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Although originally an American tradition, Black Friday was introduced to Britain by Amazon in 2010. This sales extravaganza soon took the UK by storm, and having realised the enormous potential of this event, the majority of UK businesses now partake in the weekend in some way, often implementing Black Friday digital marketing strategies to reach and convert consumers. In the US, Black Friday always falls on the day after Thanksgiving, which is the fourth Thursday of November. As a result, Black Friday is held on the same day in the UK and this year falls on November 26th. 

Black Friday is undoubtedly the most important retail event of the year and, with an effective search marketing campaign, you can enjoy record sales and profitability. Black Friday has consumers in the UK hooked – according to statistics, Black Friday 2019 saw a 16.5% increase on the year before, and shoppers in Britain spent an extravagant £5.6 billion over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend.

As the retail event of the year, it’s vital for businesses to jump onboard and utilise all of the opportunities Black Friday presents. So, in light of this, what can you do to capitalise on this year’s Black Friday weekend? Our team is here to tell you.  

Brunette woman walking up stairs with a white shopping bag over her shoulder. The bag reads Black Friday in bold black letters.

Black Friday Digital Marketing Guide Overview

  1. Make sure your promotions stand out from the crowd
  2. Consider extending your offer period
  3. Ensure your have enought stock to meet the demand
  4. Liaise with your delivery partners
  5. Make sure your website is working efficiently
  6. Ensure your website is suitable for mobile
  7. Hyper-relevant keyword targeting
  8. Optimise your local listings
  9. Create location-specific landing pages
  10. Target local keywords
  11. Shout about your offers on your social platforms
  12. Have all hands on deck
  13. Reward your customers through exclusivity
  14. Nail your email copy
  15. Plan a PPC campaign that aligns with your business
  16. Target the right people with paid social

Your Offerings

1. Make your promotions stand out from the crowd

Every successful Black Friday digital marketing campaign starts with planning, and so a good first step is to do some research. Look into your competitors and find out what they are offering, what they offered last year, and analyse what was successful and what wasn’t. Doing this allows you to adjust your campaign accordingly, ensuring you are going to attract maximum sales. If you had Black Friday promotions running last year, how successful were they? Identify everything you did well and not so well, and use this to build a strong Black Friday strategy.

Last year, with the news of a November lockdown in England, we advised all our eCommerce clients who could handle an increase in business and fulfil significantly more orders to considerably increase their November Paid Search/Biddable Media budgets, in order to meet demand. If you’ve had to close down stores or have noticed a decline in footfall, this may be something you need to consider again in 2021.

2. Consider extending your offer period

Many retailers are starting to begin their Black Friday promotions early, recognising that consumers are starting their Christmas shopping earlier each year. PayPal have previously noted: 

“It certainly is becoming more like Cyber November because people are getting a jump on their holiday shopping much earlier year over year”.

Plus, a report by eBay Ads revealed that 25% of British shoppers started thinking about Christmas shopping before the end of summer, and 41% of gift givers plan to have their Christmas shopping wrapped up before December begins.

As the sales period grows and encapsulates more and more of the yearly calendar, your Black Friday marketing campaign is at risk of losing its exclusivity, impact, and draw. To combat this, evaluate how effective your previous Black Friday campaigns have been to determine whether it would be more beneficial to offer your customers discounts throughout the Christmas trading period.


3. Ensure you have enough stock to meet demand

When the Black Friday shopping fever hits the UK, it’s vital that you have enough stock to match your volume of sales. Don’t be left shorthanded; plan ahead, stock up on all of your most popular items and see them fly off the shelves.

4. Liaise with your delivery partners

The demand for products over the Black Friday weekend has led to delivery disasters in previous years. The year 2014 saw big names such as Amazon, with an average purchase of 64 items a second, struggle to keep up with the huge jump in seasonal sales. As a result, customers across the country suffered with delays of up to 10 days.

In 2021, we’re all too aware of the delivery driver shortage in the UK. This could easily impact your delivery times, so keep communicating with your couriers and make your customers aware of what’s going on to help manage expectations!


5. Make sure your website is working efficiently

Cyber Monday used to be the online version of Black Friday, but we’re now seeing a Black Friday that is just as ‘cyber’ as the Monday. Year on year, more people are choosing to shop from home and avoid the patience-testing ‘Black and Blue Friday’ chaos.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also nudged shoppers to purchase online. In March 2020, 41% of UK consumers said they had been shopping more online compared to before the pandemic. By February 2021, this figure had risen to 71%! Plus, who can forget last November when UK shoppers were forced to do their Black Friday shopping online due to the second lockdown.

