Could Black Friday be the new Christmas for marketers? While Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales surpassed all expectations last year, sales leading up to the festive period couldn’t match these peaks. So, to avoid being left with empty baskets this December, brands must apply lessons learnt from 2014’s surprise spend shift.

In 2015, UK consumers are expected to spend £42 billion online and in-store today alone, and marketers need to devise Christmas strategies that encourage shoppers to continue to spend after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, to ensure traditional Christmas sales are not overshadowed.

So what can marketers do at this late stage to keep consumers spending post Black Friday and throughout December?

Expand sales beyond a couple days

The clear appeal of Black Friday for consumers is the size, variety, and frequency of discounts available. To expand consumer shopping beyond one day, retailers and brands need to provide a range of offers throughout December to encourage sustained spend all the way through to the post-Christmas sales. Consumers are constantly browsing the internet for inspiration, making this a vital channel for targeting shoppers and converting them to buyers in the lead up to Christmas and the week before New Year.

Even where Black Friday has existed for years in the US, traffic between Christmas and New Years is equal to two Cyber Mondays, indicating the potential for lucrative sales throughout the holiday period, despite early consumer spend on Black Friday. 

Embrace multi-channel

To truly engage Christmas shoppers, marketers need to ensure mobile is at the core of their digital plans. According to Criteo’s Q2 State of Mobile Commerce report, 40% of all ecommerce transactions are from consumers using multiple devices to make a single purchase. Marketers must deliver a consistent message in their advertising that is seamless regardless of the combination of devices being used.  This is especially important for shoppers who are in a hurry to complete their festive shopping.

Mobile devices have empowered consumers to research products on the move, with 47% of consumers citing the ability to compare prices on mobile while in-store as their favourite thing about shopping via mobile phone. Marketers need to devise mobile interactions that assist consumers with their offline shopping journeys – for example, ads that lead users straight to the point of sale – particularly in the run-up to Christmas, when shoppers are looking to take the most efficient path to purchase.

Target campaigns

It is important to serve highly relevant messaging to successfully engage consumers. Marketers must leverage advertising platforms that use consumer data relating to searches and products viewed to ensure products are seen at the right time and on the right device. Many more browsers begin and complete their journey to conversion on retail sites, not brand websites, so brands need to ensure their products are present where consumers are actually shopping rather than relying on their own websites to drive sales.

Native formats, such as product listing ads that are driven by search results on retail sites and click in directly to product description pages, can drive both researchers and impulse buyers further down the path to purchase, encouraging consideration and increasing rates of conversion. By ensuring product pages include all the required information – such as size and installation details, images from all angles, and user reviews – marketers can reduce the need for additional research, increasing the chances of browsers turning into buyers. These methods make the transition from consideration to conversion as easy as possible for consumers, especially in the festive season when competition is intensified.

The Christmas shopping journey has seen dramatic change in recent years and marketers need to be more aware than ever of consumers’ needs, and shape their strategies around them. It is no longer enough to simply serve a generic display ad to all consumers on all sites. Marketers need to promote their product ads to targeted audiences from now through to New Year to promote an overall increase in profit rather than simply transferring spend from Christmas to Black Friday.

By making the shopping journey as easy as possible and creating strategies that guide consumers down the path to purchase, marketers can promote sales throughout the festive season – not just on high profile sales days – and ensure Black Friday does not become the Grinch that steals Christmas.