By Tim Hyde, Founder and Director of Social Media Marketing Agency, TWH Media
Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) in the UK falls within this second lockdown period of 2020 (27–30 November) during a pandemic which has hit global business like a sledgehammer.
The question businesses are all asking is how this might affect sales and retail spend – well in my mind, it is going to be intensified and businesses therefore need to be prepared.
Predictions are that online retailers expect 45% Black Friday boost* and this statistic is backed up by figures from online retail association IMRG indicating e-commerce has already expanded by 34.9% in the year to October as opposed to last year.
If anything, COVID19 has sped up UK consumer habits which are following in the footsteps of US e-commerce trends (the US spend a lot more money on ecommerce products than the UK) Inevitably, spending behaviour has changed over the last few months as customers have had no choice but to shop online. Businesses have therefore had to pivot their strategy to adapt to a focus of online selling.
Will customers spend or save?
The impact of COVID-19 on many customers e.g. redundancy, job uncertainty, furlough etc, which all lead to degrees of financial hardship due to a reduction of income, may cause a reduction in spend. On the flip side, a huge proportion of customers costs have reduced with the lack of commuting, eating out, even moving back in with family to save on rent.
We have seen there has been an increase in appetite to spend throughout traditional retail peaks as many consumers have had ‘less to celebrate’ and are trying to ‘make the most of it’ so arguably, there might be more disposable income ahead of BFCM 2020.
This period is very much ‘risk and reward’ – this year the barrier to entry is higher due to increased competition and therefore it will be more expensive. You can avoid any risk and stay safe, but you will miss out on the rewards.
Avoid key mistakes
In taking more risks you are able to be more competitive but don’t leave it too late to start your campaign, stress test your offer, your product, your logistics to ensure your products are delivered in time and allocate enough spend.
The paid/biddable platforms have limited space and so the cost of advertising significantly rises throughout these periods. It is critical that you remarket rather than prospect during this period when Corporate Performance Management (CPM’s) are high.
Do it now – frontload spend on your general ads across your social media platforms rather than focussing on a 2-week sales period. If you prospect now, you’ll have a better chance of getting people’s attention and then you can re-market to those people and then re-target them. In doing this, you are focussing on a core group who are categorically interested in your product, so maximise this opportunity to keep them keen.
Don’t be reliant on one channel
You need to leverage your efforts across all platforms: SMS, Influencers, Paid Media, Tik Tok, Snapchat, Google and Facebook ads. There is a new audience of digital consumers out there and you need to target them.
This is a key strategy for your business moving forwards as whilst the lockdown period has been a blip, it has caused consumers to adapt and change their shopping habits and this change may become the new norm.
Use content as your differentiator
Great content can set you apart from your competition; it builds trust with your customers and is critical to the success of your campaign. It helps to build positive brand reputation and then recommendations from your customers to others. You have to connect with your customers, educate them, ‘talk’ to them and showcase your expertise in your sector so that they believe in you and are clear as to why they should buy YOUR product.
Your strategy will also depend on the vertical – you may need to be super tailored to specific/niche markets or be more generic to a more universal market e.g. listing the USB’s of the product rather than being hyper targeted. But avoid a scatter gun approach in the hope that something will stick; it doesn’t work.
Influence and increase your perceived value
In marketing your product or service during BFCM, you need to attempt to influence and increase its perceived value, rather than just offering a discount. Emphasize qualities such as its aesthetic design, accessibility, or convenience. Customers will always be looking for ‘value’ or a ‘bargain’, even if it is only a slightly increased or more of a perceived value. This helps businesses differentiate themselves while building brand equity, which leads to increased Average Order Value (AOV) and Life Time Value (LTV).
Examples might be giving away a ‘gift’ with any purchase over a certain amount or add value by creating, for example, free next day shipping. This allows the brands to keep pricing consistent across retail and online and generate more profit, as the gift typically will cost less than a comparable discount.
My prediction for BFCM 2020 is that people will be in a purchase state of mind and therefore, you can win big and you can lose big – but this year more than ever, you need to be prepared.