National retailers spend months putting together their Black Friday campaigns each year, relying on everything from digitized circulars to mobile apps and coupon offers to promote specials deals for holiday shoppers hitting the stores on the day after Thanksgiving. For the average small business owner, however, finding the resources to capitalize on Black Friday can be a bit more of a challenge.
Black Friday sales accounted for almost 20% of total retail industry sales in 2011, and the National Retail Federation expects that figure to rise another 4.1% in 2012. In an effort to help local retailers boost their share of those sales, a number of hyperlocal platforms are stepping in with their own tools built specifically for local businesses. We spoke to several hyperlocal industry leaders to get their tips on how small businesses can promote themselves on Black Friday without overspending on expensive marketing campaigns.
1. Offer “early deals” to customers who opt in to location-based programs. Retailers that set up location-based programs can offer exclusive Black Friday deals to customers who sign up via SMS or MMS. To promote these deals, businesses can run pre-Thanksgiving ads (using print, web, TV, email, or social media) with instructions for signing up for their mobile deals. For example, “Text XXXX to [shortcode] to join and receive double discount deals from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Friday.” (Alistair Goodman, Placecast)
2. Drive traffic with email marketing. Sending a Black Friday-themed email to existing customers can be an effective way to drive traffic on the busiest shopping day of the year. Any messages that a business sends out should include click-to-call buttons and maps that give people directions to the business. Research shows that roughly 50% of people who open marketing emails do so on their smartphones or tablets, which is why it’s important that marketing emails are optimized for mobile devices. (Bjørn Holte, bMobilized)
3. Send a mobile message on Thanksgiving Eve. Retailers can send a general message the night before Black Friday to encourage customers to be at their stores when they open the next morning. To provide an extra incentive, businesses can promise an extra percentage off selected merchandise. Retailers that feel comfortable using geo-fencing can potentially follow up by sending a subsequent message to any users who are located within a specific radius of their stores on Black Friday itself. (Alistair Goodman, Placecast)
4. Offer real-time discounts on items that aren’t selling as quickly as anticipated. Mobile can play a significant role when it comes to offering additional discounts on in-store items that aren’t selling as well as anticipated. Businesses can send SMS messages to their customers in the afternoon with real-time discounts on selected merchandise after seeing how in-store sales go during the first part of the day. Stores typically experience an ebb and flow during peak shopping times; by sending time-constrained mobile offers, retailers can maximize demand in ways that would be impossible using any other marketing medium. (Brian Ehrlich, SAMY)
5. Run holiday contests and giveaways on social media. Social media is one of the least expensive and most effective ways to create brand salience, especially during the holidays. Creating an engaging environment by running contests and giveaways on social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and Twitter helps businesses connect with customers. Discounts and savings are the main attractions for social media followers, and customers are more likely to send information about a business to their friends when they’ve got something to share (like a giveaway or a contest). On many social platforms, additional paid advertising services can also add to a business’ reach. (Richard Bergér, LocalZonely)
6. Add a “special offers” page to your mobile site. Businesses should customize their mobile websites to capitalize on Black Friday (or any holiday shopping period) by adding a special page listing all their limited-time offers. These “special offers” pages should be linked to from the homepage menu. bMobilized offers a special plug-in that small business owners can use to promote their Black Friday sale items, as well. (Bjørn Holte, bMobilized)
7. Target customers shopping at nearby malls and outlets. Local retailers can use geofencing tools to send targeted messages to customers shopping at nearby malls and shopping outlets on Black Friday. These messages are a great way for retailers to remind shoppers of the importance of buying local and let them know about any special offers they’re running that day or weekend. (Alistair Goodman, Placecast)
8. Use Black Friday as a chance to build ongoing relationships. Businesses should take advantage of Black Friday not just to drive day-of sales, but also to create ongoing relationships with consumers. For example, a business that offers a discount to customers who sign up to receive Black Friday coupons can check back in with those customers after the holidays are through and before any major events or promotions they run in the future. (Brian Ehrlich, SAMY)
Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.