How dotdigital is preparing for your Black Friday campaigns

We are also aware that this is a critical sales period for many of our customers.

You guys are busy too, and will depend on dotdigital to drive traffic and sales through your online stores. Any problems on the big day are bad for us and bad for you.

Last year we saw a 150% increase in email sends compared with a typical day; that’s a significant increase in usage! Here’s a little detail on the steps we take to prepare our platform.

Global infrastructure carrying your Black Friday campaigns all the way

We have three instances of dotdigital Engagement Cloud running from:

  • Australia
  • US
  • Europe

All three offer the same functionality, but are resourced differently to cater for varying customer numbers in each region. This means we’re running our Black Friday prep three times over.  

We are expecting increases of 50% compared to last year’s Black Friday messaging volumes, and have prepared our infrastructure ready for just that!

Each region consists of several databases which hold your data. These are surrounded by 75 different applications which combined make Engagement Cloud. Some of these applications are public facing and power your account portal, our API, the email tracking site, and more.

We focus on the public endpoints first as this is where increased traffic is received. Typically, each application is powered by its own set of servers. To increase capacity, we use our cloud provider to add additional servers or increase the compute power of the existing set. Doing so means we can safely receive the large spike in tracking data we’ll see on the day. Last year we collected data at over 500 events per second!

Next, we focus on the server clusters which power background services for sends and reporting. These applications typically fetch work from queues and aren’t in danger of becoming swamped with external requests to a point that they cannot function.

However, if we’re not careful, task latency can increase and your sends won’t complete in a timely manner. Again, additional compute capacity is added to stay on top of queued tasks – we’re expecting to send around 500k emails a minute at peak times! Plus, of course the more orders you make the more data we need to ingest. Last year we received nearly 250,000 of your orders on Black Friday, that’s roughly four times the volume of a regular day.

Send with confidence this Black Friday

As always, our service operations and development teams will be keeping a keen eye on platform metrics throughout the day. We’ll be ensuring things run smoothly whilst also looking for future bottlenecks and optimizations. Planning for an even larger Black Friday in 2020 starts this Friday!


Want some last minute tactics to ace Black Friday 2019? Download our cheatsheet here.

The post How dotdigital is preparing for your Black Friday campaigns appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 6 days ago from blog.dotdigital.com

15 Black Friday marketing hacks to drive more sales

Over the course of three weeks we’ve written a three-part blog series on the best Black Friday marketing hacks to smash your sales targets. The first blog outlined the first nine hacks, while the second blog revealed another 13. Now we’ve released the final 15 to get your final marketing preparations in gear.

You can get quick access to all 37 Black Friday marketing hacks here.

1. Skip the early morning madness

Like the early morning commute, battling crowds in the inbox can prove futile. Remember that Black Friday is, more so than on any other day, a numbers game. What’s the likelihood that this customer is going to open – let alone see – my email over my competitor’s? Our advice is to hold tight as the chaos ensues and wait for the right moment to pounce: your chances of getting noticed will increase from noon onward.

2. Find your hook

Maybe it’s a hidden discount or limited product range? Play on human curiosity so that subscribers can’t resist clicking through to discover your mystery offer. Think specific and unique. If your store stocks something artisan or handcrafted, drive the exclusivity factor. There’s no better incentive that prompts people to buy than something special.

3. Create a referral campaign

Referrals are one of the most trusted forms of advertising because people value the experiences of others. It stems from the theory of collective opinion: the psychological circumstance in which we reference the behaviors of others to guide our own decision-making (i.e. a purchase). Referred customers can be a great driver of brand loyalty and deliver even greater ROI than other customers. For your refer-a-friend program to go viral, make it irresistible and time-sensitive.

4. Make it fun – de-stress the experience

Who doesn’t like a party? Cue the music, snacks, and drinks for some festive fun! Physical stores that don’t embrace the festivities are lackluster places which won’t cut the mustard on Black Friday. Email your subscribers and make some noise on social media to get the word out.

5. Give back

Ethical marketing may be a competitive advantage in business, but that shouldn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. It’s about doing something decent. Think humanity over profit. Outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia hit the nail on the head back in 2016: The brand donated 100% of its Black Friday sales to grassroots organizations working to create positive change for the planet in their own backyards. If that doesn’t scream ethical brand, then who knows what does.

Find out more ethical marketing techniques in our customer engagement white paper here.

6. Bundle products together

Maximize the amount customers are willing to spend on Black Friday. Group complementary products – items that go well together. Use ‘complete the set’ or ‘complete the look’ as a CTA. Do this on your website, over email, and on social. It’s a sure-fire way to upsell and increase AOV on Black Friday.

