By Demi Edmunds, Specialist at TextAnywhere
As businesses look ahead to Q4, many are hoping to make the most of the upcoming ‘peak season’, following what has been a challenging year due to the pandemic and consequent local and national lockdowns.
Although the UK is set for a very different Black Friday this year, just 8% of consumers think companies should cut their advertising spend as a result of the coronavirus crisis and 55% of UK businesses are reported to be continuing with Black Friday campaigns either as planned or with additional investment. And given that in 2019 both transaction value (16.2%) and overall volume (7.2%) had increased when compared to 2018; Black Friday still presents businesses an opportunity to pull back any revenue lost as a result of the pandemic.
In order for businesses to make the most of the buzz around Black Friday, it’s vital customer communications are effective enough to stand out from those of their competitors. With this in mind, below are some considerations to help individuals create an effective customer communications calendar.
Engage with your customers
For customer communications and marketing more generally to be a success, it pays to know your audience. To understand their likes and dislikes, so you are able to tailor messages appropriately. However consumer behaviour continues to change at a rapid rate and with many SME businesses having less face-to-face interactions with their customers, it’s important to prioritise engagement, to ensure that your products and services are adding value. Afterall, that perceived value is what will ultimately drive sales.
So, when planning your Black Friday offers it makes sense to engage your audience and ask for feedback. What are your customers’ plans for Black Friday? Will they be making early Christmas purchases, or perhaps planning to buy a specific product, for example a television. This kind of feedback can be invaluable as it allows SME businesses to plan offers and communications accordingly. Furthermore, especially for businesses that may be relatively new to the world of ecommerce or managing operational disruptions, getting an insight into which products and services may be popular come Black Friday, can enable better forward planning.
Communicate offers early
Articles with titles such as ‘Black Friday UK deals 2020: the best deals we’re expecting’, are already being published and some consumers will have already begun to plan their purchases. For businesses who are able to communicate their offers early, there is a benefit in ensuring your brand is firmly on a consumer’s shopping list.
What’s more, while campaigns across all communication channels increase during the week of Black Friday, the vast majority are sent on Black Friday itself, with numbers on Cyber Monday following closely behind. But as customers are often already looking for deals midweek, last year campaigns sent on the Wednesday before Black Friday were very successful. So successful in fact, that some of these earnt order rates 75% higher than those sent on Cyber Monday. So it’s worthwhile ensuring promotion communications are planned to span across the week preceding Black Friday, if not longer.
Optimise campaigns for mobile
Mobile has become a huge part of ecommerce and this is certainly the case when it comes to Black Friday. Last year, 76% of online traffic and 52% of all orders placed over Black Friday weekend, were done via mobile. What’s more, as individuals have been spending longer on their devices during the pandemic, it’s vital that campaigns are optimised for mobile, as this is likely where many customers will be opening and engaging with your content.
Furthermore, as 3 billion emails were sent on Black Friday alone in 2018, it’s worth considering if SMS communications could work for your business. These have become increasingly popular, particularly in sectors considered more competitive, like retail. Not only do they benefit from a 95% open rate, but SMS marketing campaigns are also opted out of less than 5% of the time. Moreover, as text messaging is such a direct communication channel, customers are also x35 more likely to see a brand’s SMS than their email. So, SMS can prove a very powerful tool for SME businesses wanting to ensure that their communications stand out from the noise.
Segment your customer audience
Given that Black Friday can be a frenzy of discounts and sales, for a business’s communications to really stand out, they need to provide value beyond the offer. Brands should aim to segment their audience, to ensure that all communications are both relevant and valuable to recipients. While a blanket offer and communication may seem tempting, each message is an opportunity for your business to explain to a customer why they should pick your brand over a competitor. To be able to execute this successfully, it’s important to remember that it’s likely this reason will be slightly different for each segment of your customer audience.
Moreover, the reasons for individuals supporting a particular brand or company often follow market trends. The Executive Editor of Retail Week George MacDonald, was reported saying that retail could be entering a golden age of retail localisation. For SME businesses especially, this presents a great opportunity to secure their unique place within the market. And this in itself, can be a very persuasive reason why a customer should purchase from your brand as opposed to that of a competitor. As such, including these kinds of messages within communications can prove very effective and also help brands avoid sounding too salesy.
Plan for ‘peak season’
Some retailers begin to advertise their Black Friday deals throughout what is now referred to as ‘Black November’. However depending on your business situation, it may not be possible to run promotions for this length of time. Given that Big Business Saturday and Boxing Day sales closely follow Black Friday, it’s important to plan any promotions and discounts with ‘peak season’ in mind. Afterall, this is a marathon, not a sprint.
As the UK enters the second wave of the pandemic, the busiest shopping weekend of the year does present a real opportunity for SMEs. Just remember when planning your campaigns to stay true to your brand, the situation, and ensure whatever you plan, offers real value to your customers.