As economies reopen and consumers adjust to post-crisis life, marketers face an ongoing period of change. Nevertheless, 2021 looks set to be a big year for holiday shopping. With consumer confidence reportedly at its highest level since 2008, it feels like, after the challenges brought by Corona, there is everything to play for this year.\r\nThe Black Friday opportunity\r\nAcross Europe, eCommerce revenues jumped by 30% to a record $465bn in 2021, a number which is expected to reach almost $570bn by the end of 2025. As companies go digital and eCommerce brands improve their customer experience, shopper preferences continue to evolve. Marketers are getting smarter about how they use cost-effective digital features and online channels to customise the shopping experience. As ever, retailers will be asking themselves if they are doing enough to maximite the opportunities presented by Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the Golden Quarter. For most, the answer will lie in their level of customer understanding and ability to tailor their offering to cater to their own customer\u2019s needs and expectations.\r\nUnderstanding customer expectations\r\nAs Black Friday 2021 shoppers scour online channels for deals, they\u2019re also taking a close look at their purchase and delivery options. Shoppers have become used to getting their purchases shipped free-of-charge and they have also come to expect full transparency around delivery times, exchange options, installment payments, "buy now, pay later" offers, and customer support provisions. Consumer now want to be proactively updated with information on delivery deadlines as well as the status of their order.\r\n\r\nIn short, the vast majority of consumers now are more demanding than they have ever been before and the experience they have with a retailer over Black Friday will be absolutely critical.\r\nHow can data activation help improve the Black Friday experience?\r\nData and insights are not a panacea, but they do make for a far more personalised and profitable retail experience. The specifics around how data is used is, of course, absolutely critical. Deploying data to its best effect is not simple, but we have distilled our key learnings down to three main points:\r\n\r\nLearn from the past:\r\n\r\nIt is essential that retailers evaluate which specific measures, channels, customer interactions, and sales were particularly effective for their previous Black Friday campaigns. It is super-helpful to know the best times for visits to the online shop and which offers were particularly popular. What were the top sellers for each category and customer segment? How did the different days of the week differ in their purchasing power? Are there any lessons that can be drawn from the past year? What went particularly well, what could have been avoided?\r\n\r\nImplement true cross-channel personalisation:\r\n\r\nRecently, Mapp commissioned a study conducted by Forrester Consulting which was a real eye-opener. For exceptional customer journeys and customer experiences we found that it is essential to leverage a strong first-party dataset to ensure that companies have a holistic view of their customers. Companies that have implemented artificial intelligence or machine learning tools report an improved ability to update their strategy, have a greater understanding of customer intent, and benefit from better customer insights. 54% state the lack of customer knowledge is their biggest challenge. Surprisingly, 53% are unable to reliably identify website visitors. This proves that using the right technology tools for insight-driven marketing offers the greatest potential for a successful Black Friday.\r\n\r\nIt has been proven that targeted and personalised content significantly increases revenue and likelihood to convert. For example, receiving a push notification while standing near a brand\u2019s shop is guaranteed to be more effective than receiving a push notification at an arbitrary time and location. The same applies to personalised offers. If the past purchase history is taken into account, true personalisation can take place. Your customers interact with countless touchpoints, so use this knowledge as an opportunity to activate marketing campaigns across all channels.\r\n\r\nSet priorities and work with clear KPIs:\r\n\r\nEvery objective of your Black Friday campaign should be measurable. If you keep your KPIs in front of everyone on your team, there will be daily opportunities for optimisation and potential savings. Keep a keen eye on your repurchase rates, the economical equivalent to return rate, calculating the value of the second order in proportion to the first order.\r\n\r\nAre your customers increasing in value for your company from order to order? Is their engagement increasing or decreasing? For every pound invested into marketing, how much revenue is coming in and from which sources? Are you able to identify a customer segment that is highly profitable? Why not tweak your campaigns slightly to match it more closely to their needs? Alternatively, you may be able to segment and exclude all customers that have a high shipping return probability from all future activities.\r\n\r\nArmed with a better understanding of their customers, retail brands can push forwards into Black Friday with greater levels of confidence. They will be ready to react to changes in customer trends and be able to build a long-term, sustainable insight-led brand strategy.