How to prepare for a successful Black Friday

While consumers are seeking personalised recommendations more than ever, marketers are struggling to get the insight they need. So how can marketers bridge this ‘potential gap’?

Jim Rudall, Head of EMEA at Inuit Mailchimp shares his advice for how marketers can ensure their campaigns are as effective as possible this year’s holiday shopping period, such as how encourage consumers to share their data more readily in order to increase personalisation, and top tips on setting up promos.

According to data from Intuit Mailchimp’s 2023 Holiday Report, two-thirds of marketers say up to 40% of their annual revenue comes from sales made over the holiday period. As such, for retailers, it’s crucial to get the marketing right from Black Friday and beyond.

However, delivering the campaigns that will drive both brand loyalty and sales can be challenging. Here are five measures retail and brand marketers can implement to win this holiday sales period and beyond. 

Know your audience

Knowing your audience is the most important element of any high-performing campaign. Without that, you don’t know which demographics to focus on, what will be of interest or how best to reach those audience members. Using this knowledge to tailor your approach not only is more likely to lead to sales, but it’s something that consumers want too; insights from the report show that 73% of British and American consumers feel more valued when they receive personalised emails. During a period like the holiday sales, personalisation can be the real difference between success and failure.

And consumers may be more willing to share than marketers might think. 69% said they’d be willing to provide information about their gender, 65% their age, 58% their product preference and 55% their interests and hobbies, so it’s worth investing in both time and technology to get a deeper understanding of your audience. That could simply be expanding the data you collect on a sign-up page to include their birth month or developing surveys. But remember, they’ll likely want to see value back in return in the form of personalised offers, discounts or competitions.

Get the channel right

Once you know your audience well, you need to know which channel will be most engaging to them. For some that may be advertising via social media, while others could prefer direct marketing through SMS. One form that’s growing in prominence for consumers is email. According to the Data & Marketing Association, 32% say they find email brand messages useful, up from 15% in 2021, and 64% rank it as their top channel for receiving messages about discounts and sales. And based on our research, 4 out of 5 consumers prefer email over any other form of communication.

Timing is everything

However marketers choose to reach consumers, during the busy holiday period they’re competing against A LOT of noise. Timing is crucial to be seen.

Our data shows that in the US, while 1.8 billion emails are sent on average on Black Friday and 1.3 billion on Cyber Monday, over the weekend the two days sandwich—only 744 million emails a day are sent—yet customer engagement stays steady across these four consecutive days. This means marketers can target customers during a period of (relative) quiet over the weekend and stay top-of-mind to drive sales for Cyber Monday. 

Personalise your promos

Our research found that 55% of British consumers say holiday promos are extremely or very important to their holiday purchasing decisions. While it’s nothing new to advise marketers to make discounts front and centre of all marketing activity this Black Friday, remember one size doesn’t fit all. We’ve found that marketers are split on giving out the same discounts to all customers. Instead, many are customising different discounts to different audience segments to drive sales and increase loyalty.

Promotions and incentives can encourage customers to take action and choose you over the competition, but that doesn’t mean you have to offer deep discounts on everything to your whole audience for an extended period of time. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, consider offering exclusive promotions for valuable customers, limiting promotional periods to create urgency, or discounts that require spending over a certain amount. Over time, you’ll learn which type of offers resonate most with your target audience and generate the most sales for your business.

Play the long game to build trust

While Black Friday and the entire holiday shopping period are important to selling products and gaining revenue, you need to think beyond that single point in time. It’s part of the annual marketing cycle and not the only time that matters. Think of Black Friday therefore as a chance to drive brand awareness as well as lower funnel sales. Our research found that 7 in 10 US and British consumers are likely to trust a company more because of brand-building initiatives, and 89% in the UK even said they will only subscribe to emails they trust. Developing trust helps to create a more engaged customer base who will not only buy from you throughout the year but could even become brand advocates and attract more consumers to your offering.

Successfully delivering on your Black Friday and holiday shopping goals is an important challenge. With so many competitors vying for your customers’ hard-earned money, your unique selling point has to cut through the noise. Combining deep customer knowledge, intelligent timing and a creative mindset means you can build a campaign that performs well during this pivotal period and build trust and customer advocacy beyond it. Good luck!  

By Jim Rudall

GM, Head of EMEA

Intuit Mailchimp