Post-Black Friday Review
Another Black Friday record has been broken this year, with the British retail sector enjoying £7 billion in profit. Unsurprisingly, the majority of this expenditure took place online.
The shift in consumer behaviour this year has resulted in a changing nature of Black Friday. We’ve seen a decline in reports of horror stories of shopper stampedes and never-ending queues due to a reduction of in-store traffic and an ever-growing increase in online retail traffic.
Who were the winners and who lost out?
Every year, we hear of success stories whereby stores fully take advantage of the holiday shopping season and maximise their revenue by following the Black Friday strategy which we laid out below in our previous blog. Black Friday horror stories do still exist, however, especially for e-Commerce businesses.
Let’s take a look at who were this year’s winners and losers…
Who was prepared?
As we noted prior to the big event, it is vital to inform potential customers of holiday sales and deals in advance.
Amazon reaped the rewards of the bonanza, by informing consumers of their free holiday shipping service to non-Prime members at the beginning of November. By doing this and expanding their physical footprint by creating a paper toy catalogue, Amazon sure were winners in this year’s retail frenzy.
Who rewarded their customers?
Promotions and rewards to loyal customers were implemented by many online retailers. Kohl’s hit a record number of online sales this Black Friday, partly thanks to their “Kohl’s Cash” loyalty program.
Kohl’s were also on the ball with their in-store experience for consumers, placing this offer both online and in-store.
Who optimised their website?
It appears J. Crew overlooked this vital point of preparation this year. Although they offered 50% off all items online, the brand left many consumers frustrated and confused as to why such a big franchise hadn’t ensured optimal website performance for the most profitable day of the year.
“Black Friday is an incredible opportunity for online retailers to offer their best deals, but preparation is key. There’s nothing more frustrating than spotting a product you like and clicking through to a website that’s too slow to load.” – Lawrence Jones, UKFast
Who maintained their inventory?
Stores such as Nintendo Switch did not best prepare their stock inventory, as they sold out way before Thanksgiving was over!
Multiple out-of-stock popup messages appeared on customers’ browsers, which amounted to an approximately $120 million loss for the retailer.
Optimise Your E-Commerce Store This Black Friday
Black Friday has been a key part of Thanksgiving celebrations for decades. Although, surprisingly, its roots refer back to something much darker than the joys of discounts, rewards and freebies. Instead, the term “Black Friday” was first coined in the 1800s in light of a stock market crash.
Over time, those negative connotations have worn away and Black Friday has transformed into a 24-hour retail frenzy, which sets the tone for generous spending over the holiday season.
Last year saw a new Black Friday record, with UK consumers collectively spending £1.4 billion online and the US generating $5.03 billion from online sales – a huge proportion of which took place on mobile.
But have the gloomy undertones of Black Friday’s history disappeared for online retailers?
Let’s check out some lessons we’ve learnt from past Black Friday events while we anticipate what’s in store for us this week.
Research shows that over 50% of US retail consumers begin planning their holiday shopping months before Black Friday.
This only creates more opportunities for e-Commerce stores to lure in their existing and potential consumers. It’s important to give these retail enthusiasts a taste of what’s to come by sending out targeted email marketing campaigns, offering rewards to loyal customers and circulating promotional content across all social media channels.
Plan your sales
Not only should retailers prepare their marketing strategy, but it is also essential to plan which discounts will be applied to which products and on which dates.
Shopify has drafted a Black Friday sales plan to help online retailers avoid a last-minute rush to try and get rid of everything in their store.
Create an attractive Black Friday landing page
Having a clear and engaging landing page is a great way to take advantage of early bird buyers. AO.com’s landing page for 2017 exemplifies how this should be done:
A clear contact form to keep potential customers updated with upcoming and present Black Friday deals, a direct link to the shop and promotion of their free delivery service form a great strategy to increase conversion.
Prepare for increased demand and traffic
A steep increase in traffic and conversion to your online store is exactly what you want. Right? But not if it’s going to freeze and crash your website.
This is the last thing any consumer or online retailer wants to see on their screen amidst the Black Friday mania:
To avoid going down the same road as Argos and Currys, make sure you test your server load capacity.
As well as this, ensure that all other areas of your supply chain are prepared for an increase in demand, for example, suppliers, shipping service, inventory levels, and make backup plans incase worst case scenario arises.