7. Reward your social media fans

Grab your share of today’s growing social media engagement. Social is a viral platform perfect for sharing consecutive special discounts and exclusive content during the Black Friday period. Oh, and don’t forget to hashtag. #BlackFriday

8. Offer specific exclusive discounts

Making your offer as specific and exclusive as possible will differentiate your brand from the pack. The frustrating thing about Black Friday for marketers is that brands are practicing the same tactics, which means it’s even harder to get heard. So maybe offer 35% off selected products or 25% off everything for email subscribers only.

9. Provide members-only discounts

Exclusivity goes a long way on Black Friday. Sure, you’ll be running campaigns across your entire database, but don’t forget to target different groups with different offers. If you’re part of an exclusive group, like a membership or subscription, you’d expect something special during the holidays. So, don’t disappoint. Amazon is a great example: this brand offers special money-off discounts to Prime Members.

10. Offer an incentive to spend more

Sounds crazy since you’re already offering bargains left, right, and center. But adding a small incentive to boost spend at the check-out can increase AOV across the board. Free shipping and next-day delivery (on orders over a certain amount) are great ways to tempt customers to add on some extra items at the checkout.

11. Make your offers time-sensitive to drive urgency

Everything in the run-up to Black Friday is for a limited time only, but there’s always a way to spice things up. Use an hourglass GIF to emphasize your promotion’s time limit in email. If you’re really data-savvy, you could even use advanced personalization to trigger an individual countdown that activates on email open.

12. Rescue abandoned carts

82% of carts were abandoned online on Black Friday 2018 in the U.S. (Barilliance). So, if you’re not already triggering cart recovery emails, then you’re leaving serious money on the table! Cost-effective and easy to implement, this program runs like clockwork to recoup lost revenue.

13. Extend the season

Extend beyond Black Friday to encompass Cyber Monday and further. Why not prolong your campaigns to acquire new customers throughout the whole week after Cyber Monday? You’ll be able to reach people faster and easier. And don’t forget the people that avoid Black Friday, who you can target once all the chaos has died down.

14. Stay open late

There are only 24 hours in a day. Milk it.

15. Go the extra mile

Do something that puts a smile on customers’ faces. For example, as Cyber Monday draws to a close, send your subscribers a voucher that they can claim then and there, but redeem whenever they want to. No urgency, and no strings attached.


You made it!

A huge ‘well done!’ if you actually read through all 37 tips across the three Black Friday marketing hacks blogs. You’re taking your holiday marketing seriously, and so you should be – there’s a hefty amount of revenue at stake. So why not adopt some new ideas that can make a real difference to your results? And remember, if you need help with campaign planning, program builds, or creative work, the dotdigital team is always on hand to lend a hand.

Don’t forget your free cheatsheet here for all 37 Black Friday marketing hacks.

The post 15 Black Friday marketing hacks to drive more sales appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 1 week ago from blog.dotdigital.com

13 killer Black Friday marketing hacks

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be revealing a selection of our 37 brilliant Black Friday marketing hacks. If you missed the first nine tactics you can check out the blog here. Keep an eye on the blog in the coming days for smart Black Friday tactics you can start using now. Or, download the full cheatsheet here.

1. Trigger Black Friday messages based on email activity

Email activity is never more insightful than over the Black Friday period. Create triggers that are based on a set of behavioral rules, whereby subscribers are pooled into certain groups. For instance, if email openers don’t redeem their special offer within 24 hours, they get a triggered daily reminder until the sale ends. Likewise, for every email that goes unopened, unengaged subscribers get three different follow-up emails, each with a different variation of the subject line.

2. Send a sneak-peek email 10 days before Black Friday

A peek-reveal before the big deals kick off can spur excitement in the inbox. Building the hype is a tried and tested way of getting subscribers on side before your communications start ramping up. Your brand will be fresh in their minds as they eagerly anticipate your unmissable bargains.

3. Generate a buzz through a flash sale

The run-up to Black Friday is all about seasonal hype. Drum up excitement with a series of festive flash sales in advance of your Black Friday-weekend bargains. You won’t be the only one to adopt this tactic; so why not offer different promotions every hour on the hour? It’s a creative way to stand out from the sales-heavy crowd.

4. Create gift guides for giving

Black Friday is about both consumer self-indulgence and giving gifts. The true spirit of the holiday season is in the gift giving. That can mean that those visiting your website might not fall into your typical target audience, but are shopping for friends and family who do. So, like your standard wish list, create a gift list for these people. The list could filter items based on interest, tastes, product attributes, etc. It might also be handy to present feature collections: 10 gifts for everyone on your list or best gifts for women, men, and kids; dads, mums, daughters, and nephews, etc.

5. Make sure your design is top-notch

Conversion starts with beautiful design. Black Friday is about the best product for the best price; but design captures the user’s attention and interest for your offering over a similar alternative. Enchanting bargain hunters with design is the best way to stop them in their tracks and divert them to your website. Black Friday is about getting as many eyes on your brand as possible.

