By Jake Meador | 15 Oct 2020
In 2010, 4% of all internet traffic was mobile-based. By 2020 that number had grown to 51%. Statistically speaking, your website probably has more people visiting from a smartphone or tablet than from a laptop or desktop machine. The chart below shows how dramatically (and quickly!) this trend has emerged:
It’s not just that more people are using their phones to access the internet though, important as that is. If that was all that had changed over the past ten years perhaps it wouldn’t, in itself, be that significant for retailers.
However, alongside the rise of mobile we have also seen the rise of Ecommerce. The best way of understanding that is to actually look at Cyber Monday sales over the past decade:
Ten years ago retail was primarily in-person. When people did shop online, they mostly did so via a laptop or desktop. In 2020, neither of those things are still true. In fact, in 2018 roughly ⅔ of all ecommerce shoppers were shopping on mobile devices.
Additionally, when you factor in how COVID-19 is likely to incentivize people to shop from home this year, it is likely that we are headed for the highest mobile and ecommerce sales numbers ever posted. Last year we saw $2.9b in mobile sales on Black Friday. How much higher will the number be this year?
Given all these trends, it’s obvious that the methods that drove major Black Friday success in 2010 simply do not work in 2020. Most of your sales this year will come online and most of those sales will come on mobile.
Given all of that data, the most important question a retailer should be asking themselves right now is this: How are you going to use mobile to promote your sales this Black Friday?
What makes mobile distinctive for retail purposes is its immediacy. People can’t use laptops to look up a sale you’re offering or make a purchase while they’re running errands or inside a store. With a phone they can. Phones are also an obvious “second screen” that consumers can and do use while at home watching TV. In fact, Ars Technica reports that 88% of Americans will check their phone or laptop while watching a show.
In other words, mobile gives you immediate access to consumers in a way that other kinds of devices do not.
What this means for you, as a retailer, is that mobile is the single best way to let consumers know about what deals you’re offering, when the deal will be available, what they need to do to get it, and so on.
And here’s the key: If you’re focusing on mobile, you should be focusing on text messaging rather than email or social media.
The answer is simple: Everyone reads their texts. But around 80% of people won’t read your emails and 95% of your Facebook fans won’t see your post.
The first step to a successful BFCM campaign is:
choosing what items you will have on sale
what kind of discounts you will offer
when sales will start and end, and so on.
Next, you need to make contingency plans: What happens if you sell out sooner than expected? What if your website gets overwhelmed with traffic? You need to have plans to handle these kinds of potential problems. (NOTE: If you need help planning your Black Friday sales, this guide from the folks at Digital Strike is great.)
Once you have done that, it’s time to start planning your marketing strategy.
A successful BFCM strategy is going to start early and rely on a blending of broadcast-based marketing strategies, such as Google Ads or Facebook posts and ads as well as consent-based methods, such as email and text messaging.
The broadcast methods allow you to reach a large audience; the consent-based methods allow you to nurture and close those leads.
Where many marketing strategies go wrong is that they only focus on one of these methods. The result is people who only use broadcast-style marketing usually have terrible conversion rates while the people who focus on consent-based channels often lack a sufficiently large audience.
Successful marketing needs a large audience and high conversion rates. And if you use broadcast and consent methods, you can have both.
Google Ads, Facebook posts, Facebook Ads, and even Google Posts can be a great way to get the word out about an upcoming sale. You should keep three things in mind while writing these ads:
First, the goal of your broadcast marketing content is to provoke action. If it’s a Google Ad, you want to get the viewers to click through to your website. If it’s a Facebook Ad, it might be to get them to click through to the website or to sign up for SMS alerts from your business.
Second, you want to promote very specific, highly valuable offers. So do not advertise “Black Friday Sales,” but “25% off winter outdoor gear between 6am and noon on Black Friday. Click through for more information.”
Third, think about your broadcast method as one link in a relatively long marketing chain or funnel. The mistake many businesses make is they approach Google Ads with an under-defined plan for how they move a person from “they saw our Google Ad” to “they are now a customer.” Instead, identify the next step you want someone to take after seeing the ad. And then identify whatever other steps need to happen before they become a customer.
One particular use for your broadcast channels should be growing your marketing lists for your consent-based channels. Offer benefits that will incentivize people to share their email address or, better still, their phone numbers.
By doing that, you make it possible to market to that person not only via generic ads on Facebook or Google, but also to market to them specifically as an individual via email or texting.
Consent-based methods are best suited to helping move a person from being vaguely aware of your business or sale to being more actively engaged.
It also allows you to begin developing a more specific profile of individual prospects by looking at what messages they look at, what they click on, and what content they ignore.
Essentially, with consent-based marketing methods it becomes easier to both improve lead quality and to identify higher-quality leads.
