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Black Friday e-commerce tips from those in the know

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 10 Nov, 2015
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Avoid a Black Fridays Sales #Fail by optimising your Black Friday Marketing

Over the years, we Brits have been given much by our transatlantic cousins: the telephone, the lightbulb, David Hasselhoff… In more recent times, we have been ‘gifted’ the concept of Black Friday.

Once nothing more than jaw-dropping news reports of deal-hungry shoppers fighting over reduced flat-screen TVs, it’s now recognised as the biggest retail opportunity of the year. Though still a relatively new phenomenon, the UK’s ecommerce industry has started to act accordingly, taking steps to ensure that it gets the most out of this strange, yet lucrative, US import.

Black Friday

To help you do the same, we appealed for some advice. We know you will have your core plans for Marketing Black Friday in place, but you will still be making last-minute adjustments.  Here are some Black Friday ecommerce marketing tips and tweaks from those in the know:

#1. Prepare in advance and get that stock in

There’s going to be a lot going on around Black Friday itself, so you need to tell your customers about your deals and discounts now. Use email marketing campaigns to spread the word or to give customers a ‘sneak peek’ at your offering – maybe even a secret deal that isn’t open to anyone else.

Obviously, you need to make sure you have sufficient stock, with something to tempt everyone. Rupert Brown from Muddy Paws, the UK’s biggest online dog accessory retailer, will be doing just that. He told us that putting temptation in front of his customers is key:

“We want to make sure that there is something for everyone on the site, from a £2.99 pack of dog treats to a £150 dog bed”!

Rupert will be alerting customers to Muddy Paws’ activities through an e-mail marketing campaign which he intends to launch a week before Black Friday.

Harriet Mears, co-founder of Secret Linen Store, which makes and sells high-quality designer bedding, is planning equally early. Harriet says that this will be the first year (since the store was first launched in 2013) that she’s actively prepared for Black Friday.

We will make sure that we have plenty of stock, and a good offer on the site for people to take advantage of. We will email our customers but wouldn’t plan to do any additional marketing activity as the market is so saturated at this time.”

#2. Create some hype

Another piece of good advice is to whip up some excitement around the brand and your plans for Black Friday – a bog-standard email simply won’t cut it.

Getting in early is vital, so says Claire Florey, founder of soon-to-be-launched discount and offers service, What's Ticking Today. She advises: “Don't leave it until the day itself. Start building anticipation by giving consumers a preview of what's to come.”

Combining your marketing channels, such as using social media to support your email marketing efforts, could both get you noticed and create that necessary interest which sets you apart – especially if you can find ways to both stir up excitement and serve a practical purpose.

Head of Communications at Elm Partners, Adam Smith, recommends using your channels to “remind customers of exactly how long the offers will last – countdown timers until sale ends, only X amount left etc.”

Putting a time limit on your deals can also produce a feeling of panic that the consumer must remember to visit your site before the time is up or they’ll lose out. Once you’ve grabbed their attention and piqued their interest, direct them to your site.

Matchbox Marketing told us via Twitter: “Use social channels to leverage the hype then take prospects to tailored "deal-based" landing pages with relevant content.”

Of course, that will only benefit you if your website is in tip top shape.

#3. Up your digital marketing game

If you’re going to drive traffic to your website with the intention of securing sales, you must some housekeeping beforehand. Vertical Leap Account Manager and SEO Specialist, Nick Pearse says it’s crucial that all aspects of your site are running 100 per cent.


Ensure there are no speed issues so you can cope with the increased traffic volumes, that you have a reliable checkout and clear messaging throughout the site, “ he said. “You don’t want any barriers to conversions!

Remember, though, that a huge proportion of your customers will be shopping on mobile devices. Nick emphasises this point: “Make sure you’ve got this channel covered to capture impulse buys or people hearing about deals via word of mouth and then accessing the site on the go.”

According to Google, 48 per cent of purchases will be made and/or researched on mobiles, so must make sure your site is optimised as appropriate. Additionally, over half will use their mobile in store to check they’re getting the best price, so ensure any offers on your core products are prominently placed and supported with PPC advertising.
On the subject of PPS, SEO, social media and PPC Analyst, Tom Bourlet told us on Twitter that it’s important to utilise “PPC targeting on mobiles, based on location based data, to offer deals if you are near a store”. This personalised approach is proven to achieve a lot of sales.

#4. Stand out from the crowd

As Harriet Mears said above, the market will be crammed with deals and discounts throughout November, so how can you make sure that people notice you?

Nick Pearse has a top tip for taking advantage of this major retail event: try to do something different.

For example, Cards Against Humanity, the self-described ‘party game for horrible people’, took the risky and cynical step of raising prices on Black Friday. This unusual move was taken in the right spirit and sales figures were as healthy as the previous year.

Nick adds:

Think about spreading out the deals – why not continue some offers after the day itself and benefit from those looking for products which may have sold out elsewhere?”

Another tip is to concentrate on a limited number of products, rather than discounting absolutely everything. Award-winning entrepreneur and founder of Charlie Moo’s, Joanne Dewberry, says: “For independents, concentrate on one or two products rather than a discount for the whole store.”

Claire Florey adds: “There'll be lots of noise on Black Friday so ensure you have a stand-out offer, something that's genuinely only available on Black Friday and exclusive to you.”

Black Friday Sale

#5. Focus on both existing and new customers

A mistake some retailers make is to concentrate solely on attracting new customers and forgetting existing ones. It’s important, therefore, to concentrate on both groups.

Though this is your chance to establish and build new relationships, especially where you can capture valuable data for post-Black Friday marketing activities, you shouldn’t assume past customers will automatically return to your site.

Claire says: “Don't just focus on new customers! Black Friday offers the perfect opportunity to reward existing and loyal customers. Perhaps offer them an additional perk or discount on Black Friday to show you care about them and value their custom.”

Black Friday is your chance to swell your database and your bottom line, both of which are perfectly achievable if you follow the tips above. Failing that, bear in mind this information supplied by Time.com: ‘12 per cent of Black Friday shoppers will be drunk’...

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