6. Don’t annoy your champions during the Black Friday run

Don’t bore brand advocates with off-price products when you had them on side to begin with. Take them down a different path. Black Friday is a great opportunity to graduate promising customers into this lucrative persona group. For customers already there, don’t solely target them with seasonal sale messages, but keep up your leading content too.

7. Always extend the Black Friday campaign

Amplify your campaign across all channels and keep the messaging consistent. The timings of your Black Friday deals can be sensitive, so it’s important that all online and offline touchpoints are coordinated. You don’t want to upset customers by showing them a promotion on social that’s unavailable on your website or in store.

8. Include countdown clocks – they work!

This is a must-do. Nothing spurs more urgency than a countdown timer. The deals and offers are raining in, but you can do something to weather the storm. Show your customers exactly when your offer is going to end. Add your countdown clock on a banner; it should be super-obvious, so ensure it’s above the fold.

9. Don’t drift from your brand’s authentic voice

Don’t jump on the Black Friday bandwagon if it’s going to undermine your brand’s authentic voice. It could have serious consequences in the long run. Not every business is a discount brand, and, despite your amazing offers, you should never abuse your customers’ financial and mental wellbeing. Your reputation is on the line, so be cautious.

10. Put customers first

This rule applies all year round, but can be easy to forget around Black Friday. Basically, make it about the customer and not the offer. Sounds hard, right? Not at all. Simply laser-focus on the net benefit to the customer, then complement with the right products and discounts. For example: ‘Relax this December: Nail your holiday shopping NOW with 50% off all homeware.’

11. Include clever product recommendations

Layer personalized product recommendations onto your already compelling deals. Customers won’t be able to resist the relevancy factor. Use past browsing or buying behavior to populate the right recommendations – maybe a lookalike cross-sell based on similar product attributes. You could even surface items that similar customers went on to purchase next. Bosh!

Black Friday

12. Enrol new customers onto a welcome program

Black Friday is a pivotal period for customer acquisition. Brands tied up with their holiday campaigns can easily omit important communications that keep new customers engaged, i.e. the welcome program. Tone down your bargain bombardment and give new customers some respite; let them know who you are, what you’re about, and ask them for preferences so you can pepper your messages with relevant content.

13. Capture customer data during the Black Friday weekend

Gate your deals to unlock layers of customer data that can enrich your profiles, enabling you to hyper-personalize messages and nurture customers into different persona groups. Using data-capture tools, collect everything from email address and mobile number to communication preferences and message frequency. An exchange of data is a big deal to consumers, so make the offer worth their while and your consent criteria crystal clear.


And that’s a wrap! Stay tuned for the remaining 15 Black Friday marketing hacks, or grab a free copy of our cheatsheet to get your hands on all 37.

The post 13 killer Black Friday marketing hacks appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 2 weeks ago from blog.dotdigital.com

9 brilliant Black Friday marketing hacks

Over the course of four weeks we’ll be revealing a selection of our 37 brilliant Black Friday marketing hacks. Watch out every Friday until Black Friday for smart tactics you can start using now, or download the full cheatsheet here.

1. Build a year-long Black Friday landing page

Put your SEO hat on! Shoppers will start searching online for their purchases weeks before the Thanksgiving weekend. Did you know that search interest in Black Friday has grown 242% over the last five years according to Google Trends? If you have a high-ranking page, you’ll get seen before the competition. Having a consistent Black Friday landing page all year round creates an impressive and unswerving page ranking result on Google. You know it makes sense!

2. Build anticipation early

The window of opportunity to vie for your target customers’ attention is small. Plus, you’re competing with other brands to get in first. Ramp up your mailing list and social followers in early Fall to maximize the number of consumers you’re able to reach in November. Start sending promotional emails to build the hype early in the weeks before Thanksgiving.

3. Personalize your messages

Black Friday is an attention-grabbing game that can be won with personalization. Include first name, local store, persona-based dynamic content – anything remotely relevant that can hook the reader. Did you know that personalized marketing emails experience 41% higher unique click-through rates than generic ones? That’s the smart way to unlock lucrative holiday sales.

4. Create unique experiences

Know your loyal customers from your infrequent shoppers, and understand who spends how much and on what. Every customer has different needs and wants. Use RFM (recency, frequency, monetary value) to filter contacts into segments and deliver a more fitting message. You wouldn’t want to offer 50% off to a customer who typically spends $400 per order.

5. Make subject lines catchy AF

Black Friday is the time to nail the almighty subject line. Expect an unopened email if your subject line is rubbish: your campaign’s success is at stake. Either spur curiosity or iterate the benefits: i.e. ‘The deals you’ve been waiting for inside’ or ‘STARTS NOW: 50% off Black Friday sale + free shipping’. Plus, don’t forget to test and optimize!

