Revive Black Friday Before It’s Too Late

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Black Friday has been the busiest shopping day of the year since 2005. But for many brick-and-mortar retailers, shopping the day after Thanksgiving just isn’t what it used to be.

In 2014, for instance, spending on Black Friday fell for the first time since 2008, down 11% from the previous year. In 2012, social media conversations about Black Friday dropped by 72 percent. And that’s not the worst of the bad news for retailers: Last year, only 23 percent of American adults said they planned to use the day to shop in stores.

Is this the start of the end for in-store shopping on every retailer’s favorite holiday?

Probably not. But what these recent trends suggest is that consumer enthusiasm for Black Friday is declining. And if retailers want to survive and thrive this holiday season, they’ll need to do more than rely on tired old routines and promotions.

So how can retailers revive Black Friday, reinvigorate sales, and reignite consumer interest? We offer three suggestions.

1. Learn from the Past

The first step to creating effective ad campaigns that entice consumers to visit on Black Friday is gaining a deep understanding of your ideal audience. Historical location data can provide brands with the rich insights they need to craft personalized and highly effective ad campaigns.

Let’s say a sports brand specializing in running shoes wants to target sporty individuals in the market for new sportswear. How can they be sure their target audience is comprised of runners in need of a sneaker upgrade? By looking at historical location data. With it, the brand can identify their ideal audience by singling out consumers who regularly visit the local gym, the smoothie bar, or the nearby Nike store.

2. Keep an Eye on the Apps

Advertisers can then couple their historical location data with other rich sources of information, such as app usage.

What can you learn about consumers based on the apps they use? A lot. This is what we quickly realized here at Blis, where we work with PushSpring, a company specializing in crafting ideal audiences based on app usage. A hotel chain, for example, can identify their perfect audience of frequent travelers by taking a look at which consumers regularly use the Kayak and Amtrak apps on their phone.

The sportswear brand in the section above, for example, can narrow their ideal audience down even further by focusing on consumers that use fitness apps. Or, if they are specifically trying to push their new range of running shoes, they can serve ads only to those individuals who regularly visit the gym and use a running app. Chances are these individuals would be more likely to buy an early Christmas gift and treat themselves to new running shoes.

3. Make In-store Moments Magical

In our digital world, it’s easier to browse products online then step foot in a store, so brands need to give consumers a reason to brave the Thanksgiving hangover and go out shopping on Black Friday.

Beacon technology—which lets brands know when consumers enter their stores—can help advertisers enhance the in-store experience and bring their brick-and-mortar stores to life.

This is what Macy’s did with their “Walk in and Win” campaign. In the lead-up to Black Friday, the brand used a beacon-enabled campaign to prompt consumers to download their app when they walked into a Macy’s store. Then, on Black Friday, in-store shoppers with the app received push notifications, inviting them to play the game and win prizes.

We may be seeing a waning desire among consumers to wake up at ungodly hours and face the long lines on Black Friday, but there’s still plenty that retailers can do to revamp the biggest retail weekend of the year. When they do, they—like Macy’s—will reap the rewards in terms of increased holiday sales and greater customer engagement.

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