In preparation for Black Friday and Cyber Monday you’ve probably revamped your infrastructure, stacked the fridge with enough Red Bull to last an apocalypse, and read our previous blog on maximising the value on the day. Now, even when everything goes perfectly and sales figures shoot through the roof, it is likely that the actual profit will climb up only slightly because of the heavy discounts needed to pull the traffic in. Where, then, is the value of Black Friday? The answer lies in the potential of converting those new visitors and one-time shoppers into returning customers leading to long term profitability, a metric referred to as LTV (life-time value)…

In this article, you’ll find six insights that will help you to increase the likelihood of capturing that elusive life term value and turn empty sales into tangible profit. The first three cover steps you need to do before the holiday season, and the latter ones provide ideas on making use of that foundation.

Part 1 – Preparation


1. Deliver a delightful shopping experience

When persuading a Black Friday customer to return to your store, the first priority is to offer a great experience on the first point of contact. This seems self-explanatory but it’s good to keep in mind that none of the ideas in this article are going to work if the first experience with your store was a bad one. One of the lowest hanging fruits that cascades into other areas is improving the user experience on the site. By making it easy for your visitors to find relevant products, navigate the site, and finish the purchase you’re simultaneously improving the conversion rate, decreasing bounce rates, and taking away some of the headaches from your support team. What’s more, by being relevant you’re essentially decreasing the amount of clicks thus alleviating the pressure on the servers for the day.

A practical example of improving the user experience is having a ‘Browsing History’ list at the bottom of the page. During time-limited sales like Black Friday people tend to browse faster and more furiously- this means they can often lose their way and forget items that were of interest. By providing them with a constant reminder of those products you make it easier for them to take them to the checkout!

Taft effectively use a browsing history reminder 
at the bottom 
of the page to allow for eays navigation.

For more ideas on improving the on-site experience, see our e-commerce best practice guide


2. Collect behavioral data

Besides a great first experience, another building block to unlocking long-term potential is understanding your visitors and customers on a more individual basis. To do this online we need to dive in deeper waters than the aggregate figures provided by most analytics dashboards (e.g. Google analytics). Behavioral data, which refers to information about every single interaction performed on the site, from clicks to mouse movements, offers a treasure chest of insights about an individual’s potential brand preferences, interests, and even uncovered links between products. During high-traffic events like Black Friday there is more of this data being generated and therefore more opportunity for you to gather insight- don’t let it go to waste. Third-party solutions (yes, like Nosto) make it extremely easy to both collect and automatically analyze this endless stream of data, but it’s also possible to get started by using open source tools like Hadoop.


3. Ask for email addresses from people who engage but don’t buy

During Black Friday abandoned cart rates tend to soar even higher than usual with people comparing deals on multiple sites. Since typically a large percentage of these visitors are first timers, when they leave there’s practically no way you can get back in touch with them which amounts to a huge number of wasted opportunities. That’s why it’s a great idea to use either banner space or a pop-up to encourage visitors to leave those precious email addresses. One of the best moments to make the big ask is when they’re about to leave the store with something in their basket, since they’ve already engaged. To do this use a pop-up triggered by that intention to leave.

Dartington Crystal allow you to save the contents
of your basket by providing your email address

Part 2 – Execution


4. Send personalized emails based on collected intelligence

Alright, you’ve delivered an inspiring experience on D-day, collected valuable data on visitor behavior, and even asked for a bunch of email addresses. Now it’s time to turn that data into useful and actionable information. The first step is setting up email campaigns targeting those people who visited your store during Black Friday. But don’t stop there – use the insight you collected to add relevant product recommendations. Compared to a general newsletter with no personalized elements, this typically multiplies the engagement rate by 8x and encourages your visitors to come back and get the Christmas present or the Valentine’s Day gift for their loved one – this time for full price – from your store.

Melvin & Hamilton personalize their “We miss you” emails
with tailored recommendations combined with best-sellers.

5. Enable Personalized Facebook Ads to re-engage visitors

Another great way to encourage Black Friday visitors back to your store is using the collected data from your sale to personalize your advertising efforts. Facebook particularly is unrivalled in its behavioural targeting possibilities, allowing you to  access to  1.4 billion people. The problem is, with that many people speaking all at once, it is a difficult place to stand out. But a segmentable and captive audience that size combined with the behavioural intelligence that you gathered on-site during Black Friday, could be the answer. In fact, compared to static-one-size-fits-all ads, automated, dynamic product Facebook ads can generate performance improvements of up to 400%*, offering you a powerful way to target customers who have previously visited your store. Recommend products picked just for them by promoting items they browsed but didn’t go on to purchase or items other people looking at the same product went on to buy.

Volcom remind customers of what they have been browsing 
in-store via native Facebook advertising.

6. Welcome returning customer with related recommendations

Assuming we’ve done at least something right, some of the Black Friday visitors will return on your site either for some Christmas shopping or perhaps during the New Year. This is an amazing opportunity to delight your valued guests by welcoming them back with product suggestions specifically tailored to their interests- in fact, customers who click on personalized recomendation elements are 125%* more likely to buy. To offer this on you site, analyse the behavior of their last visit(s), matching that with other similar behavioral patterns and uncovering interesting items that the person hasn’t seen. It may sounds arduous but this type of recommendation tailoring can and should be automated, allowing you to impress shoppers and conver them into life-long customers, all without adding to your workload!

Yumi Kim welcome back customers with personalized product recommendations on their homepage.

Most things in life can be seen as painful obstacles or uplifting challenges. So it is with Black Friday. You can either think of it as annoying mandatory sales period, or as an opportunity to test your readiness for the Christmas period, as well as a possibility to capture long term value of first time customers, dramatically increasing their LTV to your business.

To find out what was said about the life-time value metric in the recent Fashion Digital event in New York last week read our blog.


*Based on Nosto’s own data.