Black Friday is an enormous opportunity for eCommerce businesses. Enormous traffic and thousands of new customers flock to stores for the first time to take advantage of the deals. In 2019, Black Friday sales reached $142.4 billion, and were predicted to reach $184 billion in 2020. The actual figures for 2020 smashed that by reaching $188.2 billion, according to Adobe. It's overwhelmingly likely that this is set to continue, so eCommerce stores and D2C brands are bracing themselves for another record year.
This is all well and good, but to really make the most of Black Friday, you need to have a retention strategy to turn as many of these new customers into loyal ones.
And it's well worth it too - a Scribeless customer with 50,000 usual monthly orders saw half a million orders on Black Friday last year. This is already an enormous boost, but when you consider it can cost up to 5 times as much to acquire a new customer than retain an old one, it's a massive opportunity to make those new customers stay and save tons on your customer acquisition.
Black Friday in 2021 is on the 26th November, and although it may be months away, you can never start planning too early. So below, we'll be going over some of the ways you can turn new customers into repeat ones for life - and keep doing it year after year!
Keep your customers in the loop
Good communication is a vital part of the eCommerce experience, particularly around Black Friday. Things can be really crazy so it's important that you keep your customer in the loop throughout the purchase journey. You can do this with email or text message push notifications to keep them updated on purchase confirmation and delivery timelines.
Simply providing regular updates on social media and other channels can really make a difference to the way that consumers perceive you - a D2C brand that consistently engages with it's audience is of course more likely to stick in the mind and stay at the top of their customers' inbox.
That being said, there is some balance to this. Customers love a smooth experience and being updated throughout on the status of their order, but mailing list subscribers can be fickle. Space out your emails and only email post-purchase when you have something of value to share, be that important news, offers or discounts.
With lots of new customers, you have the chance to really see what works. For example, post-Black Friday is the perfect time A/B test email newsletter subject lines to see which ones are most effective - you'll never have a bigger sample size! Doing things like this and setting up tracking to see who is coming to your site from where, you can start building a strategy for the year ahead too.
If you strike the right balance of effective communication without spamming, you're well on your way to retaining your new Black Friday customers.
Keeping your customers updated is one part of ensuring a smooth purchasing process, but there's plenty more you can do too. Black Friday is a great opportunity to demonstrate how smooth your customer experience can be
On top of keeping your customers in the loop, here are 4 other tips you can follow to give your customers a smooth Black Friday buying experience and turn them into repeat customers.
Anticipate Demand and Increase Stocking Capacity
Numbers on Black Friday will be much higher than normal, which is great, but make sure you do your research and compare previous years to make sure you are well-stocked for the occasion. Nothing is more frustrating for a customer than thinking they've found a great buy and suddenly it's out of stock, and they will jump ship to a store offering the closest alternative.
It also makes sense to make sure your website is equipped to deal with the increase in traffic - this could involve ensuring images are a reasonable size so they don't take an age to load, tweaking your site if it can't handle multiple orders at once, or making sure you have team members on standby to quickly firefight any issues as they come up.
Effective Deals and Offers
Your website should be as easy to navigate with your Black Friday promotions, and have them clearly displayed along side all other products you offer. You're creating a one stop shop for people looking for what they want at the right time, so make it easy for them. Free delivery is a huge factor in a lot of customers' buying preferences, so offering this along with deals and offers means they've got another great to shop with you.
Black Friday is a huge opportunity for retailers and brands, so make sure you are prepared to send out offers and promotions in time, or it will be wasted. Make it as easy as possible to apply these coupons or discounts too - hiding the option in strange places can annoy customers who might give up looking if it isn't presented to them obviously.
Personalization and Gifting
It's worth noting that a lot of Black Friday customers are buying for other people, so giving them as much opportunity to personalize is a great way to demonstrate the versatility of your product and offering. Offering gift notes and gift wrapping services will help you capture the opportunity to reach more people than just those who are buying for themselves.
Remember, even if these people aren't looking to buy for others now, there's no reason they won't need this in the future. If first time buyers are on your site, make sure you're showing everything you offer so that if they need it further down the line, they're coming back to you.
Support mobile users
It's important not to neglect your customers who are buying from mobile devices - companies spend a lot on making their websites and storefronts impressive, but it's important to optimize to give your mobile users a positive experience too.
Retailers should consider making their entire site mobile-friendly, making images smaller and using tilt or swipe features to make it easier for mobile users to interact with the items on display. It's especially important to ensure that your cart is fully functional on mobile as well - it's a little thing but something that can put people off paying for items if they're having trouble doing so.
You could direct your customer to your desktop site with a popup, but on Black Friday 2020, 70% of Shopify sales were made via smartphones, which is a huge majority - failing to account for these users could mean you're neglecting a massive portion of your target market.
Delightful Experiences, Online to Offline
Delivering a unified experience is a great way to win over customers and show how much you care about them even after the purchase is made. You can have a snazzy website with great graphics and animations, but a continuation of that effort into your packaging and shipping will really make a difference.
It may sound like a considerable effort, but there are some pretty quick and easy ways to show that thought went into the experience you are delivering. Take a look at your packaging and think what you can do to make the unboxing and delivery experience more unique and personalized.
Remember - unboxing experiences have the potential to go viral if share on sites like YouTube or by influencers on social media. Millions could end up seeing the unboxing and packaging, so give them something to talk about.
We can't stop telling customers how important it is to create a meaningful unboxing experience, so we created a playbook to show them how. Check it out here for some ideas that you can implement to deliver delightful experiences on Black Friday to keep your customer coming back.
Get creative with your strategies
We're all about 'Thinking Inside the Box', but don't be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to your customer retention strategies. Cheerios, for example, took a remarkable approach to increasing their retention.
On Amazon Prime Day 2018, Cheerios managed boost Honey Nut Cheerios to the top of Amazon’s recommended cereals using some interesting tactics. They ran a campaign offering free boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios to every customer spending over $40, meaning that the numbers of Honey Nut Cheerios shipping out from Amazon skyrocketed, and as such, so did the recommendations.
Long story short - for the long story, check out our more in depth look here - in July of 2018, 80% of Honey Nut Cheerios’ buyers were new to the brand, showing that the campaign had a huge impact on the popularity of the product. Of course, this case study is of Prime Day rather than Black Friday, but there's no reason you can't adapt the strategy for Black Friday this year.
This particular strategy is pretty niche, but it shows that there are some really creative solutions to be had if you're looking for a way to grow sales. The bottom line is that if your goal is to increase the number of repeat customers shopping with you throughout the year, then you need to have an effective retention strategy in place, and sometimes, that might involve some radical thinking.
Our final piece of advice is that it's never too early to start thinking about Black Friday. If you're looking to turn new buyers into loyal customers and evangelists on Black Friday 2021, it requires a lot of time and effort, so hopefully this guide will give you some inspiration so you can start your preparations for Black Friday and nail your customer retention strategy this year.