6. Put emphasis on the CTA

Calls to action should always be placed above the fold. Don’t hit send if it’s not clear what action the recipient should take. The inverted pyramid method works best; it grabs attention, builds the anticipation, and draws the reader in.

7. Send a ‘save the date’

Save the dates are a great way to get subscribers to block out key events in their diary. Include a CTA in your promotional email campaigns that allow subscribers to save the date in their calendar, so their mobiles will remind them of your deals.

8. Timing is everything

If you’re a global company, don’t forget to schedule your sends by time zone to avoid your customers’ bafflement. You don’t want to send a 60-minute countdown timer to Australia in the middle of the night, or a morning flash sale to the Pacific West Coast after midday.

9. Use web behavior

While your promotional campaigns are hitting the inbox like a well-oiled machine, make sure your behavioral triggers are running like clockwork in the background. Send timely nudges to anyone who abandons their browse and re-target users who quit their search across Google and social channels.


That’s it for this week! To unlock the other 28 Black Friday marketing hacks, grab a free copy of our cheatsheet here.

The post 9 brilliant Black Friday marketing hacks appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 3 weeks ago from blog.dotdigital.com

Email deliverability: make Black Friday about consent, not spam

The last email deliverability blog I wrote was about how communicating to everyone in your lists needs to be done strategically, and that email may not be the best path. One of the seasons where senders feel pressure to expand their email audience is fast approaching.

Sometimes that pressure focuses on legal arguments.

To re-iterate from last time: Making sure that what you are sending and to whom is legal, is something I cannot advise on. Most often, when having a conversation on email deliverability, and specifically when I’m giving advice on who to send to, I get the response: ” but it’s legal”.

Please leave the legal conversation for the lawyers. For me – and this may seem harsh – I don’t care. The legal argument is just that – an argument. And it misses the point and moves the whole focus away from what the conversation should really be about.

Email deliverability: Wanted vs. unwanted

The focus of the conversation should be on: do the recipients of the emails you’re sending want to receive those emails?

Consent and setting expectations are both key to having a successful, revenue-generating email program. As we come up to the busy holiday period, it’s easy to let the pressures that come with it change this key part of the message. But there are no exceptions because of timing.

Mailbox providers have a job to do: to make sure that the emails being sent to recipients are wanted. They measure whether or not an email is wanted through many different indicators. Some of those include:

  • when recipients mark a message as spam
  • sending to an email address that’s being used to identify senders collecting email addresses without consent or continued consent (a.k.a ‘spam trap’)
  • sending to recipients that no longer exist at that mailbox provider

Once you reach one or more of those thresholds, mailbox providers (such as Gmail and Yahoo) can see clearly that you’re sending emails that their users – the owners of the email addresses you’re sending to – do not want.

Re-focus on email deliverability

If your biggest argument for sending an email is, “oh, but it’s legal”, then you need to re-focus. Because you run the risk of alienating people who actually do want to hear from you. These are the contacts that drive revenue or any other intended outcome of your email program.

Build a robust sending plan

Building back your reputation is hard; it’s better to build your sending plan for the busy upcoming holidays. Here are some email deliverability tips:

  • Use past years’ data to understand how your recipients interact with your emails. Look at the demographics of your recipient base and what they want to know.
  • Continue to respect recipients that have shown they are not interested. Consider carefully before sending to inactive contacts who may still be opted in. Whatever value you might get from sending a campaign like that is not worth the risk to your email deliverability. Find the data point where revenue drops. At what age of inactivity does the lack of revenue make sending to that data set irrelevant? Remember, the answer to this question will be different for each sender.
  • If there is consent and data to show a larger audience wants to hear about your Black Friday deals, then plan any volume increases accordingly – slowly build to the volumes where you need to be.

Who should I be sending to?

Want more advice on email deliverability during the busy festive period? Get in touch with your account manager to set up a consultation.

For more killer insight, download our email deliverability guide here.

The post Email deliverability: make Black Friday about consent, not spam appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotdigital.com

Making the most of your Black Friday campaign

It’s, therefore, safe to say that getting your Black Friday campaign right is essential.

Over the last ten years, we’ve seen a massive shift in Black Friday sales. Traditionally an in-store shopping extravaganza, Black Friday deals are now being scooped up by online shoppers, sparking a clicks vs. bricks war. A whopping $6.2bn was spent online in the US on Black Friday – up 23.6% in 2017.

