shopping bag black friday

Black Friday: What you Should be Planning Right Now!

By Phil Norris
on 14/9/18

Without wishing to shame or terrify anyone, three in five UK online retailers started their 2018 Black Friday planning more than a month ago.

If you haven’t already begun your preparations for one of the biggest internet shopping days of the year, take a deep breath and read on for the essential steps you need to take – and soon! What are your competitors doing? hree-fifths of internet retailers are already planning for Black Friday on 23rd November, what exactly are they up to?

According to a recent study from Acceleration Partners, 45% are taking steps to ensure they have sufficient stock for the big day, while 39% are refining their deals and offers. A further 56% say they are working to deliver the “best offering on the market”, and 44% are marketing themselves and raising awareness.

It’s not too late to get your house in order, but Black Friday should be given the attention it deserves. Just under £1.4 billion was spent on UK ecommerce sites in 2017, up by 11.7% year on year (exceeding IMRG’s original forecast of 9% growth). This upturn was all the more impressive given a range of challenging factors, including:

  • Black Friday 2017 fell on 24th November, placing it before payday for the majority of consumers
  • An increasing number of retailers launched promotions ahead of Black Friday itself, extending the discounting period
  • More businesses from outside the retail sector jumped on the Black Friday bandwagon with their own campaigns, diverting consumer spending away from ecommerce

Where to focus your efforts

Obviously, there’s plenty to sort out ahead of Cyber Weekend (and the peak retail season in general), so to make your life a little easier we’ve narrowed the list down to three key areas to start focusing on right now. Here they are, in no particular order:

1.    Decide on your discounting proposition

Don’t be one of those brands that dials in their Black Friday offering. If all you’re going to do is offer a last-minute discount on products you can’t sell, you’re better off pretending that you’re taking some kind of moral stance against the whole occasion (as ASDA did in 2016).

Even more importantly, definitely don’t offer a fake discount. A Which? study found that a staggering 60% of products could be purchased for the same price as – or cheaper than – Black Friday at other times of year. If you get rumbled for trying to pull the wool over your customers’ eyes, you risk doing long-term damage to your brand’s reputation.

Defining your proposition necessitates understanding what you want to achieve over Cyber Weekend. Is it about growing your brand? Acquiring new customers? Building out your email and remarketing lists? Or simply driving sales? Set yourself an objective and KPIs, and use them to build a discounting strategy that will help you to achieve them.

In need of a little inspiration for your Black Friday strategy? Take a look at some of our favourite campaigns from last year.

2.    Update your Black Friday landing page

Hopefully, you already have a Black Friday landing page. It’s best to keep this page live throughout the year to build authority, rather than no-indexing or redirecting it once Cyber Weekend has finished. But this poses another question – if your Black Friday page is up all year round, what do you do with it?

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Topshop gives us a pretty decent example of what to do. While simple, it’s not out of date, features strong calls to action leading users to current deals across the site, and incorporates a contact form prompting deal-hunters to leave their details. There’s plenty of data capture here, giving the retailer a prime opportunity to push out highly targeted content to those who sign up.

However, there’s also room for improvement. Firstly, the page doesn’t include the date of Black Friday 2018 – it’d be easy to implement this, and would make the copy more persuasive.

Additionally, as you can see below, there’s no meta description so Google is using the page copy instead:

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Because this copy exceeds the character / pixel limit, it’s being truncated. This is another issue that, although quick and easy to resolve, could be damaging click-through to the page.

1.    Put your infrastructure through its paces

If consumers encounter an issue with your website – as almost half did on Black Friday 2017 – then don’t expect them to hang around patiently for it to be resolved. Some of the UK’s biggest retailers, including Debenhams and GAME last year – have been hit with technical problems over past Cyber Weekends, so you shouldn’t simply assume that you’ll be fine.

First off, review traffic levels over the last couple of Black Fridays. This should help you understand how many users to expect, and at what time of day.

Next, conduct stress and soak tests to understand your site’s peak capacity and ability to handle high levels of traffic over an extended period. Consider a scalable hosting solution – such as Amazon Web Services – to help your site deal with the increase in footfall.

Want more tips on maximising your Black Friday? Download our free whitepaper for insights on checkout processes, landing pages, email marketing and more.

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