The “phygital” trend
As we are all aware, digital influence is rising within e-Commerce. But that’s not to say that physical retail is dead. In-store experiences drive around 37% of online traffic, therefore it is crucial that retail businesses combine their physical and digital (“phygital”) efforts to promote Black Friday.
To keep user experience at an optimal level, e-Commerce sites must be responsive across all devices and browsers. According to eMarketer, around 58.9% of online transactions over this past year were made through mobile phones, therefore, this Black Friday a huge proportion of purchases can be expected to be made on mobile.
No matter if you have a beautifully rendered website, or a stunning portfolio you won’t get very far if you’re lacking sufficient SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). The thing is, Google, Yahoo, and Bing are extremely objective when it comes down to things like sitemaps, alt tags, and keywords – just to name a few. Understanding the terminology isn’t really that important, but understanding how to improve your SEO is.
What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO is the process in which the traffic to your website is improved from search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing via organic or algorithmic search results in search engines. The higher a website appears in search results, the higher the number of visitors the page will receive from the search engine. There are several methods to improve your pages ranking without submitting to the paid schemes offered by search engines. Listed below, and in no particular order, are 10 that we believe are absolutely vital!
1. Page Titles
The title tag is used by search engines to display a page in search results, as well as appearing at top of the browser. These tags tell search spiders and users what your page is about. Google only displays between 50 – 60 characters in their title tags, therefore its important to keep descriptions short, compelling and relevant. Keywords and page topics should feature towards the front.
The placement of keywords throughout your site is perhaps one of the most important SEO tactics. It’s useful to take into account how someone would search for information on the specific service or product you are offering, as the keywords they use are likely to be the keywords you want to be using. BUT make sure you don’t add ridiculous amounts of keywords, especially if they are unrelated as this can lead to your site being flagged as spam. Search engine spiders are programmed to ignore ‘keyword-stuffing’.
3. ALT Tags
Each image and video that you have on your site can have descriptive words added to its imprint. These are known as alternative text descriptions. These descriptions allow for search engines to locate your page using the keywords found in your image and video descriptions, as well as the usual text throughout the site. Therefore increasing the opportunities your site is found, which consequently raises its page ranking.
A sitemap – a page specifically listing and creating links to all the other major pages on your site – allows for search spiders to locate pages quickly, and with more relevance to the search in question. Therefore every page is easier to find for both the spiders and users alike, and can be reached with significantly less clicks.
5. Mobile Site
‘With nearly 40% of organic traffic coming from mobile devices in 2015’, its hardly surprising that websites with a mobile friendly interface will rank higher in Google searches. Ultimately Google is trying to provide the best user experience – so really the better the user experience on your site, the better you will rank with Google.
6. Don’t Use Flash
Many small businesses like to run their sites using Flash as it is easy to launch and is fairly cheap. However, Google always ranks Flash sites lower then sites running on alternative platforms – partially because you cannot link to an individual page. Changing a Flash-based site to WordPress will hugely increase your search engine rankings.
7. Update Content Regularly
I’m sure this is something you would be doing regularly anyway – but even so, it’s an absolute must! Regularly updated content is viewed as one of the best indicators of a site’s relevancy. Make sure to keep it fresh.
8. URL Structure
A URL is up there in the first things that a search engine uses in order to determine a page rank, hence why it’s vital to make them easy for spiders to search. This can be done by keeping the URLs short (which also enhances the user experience), keeping them relevant to the page’s topic and keywords, and by ensuring the URLs help categorise the site pages.
9. Grow Natural Links
Another key ranking factor in Google’s algorithm is the number of organic and quality inbound links to your site. This works because Google ranks the reliability and relevance of your site partially as a result of how many times it has been recommended by third parties. Therefore it is important to monitor how these links are growing.
10. Monitor your Progress
You won’t know if all your hard SEO work is paying off unless you keep track of your search standings. Keep an eye on your page ranking via tools like Alexa and the Google toolbar. On top of this its important to check your referrer log so that you can see how your visitors arrive to your site, and the search terms they are using to get there.
Want to find out more about SEO – follow this link to learn more about the intricacies of boosting your search engine ranking. Or follow the link to view Diffusion Digitals SEO offering.
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