friday purchases.
  1. Start early. Remember that by starting early and using a longer campaign timeframe, you can include many different types of shoppers through different promotions such as wish lists, sneak peeks and consumer-generated content to drive sales. You don’t want to leave any potential revenue on the table, so serve all your customers by launching your marketing strategy as early as you can. The quicker you get started, the sooner you can start bringing in those sales.