Ten ways to outperform 2017’s Black Friday retail success

It may be a relatively recent entry in the UK retail calendar, but Black Friday looks set to take the country by storm this November. In 2017 spending was up 8% and transaction numbers a sizeable 32%. For retailers who get their strategy right, 2018 is an opportunity to generate equally impressive numbers or potentially better them.

Black Friday was traditionally a boost for brick-and-mortar but 2017 proved the phenomenon was just as potent online. £1.4bn was spent on internet purchases in the UK alone, an 11.7% increase on 2016 coinciding with reduced high-street footfall. Clearly it’s vital retailers have smart digital strategies in place this time around if they want to stay ahead.

So, how can you get the best out of Black Friday? We’ve analysed previous trends and the performances of last year’s winners and losers to put together the top ten tips for success in 2018.

1. Think ahead

Start planning Black Friday operations as early as possible: certainly six months ahead of time rather than weeks. The biggest retail winners start on 1st December the year before.

2. Avoid traffic jams

You need to make sure your website can handle large volumes of traffic on and around the day itself. Performing stress tests in advance will give you time to implement any fixes required and eliminate the risk of costly and embarrassing crashes.

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3. Monitor stock carefully

Keep up with customer demand and everyone wins. Last year’s poor performers, such as House of Fraser, Moss Bros and Game, all fell short on product availability. This stemmed from lack of communication between on and offline marketing departments, bad stock management and website issues.

4. Make the most of customer loyalty

Don’t rely on one-time bargain hunters. Black Friday is a great opportunity to reward existing customers for sticking with your brand. You might want to follow the examples of US firms Sears and Kmart who offered earlier and deeper discounts for customers in their loyalty scheme. This led to a boost in sales that offset the cost of campaigns designed to attract new customers.

5. Use fresh content

You can keep one step ahead of the competition by making your landing page attractive and up to the minute. A retailer like Argos has a well-established site that has been carefully developed over many years. Making your own page Black Friday specific is a great way to stand out from the crowd and compete with well-known brands.

6. Own the right ad space

You need to grab as much screen space as possible on the search results page to unearth new customers. Highlight your bestselling and lifetime value products to improve your click and conversion rates. Make sure your ad extensions are optimised too: that’s site links, reviews, structured snippets, call-outs and seller ratings. All of these will help increase your presence in the results page – a key component of successful Black Friday promotions.

7. Remember remarketing

Putting in place a campaign that specifically targets previous visitors to your website is a useful way to build your audience ahead of time. Include Black Friday messaging and countdowns to the last few hours of the offers to create a sense of urgency around your most eye-catching deals.

8. Branch out into other channels

If you can afford to do so, you may choose to invest in some analysis about possible paid advertising on other channels. This might include new social media channels or existing ones you’re not exploiting fully. Instagram and Facebook promotions can often hit a wide audience but there’s no point using them if they aren’t a good fit for your brand or customer demographic.

9. Sync your marketing messages

Optimise your Black Friday campaign by making sure your ad copy and landing pages are working in tandem. Keywords and copy should reflect the most common searches and the landing page needs to direct potential customers to the relevant place with no fuss. Getting these things right before the big event should be one of your top priorities.

10. Be mobile friendly

It’s crucial that your paid advertising is fit for all channels. Last year, mobile traffic hit a new record of 47.4% and revenue from mobile devices reached 33.1% – neglecting mobile is no longer an option. Being mobile-friendly is good for your company’s overall digital health too: if Google sees that you’ve prepared a mobile-friendly landing page, which is relevant to searcher intent, you’re likely to see a reduction in costs and score better on quality too.

Al Keck is the founder and managing director of Infinity Nation, which helps manage the ecommerce operations for many major brands.

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