Consumers are clearly shunning the stores in favor of a more accessible and stress-free way to bag the shopping day’s deals. This presents a tricky challenge to ecommerce brands; while high-street retailers are rewarded with limited rivalry, online stores are fighting in an arena where their voices can be silenced by the sheer size of the competition. Our November send volume is proof that consumers’ inboxes were groaning with messages from brands: 1.6 billion emails were sent from the platform, peaking over the Black Friday weekend.

Shopping day turned shopping week

An extended Black Friday shopping period – sometimes
referred to by retailers as the Black Tag or Cyber Week event – has been a
growing trend over the last couple of years. Have too many brands jumped on the
bandwagon and saturated the market, resulting in a lack of sales on the day
itself?

Michele Dupré from Verizon Enterprise Solutions thinks that
consumers now see Black Friday as a marathon and not a sprint: “Retailers need
to be prepared. Everything used to be built around Black Friday. Now, shopping
starts in early November and continues to December 24. Retailers must keep
consumers engaged throughout.”

And, on that very note, we thought it was about time we checked on some of the big brands to see how they made the most of their Black Friday campaigns.

Trends and findings

A prominent observation from our research was that retailers
see Black Friday as a weekend-long or even week-long event.

None of the brands we looked at restricted discounting to one day. 100% of retailers who participated in the occasion offered a sale for four days or more, however email promos and previews often spanned beyond that period. There were variations on the name of the shopping event, however, most were branded Black Friday, the Black Tag Event, or Cyber Week.

66% of retailers didn’t try and claw back the abandoned cart

Using email to combat cart abandonment was a proven tactic
that was missed by 56% of the brands in our 2018 Hitting the mark report. It
seems as though the retailers have still not realized the huge revenue
potential of cart recovery emails, with 66% of brands we looked at failing to follow
up on the lost sale.

Abandoned cart automations are easily set up and can often
deliver ROI in a matter of weeks, if not days. And with the global shopping
cart abandonment rate sitting at around 75.6%, we’re baffled as to why more
retailers aren’t utilizing this ROI-generating automation.

44% of brands didn’t use email effectively

14 of our sample of 32 retailers didn’t adopt email as a
method to market Black Friday deals, despite 22 of the brands participating in
the promotion. This surprised us considering email delivers the best ROI of all
the marketing channels, with average returns of $44 for every $1 spent.

However, as you’ll see from the next set of stats, there were many brands that had a heavy reliance on email when it came to amplifying shopping day sales.

Consumers received an average of 18 emails a day during the period

We received a total of 130 Black Friday-related emails that arrived before, during and in the final throes of the shopping event. That means over the week-long period, an average of 18 emails landed in our inbox every day.

What we found was that brands tended to use email to tease us with previews in the run-up to the event, then went hard on the day. For the remainder of the event, it was common to receive countdown reminders or category-specific product deals.

Black Friday still reigns in the US

Black Friday has swept its way across the world with
retailers in the UK, France and New Zealand jumping on board. But it seems that
US-based brands are still the ones who go the biggest on Black Friday.

We received a total of 95 emails from US brands, compared to just 27 from UK-based retailers. This isn’t totally surprising seeing as the Black Friday shopping period is tied to Thanksgiving and its origins as the United States’ start of the Christmas season. However, there were some American brands that were quite aggressive in their use of email. For example, Overstock sent us 18 emails over the week but it was Best Buy who smashed that number with a total of 26 emails over the seven-day event, averaging four emails a day.

Noteworthy brands

Easy opportunities to boost sales are still being missed by
companies of all sizes in all sectors. We decided to home in on a few retailers
who performed highly, along with a couple which surprised us. From this, we
hope to inspire you to branch out and try something new for this years’ Black
Friday marketing campaign.

ASOS

ASOS is a global fashion destination for 20-somethings, selling cutting-edge fashion and offering a wide variety of fashion-related content. The brand scooped the top spot in our 2017 Hitting the Mark report, collecting the highest number of points for email marketing compared to the other 99 retailers.

ASOS ranked above the rest for timeliness, its use of
automation and cross-channel promotion. But how did it fare on Black Friday?

The fashion retailer ran a site-wide 20% discount over the four-day period from Black Friday. It was widely promoted via email and as an appropriately themed homepage takeover. What we really liked was that despite offering 20% off all its products, ASOS targeted us with a gender-specific promo email that homed in on a category we’d shown an interest in previously.

ASOS Black Friday event

After browsing the ASOS website, adding something to our
cart and abandoning the site, a few days passed but we received no cart
recovery message. The lack of an abandoned cart email surprised us as the
fashion retailer scored highly for this automation program in our previous study.
One recommendation would be to use the abandoned cart program as a last-ditch
attempt to bag the sale on the last day of the event.

John Lewis

John Lewis is a chain of upmarket department stores operating throughout the United Kingdom. In 2017’s Hitting the Mark, the retailer was crowned the King of Customer Experience, scoring 32 points from a possible 35.