With consumers more confident online shopping than ever before, it’s extremely important that your website is working smoothly in order to cope with the volume of traffic you are likely to receive.

According to The Guardian, at least 15 online retailers experienced issues with their sites in 2015, including big names such as Tesco, Argos and John Lewis. In 2016, big retailers like GAME and Currys PC World experienced technical difficulties. Any technical issues are not going to go unseen; angry shoppers are known to take to social media and you could lose large amounts of money from even the slightest glitch.

To ensure that your sales are not stunted by slow loading pages and site-crashes this Black Friday weekend, think about investing in more servers or cloud hosting and consider refining your site’s code to reduce the amount of load on the server.

6. Ensure your website is suitable for mobile

Our next Black Friday SEO tip is all about mobile, which is dominating the online shopping world for all areas of retail. More and more stores are seeing an increase in purchases via mobile, and so having a flawless mobile shopping experience is key to preparing for Black Friday sales. According to Adobe, 58% of Black Friday traffic came from mobile in 2019. This trend shows no sign of stopping and is set to rise even further.

Therefore, it’s vital that you create a smooth digital mobile experience for your customers, to increase your chance of sales this Black Friday. One great way to achieve this would be to reduce and refine the number of stages between choosing a product and purchasing it on a mobile device. This means you are making the purchasing journey swifter and easier for the customer.

You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to ensure that your site is ready for the big day.

Close up shot of woman holding and using her iPhone while sat in front of her laptop.

7. Hyper-relevant keyword targeting

As keyword research is a foundational block of an SEO campaign, it’s vital to target Black Friday-related terms on your website this holiday season. The exact keywords you choose to target will vary, based on search volume and difficulty score (that is, the monthly volume of searches for the keyword and how hard it is to rank at the top in the search results), which indicate the competitiveness of each term. There are many different factors to consider when picking the right target keywords, but striking a balance between search volume and competitiveness is best.

Once you’ve found the sweet spot, you should optimise any relevant pages for those chosen keywords. Placing the terms in titles and meta descriptions, image alt tags, page headings, and anchor text on relevant pages will help your customers, and Google, find your Black Friday content.

Top tip: Create a dedicated Black Friday landing page that you bring back each holiday and can easily be hidden throughout the rest of the year. This is important for long-term SEO so that the page holds its SEO value and can improve in ranking year upon year.

Local SEO

Another effect of the pandemic is that more consumers are choosing to shop local this Black Friday. Not to mention, ethical consumerism and sustainable shopping are on trend this year, and shoppers are increasingly picky about where they’re buying from. Many shoppers are favouring small local businesses over large online retailers. That’s why optimising for local SEO is vital to your Black Friday SEO strategy in 2021. And, there are a few quick wins that you can implement to win over customers in your local area.

8. Optimise your local listings

One of the easiest ways to make sure you’re seen on the local landscape is to optimise your local listings. Whether you use Google My Business, Bing Places for Business or Apple Listings, if you have a brick and mortar shop you want to make sure your customers can find you, so it’s important to ensure that your details, such as your business name, phone number, address, website address and opening times are up to date.

Not only will this help your geographically-close customers find your shop, but it also means that you’ll appear in your local pack, a SERP feature that appears above organic search results in local searches. Businesses that appear in the local pack for locally-based searches benefit from improved brand visibility, a higher click-through rate and, ultimately, see a higher number of conversions. It’s one of our favourite SEO quick-wins.

Zelst’s Google My Business listing

9. Create location-specific landing pages

A location-specific landing page can improve your local SEO and help you get found by your community. These landing pages serve as a digital signpost for your business. Their purpose is to provide all the relevant locally-focused information your customers need to inform their buying journey, such as business news, anything you’re doing to help the local community or answering specific questions.

Similar to your Google My Business (or equivalent) listing, you should include your business name, address and contact details as the bare minimum. Also, you should link between your Google My Business and your landing page as this helps to gain Google authority, helping you to rank higher in the SERP and be more visible to your target customers.

Top tip: If you serve more than one location, you must ensure that the content on each page is original and provides value to potential customers.

10. Target local keywords

Having a local keyword strategy is important to reach customers in your key service areas, especially if you have a physical shop. There are many keyword tools around, our favourites being Moz and Google’s Keyword Planner, where you can filter results by location.

Once you’ve chosen your local keywords to target, make sure to dedicate some time to on-page optimisation to get your keywords in the page content. You should also ensure that your target keywords are in any relevant pages’ meta titles and descriptions.

