The time has come again to celebrate one of the biggest holidays of the year – Thanksgiving. The holiday means something unique to everyone, but for most it’s a time for food, family and giving thanks for what is most important in life. But just as quickly as you raced to the airport to get on the flight home or hurried to finish preparing your famous stuffing, so goes the day.
And when the moment comes when the parade is over and the last slice of the pumpkin pie is gone, the world as you know it is transformed—transformed into the hectic life of climbing the ladder into the attic to retrieve the Christmas decorations. You become a fearless driver, racing through the snow to company holiday parties and school recitals with your car (or sleigh) full of children wrapped in winter gear. All the while, you’re constantly on the lookout for the perfect gifts for your family.
Source: Adobe’s Online Holiday Sales Predictions
Holiday shopping officially starts the day after Thanksgiving, but the barrage of advertisements has already begun. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have seen a 12% increase in sales year over year, and Cyber Monday sales have increased by $100 million each year since 2005. Adobe’s recently released online holiday sales predictions echo the trend as many brands are taking advantage of the incredible opportunity online to start the holiday season.
As a customer, you have a fairly good idea of how to navigate Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but as a marketer in charge of your brand this holiday season, there are a few things you should know. Let’s dive into the messaging techniques your brand should employ and the most effective digital channels during the two days of deals that bookend the weekend after your yearly turkey fest.
What to say – fine-tuning your message
Quick and efficient
Make your offer, and make it quick. Your customers are more than likely going to visit many websites throughout the day, and if you can keep your offer simple and easy to understand, that message will go a long way. A lot of brands try to persuade customers to purchase products by offering something free to add value like free shipping, gifts or pickup. But a sense of urgency is crucial: “limited availability,” “first-come, first serve” or “only 8 left at this price” are good starting points, but you should also have a plan in place when you actually run out. Instead of losing business to those customers who you have attracted to your website, offer links to similar products so that you maximize each and every visitor.
One size doesn’t fit all
Optimize your marketing around Black Friday and Cyber Monday by applying multiple messaging techniques to your campaign. One demographic could search for the same product as another but needs a completely different message. A message that appeals to a Baby Boomer audience may not work for Millennials, of whom 93% plan on shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, according to AdWeek.
Positive in-store experiences lead to profitable online experience
While outdoor gear and sporting goods retailer REI is going to go against the trend and close down for the day, stores like Macy’s, Old Navy and Best Buy have been known to open their doors at 12:01 AM Friday morning. Early morning openings make for a long night for your employees and customers with little to no sleep. Employee preparation is often overlooked but is crucial to a flawless day. Remember to walk your employees through the day’s plan and give generous training to handle customer issues and questions that may occur. This will make for a better online review process and a greater opportunity for sales online after a pleasant in-store experience.
Where to say it – digital channels to target
According to Adobe, the best online channels to find holiday discounts include display advertising, social media, email, direct and search marketing. Although a well-rounded holiday campaign includes a mixture of many channels, display, social and email marketing are the most effective.
Display – the most effective digital channel
Display advertising is three times more effective than search when targeting customers with discounts of 10% or more. The reason: remarketing techniques employed by brands on complementary product websites and using shopping cart abandonment practices. Search marketing, on the other hand, is 16% less effective than display due to the costly bidding process associated with keywords such as “Black Friday.” In fact, only one of the top 10 “Black Friday” bidders ranked inside the top five retailers for unique visitors to their respective websites.
Source: Statistic Brain
Social Media – the home for product referrals and complaints
No matter the size of your brand, social media marketing is a vital component to your campaign for two reasons. First, customers are looking to find information on the best deals as well as recommendations from credible sources. Your customers trust their friends and family to give accurate reviews and often look to social media networks to find them. Have social media buttons and review submissions readily available for happy customers to share after they purchase. You can also try incentivizing product reviews to increase your brand reach on social media and encourage follow-up sales by adding discounted future purchases or free shipping. Second, be prepared to address issues that arise throughout the day and answer questions using social media as a customer service portal.
Email – an inbox as full as your stomach
At an astonishing rate, according to Movable Ink, 60% of marketing emails sent on Thanksgiving Day were opened on smartphones. Take this as an opportunity to connect with your customers and address in-store and online shopping needs, and make those emails mobile responsive! Your customers will notice when you send relevant offers, and address questions or concerns they are having throughout their weekend shopping experience. Be sure set up thank you and/or confirmation emails with coupons on future purchases during the holiday season.I’m sure you are offering incredible discounts, and it’s a no-brainer for customers to purchase your product based on your email. But with 93% of retailers sending at least one promotional email on Cyber Monday, you must stand out. The biggest battle for your brand could be gaining the attention of your customers so that they open the email and actually see your offer. For tips to increase email open rates and increase the success of your email campaign, you can download our email marketing checklist below.
Is your website ready for the surge?
Preparing your digital campaign goes far beyond uploading the creative and forgetting about it. Hopefully after utilizing these marketing channels to the fullest, your company website will encounter an increase in traffic throughout the weekend and carry over throughout the holidays. Your customers’ user experience should be on the top of your mind. Large international brands like Finish Line, Motorola and even Walmart are among companies who have encountered a positive surge in traffic turning disastrous by crashing the entire website. Contact your web hosting platform to make sure your site can support the upturn in traffic and run thorough testing before the big holiday weekend.
Don’t forget about mobile
According to Deloitte, 26% of shoppers plan on shopping online on Thanksgiving Day, and PayPal also revealed the same shoppers will mainly turn to their mobile devices to make their purchases throughout the day. That means after the meal is completed and your customers are comfortably seated on the couch, many will pick up their smartphones and open up their wallets. Your customers want to be able to examine products on their smartphones at home and during their in-store visit to compare pricing and read reviews. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and has all the features of your desktop site for customers on the go.
Online shopping is forecasted to rise to new heights this year and continue for last minute shoppers in pursuit of the perfect holiday gifts. No matter how you fine-tune the message for each digital channel, say something! It’s too big an opportunity to pass up.
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About the Author
Alex Navarro is a California-native who currently lives in Dallas, Texas with his fantastic wife. In the past, he’s been responsible for creating, developing and executing national brand awareness campaigns and has enjoyed developing personalized marketing and promotional plans. Alex studied advertising and marketing at Pepperdine University and has enjoyed working in the field ever since. He also loves meeting new people – connect with him on LinkedIn orTwitter.