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In 2018, Black Friday sales hit a colossal £1.4bn in the UK – an increase of 7.3% on the previous year. In the US, it hit a record £4.8bn.

  • Was your business prepared?
  • What can you learn from UK retailers during the run up to this period?
  • What business decisions can be made to ensure your success?

This is now one of the most important dates in the retail calendar. It’s essential that you’re ready to drive those all-important sales.

There are two ingredients for success: customers and data. Place each of these at the forefront of your preparations.

Consider the end-to-end experience a customer has – from spotting your advert online to shopping for those Black Friday deals on your website to after-care emails. They should be engaged every step of the way. Data provides you with the means to do that. Use your analytics to identify where customers are going (or not going); what they’re buying; when and where and how. AI is a prime tool for this, taking the guesswork out of data analytics, offering insights into refining that experience.

 

Update your website

It’s entirely possible, if you have carefully managed your brand’s image, that customers will actively visit your website with very little marketing from your organisation. However, it’s important to remember that customers are likely to visit your site’s landing page in their hunt for the latest Black Friday bargains.

Anecdotally, most retailers stick to the classic red colour scheme with white typography. This isn’t surprising, given that studies find that we react ‘faster and more forcefully’ when we see this colour. However, this presents an opportunity to rise above your competitors – even a moderate tweak, such as yellow writing on a red background can help you stand out from the crowd.

Most organisations also create ‘hot spots’ in a static image. This lets customers navigate to specific sales pages, such as ‘Furniture’ or ‘Beauty’. A more fluid, intuitive user experience is essential for driving traffic and sales.

 

Promote your website on social media

If your brand isn’t particularly well-known, adjusting your social media channels to drive traffic to your website is a wise decision. This is also vital if you’re aiming to attract a new type of customer to your winter sale.

This isn’t a silver bullet for increased sales, however. It’s interesting to note that not all retailers followed this method.

Dunelm promotes its winter sale across its social media networks, as does Next, who also ran a series of adverts this year featuring the dogs, Dodger and Pixel.

Other retailers, such as Debenhams and House of Fraser, have not changed the appearance of their social media channels since Christmas, but they have published posts that direct customers to their sales landing pages.

 

Create and track unmissable newsletters

Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to entice customers to shop with you – so long as it’s done the right way (and you don’t spam potential shoppers).

Most retailers support their sales through email newsletters. These often feature similar design cues as their websites, creating a sense of continuity and branding, while enabling customers to quickly navigate around their website.

But you can also obtain excellent data from email clicks that can help you make better business decisions.

Next, for instance, individually track each hyperlink in their emails. A close inspection of each of these links, like ‘Home Sale’ and ‘Brands Sale’, reveals slight differences in each tracking code. This lets the retail giant effectively report on the efficiency of their email newsletter.

By concentrating on the data, companies can focus on the links that perform well, or present an opportunity to drive more traffic to under-performing links by tweaking various elements. Finally, it’s a chance to remove others entirely depending on the click-through rate of each link. Why waste time on links that, despite your best efforts, aren’t generating sales via email?

 

Be different

Think outside the box. It’s a sure-fire way to create delight and excitement among customers – especially during busy times of the year like Black Friday and Christmas, when so many others follow the same old trends.

Companies like Dunelm use other social media channels like Instagram to drive traffic to their sales page – this is via links in their profile bios, or through services like Feedshop. This tool lets you add links to Insta pics via a separate webpage.

You may also want to consider using Snapchat geo-filters across your store, digital advertising with Microsoft Advertising, and even Facebook Livestreams. These tools can help you increase visibility and drive customers to your website.

 

What are your thoughts? How does your organisation use digital marketing to help drive sales through sale seasons? Share your best practices in the comments.

 

 

Find out more

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About the author

Tom Wakelin, Social Media Manager. MicrosoftTom Wakelin is Microsoft UK’s Social Media Marketing Manager, responsible for our digital communities across consumer, commercial, education and developer. Whether it’s a Facebook message, tweet, Instagram Live broadcast, or LinkedIn blog, Tom and the team are always looking for innovative ways to help tell the Microsoft story and drive excitement for our products and services. He’s always on the lookout for exciting customer stories that bring the magic of technology to life. You can follow Tom on Twitter at @Thomas_Wakelin

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