Of course, one question to consider is whether you should focus your BFCM marketing efforts on email or texting. Should you use broadcast methods to push people toward email or text?
Conventional wisdom would say email, because email is more familiar to most of us. We usually think it is more proven as a marketing channel. That said, there are reasons to favor texting.
First, it is probably best to think of email as being a primarily desktop-based technology and text messaging as being a mobile-based technology.
Why is that? Email lends itself to desktop because emails are often a bit longer, rely on more design features, etc. On laptops and desktops this makes sense as they have the hardware and computing power needed to handle that kind of communication.
Email on mobile looks quite different—designs are simpler and if you’re writing or reading email on a mobile device, you’re probably writing shorter emails and skimming longer ones that are sent to you.
So while we can use email on mobile, it’s not the best experience. Text messaging, with its brevity and design simplicity, is obviously a much more natural fit with mobile technology.The question you really have to ask is this: Should your BFCM marketing strategy be desktop-first or mobile-first?
We think it should be mobile-first.
First, mobile was already on the rise as of last year. According to Adobe, 39% of all ecommerce sales last year were made on mobile devices. Note: This isn’t including sales in which mobile was used before the customer purchased from a desktop. That 39% figure refers exclusively to sales made on mobile devices. As we head into a holiday shopping season happening in the midst of a pandemic, it is highly likely that mobile shares will spike this year. One study says that COVID has accelerated mobile sales growth by 4-6 years.
If that is the case, then it is quite possible that the majority of your ecommerce sales this year are going to happen on mobile devices. Then factor in the percentage of your desktop ecommerce sales that include one or more touches on mobile devices too and your in-store purchases that include one or more touches on mobile and what you’re left with is this: Mobile technology may be the single most important factor in your BFCM success this year.
If that is true, then it makes sense to build your BFCM marketing plan around the best communication tech for mobile devices, which is text messaging.
Hopefully we have persuaded you that mobile must be central to your holiday marketing strategy and that making mobile central means taking text messaging seriously as a marketing channel. Given all that we’ve said so far, let’s lay out three general principles for successful SMS marketing this Black Friday.
The whole point of consent-based marketing methods is that you can marketing to particular individuals rather than nameless groups.
So what’s the point of doing that if you aren’t going to be smart about it?
As much as possible, build prospects and customer profiles that are tied to a phone number and that show you that person’s past activities and interactions with your brand. By building these kinds of profiles, you can then make hyper-specific marketing messages that you send out to people who you know are far more likely to buy.
For example, if you are a sporting goods retailer gearing up for BFCM, don’t just think about what items you want to sell, but what customers will buy what items. In fact, you could even use this method to identify what items to put on sale.
If you already know, for instance, that you have a large number of skiers that shop with you every winter, put some ski-related merchandise on sale and promote the sale via text messages to people who have bought ski equipment from you in the past. All of the thinking here is very similar to what you’ve likely already done in the past with targeted email campaigns. Now you’re simply doing it with text messaging because most of your customers prefer mobile to desktop and texting is a better mobile communication tool than email.
Learn more: What is SMS Marketing?
One angle to consider in 2020 especially is how long people are likely to be doing holiday shopping. One analyst at TechCrunch expects that the holiday shopping season is likely to be stretched out over a longer period of time this year due to the pandemic. Why? Because higher unemployment numbers and diminished incomes mean that more American consumers are going to be spending more time looking for the best possible deal they can find.
Image Credits: App Annie
The bad news is that this could hurt BFCM sales. The good news is that with text messaging you have an ideal marketing channel for staying front-of-mind with customers. Plus, with texting you are best positioned to be able to send the right deal to the right customer at the right time because texting combines all the already-known strengths associated with email marketing with far higher engagement rates.
Finally, do not make the mistake of thinking of SMS marketing as being a tool for closing ecommerce sales or only being a tool for staying front-of-mind with prospects before they visit your store in-person.
SMS can and should do both of those things for you. Once again, the specificity of the data you have on customers will be key here. If you know what customers regularly buy online, then you know who to encourage to make purchases with your SMS marketing campaigns. Likewise, if you know which customers tend to take much longer to make a decision and eventually end up coming to your store, those will be the customers to target with campaigns more focused on raising awareness.
SMS marketing can and should be a pivotal part of your Black Friday Cyber Monday marketing plan in 2020. It will allow you to target prospects on mobile, which is likely to be especially important in 2020, and to nurture leads more generally, regardless of where the person ends up buying. The benefits to incorporating text messaging into your marketing plan are practically limitless. If you’d like to get started with using SMS marketing today as you gear up for Black Friday 2020, sign up for a free 14-day trial of Mobile Text Alerts.