Since the concept was imported from America, Black Friday has become a key milestone in the UK calendar for retail brands.

And in an unprecedented year, it’s perhaps never been more important to deliver an effective digital marketing strategy and ensure you capitalise on the opportunities presented.

Competition is fierce as a more diverse cross-section of brands make the pivot online, so utilising the latest techniques to stay ahead of the competition is crucial.

Plan ahead

If you are just reading this now, then it may already be too late!
The best Black Friday marketing strategies have their roots in the summer and plans are often signed off weeks in advance, while implementation is also triggered early by many.

So entrenched is Black Friday in the UK calendar that many shoppers will plan their budget weeks in advance, so you can quite easily steal a march on your competitors by being the first out of the blocks.

However, we understand that this is easier said that done for many smaller retailers, especially in such an unpredictable year. Don’t worry – all is not lost.

There are a several quick strategies that can help you drive traffic and sales, which we will discuss in this article.

But if you have found yourself running out of time this year, then try to pencil in time for next August or September to begin planning 2021’s Black Friday push.

Test your platform

It’s absolutely vital to stress test your platform ahead of your campaign launch.
You should already have a reasonable grasp on any limitations surrounding capacity, but it’s important to be across any potential issues that increased traffic could cause.

Many bigger platforms wear ‘site crashes’ as badges of honour, as they can evidence a particular product’s popularity, but for smaller operators, even a short spell offline during such a crucial shopping period can be expensive.

You should also pay attention to your customer’s habits – how do they access your platform?
The majority of internet traffic is now mobile, so while it’s tempting to spend hours agonising over desktop lay-outs, it is in fact more important to ensure the small screen experience is as good as it can be.

Your website should already be mobile friendly, but you should invest time in ensuring that the experience is as user-friendly as possible. This includes a robust and secure choice of payment options.

Own the customer journey

Every good digital retailer knows how important it is to offer a pleasant user experience and a slick, simple customer journey – and this is doubly important around Black Friday.
Consider the steps you can take to drive visitors to your popular items without completely disrupting their experience.

Ultimately, your customers will value being signposted to your best offers as part of their experience visiting your website.

Consider utilising pop-ups and live chat to convey key messages.

Chat platforms like Tidio will plug in to websites built on WordPress and can be configured to say the right things to the right people at the right time.

Greeting first-time visitors by alerting them to your best offers can kick-start their customer journey, while welcoming back return visitors by sharing a discount code can turn window shoppers into conversions.

You should also seek to establish FOMO. Live sales notifications can alert your website visitors to purchases being made by other shoppers and create the perception that your products are flying off the shelves.

Whatever strategies you implement to disrupt the customer journey, ensure you map the process and consider how easy it is to see your Black Friday offers and complete a purchase.

Speak to your customers

Marketing and customer engagement should be anything but business as usual in the lead-up to Black Friday.

You may already utilise social media to point customers to your website and communicate your offers – but this is the perfect time to consider other ways to engage.

Personalised emails informed by your sales data can massively boost your conversion rate and deliver a better return than generic social media content.

You should plan and implement a distinct communications strategy in the lead-up to Black Friday, rather than just making changes to your existing output.

Use visuals that will make your existing followers look twice and command attention from your target audience.

A small paid social media campaign, if properly targeted, can help you reach new customers quickly.
Campaign calls to action can help you collect data, build brand awareness or push users directly to your best Black Friday offers.

Consider utilising Google Ads to retarget your website’s window shoppers with personalised messaging based on the products they previously viewed.

A small, allocated budget can work wonders if the spend is properly targeted.

Stay the course

The limited nature of Black Friday offers is a huge part of what stimulates purchases, but you don’t have to flick the switch back to normal at midnight.

Consider offering a Black Friday Weekend and provide your customers with the flexibility of an extra 48 hours to snap up your best offers.

You even choose to stagger the introduction of new offers throughout the weekend.
The leading online shopping platforms allow you to easily schedule offers in advance and create coupon codes that automatically expire.

Extending your Black Friday offers into the weekend won’t reduce the urgency or impact of your offers, but it is important to be clear about when the offers elapse.

There are no rules to dictate when you must withdraw your Black Friday discounts, but extending the offers indefinitely will reduce the impact of future promotions.

Strike the right balance here to super-power sales.

As we approach the closing stages of such a peculiar and damaging year for many retailers, Black Friday offers a lucrative opportunity to attract new customers and maximise sales to existing followers.
And with a carefully choreographed digital marketing strategy in place, which blends planning with pragmatism, you can ensure your brand is in the box seat to capitalise.