Social Media

11. Shout about your offers on your social platforms

If people don’t know about your Black Friday deals, how do you expect them to buy into your promotions? More than 50% of the global population use social media and it’s a great platform to engage with your audience and create a promotional buzz.

We recommend using all of the social platforms that your business uses to shout about your deals, and make use of the different features each platform offers. With tricky algorithms to navigate, it’s widely accepted that not all of your followers will see your content so it’s best practice to share your promotion in a variety of ways.

It’s helpful to schedule in advance as much content as you can, but bear in mind that not all forms of social media content can be scheduled with third-party tools. It’s best to keep note of which posts need to be manually uploaded.

12. Have all hands on deck

Although having the majority of your Black Friday social content planned, polished and scheduled well in advance is ideal, you have to be prepared to share reactive content too. Assign people in your team to take responsibility for engaging and reacting on your profiles as the weekend unfolds. 

It’s important to be reactive to what’s happening with your company. Has there been a snap decision to extend the promotion for another day or has a popular item sold out? Start telling your followers before it’s too late!

You should also be reactive to your followers – if they have any questions, be quick to respond so they don’t start looking elsewhere. If you’re noticing a lot of questions around the same topic or theme, put together some reactive content and push this out on your channels. Not only does it show you’re listening and quick on the pulse, but it’ll save you valuable time in the future. For more Black Friday social media tips, check out our dedicated blog post.

Email Marketing

13. Reward your customers through exclusivity

In the run-up to Black Friday, it’s important to optimise your sales through one of the leading digital marketing channels, email marketing. As a business, you likely already have a loyal customer base who subscribe to your weekly/monthly newsletter. Email marketing is a fantastic way to target your core customers, providing them with an exclusive ‘sneak preview’ of your Black Friday deals and promotions.

By offering your customers this exclusivity, you are making them feel special, thus increasing the chance they will think of you first when it comes to purchasing an item.

On the day of Black Friday your customer’s inbox will be flooded with deals and offers from lots of online retailers the moment the clock strikes midnight and possibly the late hours prior. So, we recommend getting a head start with your Black Friday digital marketing campaign and sending your ‘sneak preview’ email a week or so before the date. The email should make shoppers aware of the exclusive deals you’re offering but also encourage them to switch on their alerts for your emails so they don’t miss your offers on the day itself (a great way to ensure that your campaign doesn’t fade into the background).

14. Nail your email copy

The email you send to customers on the day needs to be snappy with lots of calls to action (CTA). You want to make things as easy as possible for your customers to get to your website whilst standing out from the competition. The best way to do this is by showcasing your biggest discounts and offers on best-selling items with calls to action featured throughout (encouraging them to head to your website or to buy) wherever an item is highlighted.

The subject line needs to showcase your main offer or your biggest discount e.g. “50% Off All Electricals Today Only” or “Free Delivery on All Sofas Until Midnight”. With further information on any other deals or offers featured in the body of the email. But don’t forget, it needs to include all the relevant information but also be short and sweet. You want your customers to know exactly what you’re offering and then be directed quickly to your website to browse further or buy.

Top Tip: Remember to proofread your email campaigns before you hit schedule to avoid any copywriting mistakes that may dampen the impact of your email!

Macbook laptop showing the loading screen for Gmail.

Biddable Media

15. Plan a PPC campaign that aligns with your business

To prepare your PPC campaigns for Black Friday, you must plan your campaigns well in advance. We would suggest creating a plan outlining your specific product/service promotions as this will affect what types of campaigns you will run. 

Are you an eCommerce business wanting to run promotions on your top lines? Then a shopping campaign could be the perfect fit. Have a service you want to push throughout the weekend with a limited time discount? A Search Ad campaign with a countdown headline may work well.

The Zelst team have put together a comprehensive guide on how to prepare your PPC campaigns for Black Friday, check it out to ensure you run an efficient and effective Google Ads campaign this year.

16. Target the right people with paid social

As we mentioned earlier, how do you expect people to buy from you if they don’t know about your deals? Using paid social to push out your sales to those most likely to buy is pretty much a no-brainer. 

Social platforms such as Facebook and Pinterest allow you to upload your existing customers’ data. This information is then used to produce audiences known as lookalike (Facebook) and actalike (Pinterest) audiences. These are populated with users similar to your existing customers and, hopefully, this gives you a higher chance of converting them!

We suggest running a paid social campaign that aligns with your organic social posts and pushing this out to the audiences mentioned above.

So there you have our top tips for an integrated Black Friday digital marketing campaign that delivers results this November. If you’re looking for support maximising your online sales during Black Friday and beyond, please get in touch with our specialists and we’ll see how we can help!