High Streets Initiative · 7 November 2017

Ten top Black Friday marketing strategies for independent retailers

In-store Black Friday experiences can help retailers create returning customers
Instead of slashing prices and reducing margins, extra reward points encourage further sales

To help smaller retailers make the most of the nation’s £6bn shopping weekend, Business Advice offers ten Black Friday marketing strategies that will allow independents to compete with the promotional budgets of high street chains and ecommerce giants.

Traditionally marking the beginning of the United States’ holiday season, a day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday is now officially a British phenomenon. In the four days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2016, UK retailers generated record sales of £5.8bn – a 15 per cent increase on 2015. On Friday 24 November this year, and the days following, the expectations are set even higher.

Our combination of online and offline Black Friday marketing strategies will put your business on the footing for a successful weekend.

  1. Product bundles

The Black Friday period is a good opportunity to look at old stock and create product bundles. It allows you to upsell items that haven’t sold well, and to create smart discounts by putting unwanted stock alongside higher priced items.

Packaging products together can make for ideal gifts, which are a particularly valuable proposition in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

  1. Reward your loyal customers

The sales weekend is also the ideal time to reward the loyalty of your regular customers. If using a rewards system, offering double points on certain items – or extra for just visiting the store – creates an enticing incentive to spend.

Utilising your rewards scheme also makes business sense. Instead of slashing prices and reducing margins, it encourages further sales and solidifies your customer base. Similar to gifting ideas, arming your customers with extra reward points is a great hook ahead of Christmas.

  1. Making the most of social media

An active social media strategy is essential for any retailer in 2017. For the calendar year’s busiest shopping weekend, it’s even more vital, so it pays to start early. In the week leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, try introducing a new discount each day to remind customers of your offering in advance while tempting new ones.

Leveraging the appropriate hashtags will help increase visibility of your content and drive engagement. If you have the budget, run a promotion on your best content.

  1. Paid search and online optimisation

Outside of social media marketing, extra attention to your pay-per-click (PPC) strategy can pay significant dividends. If investing into PPC, target the high-volume search words in your area. Instead of buying “Black Friday”, which has over 200,000 monthly searches in the UK, drill down more specifically. “Black Friday Manchester”, for example, only produces 170 monthly searches. This is particularly suitable for retailers in smaller towns, who can directly reach local customers.

Our Bricks & Clicks video series is helping retailers strike a balance between growing a brand online and establishing a physical presence

It’s equally important to boost your on-site content. Ensure your SEO is optimised, inputting all relevant Black Friday keywords into elements like meta descriptions, page titles and tags.

  1. Email marketing

Research has suggested email open rates around the Black Friday weekend exceed 60 per cent. As the evidence shows, it’s the best opportunity you’ll have all year to reach customers directly. It gives you a chance to promote deals, give special discount codes and keep both loyal and infrequent shoppers informed of your offering.

However, don’t leave it too late. A separate study found that open rates for Black Friday emails were highest on the Monday and Tuesday preceding, with most retailers opting for the Thursday or Friday and missing out on the potential of email.

Read on to find out our final five Black Friday marketing strategies that will help you cut through the competition

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.