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How email has saved Black Friday (especially if you hate shopping!)

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Last year, in an effort to get a jump on holiday prep, I did my holiday shopping on Black Friday. It sounds efficient, but if you’ve seen the videos of people getting trampled at 4:01am you understand my very real worry that was, potentially, going to be me. But I survived. And this year I’m doing it again! Why? Read on…

To make sure I get the biggest bang for my bucks, I need to be ready to move fast, because all the best sales happen the morning of Black Friday prior to 1pm. Go figure! I have a map of my entire route with the times I should be at each location to ensure I don’t miss anything with specific sales ending at certain times. I’ve even planned to bring my own snacks – there’s no time for breaks on this mission!

As I sat pondering the Herculean task ahead of me again this year, I started to think about some of the appeal. After all, I will be far ahead of my seasonal holiday shopping. And with a focus on targeting specialty stores, I can even potentially avoid the mass of customers later in the day.

I’m no fan of shopping, but this sounds like something even I can get enthusiastic about. Minimal lines, better discounts, a roadmap, and no holiday stress. This would change the whole shopping dynamic; it is more hunting than shopping. All I need to do is 1. Find store; 2. Buy item; 3. Repeat.

And now the exciting part – I’m going to let you in on my secret. How do I know all these details? How do I know exactly what shops I should go into and at what time?”

Easy: Email.

Email marketing has actually changed shopping from a herding exercise to hunting.

And I’m not alone. According to Custora, email marketing accounted for 25 percent of ecommerce orders over Thanksgiving weekend. While email marketing did not receive credit for my brick and mortar shopping, it certainly provided me with plenty of inspiration. These stores know their customers. Brands know exactly where customers shop and which items are browsed. They follow up with offers of new recommendations and related deals. And of course, share their plans for major shopping events like Black Friday.

Essentially, email helped me shortcut my holiday shopping. An ad on TV or in a magazine wouldn’t be personalized, and I could have easily missed some relevant offers. Email cut through all the holiday clutter and landed a tailored message right in my lap.

Effective email marketers know what consumers crave and how they want to engage with their brands. Email saves the consumer time and money, and the brand retains its best customers. As we approach Thanksgiving, is it any wonder marketers perceive email to be the most effective lead generation source – ahead of content marketing, social and search? According to eMarketer, marketers rank email marketing as their best source of ad spending with a median ROI of 122 percent. The next closest medium is social media at 28 percent.

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Now, I’m pretty confident in my plan so far, but I’m all for continuous improvement. So this is my email marketing wish list for marketers to make their campaigns more effective (and my shopping even easier) this holiday season:

  1. Real-time data: You know where I live so please supply a map of how to get to the nearest store locations, along with their hours.
  2. Segment: You know from past data that I will shop in your store on Black Friday and on your website on Cyber Monday. Please tell me what time the store opens on Friday and if the store sale concludes at a certain time. Send a tailored message based on behavior.
  3. Personalize: You know what I have bought, what I abandoned in my cart and what I have browsed on your site. Please send me news about those specific items.

Email marketing spectacularly improved our family holiday last year. My holiday shopping mission, especially, was a great success and I already know where I will be this Black Friday… and so do my favorite brands.

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