Emplifi - 4 lessons your brand should learn from Black Friday

Jeff Haws — Director of Content Marketing, Emplifi

4 lessons your brand should learn from Black Friday

Especially for retail marketers, this is what it’s all leading up to. So much work, planning, and preparation all coming together over one late-November weekend. And, while some say some Black Friday/Cyber Monday creep has rendered the main event a bit less “main” than it used to be, marketers are still chasing the competition to attract deal-hunting consumers over those days after Thanksgiving.

While a big part of your brand’s revenue success for the year may be determined on Black Friday weekend, it will be won in large part long before November. Long before even the summer, in fact. If you come away feeling like you hit your goals, you’ll probably owe much of that success to the lessons you learned a year earlier, and the adjustments you made as a result of what you saw didn’t work as well as you’d hoped. 

Much like the best sports teams differentiate themselves on the practice field and the weight room rather than in the games, the best marketing teams separate themselves by learning, adjusting, and building strategy long before it’s actually needed.

So, here are the four biggest lessons your brand should plan to learn and heed for this season’s Black Friday weekend.

1. Adjust your interactions with customers 

As a retail marketer, one of the most valuable assets you have is data. And when it comes to understanding your customers, social media analytics can make all the difference. Black Friday provides a wealth of data that can offer insights into customer behavior, preferences, and trends, allowing you to gain a deeper understanding of what your customers want and how to better serve them.

Once the smoke has cleared on Black Friday, it's essential to take a step back and evaluate where you may have missed opportunities to listen to your customers. Did you accurately anticipate their needs and desires? Were there gaps in your product offerings or marketing messaging? These are crucial questions to ask yourself as you analyze customer behavior.

Social media analytics – especially when it’s unified across all your social channels – can provide valuable insights into customer sentiment, engagement levels, and purchasing patterns. By diving into the data, you can identify trends and patterns that may have gone unnoticed during the hectic Black Friday rush. Perhaps you missed an opportunity to promote a specific product category that was in high demand, or maybe you didn't effectively communicate a limited-time offer that could have driven more sales.

To better understand your customers' wants and needs, consider leveraging social media listening tools to monitor conversations and sentiment around your brand. Look for patterns in customer feedback, both positive and negative, to identify areas where you can improve. Pay attention to the types of content that resonate most with your audience, and use that knowledge to inform your future marketing strategies.

Additionally, analyzing customer behavior during Black Friday can help you identify any gaps in your customer journey. Did customers encounter any friction during the purchasing process? Were there pain points that could have been addressed to enhance the overall customer experience? Answering these questions can help you make necessary adjustments to optimize the customer journey and drive better results.

2. See how you can leverage UGC and influencer marketing

User-generated content (UGC) and influencer marketing can play a crucial role in Black Friday engagement and conversions. Customers crave brand authenticity; they trust the opinions and experiences of their peers more than traditional advertising. By incorporating UGC into your Black Friday campaigns, you can build the trust and social proof consumers demand. 

Part of that approach may be encouraging your customers to share their experiences, reviews, and product photos on social media using branded hashtags. This UGC can then be curated and showcased across your marketing channels, creating a sense of community and encouraging potential customers to engage with your brand and make purchases.

In addition to UGC, influencer marketing can significantly impact your Black Friday success. Collaborating with influencers who align with your brand values and target audience can help you reach a wider set of consumers and drive conversions. Keeping in mind that influencers greatly value personal interest in your brand when seeking partnerships, identify influencers who have a genuine connection with their followers and whose content resonates with your brand. Partner with them to create authentic and engaging influencer content that showcases your Black Friday offers. 

To effectively manage and amplify UGC and influencer content, social commerce tools are invaluable. They allow you to collect, curate, and showcase UGC seamlessly. They also provide features to identify and collaborate with influencers, making it easier to manage influencer partnerships and track their performance. 

If certain products or categories are not receiving enough attention, partnering with influencers who specialize in those areas can generate more interest and conversions. Influencers can also address common customer concerns or questions, providing valuable insights and reassurance. By leveraging UGC and influencer marketing, you can bridge the gap between your brand and potential customers, creating a more personalized and relatable shopping experience.

3. Integrate more personalization into the customer experience

Personalization is key to capturing the attention and loyalty of customers during Black Friday. By understanding your customers' preferences, purchase history, and browsing behavior, you can deliver targeted offers and recommendations that align with their interests. Tailoring your messaging and promotions based on customer segments or individual preferences can significantly increase engagement and conversions.

In any Black Friday post-mortem, it's important to evaluate where you may have been too generic in your marketing efforts. Generic messaging and offers that lack personalization can easily get buried in the veritable avalanche of promotions people will see in the surrounding weeks. 

Instead, consider segmenting your audience in order to create more targeted campaigns that speak directly to the needs and interests of specific customer groups. By tailoring your messaging and offers, you can stand out from the competition and capture the attention of your target audience.

In addition to segmenting your audience, there are several areas where you can add a personalized touch during Black Friday. For example, personalized product recommendations based on customers' browsing or purchase history can help guide them toward relevant deals and offers. Sending personalized emails with exclusive discounts or early access to sales can make customers feel valued and appreciated. 

4. Upgrade your technical performance and martech stack 

To carry the momentum beyond Black Friday, it's crucial to maintain engagement with your customers. Leverage the data and insights gathered during Black Friday to continue delivering personalized experiences and targeted offers. Utilize email marketing, social media, and other channels to stay connected with your audience and keep them informed about upcoming promotions, new product releases, and exclusive offers. 

Conducting a post-mortem analysis of your Black Friday performance is crucial for identifying what went right during the weekend. Did you achieve your sales targets? Did you effectively leverage UGC and influencer marketing? Assess the strategies and tactics that contributed to your success and consider how you can replicate and build upon them in future campaigns.

As you do, though, it’s crucial to identify what didn't go as planned. Were there any technical issues or bottlenecks that hindered the customer experience? Did you encounter any challenges in managing UGC or influencer partnerships? Could smart use of live video have added a personalized touch to drive more sales? Pinpoint the areas where improvements can be made and develop strategies to address these issues in future campaigns.

Finally, evaluate your martech stack and identify any gaps that may exist. Are there any tools or technologies that could enhance your ability to collect, curate, and showcase UGC? Are there areas where you could benefit from additional analytics or automation capabilities? Consider potential options to fill these gaps, such as exploring new social commerce platforms, integrating with customer relationship management (CRM) systems, or investing in advanced analytics tools.

Key takeaways

Black Friday/Cyber Monday is one of the biggest weekends of the year for any retail marketer, and it’s crucial that you put effort into reflecting on it when it’s over so you can apply the lessons to next year’s planning when it starts, probably sooner than most non-retailers think it does. Social media is undoubtedly going to play a big role in whatever strategy you put in place, and our team would love to talk to you about how our platform might be able to help you in 2024.

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