The Increasingly Digital Influence of Black Friday

There’s a reason search engine results encompassing “Black Friday” include intense survival guides: the day after Thanksgiving is notoriously known as the ultimate shopping day for deals.

Last year, the number of consumers shopping on the days following Thanksgiving increased from 138 million to 152 million. The National Retail Federation predicts a 4% year-over-year increase in store sales this season, plus a strong 12% growth in online shopping. Traditionally a day in which shoppers line up outside stores before the crack of dawn, some of that dedication to deals is transitioning to digital.

Both in-store and online shopping on Black Friday this year requires digital marketing for retailers. Search engine optimization (SEO), paid media, and social media optimization (SMO) should all be included in your strategy. Consumer customization – by way of exclusive coupons, email deals and mobile optimization – is becoming increasingly necessary as well.

SEO is especially important when it comes to consumers searching for specific products, deals and store locations. Sites should be optimized by way of on-page, off-page and local SEO – including content, reviews, linking and location pages.

Since the bargain day begins early, shoppers often start with a plan based on the best advertised merchandise and prices. This is commonly devised through paid media as well as social marketing. One well-known brand that has consistently engaging ads is Target. Their quirky commercials featuring the “Crazy Target Lady” were replaced by the “Deals Duet” this year.

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Around 85% of retailers report sending out an email to their customers about Black Friday deals last year. Other advertising methods, such as paid search and social ads, are greatly effective in reaching consumers researching discounted products. Newegg.com, for example, will be sending out advertisements of their deals primarily through email discounts codes:

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Often searched for along with retail ads are specialty coupon websites – 23.1% of consumers are expected to visit these sites. Nearly half of retailers plan to offer their own coupons, along with free shipping and limited-time promotions throughout the entire holiday season.

Commonly accessed both from mobile and desktop devices, social media sites play a large role in Black Friday. About three quarters of retailers will use their Facebook page to reach shoppers, and a little over half will use Twitter. Consumers can also use social networks to search for specific brand pages to view their deals, or hashtags on Twitter to see the inside scoop on all discussions surrounding Black Friday. As seen below, the popular toy store Toys “R” Us is already promoting their Thanksgiving sales on Facebook. They’ve received a lot of engagement in response – 100 shares, 85 comments and 993 likes on just one post.

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As smartphone reliance and usage continues to increase, mobile search and advertising efforts are expected to pick up as well. An estimated 60 million used their devices last year to shop online, research purchases and seek retailer information. Google estimates that four out of five shoppers will use their smartphones and tablets for “comparing prices, locating nearby stores, and searching for coupons” during the 2012 holiday season.

It’s critical to ensure you have a mobile presence on social media, along with an optimized site. SEO, SMO and paid media tactics should all be incorporated into your brand’s digital marketing strategy this year. Black Friday has extreme sales potential, and bringing in new customers now will continue to convert throughout the next year.

Contact ZOG Digital for a digital marketing audit today!

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