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Continuing from my last post (How Small Businesses Can Dominate Digital), it’s time to get ready for the impending doom of Black Friday, that pre-Christmas explosion of human greed that really makes you question your involvement in society. As a retailer, it’s your responsibility to improve the situation for customers as much as possible – and that means preparing right now. Read on to find out what you need to start doing now!
Will consumers choose to stay at home and shop online this year? We’ve all seen shocking scenes in the news of people crawling over each other to get their hands on a pair of jeans, or a cheap TV or some other life-enriching gizmo. At the time of writing, the Black Friday death toll stands at seven (with 98 injured). That’s an almost impressive level of commitment to shopping.
But nobody seems deterred. If anything, this Black Friday looks set to be the biggest in the UK yet, as last year’s crazy statistics made sure everyone was aware of it. And this year, even more consumers will be turning to their desktops, laptops and touchscreen thingies – possibly due to a fear of being trampled or punched to death by a mob of fellow shoppers.
If previous years are anything to go by, this one’s going to be big online.
Consumers are interesting creatures. We seldom know what we want until someone tells us what we want. People have often made their minds up about the product they intend to buy by the time they come to market due to previous experience, word of mouth or mass-exposure advertising, but where they will buy it from is still up for grabs.
At other times, they need more information, or some kind of reassurance that they’re making the right choice. Reviews, especially in prestigious publications, can really boost confidence in a product – or they can be a deal-breaker.
Big purchases, like laptops and flat-screen TVs, generally come on the back of some pretty hefty online research. Things like food and clothing tend to be somewhat more whimsical purchases, but fashion and cooking blogs do have a major influence on the final purchase. Food and fashion shoppers may seem to be a little less analytical as there’s usually no spec sheet to a potato or dress, whereas laptops and TVs may appear to be heavier on the numbers. This isn’t really the case, though, as branding, brand loyalty and the sense of ‘what this laptop/smartphone says about me’ is just as strong with those products as with any others.
End users want to think they’ve made a free choice, discovering things by chance based on their uniqueness and individual personality. We know, as marketers, that this is, in fact, all orchestrated and a huge amount of influence has been exerted by the time of purchase. Free will might be off limits to the man upstairs, then, but down on Earth we have plenty of techniques for manipulating the buyer’s mind.
The ‘buying cycle’ is often talked about, and often ignored. This is where content comes into play. User reviews, product demos, non-boilerplate product descriptions, [product A] vs [product B] comparisons, long-term product road tests, image galleries, news stories, offers, reminder emails… The list is longer still. Being the e-commerce retailer with all the answers at all stages gives you the upper hand in each situation, an element of trust on each view and a far better chance of getting the conversion you desire.
There’s an epic Koozai blog post covering the buying cycle. Read it – you’ll get some great ideas from a content marketing pro.
So, what are you waiting for? Here’s what you need to start preparing right now:
Build an online rapport with potential customers now, before pushing Black Friday weekend. How do you find these people? Easy. No, really, it is. I searched #decisions in Twitter and found this within five seconds:
Do you have content that can answer that question? Link to it. Can you beat the price on one of the products mentioned? Give them something that makes their choice easier. Offer a discount. Win the customer. You’re then in on the ground floor; keep it up and you’ve got a customer for life!
I could have done this with brands, products or anything else. Choose something you sell and try it with that too. Instant customer service points and no hard sell!
If you haven’t started to prepare, it’s not too late – but don’t leave it any longer. Clear the diary and get writing, planning and researching your new customers.
Put together a PPC campaign. Put together your content plan. Get some staff on Twitter and Facebook. Start drawing in the net.
This will give you so much more power come Christmas time, too – all that preparation is going to pay off big time. So what are you waiting for?!