Boxes and bags that read 'Black Friday' and 'Cyber Monday' on green background

By Scott Logie, MD, Insight at REaD Group

As the countdown to Christmas commences once again, we are nearing the now global phenomenon that is Black Friday. The introduction of deals and discounts allegedly pertaining to the occasion seems to get earlier every year – I’m fairly sure I’d already received an email offering Black Friday savings in the first week of November!?

The digital shift

It must be said, in the UK at least, that the event is considerably less stressful than it used to be – more perched casually on the sofa with a cup of tea and a laptop than fighting tooth and nail in your local Asda for a plasma TV. I’m in no way knocking the occasion, my wife and I always make the most of the offers available to get a head start on Christmas shopping. As well as some treats for myself naturally…

However, as I noted in my blog last year on the subject, the majority of retailers seem to be missing a huge opportunity where customer engagement is concerned. Rather than focusing on ensuring that offers are personalised and relevant to consumers, we receive the usual flood of generic and uninspiring emails. The antithesis of personalised marketing. This seems very confusing to me; you would think this would present an easy opportunity for retailers to demonstrate to their customers that they understand their shopping needs and are able to provide them with a bespoke experience.

Data, data everywhere…

With the wealth of data available these days there really is no excuse. Purchase history and abandoned cart information should be used effectively to ensure that the products being offered on a Black Friday email are items that the customer is actually likely to buy. For example, an email that merely advertises that there are discounts across the range is far less likely to lead to a conversion than one that points me to those boots I’ve been weighing-up buying for the past few weeks…and now they’re 30% off? Yes please!

Prime position

A few years ago, Amazon essentially introduced its own discount period that operates with a similar prospect to Black Friday – Prime Day. Numerous discounts are available for a limited window of time to members of their Prime subscription service. The event has grown in prominence since it was first introduced in 2015, and Amazon announced that this year’s event had seen higher sales than those of Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined!

Amazon, perhaps unsurprisingly, does seem to be differentiating in its use of personalised communications to customers. While it must be said that sometimes the suggested products are a little off the mark – just because I purchased a toilet seat from Amazon once doesn’t mean I’ll be interested in buying one every week – at least previous purchase information is being used!

On the way out?

Some are sceptical that Black Friday is becoming outdated and will soon fail to garner the interest of consumers (although last year UK shoppers spent a whopping £1.23 billion over Black Friday weekend, so that’s definitely not the case as yet!). However, if this does turn out to be the case, Amazon is ensuring that they are offering consumers a similar opportunity, while also adding extra incentive for their Prime membership.

Many brands are still rebuilding their contact lists after GDPR’s introduction last May – this makes it even more important for the engagement from this smaller pool of contacts to be high! When our inboxes are bombarded with generic offers on Friday 29th, it will be the tailored and personalised emails that really grab attention and not only encourage us to purchase – but potentially impress us enough to be loyal to this brand in the future.

Perhaps I am being too cynical – maybe I’ll be greeted by a host of highly relevant offers when I check my email come Black Friday morn… I’d love to be proved wrong!

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