Podcast | Building your Black Friday Strategy with Sophie Moule
Sophie Moule, Pi’s Head of Marketing and former Search Marketing Manager at Clarks, join’s us on this month’s podcast to discuss what it takes to build a successful Black Friday campaign.
– The growth of Black Friday online, YoY
– How to build a Black Friday strategy
– The relative merits and considerations of taking part in Black Friday
– Why it’s so important to start planning in advance
– The tried and tested PIPR method (Plan, Influence, Peak & Repeat)
This podcast has been transcribed using an AI transcriber. There may be some errors and this is not a substitute for listening to the episode.
Emily Hogarth: Black Friday gets talked about every year. But there’s a lot of speculation as to whether the sales holiday offers legitimate discounts. And actually, whether it’s even worth taking part as a retailer.
Why do we still need to talk about Black Friday?
Sophie Moule: Well, I think it’s kind of a supply and demand thing, there’s still so much demand from consumers to find Black Friday discounts. And you do still have to assess whether it’s actually going to be beneficial for you, as a retailer, to be involved in it based on the ROI that you’ll get from your involvement in it. I think because your consumers and your loyal customers will be looking at you to find discounts, it’s still a really crucial thing to try to be involved in. And I guess we still need to talk about it as well, just to assess that viability, basically, for retailers to see if they think that it’s still something that’s worthwhile being involved in. From my perspective, it is, just because we see growth and Black Friday year on year. And but as we said, you just have to be involved in the right kind of way, rather than just kind of going in all guns blazing.
Louise Linehan: We’re seeing growth in Black Friday. And actually, in search volume demand, we’ve seen 44% growth from 2016 to 2018. So there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Black Friday is definitely growing, and a big consideration for retailers, especially this year, because it lands on Pay Day. So I imagine maybe even more retailers than ever before will be taking part. And not just retailers, but businesses beyond retail will be thinking about taking part of this year, for that reason.
Sophie Moule: Yeah. And I think it’s really difficult for retailers to feel like they’re not involved in it, because it will just feel like a massive lost opportunity. And if you’re not involved in something where people are buying things potentially as gifts for Christmas, then they’re kind of missing out on that big discount period, but also potentially missing out on future discount periods as well, because their loyal customers might now have gone to someone else to buy something. So it’s a bit of a risk mitigation thing to be involved in as well.
Louise Linehan: Yeah. And as you said about Christmas, with Black Friday, we’re seeing more and more, year on year that it’s not just a day. It kind of feeds into Christmas, it’s the start of a q4 holiday season, and also, it’s not even just Black Friday, it’s a build up that starts as early as August. So we borrowed Black Friday from the US and that was originally initiated to drum up sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
How do you think Black Friday has changed over time?
Sophie Moule: Yeah, well, I think in terms of from a UK perspective, I don’t think it that association with thanksgiving and drumming up sales for Christmas is necessarily there anymore for Black Friday. It’s very much taken on an identity of its own. And I think people are acknowledging it as a proper discount event in its own right in the UK. They don’t necessarily associate it with anything else.
I think, as you were saying, demand picks up far in advance the actual day. So it’s something to be aware of. It’s a good opportunity for retailers to get revenue for the company in advance of Christmas. And so basically, then, as well as getting revenue in early, you’ve got other opportunities as well. So it’s an opportunity to get people onto your newsletter to target them in a more cost effective way. And it’s an opportunity to get loads of traffic to your site. So you have an additional cookie pool, basically, that you can use to then drum up more kind of attention around Christmas.
And so, my advice would be to use see this more as like a q4 campaign, than to view Black Friday and Christmas in isolation to one another. And, you know, you definitely need separate tactics at both times. But once black Friday’s out the way, you can use a lot of the attention you’ve drawn for Black Friday to retargeting for Christmas as well.
And the final point on that, as well, is that Black Friday might have actually taken some attention away from Christmas. So it’s not necessarily all additional revenue that retailers are getting for being involved in Black Friday. Some of it will be a loss of the Christmas period.
So how have we changed as consumers during Black Friday?