For a well-respected brand like John Lewis, a shopping event
like Black Friday necessitates a careful balancing act of attracting custom yet
without cheapening its name. And no surprises, the department store did it in
admirable style.

The John Lewis homepage tastefully reflected its Black Friday campaign which complemented its existing design. What’s more, the retailer fought back the competition by advertising that it was price matching a close competitor’s promotion.

At the start of the event and on the final day, John Lewis
used on-brand responsive emails to promote its offer and link us off to the
various price-dropped product categories.

John Lewis Black Friday abandoned cart

Finally, we were impressed to see that John Lewis followed up with after a well-designed abandoned cart email to encourage us to complete our purchase. The cart recovery program delivered the email the day after we’d placed the item in our basket. We especially liked John Lewis’s emphasis on free and easy returns if we weren’t happy with the product once it arrived.

Timpson

Timpson is a British retailer specializing in shoe repairs, key cutting, and engraving, as well as dry cleaning and photo processing.

The brand came 96 out of 100 in our main report – did it
improve its tactics for Black Friday?

In short, no. A year and a half on from joining the company’s mailing list – and a couple of months later buying a product – we still hadn’t received a marketing email. Timpson didn’t jump on the Black Friday bandwagon and this was evident from its homepage and website.

Timpson Black Friday homepage

In the 2017 study, Timpson lost points for failing to send a
cart recovery email. We tried again for this Black Friday special, to no avail.

Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren is a leader in the design, marketing, and distribution of premium apparel, homeware, accessories, and fragrances. In our 2017 report, the retailer performed quite poorly, coming in at 86 out of 100. However, we were pleasantly surprised by its efforts on Black Friday.

Understated Black Friday design appeared to be a theme for premium brands. Ralph Lauren named its event ‘Cyber Weekend Deals’ and the style of its website promotion was very much aligned with its typical brand colors.

Ralph Lauren used email to the max during its Black Friday campaign, first offering us exclusive early access to its deals and then catching us with a cart email after ‘forgetting’ to purchase our chosen item.

Notonthehighstreet.com

Notonthehighstreet.com is the leading curated modern marketplace, connecting the best small creative businesses with the world. The brand came up trumps in Hitting the Mark 2017, coming in at joint 11th place – and it didn’t disappoint in our Black Friday review!

We really liked Notonthehighstreet.com’s cute Black Friday homepage banner styled out as a handmade typographic tapestry. Like many other retailers we reviewed, its Black Friday event spanned beyond the day itself.

Notonthehighstreet.com made sure we knew about its Black Friday campaign with an email to wake up to. It was creative and eye-catching with a GIF taking center stage, along with light-hearted copy to encourage us to click.

The Notonthehighstreet.com abandoned cart email was equally original, with witty words and helpful touches in case we were having issues checking out. A perfectly executed Black Friday campaign.

Notonthehighstreet abandoned cart

Key takeaways for 2019

Once an in-store shopping day, Black Friday has successfully
merged with Cyber Monday to become one mammoth event.

Smartphones contribute more than $2bn of the $6.2bn from online sales, so mobile-readiness is essential. We witnessed some great examples of mobile-friendly emails, particularly from John Lewis and ASOS who used optimized templates, images, and copy, plus responsive content blocks.

However, what was jarring was the brands’ lack of use of email marketing automation, namely abandoned cart programs. Overall, there was a lack of personalization and a penchant for one-size-fits-all offers. Using smart segmentation and marketing automation these can be easily avoided.

Implement today

Our advice for this years’ Black Friday campaign would be to focus on key customer segments using Engagement Cloud’s RFM personas. Using these, you’ll be able to differentiate your new customers from your inactive users and loyal shoppers, making it easier to take each segment on a personalized, automated journeys.

For more inspiration, check out our Hitting the mark: Black Friday special report.


Keep reading

The post Making the most of your Black Friday campaign appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotdigital.com

Are you ready for Black Friday? If not, here’s our checklist

For many of us, Black Friday conjures up terrifying images of crushing crowds and fighting over TVs.

Black Friday

That’s why we’ve
put together the ultimate checklist to help you plan your Black Friday sales
with confidence.

Today,
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are some of the biggest shopping days of the
year. Last year, Black Friday brought in $6.2
billion
in online sales in the US. Still a relatively new event in the UK,
2018 online sales increased by nearly 8% Y-o-Y to
reach £1.49 billion. In Australia, interest in Black Friday has grown by 614% over the last five
years, with shoppers spending on average
AU$263
a day.

Despite this, the public’s appetite for Black Friday deals seems to be declining. With fewer people visiting stores and opting to surf for sales online instead, competition is getting fiercer.

Black Friday boredom?

