Singles Day, 11/11, originated in the 90s in China. It is said to have been introduced by some single university students who wanted to treat themselves that day. The day rose to prominence when Alibaba successfully launched its first shopping ‘festival’ in 2009. Forbes stated the following: “In the 11th edition of Singles’ Day, the world’s biggest shopping event ever, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba set a new sales record of $38.4 billion, in 24 hours selling more than half of what Amazon sells in an entire quarter.” Needless to say, that’s massive. After the first minute and eight seconds of Singles Day, they reached $1 billion in gross merchandise volume (GMV). After one hour, the record-breaking number of $12 billion was reached. Eventually, total sales hit $38.4 billion in GMV after 24 hours, a 26% increase over last year’s total. Experiences are seen as one of the festival’s keys to success. Through international celebrities performing in the opening show, a social media presence and a strong focus on video such as TikTok. Gamification has also been an important factor of this festival. Consumers can ‘win’ extra discounts by playing certain games.
“Think of 11/11 as the SuperBowl for brands, it’s an opportunity to pull out all the stops to wow Chinese consumers.”
Senior Director Alibaba Group
With Singles Day just behind us, it’s time to focus on the ‘other big one’ in the build-up to Christmas. Even though it has been the most recent addition to the Belgian retail calendar, Black Friday has today become one of the most popular shopping days of the holiday season. One more week it’s ‘that day’ again. This year it will also correspond with many people’s final payday before Christmas. Numbers reported by Google, show that the Belgian interest in Black Friday has been growing strongly:
Google shared more interesting data. In 2018, there were 2 million Black Friday-related searches, a growth of 32% compared to 2017. Google also indicated a strong device preference with a 58% share of mobile queries during Black Friday. That’s a growth of at least 51% compared to the year before. So make sure to be there on the right screen.
And also Belgian retailers are getting more familiar, with 14% in 2014 versus 91% in 2018 (source: Statista).
It’s clear that Black Friday has become incredibly popular. Last year, we reached 10.432.103 electronic transactions in Belgium alone (an all time record for Belgium!), with an increase of 87% in the number of e-commerce transactions compared to a regular Friday (source: Atos Worldline). With positive results stretching over the weekend, a ‘shopping festival’ like Black Weekend can have a huge impact on your revenue and the number of visitors.
But with so many retailers participating, the competition is very high. You need to find a way to stand out in the crowd. Numbers even show that 37% of Belgian consumers prefer international webshops such as Amazon and AliExpress, while only 25% share goes to established Belgian retailers (source: Statista). This requires clear positioning and consideration of the added value when buying on your platform, as the user can easily change their mind and tend to buy at multiple retailers, both online and in-store. It’s important to pinpoint what convinces the visitor to buy on your webshop next to high discounts (on Black Friday). It could be that they really value a brick and mortar store such as Coolblue, or that they want to score exclusive deals during flash sales like those to be found on Veepee. Find out what other factors play a role when customers choose your webshop over another. Be bold. And be creative!
For example, you could offer a promo that stimulates ‘combo buys’. Another approach could be to go for an extended sales period just like Coolblue did in 2017. They launched ‘Blue Friday’ the week before and MediaMarkt introduced ‘Red Friday’ a month before Black Friday. This year, Belgian shops call upon consumers to shop locally during 'Bel Friday'. Another angle could be to donate a certain amount to charity that day, like some brands do on 'Pink Friday' to support Think Pink. Not only will this warm the heart of your client, but it’s also a great way of improving your brand image. It sounds like a win-win.
Even more interesting for you as a retailer would be to tie the ‘one-time-customer’ to your brand. Black Friday buyers are bargain hunters so they aren’t likely to stick with you after that day. Though, your webshop won’t ever be profitable with this method. During sales peaks such as Black Friday, it is important to look for ways to ‘tie’ them to your brand. You could do this by directly offering a loyalty program after purchase. An example of this could be when buying on Black Friday receiving 200 bonus points and then at the 500 points mark offering them a €10 discount when shopping in January.
Each year, more and more webshops start earlier than the actual Friday after Thanksgiving, so it becomes more difficult to gain the attention of the customer. So make sure to be there at the right time. Interested in giving your sales a final boost? Here are some tips.
For the most impactful campaigns, it is important to go for a persuasive marketing mix:
Start in advance with an awareness campaign. This is cheaper and there will be less competition in the field because you start sooner. You’ll be able to fill the marketing funnel and retarget with dynamic ads. After this, you can put the awareness campaign on hold during Black Friday. If you’d continue that campaign on the day itself, it’ll be a lot more expensive since you won’t be the only one advertising anymore.
Email is key for a good awareness campaign. Through email, you get to raise awareness around your brand and products the days before Black Friday. This can lead to many new clients but it is important not to neglect your regulars. Think about a tailored approach for that audience. For instance, you could send an email telling them that Black Friday’s coming up or you could segment them as ‘VIP’ customers. Create specific offers for them based on their order history, or offer them early access to the best deals. This way, you are able to create select audiences within your client database. And people like to feel exclusive. Take Amazon Prime Day, which is exclusively meant for people with a Prime account. This is how you get them to stick around, even after the Black Friday madness.