Sophie Moule: I think the difference in the past couple of years, based on the growth in demand that Louise was talking about earlier, is that we expect discounts. So we know that consumers are getting smarter. We’re clever consumers, we expect more now, we don’t just expect to find the best prices, we also expect the most convenient delivery options for us as well. So there’s more opportunity to shop around for consumers. And I think at times when there are big discount periods like Black Friday, we’re now more ‘product’, rather than ‘brand’ loyal.
So consumers are really happy to do their research in advance and shop around to see what products they want, that they can get at a discount, rather than being really brand loyal to the companies that they that they usually shop at. Which, as we mentioned earlier, is another reason for retailers to be involved in Black Friday. Because, otherwise, there’s a big risk that some of your really brand loyal customers could go to some of your competitors, based on their better deals.
So yeah, shoppers are just notoriously promiscuous now on Black Friday. They will go anywhere, as long as they’re getting the best deal. They’ve got all the information at hand to choose who they want to go with. So that’s something for retailers to look out for.
Louise Linehan: So, industries beyond retail are getting more involved in Black Friday, as we spoke about a bit earlier.
What do businesses really need to consider when assessing whether they should participate in Black Friday?
Sophie Moule: I think the biggest thing that people need to assess, when they’re thinking about getting involved in Black Friday, is value, and whether it’s going to be a value to the company to be involved. And also if it’s going to be a value to their customers to be involved.
So in terms of being valuable to the company, they have to really assess their margins of the products they’re going to be making discounts on, to see if – like we said earlier – the ROI is going to be strong enough for them to be involved, and review what their competitors are doing to see if they are actually going to be able to be competitive in this space.
And in terms of value to the customers, they really do have to try and offer some real value and not just jump on the bandwagon. And, as we just talked about, consumers are getting smarter and smarter. And they’ll kind of sniff it out if it’s a bit of a duff deal, to be honest. And so that would be my main answer to that: just consider the value to you, your brand and to your customers when you want to get involved.
How do you go about putting together a smart marketing Black Friday strategy?
Sophie Moule: I think the key to putting together your marketing strategy is to plan really far in advance really, and to plan for each stage of the discount period. So as we said, it’s not just one single day now. You need to think about it as a whole build up. And, so, there’s a couple of things that we think about when we’re advising our customers on planning a Black Friday strategy.
So that’s planning. So like we said, plan in advance, look at the kind of things that people are searching in advance of Black Friday, the kind of products that are really popular at the moment, and try and use those as your hero products and optimise your content around those Black Friday terms, that are competitive, both in the organic space and the paid space. It’s going to be really difficult to compete in any kind of cost efficient way on those terms. So make your strategy and your content more product lead, and look for opportunities around generic terms, where it might be slightly less competitive. So terms like Black Friday deals rather than just Black Friday is also a big time where you can influence your customers.
So, people are researching before they’re buying. So if you start your paid search campaigns, for example, slightly in advance of the peak, your CPC is going to be low, but you will have influenced your customers around the fact that you’re going to be running Black Friday deals. And, if you can get the message out there early that your brand is going to be involved in Black Friday, it means on the day potential customers will be searching your brand rather than generic searches. So you’re you’re already in a far less competitive space. And I think that’s the key really: Trying to find those niches where where you’re in slightly less competitive space.
In the influence stage, when you’re actually on the day, we found through research that a lot of the top retail sites get knocked off the top spot of Black Friday terms, and they’re replaced with publishers. So try and think about some of those publishers that you could create partnerships with and get your deals advertised in their publications, and all of the other set of features that are now being presented in Google. So for example, video cards were really present last year for Black Friday. So can you do a fun marketing campaign in video format, rather than just a landing page to give you a bit of an edge?
And as we said earlier, when you’re thinking about what to do with all of that content and all of that data afterwards, keep all of your all of your reports ready for Christmas because as we said, hopefully, you would have got more newsletter signups, more traffic to the site, where you can target consumers now for your Christmas campaigns.
So, basically, have a plan for each stage of the process would be our advice. And of course, in addition to all of that, you really need to communicate with the rest of the departments to ensure that your site is actually stable for all of the additional traffic you’re going to get, because otherwise you’ll be putting all your marketing efforts into driving additional traffic to your website, and it might break.