It’s Black Friday Already — Online

Nov. 06, 2012 | by Bill.Franklin

Black Friday shopping evokes images of crowds camping outside retailers for “door buster” deals, but many consumers are already doing their Black Friday shopping online. In fact, consumers began searching for Black Friday deals as early as the end of October. Retailers should act now to be present for the Black Friday shopper by updating their websites and social spaces.

A Lost Black Friday Opportunity?

In 2011, Black Friday overall sales were up 6.6 percent while online sales increased an impressive 24.3 percent year over year. Forecasts from comScore estimate these growth trends to continue for the 2012 holiday season, with brick-and-mortar-stores seeing a 2.8 percent rise in sales, and online sales increasing by 15.2 percent.

Black Friday

Retailers with brick-and-mortar locations have traditionally built excitement for holiday shopping by placing decorations early on in the season and slowly increasing the amount of holiday presence. However this practice has typically been woefully neglected online. Online retailers often wait until the last days before Black Friday to put up any content, or worse, on Black Friday itself. At best, most retailers will put up a landing page with limited content.

The issue with this approach is that digital consumers are not waiting until Black Friday to start the buying cycle; they are researching long in advance. As early as the end of October, consumer searches around Black Friday begin and continue increasing weekly until peaking on the day of the sales. Unfortunately, most retailers do not provide adequate content to capitalize on this interest until the very peak of the shopping season.

Black Friday searches

Because of the lack of content available on retail sites before Black Friday, third-party deal aggregators hold top rankings for terms related to the holiday. Retailers are losing out not only on traffic from “Black Friday” terms, but also branded terms related to the holiday.

What Can Retailers Do?

Retailers need to focus on producing relevant, quality content and give search engines time to begin ranking content. Ideally, all of the following tactics should be employed in unison. Because doing so is not always possible, I have described tactics of varying effectiveness:

Good:  At the very minimum a Black Friday holding page should be put on your website in the weeks or months leading up to the holidays. Include this URL within your sitemap feeds to ensure that search engines find the URL well ahead of the holidays.

Better:  Use an evergreen landing page as the primary entry point for Black Friday shoppers. Use a combination of static, optimized content as well as dynamic product content.

Best:  Create a Black Friday social hub. Aggregate content about your Black Friday deals. Allow consumers to interact and speculate. Propagate content and early promotions to foster engagement.

Whether you opt to produce a landing page or a full social experience, make you act in a timely manner. The sooner you publish your holiday sale content, the sooner you can begin increasing your visibility and capitalizing on pre-sale search interest.

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    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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