Christmas is just a week away! Can you believe it? Time has gone by so quickly this holiday sale season. Perhaps your numbers aren’t quite measuring up to what you’d hoped. That’s why we love online marketing so much. There is always room to tweak and improve marketing strategies to make immediate adjustments that can skyrocket sales literally overnight. Sometimes the best way to look forward is to first look backwards to see what lessons we can gather. Black Friday 2013 provides a number of helpful lessons that we can apply to our final holiday marketing pushes.

1. FACT: Budgets are smaller this year.

This Black Friday weekend, consumers spent $1.7 billion less than they spent in 2012, according to the National Retail Federation. Perhaps your initial forecasting was a bit too optimistic. “There are some economic challenges that many Americans still face,” explained NRF chief executive Matthew Shay. The average consumer spent $407 by Sunday.

Lesson: Find ways to appeal to consumers’ frugality. At this point, expedited free shipping can move goods. But make it worth your while. Ask that they spend at least $50.

2. FACT: Price competition is fiercer than ever.

Today’s shopper is inundated with apps, alerts, browser add-ons and price comparison websites. They know if you have been naughty or nice with your pricing. Executives at Best Buy admitted that intense price competition was likely to cut into their bottom line, despite healthy performance lately.

Lesson: Take a page from the “Amazon Prime” program playbook. With Prime, members pay a $79 annual fee and a higher markup on all “Prime-eligible” items. However, each order comes with free two-day shipping and hassle-free returns, which makes it seem all worthwhile. Also, Prime members receive free Instant Video streaming, which adds value. What can you do to add value in your final marketing push? 

3. FACT: Online shopping rocked this year.

Despite gloomy Black Friday deals, online sales grew substantially on Thanksgiving and Friday this year. Overall, online sales were up 20% Thursday and 19% on Friday, according to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark survey. The numbers were even more impressive for two online shopping giants: eBay sales jumped 35% and Amazon sales rose 25% (through noon on Black Friday).

Lesson: Shift more offline resources to your website, social media, email marketing and PPC.  

holiday marketing

4. FACT: Mobile is growing.

Mobile traffic accounted for nearly 40% of all online activity on Black Friday this year. “You hear a lot about ‘the year of mobile,’ and this is probably the fifth annual year of mobile,” says Jay Henderson, online retail data director for IBM Smarter Conference. “But 40% of all traffic feels like a tipping point,” he adds.

Lesson: Appeal to mobile consumers with mobile coupons sent through social media and email.

social media marketing

5. FACT: Timing matters.

People tend to be on their smartphones during the day and their tablets at night, says IBM. They saw more purchasing on tablets — late at night, as people were snuffled up with their families on the couch with their credit cards. Yet, during the day, there was a flurry of activity as shoppers checked prices and reviews on their smartphones.

Lesson: During the day, consider helpful, brief social media posts that are more price and review-oriented. At night, post your “last minute holiday gift guide” blogs and send your personalized recommendation emails.

black friday sales 2013

6. FACT: There are always areas of opportunity.

It pays to know what  your competition is doing. Walmart and Best Buy may have had some of the best Black Friday “doorbuster” sales on Microsoft and Sony gaming consoles. But many items sold out before the day was done. That’s where eBay prevailed. “EBay is the sales channel of scarcity,” said Scot Wingo, CEO of ecommerce firm ChannelAdvisor. “While some retailers had door-buster deals on Xbox One and PS4 consoles, eBay is one of the best places to get one now,” he added.

Lesson: Consider ways of making your merchandise available on Amazon and eBay. Don’t be afraid to offer some of the same deals as your competitors. 

7. Target audiences may shift from day to day.

Walmart CEO Bill Simon said that Thursday Thanksgiving promotions carried a different tone and demographic than the early Black Friday crowd. “Early Friday morning (for past Black Fridays) was more frenetic and chaotic,” he said. Families with children showed up on Thursday evening, whereas Friday mornings saw more individuals.

Lesson: Plan for Christmas Eve singles and “Boxing Day” family shoppers. Consider how you can customize marketing messages for each demographic.  

8. Start planning for next year.

This year marked an unprecedented scramble for shoppers. Since 20-40% of a company’s profits are made during the Christmas season, retailers were eager to get consumers moving early. Pre-Thanksgiving deals started as early as November 1st at Walmart. According to the retail federation, 53.8% of shoppers had already started their shopping the first week of November. These early aggressive discounts could have stolen some of the thunder from Black Friday this year, say experts.

Lesson: It’s never too early to start planning your strategy for next year. We’d love to help you come up with a game plan for advertising your sales and mobilizing consumers in time for the early November rush. Click here to email us or call us at 1-800-388-7732