‘Declining’
might not be the right word. What we’re seeing is slow down. Where sale
increases had been in the double figures, we’re beginning to see that die down.

There
could be many reasons for this, but boredom is the most obvious explanation.

In the lead-up, shoppers’ inboxes are flooded with emails. Every single one of them shouting about not-to-be-missed deals and limited-time offers. They’ve heard and seen it all before.

Tactical shopping

Shoppers
are adapting. They’re preparing themselves and approaching Black Friday with
specific items in mind. 42% of shoppers know
what they want to purchase
, and they’re wise enough to have a rough price
in mind.

What
they’re buying depends on who they’re shopping for. 62% of shoppers are buying
for their families, while 45% are shopping for themselves.

Some
customers may be going through the year, racking up a list of items they want
to get when the Black Friday sales start. So, if they’re going to be tactical
about it, it’s time you were too.

Get Black Friday ready

Experience matters. On an average day, 80% of customers are willing to pay more for an item, if a brand offers them superior service.

To create unforgettable engagements, planning is essential. Especially for the holiday season. We’ve put together a killer checklist, so you can be fully prepared and focus on delivering the experiences that drive sales.

What
to do today:

1.) Decide what you’re offering

When we think ‘Black Friday’ we think sales, discounts, and price drops, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Big-ticket items tend to be where shoppers are looking for deals. Laptops, TVs, and smartphones being the most popular options. But if these fall outside of your remit, why not try another tactic? If you have a loyalty scheme or use RFM segments, how about targeting loyal customers with exclusive content? That’s what sports brand Nike did. There are no rules around Black Friday, so try something different to stand out in the crowded inbox.

2.) Update your PPC plan

We’ve already mentioned…

Look above

…shoppers have items in mind when Black Friday starts. What they may not have chosen is where they’re going to get it. By updating and increasing your PPC budget for the holiday season, your chances of being discovered will improve.

3.) Improve website UX

Experience extends far beyond how you make the reader feel with an email. Your website’s ease of use can be the difference between a sale, and an abandoned cart. Leading up to the holiday season, you should carry out a full audit of your site. Options such as guest checkout and gift-wrapping can make a huge difference to customers.

Guest checkout
Clear and simple. This is a perfect example from tech giants, Apple.

4.) Establish timelines

The most successful ecommerce retailer over Black Friday weekend (no surprise) is Amazon. Why is this? Because they offer a full week worth of discounts. Kicking off at the beginning of the week, Amazon runs deals all the way from Monday to Cyber Monday. Again, this is a great way to stand out from the crowd, but it’s not the only way.

Do
you want to build-up excitement and anticipation with a series of ramp-up
emails? Figure out what tactic you’re going to take and get planning. The further
in advance you can do this, the more time you’ll have to plan your design,
segments, content, and build your automation.

Also, don’t forget to be thinking about delivery. Can you fulfill a promise to deliver before Christmas? Are you going to need to outsource or hire more employees to manage your warehouse stock?

5.) Design your templates

Are you planning on refreshing your templates from last year, or looking for something a bit more bespoke to hook subscribers? Make sure you have them ready to go. Once they’re created so you can add them to your Black Friday automation programs.

It’s all important and now’s the time to get these details sorted. It’ll help ensure things go smoother as the big day approaches.

Let
the countdown begin:

6.) Push new sign-ups

Popovers are a great way to encourage new visitors to sign-up for your email marketing. In the lead up to Black Friday, use these to grow your marketing lists. Hook them with exclusive access to pre-Black Friday sales or free delivery during the sales when they subscribe.

7.) Plan your content

Show shoppers clearly, and concisely, why they should shop with you. What are your USPs? Bring your brand’s personality to life and give a reason to choose you over your competitors. Make sure your offers are clear and easy to understand. If you’re offering a discount via code, make sure it stands out and is eye-catching, so it’s not missed by readers. If it’s a site-wide discount, make it obvious. Remember, subscribers will be receiving hundreds of these emails. They’ll be skimming your emails at best, so make sure you’re hooking them above-the-fold.

BB Dakota Black Friday sale
Great Simple Studio Black Friday sale

You also need to reflect this across your whole site. You don’t want missed deals to lead to negative feedback because they weren’t visible on your site. Your offers need to be easy to find across your homepage and all Black Friday campaign landing pages.

8.) Check your providers

Make sure your website hosts and email providers know about your upcoming campaign and expect the rise in traffic. Updates or changes to their software could cause massive problems if they go wrong. Luckily, the development team at dotdigital put a coding freeze on Engagement Cloud during the holiday season, to ensure your marketing runs as smoothly as possible.

This year, Black Friday falls on Friday 29 November and runs until Cyber Monday on Monday 2 December.

Follow this checklist, and you’ll be ready to take on the world this holiday season.


