I awoke on the last Friday of November 2014 to find that people were being arrested in supermarkets across the UK and stampedes were breaking out over flat screen TVs. On checking my emails I was inundated an avalanche of offers in relation to that American import which, like Halloween, is suddenly huge over here: Black Friday. With the Argos, Currys, Tesco and Boots’ websites all experiencing outages due to weight of demand, the British public appears to have got over it’s aversion to this American celebratory holiday of all things consumer.
I run a niche ecommerce business that has a big US subscriber base, and based on previous Thanksgiving weekends it was clear that we needed to have a planned approach to the “holiday” season. As the day drew nearer we had customers emailing asking what we had planned as offers – it was going to be a big sales day.
Now we are a small business, our turnover isn’t huge but we are the market leader in our sector worldwide. I have access to a designer and I run the website, email marketing and social media myself. I do also consult extensively in said fields (I wear a number of hats as well as running Musicademy) so I am also our in-house expert but the point here is that we’re not working with a specialist agency. This is in-house DIY internet marketing so accessible to any marketer with a bit of digital savvy hence why I want to share what is quite a lengthy post with you.
What to offer on Black Friday?
The big retailers Asda (well they are owned by Walmart), Tesco, Amazon, John Lewis et al all led with targeted big discounts including the aforementioned flat screen TVs. We have previously done spot sales on particular items but we’ve also tested blanket discounts across the entire webstore and have found average order value considerably higher as a result.
So we went for a 20% blanket discount off every product. With some of the existing sales and offers (we already reward bulk buyers) this represented a significant saving on RRP for many products.
I like to think that people buy from people, not websites so we decided to go with a personal “With love and thanks from us to you” message which focussed on “Thanksgiving”. We incorporated a “Thanks for subscribing to our updates” message and chose “THANKFUL” as our coupon code. We genuinely feel that way about our customers, and we also felt that this approach would go down well with our North American Christian market.
We have a sister company, Worship Backing Band, that targets a very similar audience so a similar campaign was also created for that.
We stuck with a variant of the design style we’ve been evolving in recent months which reflects our corporate colours and other key elements. We have two image styles we tend to work with – one is a white silhouette of the different instruments we teach and the other is a series of pack shots. I wanted to use this campaign to test the effectiveness of each of these, and also to enable a variety of images across different platforms.
We tend to use a tinted image in the background of a lot of our ads so for these we chose some pumpkins – again reflecting the Thanksgiving occasion.
Choice of platform
In keeping with most ecommerce retailers email marketing is our normal workhorse channel so a Thanksgiving email duly made it’s way out at 8am on the morning of Black Friday to our 27,000 subscribers.
We also booked in third party emails with two partner organisations. One a big magazine which we’ve used extensively in the past with great results (we actually write a regular column in the magazine so their customer base is well aware of us) and the other with a specialist forum with a decent mailing list (with this one we offered a reciprocal deal and had sent out an email to our list over the summer that had featured their site).
In retrospect I think the masthead here (in the partner email) was wrong – we should have stuck with the Thanksgiving image.
The website home page featured the Black Friday offer and a blog post (see below) was made live. This would also be useful for social sharing later. As people are now on-site the image shifted to pack shots.
Next section: Using Facebook for Black Friday promotions >