Don’t have a Black Friday

Black Friday

As you may have noticed from the increasing media coverage, Black Friday has well and truly reached our shores, and the mass hysteria it invokes has seemingly come with it. Given that last year saw takings of £3.3 billion over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday period, it can be tempting for some businesses to jump on the Black Friday bandwagon. For those businesses, failing to take a step back and just diving straight into Black Friday sales could be catastrophic for their bottom line.

It could also have a disaster for their brand and reputation – who can forget the fury Asda invoked in UK media back in 2014 with their Black Friday promotions? For those who play their cards right, however, Black Friday and related events could become a key part of their sales and marketing strategy.

Apart from the obvious impact Black Friday will have on a business’ revenue over the period, taking part in such high profile promotions can also affect brand awareness and customer loyalty.

Up until now, those two areas have been largely unquantifiable. In terms of brand awareness, you could look at the potential media coverage a business has received, or the number of people talking about it on social media. For customer loyalty, you would have had to rely on the number of repeat customers your website receives or the number of people signed up to a loyalty scheme. However, it is now possible to get a more accurate measure of customer loyalty and brand awareness through mining social media, news outlets, contact centre data and reviews. Sentiment analysis can also tell you whether what people are saying about your business is positive or negative.

Tracking the amount of times your business is mentioned, and the sentiment surrounding each mention, will provide you with a good foundation to compare your Black Friday campaign with. If you see the number of mentions increase over the Black Friday period and for a time after, you could reasonably say that brand awareness has increased due to taking part in the promotion. Likewise, if sentiment becomes more positive over the same period of time, you could infer that customer loyalty and overall good feelings towards your business have grown thanks to Black Friday.

The opposite can also be true. Negative sentiment may tell you that taking part in Black Friday is wrong for your business. Perhaps it turns off your current customers, or some other fault may have caused a negative reaction. Knowing this information can help you determine the cause, and either avoid repeating the action in the future, or not take part in Black Friday at all.

A good example of this is when a retailer’s website crashes over the Black Friday period. When this occurs, many frustrated customers usually take to social media to vent their feelings. Constantly tracking your customers’ sentiment through these channels can warn you that something has gone wrong.

Conversely, being able to do this in real-time would help you rectify the problem before it becomes worse. If the issue occurs at midday on Black Friday, you could fix the issue before losing a significant amount of Black Friday income, or, at the very least, before Cyber Monday. You could also offer further discounts as an apology for the issue and appease some of the frustrated consumers.

Tracking consumer sentiment may also tell you which of your products has been a hit and what products haven’t. We see a lot of coverage over the Black Friday period on deals which are good, and deals which aren’t. Studying consumers’ feelings over your promotional offerings on social media and news outlets can help you choose future products to promote – ones which will go down well with consumers and may also result in some press for your business.

Another point to note with promotional events, especially ones so close to Christmas, is that many consumers may save all their spending until these events, and do very little after. Keeping an eye on your financial and transactional data over the course of a year can tell you if this is problem for your business. You don’t want to get into a situation where, in the run up to Christmas, you’re doing significantly less sales than if you hadn’t taken part in Black Friday. Equally, knowing how much to mark down your products by, so you don’t eat into your pre-Christmas transactions, but remain attractive to consumers during Black Friday, can only be learnt through analysing your data.

In any sale, taking a step back and doing your sums is key to finding a good deal. Every business is different, and what might work for one will not necessarily be right for another. It is only through taking a long hard look at the data surrounding your Black Friday promotion that you will be able to tell if the event is for you. Businesses who blindly follow the crowd this November 25th may find they have a very Black Friday indeed.