How Not to do Black Friday

PushON | November 22nd 2017

Whether your brand chooses to participate or not, Black Friday, which this year falls on November 24, is unavoidable. The UK has been an enthusiastic participant for about three years in a sales fest that has nothing to do with British culture, what with it being a post-Thanksgiving stock sell-off. We can safely say that when it first hit these shores, it was a shock to the UK eCommerce system, with fisticuffs and overwhelmed websites being the most enduring memories. With those days all but forgotten, eCommerce sites are raring to go, with many, such as John Lewis, Currys and Very, having Black Friday landing pages in place months beforehand, with tantalising “coming soon” notices.



But let’s face it, Black Friday is only worth participating in if you do it properly. If you don’t, you’ll end up irritating your customers or losing the opportunity for a drive in sales – and of course with the loss of your brand’s exposure to potential new customers. No big deal. So we’ve made a list of how not to do Black Friday; you can thank us later.

1.    Be lazy

So you’re assuming that with the hype, customers will just come to you? Well, while you’re sitting back and thinking Black Friday will naturally work for you, your competitors are targeting your customers and winning them. Solution? Re-target old customers with preview emails and ads. Entice and tease them until they are beside themselves with glee at the thought of your site on Black Friday. And make sure you have a Black Friday page up and ready to go.

2.    Fail to prepare

So remember when the Currys, John Lewis and Argos sites crashed or customers ended up on holding pages on Black Friday because they couldn’t handle the huge spike in traffic? Yep, that was just embarrassing. Nobody wants to be that site – so don’t be that site. Check your servers: can your site handle the huge spike in traffic on Black Friday? The large demand in placed orders? Failure to prepare means you’re going to receive a lot of shaming, a lot of lost sale opportunities and the loss of potential customers.

3.    Rely on the buzz

This ties in with point 1 – don’t just rely on the hype of Black Friday to bring customers to you. Plant the seed early (OK, it’s too late for that), execute some fine marketing efforts through email, social media, PPC and so on. Just because it’s a short sale doesn’t mean it’s a short campaign. Like we said, many sites participating in Black Friday have landing pages up already (usually with James Bond-style countdown).

4.    Offer bad deals

You could be like Apple and have discounts on this year’s most wanted tech or you could be like Amazon selling you … er … discounted socks and cupcake cases. Amazon was shamed at both Black Friday and its own Prime Day for shoddy deals on useless or trivial items. I still stand by my theory that Amazon just want to clear old stock and use Black Friday as that opportunity.

Make sure that when you’re drawing your customers to your site, it’s actually worth it. Otherwise your time is wasted, your customers’ time is wasted and the one missing out here is you.


5.    Neglect marketing efforts

Right, so you took our advice and decided to put a little effort into marketing for Black Friday. But hey, it’s Black Friday, so spending little time on a quick email and some visuals will do. But remember, you’re bound to receive exposure to new customers – is this how you want them to be introduced to you? With minimal attempts at marketing and design that doesn’t reflect your true brand? This is your opportunity to showcase yourself to new customers and show them the meaning of your brand, so seize the opportunity!

6.    Have a poor landing page

You may have succeeded in an eye-catching marketing campaign, your server has held its own and a surge of customers have landed onyour site. Great for you! But wait, your landing page is terrible. Do you have a clear call to action? Is it easy for your customers to navigate around your site, whether that be to browse your sales or order a product? Is all the information there that your users would need to know? Ensure your user journey is smooth and simple, leading to happy Black Friday customers and potential new customers for life.

7.    Encourage cart abandonment

The reported cart abandonment rate on recent Black Friday–Cyber Monday was 62% on desktop and 79% on mobile. How can you avoid that? Ensure your checkout process is functional, pleasant to use and works under the Black Friday demand. You could even be clever and re-target cart abandonment, reminding customers they’re one check-out away from a good deal.

Is it too late?

Well, let’s face it, if you haven’t got your servers prepped for the earthquake of traffic, your site mobile friendly, your marketing strategies implemented and all the other trimmings by now, maybe it is best to sit this one out. Black Friday is no laughing matter (have you seen the Black Friday fatality statistics?) and is only worth it if you can ensure your brand and site are giving it 110%. And if you do decide to proceed and end up surviving with a nice surge in traffic, sales and new customers, that’s great – but what will you do now? Move on and forget about it all like a bad dream? Or are you going to assess this nice big fresh piece of data you have collected? From popular sale items to what was the biggest driver in traffic to your site, there is so much that can be learned from Black Friday for future plans and, dare I say it, Black Friday 2018.

Watch this space and stay tuned for the aftermath of Black Friday 2017

* This post has been edited from its original placement two years ago, but it’s notable how set in stone the “rules” of Black Friday seem to have been, so we’ve re-hashed it for 2017. No doubt, retailers understand the demands and opportunities of Black Friday better than they once did, but there will certainly be horror stories as well as success stories. Take a deep breath … we’re going in!