A lot of customers naturally have their sights set on the December holidays, when they can enjoy the fruits of their planning and shopping efforts. But for retailers, the focus is squarely pointed at Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which feature the biggest payoff of the holiday season — and it’s the reason I recommend brands begin their holiday marketing planning now or even earlier.

With nearly every brand pushing their biggest in-store and online deals for Black Friday (it’s really more like Black/Cyber November, with sales starting earlier every year), it’s difficult to get your message heard over the noise of your competitors. Great prices are a start, but everyone will be promoting discounted products. The key is to sell what only you can offer.

To ensure that you successfully capitalize on a valuable opportunity to engage with customers, these strategies will keep you top of mind with consumers when gearing up for the biggest shopping week (month) of the year.

The lure of exclusivity

Customers’ inboxes will soon be flooded with offers, and every retailer will be promoting great deals. Rather than go head-to-head on factors like price or shipping — which, let’s be honest, means going up against Amazon — provide your customer base with an offer unique to your brand.

The best way to stand out is by enticing customers with something they won’t find anywhere else, thus removing the competition from the mix. This doesn’t just relate to the products you’re selling. Exclusive deals (such as free gifts with a purchase) and services (free maintenance, extended warrantees and so on) also can set you apart.

Refresh your offers

As I mentioned earlier, Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions are no longer confined to single days. Black Friday deals start on Thanksgiving Day, if not earlier, and run throughout the weekend. The positive is that this gives brands a larger window in which to sell. But the counter to that is that if you roll out the same deal day after day, your audience will become fatigued.

Despite the longer time frame, customers still expect your best deals to come on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Unless your brand has a unique take on it — think REI’s #OptOutside campaign — build your offers slowly during the days leading up to Black Friday. You won’t miss out on the important early wallet share before Black Friday, and you can still provide a sense of urgency in a few ways:

  • Offer variety: Complement sitewide deals with different product offers from various categories. You’re giving people who check your website day after day during the holiday weekend new content to engage with and a reason to keep coming back.
  • Gift with purchase: Shoppers use this week to buy for friends and family. A great way to incentivize this is offering a gift with a purchase. Not only do customers check an item off their shopping list, but they’re able to treat themselves as well.
  • Gift guides: There will likely be customers who want to take advantage of your deals but are indecisive about what to buy. Help them out by creating gift guides, segmenting by price, interest or persona. These will be a source of inspiration and conveniently display products the customer may not have otherwise noticed.

Tell a story

As we discussed earlier with exclusivity, a successful Black Friday lies in the ability to stand out in ways other than price. People are in the mindset to purchase gifts, and they want to know that what they’re buying will resonate with the recipient.

The ability to tell a captivating story and reach the emotional connection behind the purchase will improve your brand’s positioning in the customer’s consideration set.

Stories are also a great way to separate yourself from the competition when you’ve run out of room with offers. I’m sure many of you are familiar with Simon Sinek’s TED talk about starting with “why.” Take this approach when telling your story.

To articulate the message, use social media and your loyal fan base to provide third-party validation of your brand through user-generated content, reviews and more. How other people interact with your brand is as interesting as your telling people why your brand is unique.

Be mobile-friendly

The conversion rate on mobile continues to increase, along with mobile traffic and usage. More and more customers are willing to complete purchases from their phones, so be sure to prepare for the limitations of mobile web and e-commerce experiences.

While conversion rates on mobile won’t surpass desktop this year, usage is strong enough that mobile should be a focal point. Plus, it serves an important purpose: With customers hitting major social channels and apps on their phones multiple times a day, mobile is an inherently browsing-friendly channel.

Keep ads simple and your social channels updated with new offers to keep your brand top of mind when customers are ready to check out.

Update your automated emails

In my previous article, I discussed testing your triggered emails and journeys in preparation for the holiday season. Now is the time to use those optimized emails to help push the urgency of the holidays. Make sure your abandoned cart and abandoned browse triggers mention your Black Friday deals as an extra motivator to complete purchases.

Competition for customers is fierce, with seemingly unlimited options at a shopper’s disposal, so it’s important to ensure that your strategies produce value that will set you apart from the hundreds of other emails, ads and messages battling for attention during this time. Do this, and all the hard work you’ve put into your holiday marketing plan will begin to pay off.

But remember, the coming and going of Black Friday doesn’t mean your work is over. Far from it. The weeks leading up to Christmas will provide new opportunities to engage with your audiences.

Powered by WPeMatico