The ultimate festive season guide to help retailers engage with customers

Christin Robben / November 2019

There's no bigger season than the festive season. And this goes for both consumers and retailers. The spirit of generosity that's such a hallmark of the season drives us all to shower one another with gifts. For retailers, this is a key moment to engage with customers.

In the month of November, there is that one mark in everyone’s calendar: Black Friday. This retail phenomenon has gone from a one-day sale to an entire weekend (or even a Black Friday month) ending with Cyber Monday, just in time to get ready for Christmas.

For the past 4 years, Black Friday popularity has grown significantly in South Africa. When looking at Black Friday Search interest (ratio of Black Friday searches versus all searches), South Africa is the highest globally. This shows how South African consumers have bought into this retail moment and have high intent to buy.

No matter what your Black Friday and festive season strategy is, this guide will help you see whether you're on the right track for this retail opportunity.

What are your Black Friday deals?

In order to run an effective Black Friday marketing strategy, you need to know what your flagship deals are. Align with your merchandising team or, if you are an agency, align with your client and be part of this conversation. Review the performance and learnings from last year, find out what sold well and what didn’t.

You can run the best marketing campaigns in the world, but if your deals are poor, and don’t resonate with your desired audience, there is no way that you can succeed at this time of the year. Also, be sure to keep track of shopping search interest with Google Trends to see what products are trending in your category.

Start early and map out your promotional calendar

South African consumers start searching for Black Friday deals in October, so it is crucial to start planning a festive calendar early, and finalise campaign budgets. Ensure that your digital promotions and campaigns are layered onto this calendar so that everything is scheduled to be delivered smoothly.

It is also important to be prepared in case trouble arises, so set up a crisis response plan with on-call contacts, and checklists against your plans for your campaign and website.

Be top of mind throughout the festive season

Amazing deals don’t always speak for themselves. Highlight what makes your brand and deals stand out and encourage shoppers to explore what you have to offer. During this competitive time, consumers have less brand loyalty and will go after the best deal.

Use this opportunity to connect with potential customers through leveraging Google's Retail In-Market and Black Friday Shopper audiences with Search, Display, and YouTube. With South Africa being mobile-first, most retail searches happen on mobile, so adapt your marketing strategy to this mobile-first consumer behaviour.

Drive online sales

Now that you have created awareness around your Black Friday deals, it’s time to put lower-funnel performance campaigns to work. Ensure that you have a dedicated shopping and search campaign for your seasonal products and monitor your impression share closely over this period.

Also, pay attention to your high value customers, re-engage with your repeat customers as well as customers who have browsed your website. These are audiences that are more likely to come back and buy.

Get shoppers into stores

If you have a storefront, make sure that you update your trading hours and location listings on Google My Business. After delivery cut-offs have passed, shoppers will turn to local shops to find what they need.

Consider increasing your location bid adjustment around your retail stores with location extensions across Search, Shopping, Display and YouTube campaigns during times like these where you expect more foot traffic.

Start with the end in sight

The festive season is a hectic but exciting time. Use the months before peak season to build brand awareness and traffic while testing new tactics to find growth opportunities. When the festive period hits, you'll have a strong foundation to propel your business forward by connecting with more shoppers and driving sales.

Share our link, with colleagues and industry friends and be sure to follow us on social media. We're @GoogleAfrica on Twitter, Think with Google on LinkedIn, and Google Africa on YouTube. Check out some recommended stories below to read more.

How 2 SMBs entered new markets: A playbook for crossing borders