Holiday Season and Ecommerce Opportunities

So It Begins - Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the two biggest dates on the consumer calendar. In the States and Canada these two events need no explanation, with hoards of citizens calling in sick to take advantage of the shopping bonanza. However, the concept of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is still fairly new to us here in the UK.

Traditionally, the dates see stores across the US and Canada offer up crazy deals on consumer products - at the peak of the Christmas build-up. So it's easy to see why the event causes a storm as people hustle for the best deals at an expensive time of the year. Even Apple gets in on the action with annual offers on its products and now the firesale is starting to gain motion on British soil.

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is the first Friday after Thanksgiving - which may not mean much to UK residents.  Naturally this changes every year.

What is Cyber Monday?

Cyber Monday is simply the following Monday after Black Friday.  Again, it falls on different dates each year and the two events are very similar - except one key difference.   Cyber Monday came about as a marketing initiative which was created by Scott Silverman and Ellen Davis back in 2005 and very quickly took off to become an annual event, and one of the largest shopping days in the online shopping calendar overall.  According to Wikipedia, "In 2017, Cyber Monday online sales grew to a record $6.59 billion, compared with $2.98 billion in 2015, and $2.65 billion in 2014."

On Black Friday stores slash their prices for one day only and open their doors to a flood of bargain hunters. Meanwhile Cyber Monday takes a break from the hustle and bustle of the high street and gives shoppers a chance to snap up deals from the comfort of their own home. However, the line between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a little blurred here in the UK and you could find big deals online across the entire weekend.  Some retailers, both online and offline have extended the Black Friday marketing initiative so that it extends across a full week.  This is largely for two reasons:

a) Prevents issues with capacity management which can lead to frenzied rushes and even accidents in retail outlets offline as well as issues with website slow downs and even server outages when there is too much traffic simultaneously to a site.

b) Maximise on the opportunity and generate more sales.

Why is this important for you?

All of this is great if you still have some Christmas shopping to take care, but what does it have to do with business?

The point is Black Friday and Cyber Monday are starting to take off in the UK and it's another opportunity to create a buzz about your services and products.

Sure, it's a little gimmicky, but what isn’t at this time of year? The most important thing is that people are starting to buy into it and that gives you a chance to build up a bit of pre-Christmas hype.

Naturally, this depends on your ability to drastically slash prices for a couple of days, but Black Friday and Cyber Monday could be something worth considering in your holiday marketing strategy. Naturally, it depends on the nature of your business and the type of services you offer, but there is growing hype about these two days in the UK and that gives you an opportunity to take advantage.

While the whole event is still new to us here in the UK so you could make a bit of a name for yourself by getting in there early - and there's no reason you have to go overboard with the discounts. Even an email campaign with "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" could be enough to bring some customers in through the doors or add some vital online sales for the holiday period.

January Sales and Ecommerce

You’re barely over the Christmas rush when the January sales hit. Then it’s all hands to the pump again. But this is the season to maximise your profits.

But there is a lot of competition, let’s not forget that. So how can you make sure your business start the New Year off as winners? Here are a few pointers!

Fix mobile web performance

It doesn’t matter whether consumers are buying online or in-store, the majority of shoppers use their mobile phones as part of their shopping routine. And that means hitting up your website with their handset.

Mobile users do not have the patience to wait for websites to load. If your webpage is too slow you risk losing customers.

This is not only a problem you will have in January, but all year round, so you may as well use the sales period to fix the lag. Make your New Years resolution a business solution.

Remove any unnecessary CSS or Javascript. You don’t need bells and whistles on your website, you need a website that sells your products. A few tweaks here and there should resolve the problem.

Beat price comparison

It has become the norm for consumers to use their mobile phones in-store to compare your prices with other retailers. But you do not have to lose your customers to your competitors.

Make it clear that you will offer a lower price than any competitor even if the price on your sales label is higher. If customers can prove your competitor is selling merchandise for less, be flexible on the pricing.

Personalised marketing

Personalised marketing is a trend many online stores have not got their head round. Consumers will typically unsubscribe from misplaced emails that are not relevant to them.

The point of asking consumers to give you personal information is so that you use it to target them with offers they may have an interest in. Yet far too many online businesses do not use this data and scatter emails at random.

You will increase your chances of a higher success rate – and keep your existing customers – by targeting them with specific offers that marry with their interests.

Social Media and Christmas Campaigns

The holidays are a massive part of the year for many reasons and for marketers it's a big opportunity to leverage social media success. A study from MarketLive says that half of holiday shoppers will be influenced by social media this year and this shouldn't come as any surprise.

Holiday shoppers take part in a number of social activities over the festive period - from product reviews and recommendations to hunting for gift ideas on Pinterest. A strong social presence at this time of year could make a great start to 2015 so its time to get your holiday social campaign off the ground.

How to choose your holiday social media strategy

Just like any other marketing campaign your festive strategy needs to be planned out for success. The right approach depends on the type of business you are and the services you offer. A social media campaign for toys at this time of year will vary greatly from a triple-glazing company and its important you understand the role of your services or products.

If it's hard to imagine your products or services as a Christmas present, offer your customers the gift of a discount or special offer. Even if you're generally associated with the summer months (eg: a marquee hire firm) you can send out offers for those Christmas and new year's parties - as well as those summer wedding, which will already be in the planning stage.

The question you need to answer is, what does your audience want at this time of year? It could be free shipping on their gifts or guaranteed delivery before Christmas Eve. They may be simply hunting for the best deal available or to buy online and collect from your store.

Turning it social

Special offers, deals and postage perks are not the key to social success this holiday season, however. It's a great place to start, but to make a success of your social efforts this festive period you need to get out there and get involved with your audience. First of all you need to tell them what you have to offer and how they can take advantage. Then you need to make sure they like, share and comment on your social offers.

It's a tense time for many online shoppers and you can use this to create a sense of urgency about your deals and offers. Set a time limit on your special deals to drum up the hype and make full use of the fact that Christmas is fast approaching.

Don't make it all about the sales though and focus some time to include your audience in the festive build-up. Get them to post advice for the holiday seasons, their best decoration pictures or whatever best suits your campaign, brand and products. If you can get them to picture or video themselves using your products you're on to a winner. Find a way to improve the holiday period for your target audience and whether your services are relevant to this time of year or not, you'll have made an impression they won't soon forget.

Being active on social media networks is a great way of directly communicating with your audience. You can make social media your most effective tool this holiday season and into January by posting content that creates a pathway to product landing pages and interacting with customers.

Offer long-term rewards

The January sales may offer great financial rewards for the short term, but how about the long-term? You could use the sales period to offer membership or discounts on future purchases in order to attract customers for now and lay the foundations for customer loyalty moving forward.

The sales season is a prime time to boost your online sales profits, but you can also use it to get the year off to a good start – and to start as you intend to continue.

If you are looking to maximise your sales online either through ecommerce SEO, paid search or paid social, we can help.  Get in touch and we'll provide an initial website analysis and suggest what you could realistically achieve.