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Best times to advertise for specific events

ByDave Stopher

Jun 2, 2018

As a brand, it’s vital to have an understanding of when to seize an advertising opportunity around events that are targeted to bring in sales — such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the entire Christmas period. To investigate further, we’ve teamed up with Cleveland College of Art and Design, which offers a digital design degree, to look at the comparison of marketing techniques around seasonal campaigns.

But before that, we will put everything into context by showing you consumer behaviour data for Black Friday and Boxing Day over the years:

Black Friday sales

What was once was an all-American holiday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday made its way across the Atlantic in 2010 — however, not many of us noticed at the time. In 2010, Amazon introduced ‘Black Friday discounts’ to its British consumers, which then had a snowball effect. Now, most retailers around Britain battle for consumer attention — and whether they’re successful or not comes down to their advertising techniques.

One benefit to Black Friday is that it’s a date that is in every shopper’s diary. It proves the perfect opportunity for consumers to get goods at a discounted price. November is the new December! Consumers are looking for the best deals that will potentially go towards Christmas presents for loved ones — and that third cousin who buys for you, so you feel obliged to return the favour! Whatever the scenario, Black Friday has managed to market itself organically in the minds of British consumers.

In 2016, consumers spent £1.23bn on Black Friday — which showed a 12.2% increase on the previous year. In 2015, £1.1bn was spent on Black Friday in the UK. The day after saw shoppers spend £561m with sales that continued across the weekend. Sunday saw a higher result of spend in Britain with consumers cashing out £676m. Cyber Monday, which has close ties to the Black Friday event, saw £968m worth of shopping.

With Black Friday ending and Boxing Day sales approaching, we can see that the number of orders placed on Black Friday were up by 9% on 2016, according to Ometria. The same source said that revenue increased for companies by 10% over the Black Friday weekend showing that this is a great marketing opportunity for businesses. In terms of advertising, mass emails accounted for 50% more total revenue than usual.

John Lewis performed particularly well on Black Friday, with sales at the department store rising by 7.2% to £214m. Products that sold well included those relating to beauty, with sales going up to 27.5%. Electrical products went up by 9.3% and women’s fashion by 8.3%.

Boxing Day sales

Boxing Day was the British version of Black Friday, enticing UK shoppers to grab as many bargains ahead of the New Year. This is an event that happens across different British territories, too. However, many people believe that the introduction of Black Friday in the UK has had a huge impact on Boxing Day sales.

Similar to Black Friday, the Boxing Day sale craze that was once the most popular day of sales has organically marketed itself into the minds of British consumers. But with Black Friday lurking close by, it would seem that the anticipation for Boxing Day sales has vanished…

In 2016, figures showed that 23% of people braved the Boxing Day crowds and went shopping, however, this was a significant drop from 32% in 2015. Is it possible consumers already snapped up the best deals from the Black Friday sales that occurred a month earlier? The research shows that this was the likely cause. Boxing Day sales in 2016 had dipped by 6.7% on 2015’s results. This included clothing stores, where they had a small drop of 3.2%.

When is the best time to advertise and how?

When it comes to marketing for a seasonal event, such as Black Friday and Boxing Day, the way you market is similar yet so different. It’s important to start with email marketing and communicating with your current newsletter subscribers first. They were kind enough to give you their details, now it’s your duty to give them a light and ‘exclusive’ reminder that your store will be providing sales on the corresponding date that you’re wanting to promote.

However, a simple reminder will not resonate immediately, this is when you need to entice them further and mention that in the run up to the date, you’ll release a discount code for them to use as ‘exclusive members’ of your newsletter tribe. After you’ve sent your first, the news that your store will be offering discounts will travel through word of mouth and potentially get coverage from bloggers and seasonal discount posts by larger publications. We recommend that you start your email advertising at the beginning of November for Black Friday and mid-December for Boxing Day sales, which doesn’t give your consumers too much of a long wait. According to Custora, 25.1% of Black Friday sales originated from email marketing, showing that this is a beneficial way to influence an audience.

Email advertising can be complicated — it’s important that you schedule your emails to go out at an appropriate time for different time zones, to ensure your message doesn’t end up at the bottom of somebody’s inbox. It’s also important to use language which will equal an action such as “Save the date!” or “Add this to your calendar”. Remember that you could create a segmentation for different customers, those who have been loyal and those who are relatively new — the same campaign targeting two types of people in different styles.

Social media is another powerful tool. With 2.07 billion of monthly active users on Facebook, 800 million on Instagram and 330 million monthly active users on Twitter — it would be a mistake to ignore the huge opportunity that comes with a free platform that provides the potential to reach millions of people. When it comes to advertising, start organically and reach your current followers. As the date comes closer, whether this is the 24th of November or 26th of December, start paid promotions to increase awareness for the deals that you have. Using influencers is another good way to get brand recognition, however, this is highly dependent on the type of industry you are operating in.

In conclusion, it’s important to prepare in advance and then advertise accordingly when the event is closer. Once you start advertising, people will be able to become more familiar with your brand and start looking at reviews. Online reputation becomes crucial at this point, as 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business and 88% of consumers trust online reviews as if they were coming from a friend.