Avoiding a Blue Christmas, post Black Friday

According to the Centre of Economics and Business Research (CEBR) online prices are falling at their highest rate for five years. With the festive price war already in full flow, competition in the run-up to Christmas is fierce. With discounts everywhere a customer looks, whether they browse online or in store, how do brands compete for those all-important sales?

New research from Deloitte has revealed that ten per cent of all in-store UK sales will be influenced by smartphones this December, with the devices acting as decision-making tools for over £2.1 billion worth of transactions. In addition, more than half of us use our smartphones to access social networks on a daily basis, so it doesn’t take a marketing genius to figure out that social presents some great opportunities to promote seasonal offerings.

Black Friday recently provided brands with a huge chance to engage with their online communities. The Salesforce Marketing Cloud found the event generated sentiment which was over 60% positive in the UK (in comparison to the US, which displayed just 50%). This suggests that companies have a great opportunity to promote their seasonal offerings; tapping into an enthusiastic fan base via their social media channels.

Apple and Amazon were the brands most frequently mentioned in the Black Friday conversation, but there is still a big opportunity for UK companies to capitalise on the festive buzz; promoting their seasonal deals to an active online community during the Christmas shopping season.

Companies can stand out from the social crowd by following these top three tips:

 1.       Use words that sell

Last year, Eight sales keywords within Black Friday and Cyber Monday Posts were analysed to determine which received the highest engagement. Engagement rates with posts containing “coupon” were twice as high as the average. Other words that received high engagement included “deal” and “sale.” Brands need to appeal to today’s bargain hunt mentality in their posts and use the language which appeals most:

2.       Keep it simple

People are more responsive if you ask less of them – they’re much more likely to sign up for discounts if they can do it at the click of a mouse rather than filling out a form, for example. Recent research into the subject found that simple directions such as ‘like’ and ‘post’ generated the highest levels of interaction. The case is very similar with Twitter, as the data suggested that asking followers to simply ‘retweet’ drove 12 times more engagement, boosting the chances of additional click-throughs to a company’s website and the purchase of those all-important stocking fillers.

3.       Don’t turn your customer into a Grinch – focus on quality over quantity

The seasonal shopping spree is frantic enough without brands flooding timelines left, right and centre. Companies need to avoid posting too frequently, as this will prevent their updates from being hidden during those all-important weeks.

Brands that post one or two times per day see 19% higher interaction rates than those who post three or more times per day. The key is not to bombard fans with too many posts, as Facebook News Feed Optimisation often penalizes for this. Additionally, interaction rates are high among brands that post seven or less times during the week.

Pages that post more than seven times per week see a 25% decrease in interaction rates. Companies need to analyse their Page’s historical performance, identify when their fans engage the most, and then post more frequently on those days (and less on the others).

Xabier Ormazabal , Product Marketing Director at salesforce.com.