For consumers and retailers alike, it’s tempting to view the Black Friday weekend as one of ‘quick wins’, whether that’s bagging yourself a great bargain, or channelling the enormous hype around the event to your brand’s advantage for a big pre-Christmas spike in revenue.
But while undoubtedly Black Friday is a fantastic revenue-making opportunity for retailers (our data this year showed a 130% increase in revenue and 163% uplift in orders compared to the previous year), it’s also important to consider some of the long-term implications of the Black Friday weekend. After the buzz has died down, is it really as good for business as it appears to be?
The true value of a Black Friday shopper
Our data suggests that Black Friday shoppers tend not to be as valuable in the long-term as customers acquired the rest of the year: they’re less likely (5%, in fact) to come back and shop again within the first year of becoming a customer, and on top of that tend to have a lower lifetime value over the same period (for 64% of retailers we work with, the lifetime value of a Black Friday weekend shopper is worse than customers acquired at any other time of the year).
Add to this the potential brand impact of acquiring a cohort of discount shoppers who may not be so amenable to shopping at full price, and the long-term gains of Black Friday and the Cyber weekend may not be as rosy as first thought.
That’s not to say that online retailers should eschew Black Friday completely; but instead take a more long-termist, retention-focused approach in order to fully feel the benefits of the occasion. Here are three things to bear in mind:
1) The importance of data capture
The Black Friday weekend saw an average of 130% more visits than would be expected in a 4-day period in the rest of the year amongst our customers.
In order to see true long-term benefit from this uplift in website traffic – something that can be applied across the entire festive season – it’s vital for retailers to focus on capturing data from these visitors in order to be able to engage with them in the future.
Convincing a visitor to leave an email address is key: both for email retargeting, but also for social media custom audiences, and can be captured with newsletter signup popups, competitions, or account or wishlist creation, to name a few tactics. Copy, messaging, imagery and on-site positioning of signup forms should all be rigorously tested in order to get the most conversions possible.
Being able to match up a new subscriber’s email address with their initial interactions with your website – such as the products or categories browsed – is also important. The ability to target new subscribers with super-relevant marketing messages – including products they’re likely to be interested in based on browsing habits – from the off is vital to long-lasting engagement.
2) Activating Black Friday visitors using marketing automation
Bombarded with hundreds of marketing messages in a short space of time, the potential for being distracted from a Black Friday purchase is higher than at other times of the year, so backing up regular broadcast email activity with a solid behaviour-triggered automation strategy is a must for retailers hoping to see long-term revenue from the Black Friday weekend.
Browse abandonment (shoppers visiting and viewing products without making a purchase) and cart abandonment (shoppers adding items to their cart but failing to make a purchase) were notably higher this Black Friday compared to the rest of the year – our data revealing an 87% uplift in cart abandonment rates.
Having tailor-made Black Friday cart and browse abandonment campaigns in place is a proven way of recouping lost revenue, and our customers with this type of automation in place experienced, on average, a 240% increase in revenue from browse and cart abandonment emails compared to a normal 4-day period.
It’s important that these campaigns are carefully thought-through, and that their tone and timing match the urgent mindset of a Black Friday shopper. Email is one of the most effective primary channels for such campaigns, but backing triggered emails up with secondary activity on social or other channels is also advised.
3) Turning one-off Black Friday shoppers into loyal customers
Fostering loyalty is key to ensuring that Black Friday shoppers remain valuable to the brand, and it’s important that retailers have a dedicated strategy in place for encouraging this customer segment to make repeat purchases.
A well-thought-out welcome campaign for new customers acquired around Black Friday, which focuses on building rapport with new shoppers, educating them so they buy into brand values and story and encouraging them to connect on other channels such as social is a good start.
Likewise, combining customer data with automated reactivation or replenishment campaigns that give customers a nudge when they’re most likely to return to purchase again is a great way of building the lifetime value of Black Friday shoppers.
For instance, if you sell consumable goods, you can create a replenishment strategy using ‘order gap analysis’ to determine when a customer is likely to need to repurchase, then retarget them with email and on social or other channels just as they’re likely to be running low.
This strategy can be applied to non-consumables too: for customers who haven’t made a follow-up purchase in the time you’d expect them to, targeting them across multiple channels – from email to social to direct mail and more – is another way of encouraging them to shop again. The following Black Friday can be a great time to attempt to reactivate previous Black Friday shoppers who haven’t made a purchase since.
Providing a great customer experience is the best way of turning Black Friday shoppers into lifelong customers, and this ultimately comes down to understanding how they think, that they think differently to consumers you acquire at different times of the year, and using that understanding to implement a marketing strategy that specifically encourages them to keep coming back.
Data has a big part to play in this; enabling retailers to not only ensure that retention-focused messages are delivered at the critical moment to encourage follow-up purchases, but also to ensure that the contents of those messages directly appeals to the recipient.
Ivan Mazour is chief executive and founder of Ometria