Shining a light on Black Friday Customer Marketing in 2021

This year's Black Friday shopping season will be different. How can brands capture the most value from their customers?

Matt Engstrom

Product Marketing Director

Time to read5 min read
October 14, 2021

I know everyone is sick and tired of hearing about how Covid has “changed consumer behavior.” So, I’m not going to beat you over the head with more statistics around how consumers are now different as a result of lockdowns. But this holiday season is shaping up to look a bit different than the past. 

So let’s just get a few assumptions out of the way.

  1. Consumers are more digital than ever (duh)
  2. Attention is divided across channels
  3. Message fatigue is real 
  4. Holiday shopping will start earlier than ever
  5. Black Friday is really now Cyber November

With these assumptions in play, marketers have no choice but to evolve their 2021 Holiday Shopping strategy or risk losing revenue opportunities. But, marketers risk employing the same strategies they have used in the past.

How can brands capture the most value from a Black Friday (Cyber November) that looks much different from previous years?

1. Start promoting earlier

Holiday shopping will happen earlier than ever this year. Exacerbated by supply chain fears, increases in digital commerce, and a rebound from the restrictions last year mean that folks are planning ahead.

Consider sending targeted campaigns earlier than you have in the past. Your targeting strategy should take into account your most recent data so that you send campaigns to customers who are in the buying moment for each offer.

Since customers are shopping earlier than ever, take advantage of the additional runway you have for targeting. This also offers an additional chance to learn so you can optimize during the promotional period. 

2. Blast then target

Traditionally, advertisers create awareness and capture all potential buyers through a batch & blast approach. Now, I’m not suggesting that broad-based campaigns have gone the way of the dinosaur, but this approach has to evolve (like the Dinosaur).

Consider launching broad-based campaigns and then layering in a more targeted strategy. First, create awareness that amazing Black Friday sales are about to ensue, and be clear about when consumers will have access to deals and what will be on promotion.

Then target. Not every customer wants to buy every product. Find the right buyers for each of your offers and target those offers to consumers who want to buy and who are in the market, right now…

3. Keep an eye on fatigue

Too many broad-based or mistargerted campaigns risk that some customers will ignore your message and even unsubscribe or become lapsed. This is even more of a concern if you are starting your promotional cycle earlier than normal. 

Once you’ve identified who is in market for each of your offers, the next step is to manage pressure across channels. It’s important that your planning includes a view of each channel so you know how many messages each customer is receiving, each week, no matter where they are exposed.

Combine this with propensity modelling that is updated each day and you can actually reduce unsubscribes and minimize the risk of lapsed customers.

4. Engage and re engage 

Cyber November presents a huge opportunity to get customers excited about your offerings.

By creating a segment of at risk and/or disengaged customers and then sending offers they want to buy (you guessed it… right now) you can reactivate them effectively. Not only does this create an immediate sales opportunity, it can increase CLTV.

And, after all, acquisition costs are increasing so building strong relationships with your customers is more important than ever.

Building audiences so you can target right

All of this is dependent upon being able to identify the right customers who are in market to buy right now in near real time. Sounds like science fiction? It’s actually quite easy. Well the tech behind it is incredibly complex, but luckily that’s what AI is for.

Marketers already have most of what they need to predict intent within their 1st-party data. AI can use 1st-party data to find buyers for each and every offer. And best of all, it can be refreshed daily to ensure your targeting captures those who are in market, right now, at any given moment.

The fact that customers are holiday shopping earlier than ever this year plays into your favor. You’ll have plenty of data ahead of your promotional period that you can use for prediction. Meaning customers are already sending you signals about what they want to purchase. 

It’s not news that this year’s holiday shopping season will be different. But, we can anticipate consumer shifts and it’s up to marketers to decide how they are going to react. They can either rely on past tactics of broad-based targeting and batch and blast or…

  • Start holiday promotional campaigns earlier
  • Create personalized, relevant experiences for each customer
  • Reduce fatigue and build excitement
  • Target customers with promotions for offers they want
  • Take advantage of the season to reactivate lapsed customers

Which path will you take?

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