In planning for Black Friday 2020, there are things we know and things we don’t know. But one of the benefits of operating in the performance marketing space is the results from our work give marketers invaluable information about who their customers are, and how to create highly educated guesses about who else out in the world might behave just like paying customers.
The one-two punch of Black Friday to Cyber Week is the next cycle for which we’re all preparing, a bellwether for holiday shopping. And don’t forget about Prime Day in October; Salesforce predicts the event could steal up to 10% of Cyber Week’s digital revenue. With complexities like this in mind, marketers will need to have a strong performance plan to get the results they want.
Brick-and-mortar sales were up 4.2% last year, according to research findings from Google for Retail, which is modest but impressive considering previous annual declines. Pre-pandemic, retail was on its way back. Now it’s safe to assume we won’t be seeing clips of shoppers scrambling into stores at 6 a.m. on Black Friday this year. Although shopping patterns have changed, many are predicting this annual moment will be the next retail reinvention because of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Cyber Week looks to benefit greatly. Retailers that have set up stores as fulfillment centers will offset in-store losses. Amazon, Walmart and Target have vastly improved their ecommerce capabilities. UPS, FedEx and USPS have been here before. You can bet they’ll post record delivery numbers.
So what do these factors tell us? Most simply, your dollars are likely better spent vying for Cyber Monday attention than Black Friday. But that doesn’t mean you should put all your eggs in one basket.
Plenty of shoppers will take the bet that fewer people will be in stores on Friday. Salesforce has also predicted curbside, inside and drive-thru will see a 90% increase in digital sales over the previous holiday season. Naturally, consumers will value messages such as store closure, order status and pickup instructions to ensure safety and convenience over the holiday season. Unsurprisingly, 85% of consumers want operational update messages when appropriate during pandemic, based on the same research findings.
How do you identify these shoppers? How do you incentivize them to shop with you, safely? These are questions a strong performance shop can help answer through their campaign testing efforts. But you have to start now, if you haven’t already.
And don’t forget that although Cyber Monday shoppers will be plentiful, reaching them will be more difficult because of increased competition across digital. With no fall TV lineup and diminished sports viewership, TV buys are not the tool they once were. Media mix will continue to dramatically shift to personalization and localization.
Performance marketing isn’t rocket science, but it does require plenty of math, creativity and diligence. Ask your partners how many campaigns they’re running, how many iterations of campaigns they think it will take to identify salient signals you can bet on. Odds are, you ought to be running more campaign tests today to better understand who your key targets will be on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. As volatile as the world is today, success on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and beyond will require these investments.
As we head into Black Friday, there are important lessons to learn that will roll into the remainder of the holiday shopping season. It’s been a ridiculous year, and while we may not be coming together for the holidays in large groups, we will certainly be using the time to take a break. That means even more new shopping behaviors are on the horizon.
For example, while holiday cart sizes may be smaller overall, they may contain more high value items. While certain categories like air travel and hotels will be drastically down, consumers will attempt to make their experiences at home better. Black Friday will be the bellwether for that spending, too.
With all of that in mind, I’ll leave you with this thought: The data you capture from this holiday cycle will be the best information anywhere on the planet pertaining to how 2021 could look. Your year-over-year numbers may be less predictive than in previous cycles, and understanding what those holiday signals mean is vital to a strong start in the new year. Whether your budgets are strong or not, spending to gather data should be considered an absolute necessity, because without it brands will be operating in a vacuum. And that will make 2021 far more difficult to navigate.
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