With the UK set for its first digital Black Friday following a second national lockdown, many companies are hoping to capitalise on what is usually the busiest shopping weekend of the year.

The last few months have undoubtedly been a challenging time, meaning that for many businesses, Black Friday sales this year are more important than ever. However, with government restrictions meaning it’s now an online-only affair, it’s crucial brands are able to target their usual customers effectively despite physical stores being shut.

Despite this, 55.4% of businesses suggest they will still be proceeding with campaigns as planned or would even be increasing budgets on their Black Friday campaigns compared to initial plans.

Here, Demi Edmunds, Specialist at SMS business communications specialist at TextAnywhere, explains how businesses can target online customers effectively in the days running up to an all-digital Black Friday on Friday 27 November.

Think about mobile experience first

Black Friday 2019 was a largely mobile affair – with 76% of all online traffic and more than half of all online orders being placed via mobile. Given that the UK will be in lockdown, and that 46% reported that their smartphone usage had increased during lockdown (Statista), it’s crucial that campaigns are not just online friendly, but that they are created mobile first. 

Furthermore, particularly in industries and over periods which are more competitive, SMS is rapidly proving a more popular communication channel, with businesses being able to send messages directly to their customers’ mobile, which on average they pick up 58 times a day. 

Target your customers early – Wednesday 25 November could be key

Although Black Friday is still the day the majority of brands use to communicate with their audiences, the Wednesday before – in this case Wednesday 25 November – has become increasingly popular. So much so, that some companies actually saw their SMS campaigns earn a 75% higher order rate than those on Cyber Monday. 

What’s more, given that many shoppers make a purchase list prior to Black Friday, it’s worthwhile communicating offers early to make sure your brand makes it onto that list. Lockdown means that e-commerce will take centre stage to an even greater extent than usual, so it’s essential that your online offering is well advertised and easily accessible. 

Avoid a ‘blanket approach’ to messages

When targeting customers during the Black Friday period, it is important to remember it’s not just you trying to target them. To encourage customer engagement with your campaigns, it’s essential that your brand is able to demonstrate that it knows which topics and products are relevant and of interest to them. 

While a blanket offer to the masses may seem like a tempting solution, more specific, personalised offers are far more likely to be effective. 

To do this successfully, companies need to research their customers, create relevant content and segment campaigns appropriately. The most effective campaigns will grab the attention of your target audience and entice them to open your messages, because you have offered them something above and beyond a cheap price. While a large discount may be effective in the short-term, it’s unlikely to lead to a long term relationship with customers.

Don’t push the hard sell

Black Friday can be a frenzy of sales messages but for a customer to make a purchase, businesses need to demonstrate the value of their product or service while giving them a reason to select their brand over a competitor. As deputy editor of insight specialist Bite, Izzy Ashton states – “Marketing is now less about the hard sell, and more about pulling customers into a brand’s community”. 

When targeting customers, brands need to be able to sell themselves as well as the specific product or service. Businesses that are able to communicate why potential customers should choose their brand over competitors, in a consistent manner, place themselves in the best position to secure those all important conversions. 

Utilise different channels

Black Friday 2019 saw retailers send over 3 billion emails to customers, so it’s vital businesses are able to cut through this noise. A multichannel communication approach could prove very effective.  

It’s estimated that individuals need to see an advert 10 times before the marketing begins to register in their awareness. To meet this requirement, without making your prospect feel that they are being bombarded, a multichannel approach using various platforms such as SMS, email, social media and others simply makes sense. 

Think beyond Black Friday

While many focus on Black Friday itself, the majority of sales are actually made over Black Friday weekend, from Friday – Monday. So it’s crucial that brands don’t put all their eggs in one basket by focusing on Friday 27 November alone.

In addition, this year Small Business Saturday falls on the weekend directly after Black Friday – December 5th, and more generally retailers also have Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year to cover. 

So, when planning offers and communications, it’s essential businesses plan for this for full peak season to ensure brands remain engaged throughout this period. 

While Black Friday will look a little different to the usual lines of customers outside brick-and-mortar stores, for those who pivot and execute their campaigns successfully, a fully digital Black Friday presents some unique opportunities for retailers to flourish.

To view the full results of this research, please visit https://www.textanywhere.com/content-hub/blog/sme/emerging-trends-surrounding-businesses-plans-for-black-friday-2020/