Lead the customer to a dedicated landing page so that they are not distracted by the enormous webshop, but will be able to focus on the specific offers. This medium is strongly connected to the awareness stage because of its data possibilities. With such a page, you’ll be able to collect customer data such as email addresses to make sure they’re the first people to receive the best Black Friday deals.
You want the customer to realize that the deals won’t last forever. Create urgency to make them move to the decision phase quicker. You could visualize this with a countdown timer at the top of your page, or show the number of people that already looked at that specific product or bought it.
Choose the products and deals you want to focus on. One rule here: be selective. Carousels or constantly shifting banners come across as confusing and will even turn visitors away.
The website visitor likes to be guided through the customer journey. An option could be to add a specific tool for gift ideas based on their interests, sex and age. Work with categories the customers could identify themselves with such as ‘budget watcher’, ‘tech heads’ or ‘treat yo’self’.
After the awareness stage: it’s time to get social. Invest in retargeting campaigns via for instance Facebook, to reach new visitors or customers. Retarget last year’s Black Friday and Singles Day customers through Facebook and create a lookalike audience from this.
With ‘in-market audiences’ you can target potential customers via Google Search and YouTube. This is a way to connect with customers who are actively researching or comparing products and services. Based on their search behavior and other signals, Google can predict what the next actions will be and thus categorize users for you to target who are most interested in your products.
Bear in mind that the ‘best’ ad is unique for each person so personalize them at scale. Test and don’t be afraid to adapt and change as you go.
It is best to start well in advance through reach and broad audience campaigns. For reach campaigns, you target purely on interests for instance and lookalike audiences. With ‘broad audiences’ you don’t pinpoint interests since Facebook will look for the best match on its own based on previous website conversions. When you do this the week before, this will be cheaper, you get to capture the client data and with leading them back to your landing page, they see your full offering. On Black Friday, you switch off the reach campaigns to new clients because of the higher advertisement costs. It is best to focus on performance, followed by broad audiences (for acquisition) and dynamic remarketing. You can always do another extra push to known audiences by looking at the people in your email database, fans, website visitors and everyone that interacted with your landing page or advert.
You can divide this period into 4 big waves: pre-Black Friday week, Black Friday week (or Black Week), Black Friday (the day itself) and post-Black Friday. For the most impact, we advise following these stages. Even though we focus on Black Friday here, you can adapt this method to any big ‘shopping festival’ such as Singles Day, Sinterklaas and Christmas.
Start early. Both in preparing and launching your campaign. Start on time and leave enough time for creative ideas. The exact week before ‘D-Day’ is the perfect timing to inform your audience, branding and teaser campaigns. It’s good to do an old-stock clearance sale the weekend before ‘Black Week’ for lower costs per action (CPA), resulting in a quick push on sales.
On Monday, it is time to switch all budgets to performance ads. There is now no more reach or brand awareness as the main objective. Ecommerce companies usually kick off on Monday, while offline stores tend to join in on Thanksgiving (the day before) or on Black Friday. If you decide to go for the full week, start with larger discounts between Monday and Wednesday to try to clear your stock before CPAs increase by the end of the week.
The top conversion day. To turn Black Friday into a Happy Friday, make sure you complete all pre-campaign checks. By now, all campaigns should be up and running.
You want to reach as many people in 24 hours as possible. A ‘Homepage Takeover’ ad on Spotify could be a good choice here for quick impact.
Extend your campaign until Cyber Monday (December 2). Go for a full blast during the whole weekend and boost your sales for 4 days long.
With Black Friday being closer to Christmas this year, it is the ideal opportunity to be present in the customer’s ‘awareness’ stage. This way, your brand will be top of mind at the moment the Christmas madness begins and you’ve already had time to capture the client data. Later you can then invest in remarketing with ads showing more discounts.
Deloitte’s Christmas Shopping survey 2018 claims that more than half of Belgian shoppers will spend a (limited) part of their Christmas budget on Black Friday. In Portugal, Poland, Italy, Spain and Russia this day is even more popular with about 70% of Christmas shoppers on Black Friday.
For Christmas shopping in general, it is important to bear in mind that not everyone shops to the same deadline. 30% of Belgians will do most of their shopping during the first fortnight of December. With this, they plan to do their shopping later than shoppers in neighboring countries where most of the purchases already happen in or before November. Black Friday is driving a trend towards an earlier shopping time.
A couple of key insights to hold on to. To begin with, there’s a clear device preference with more than 50% of the demand being on mobile. Be there on the right screen. Next, go for a marketing mix. Begin with an awareness campaign through email for instance. Be there with the right message. Lead the consumer to a dedicated landing page for data capturing or a focused offering. Be there on the right platform. After this, go for a (re)targeting campaign through social media. Be there for the right audience. But in general, it’s all about timing in the end. With different waves surrounding ‘D-Day’, you reach the customer at the right moment of the customer journey. So, be there at the right moment.
Looking for more tips on how to boost your sales? We would love to share our insights with you.