Every year Black Friday receives a lot of media coverage, with businesses and commentators weighing in with their thoughts on whether the period is a good thing for UK businesses and consumers.
If you’re considering running a Black Friday marketing campaign in your business, you’ll need to consider both the pros and cons of doing so.
In this article, I’ve boiled it down to three distinct advantages and two potentially difficult aspects of pursuing a Black Friday marketing campaign.
If you’d prefer to listen to me share my insights, watch the video instead:
Pro: record sales figures
Over the last few years, UK consumers have spent billions of pounds over the weekend between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
One of the real benefits of a weekend where retailers across the country are slashing prices is that consumers are prepared and willing to spend money.
This means that if you can draw people to your site, they’re going to be in the right frame of mind to spend big. With a marketing campaign dedicated to making sure that people are coming to your site on Black Friday, it is entirely feasible that you could achieve record sales figures.
This pro does come with an inherent warning.
If you sell more products than ever before, but you’ve had to slash your prices to the point where you’re making minimal profit – or even a loss – then selling more products is not necessarily a good thing for your business.
Try to resist the temptation to make absurd cuts and instead seek a balance between low, exciting prices, and worthwhile profitability.
You also need to factor in the time and money that it will take to plan a marketing campaign and execute it successfully in order to generate traffic on Black Friday itself. Your profits will ideally cover both the cost of the products themselves and the resources poured into making the campaign happen.
Con: no increase in demand
One of the criticisms brought against the Black Friday weekend is that there is no actual increase in consumer demand, but that consumers are just paying less for things for which they would have paid full price in the run up to Christmas anyway. This is a criticism that is grounded in some fact, as spending has been shown to drop off into December after the Black Friday weekend in previous years.
The best Black Friday strategies are planned as part of the whole year, which means you’ll factor in its potential impact on Christmas sales. As long as you can plan for the peaks and troughs, you can compare yearly performance as a whole and recognise when Black Friday is and isn’t working for you.
At their best Black Friday campaigns can bring new customers to the site, which offsets the possibility that there is no extra demand in your industry as a whole.
To see such benefits, you need to make sure that you are running a Black Friday marketing campaign that is going to appeal to people who have never made a purchase from your site before.
The outcome should really be that the amount of new sales that you make completely outweighs any additional costs, and makes the whole event very profitable for you. It also gives you a platform to build your customer base for the long term, as I’ll discuss shortly.
Impression tip: Any marketing campaign needs to be focused on ROI. If you’re not getting a positive return on your investment, you need to rethink your strategy. It’s only through testing and tracking that you can truly understand the value of Black Friday to your specific business.
Pro: a reason to shop
Following on from the last point, one of the key benefits of Black Friday marketing is that it can bring you in front of new customers.
Rather than a standard marketing campaign, which would try a number of tactics to bring more people to your site under normal circumstances, a Black Friday campaign automatically gives potential customers a reason to come to your site and buy your products at a specific time.
A Black Friday campaign is not only a good way to attract new customers, but to encourage previous customers to keep coming back.
Whilst it might not make a difference for your more loyal, regular customers, it could work very well in encouraging someone who has just made one or two purchases at some point in the past to return to your site and take advantage of the Black Friday deals.
To capitalise on the appeal of a Black Friday sale, ensure that your messaging is clear through all of your primary marketing channels. Email, social media, paid advertising and even SEO (through tweaking page titles and descriptions) can all play a part in making loyal, casual and new customers aware of the timing and nature of your campaign.
Con: website pressure
One problem reported from multiple businesses over the last couple of years is the pressure that Black Friday traffic puts on their websites.
These aren’t complaints from SMEs either – some of the biggest retailers and ecommerce sites in the UK have struggled with site crashes, or have had to resort to other measures, such as making visitors queue.
Site performance also has a very real impact on organic search rankings and user experience. While temporary issues are unlikely to cause a long term SEO issue, you do risk suffering in the Black Friday and Christmas season if your site suffers multiple issues. More pressingly, site speed and availability are vital when convincing new visitors to make a purchase, and any performance issues could see them taking their cash elsewhere.
If you’re expecting high website traffic over the Black Friday period, speak to your developers and website hosting service to see what options you have to maintain as high a performance level as possible.
Pro: increased customer base for the future
Black Friday is a great time to build a customer base that is going to keep spending money on your site in the future.
The first is that you need to make your Black Friday visitors’ experience as good as possible for your site.
Use the occasion to show customers just how good your business is, and encourage them to leave reviews of their experience.
You can also encourage them to sign up to a mailing list, so that you can keep them engaged year round, and particularly into the Christmas season that will immediately follow Black Friday.
If it is done well, Black Friday can be a very successful time for your business, and investing in marketing to make it as good as possible could lead to unprecedented sales. There are other concerns to bear in mind, but with the right preparation you can make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes as many other businesses, and you can use the occasion to start building success that will last beyond one day.