Keep reading

Preparing for Black Friday
Holiday customer loyalty
Halloween blog

The post Are you ready for Black Friday? If not, here’s our checklist appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 2 months ago from blog.dotdigital.com

Preparing for Black Friday

That’s a 16% increase on Black Friday last year and a 200% increase compared to a typical day!

 

It’s that last statistic which really stands out for the dotmailer technical teams. We need to be ready for that level of increased usage and so we spend the weeks prior trawling over telemetry data from our platform to scale our infrastructure accordingly. This year we already knew a lot of the work had been done due to the incredibly busy period running up to the GDPR in May.

 

There are four major elements to our server infrastructure: website clusters, background service clusters, database servers and email servers. Because we’re cloud-based, each can be scaled separately and so we:

 

  • added extra web servers to handle the 37 million hits our click-and-open tracking website saw, plus another 34 million for Web Behavior Tracking.
  • increased the numbers, size and performance of some of our servers which handle background tasks such as sending and importing.
  • added a new email sending capacity to our fast-growing US deployment which has seen rapid growth in the last 12 months. At peak we sent over 320GB of email an hour!
  • optimized email delivery throughput with improved compliance with email receiver guidelines.
Throughout the day, our engineers monitor system metrics, making notes of areas that will soon need attention. It’s busy days like this which enable us to see early warning signs of weaknesses in our different systems.  

 

Sometimes concerns can be addressed quickly and easily with more computing power, or by altering slightly the behavior of a system via a setting. Alternatively, bottlenecks are fed into the development roadmap so systems can be overhauled for the coming year. As demand from customers continues to increase, we continue to reinvest in our platform and we’re already looking forward to next November!

 

If you missed our latest product release, 18four, please find out more here.

The post Preparing for Black Friday appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.dotmailer.com

We’re Black Friday ready. Are you?

With retailers expecting to deliver 30% of their annual sales and 40% of their profits in the fourth quarter, we know how important your emails are in generating that demand.  We wanted to give you an insight into the data and top tips in making sure you make the most out of these key days.

So what have we improved since last year?

  1. We partnered with one of the leaders in cloud computing, Microsoft Azure, and moved our entire infrastructure to utilise the public cloud. We now have all the compute we could ever need at our fingertips (both in EU and US) to make sure we perform when you need us the most.
  2. We have increased the bandwidth we use to send emails by 500%.
  3. We doubled the amount of servers we use to send email.
  4. We have re-written parts of the application that processes emails so it’s over 40% faster.
  5. We increased the amount of processing power our databases have by 50%.

What did last year look like?

Last year I wrote a similar Black Friday post and many of our customers commented on how useful it was to see the trend of email opens, clicks and emails being sent on the day. So this is how it went last year, in recap:

Email opens on Black Friday, 2015 vs 2014. We saw the morning opens grow much faster than Black Friday 2014. The peak was at 9am, where as previously it was 4pm GMT. It is likely that the same trend will continue and there will be many consumers ready to hunt down those Black Friday deals early doors.

Top tip: Make sure your subject line is catchy, create urgency and mention Black Friday or Cyber Monday to get their attention. If you haven’t already dipped your toe with emojis then now is the time to put them in! You can get a free copy of our Black Friday email marketing cheatsheet here for more tips.

bf22

Email clicks Black Friday 2015. Like the opens, we can see good consumer engagement in the morning with 10am GMT being the peak.

Top tip: Bargain hunters will look to shop around, so make sure your email gets in the inbox early and that the calls to action are clear and irresistible.   The bargain hunters out there are starting early and will be shopping around to get the best deal on the day.  If you know they have clicked and not converted, use that engagement to re-target them in the evening using automated programs and segmentation.

Email sends on Black Friday, 2015 vs 2014. Again, we saw far more email sends in the morning, and over 10% of all the Black Friday emails went out between 8am and 9am GMT.

Email sends on Black Friday, 2015 vs 2014. Again, we saw far more email sends in the morning, and over 10% of all the Black Friday emails went out between 8am and 9am GMT.

Top tip: Make sure your campaigns are mobile-optimised. Most consumers will be reading while ‘data snacking’ on their mobile, whether that’s while they’re commuting, in the bathroom (yes, you know you do!) or at any spare moment in their day-to-day lives.

To sum up…

Remember, these are busy days with marketing professionals worldwide sending far more emails. This means that the receivers (Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, BT Internet etc) will also be receiving far more emails than ever before, and they will experience delays under the additional stress and load.

Make sure you get those emails through early to capitalise on the opportunity. You can also better your chances of conversion by ensuring that those offers are irresistible, by providing clear CTAs and by making sure your subject lines pop out!

The post We’re Black Friday ready. Are you? appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.

Reblogged 3 years ago from blog.dotmailer.com