Chris Cooper
Chris Cooper 23 November 2018

How Amazon can help brands make the most of Black Friday

Black Friday goes well beyond offering simple discounts. Brands that want to succeed over the four-day shopping weekend event need to create an activation plan and make use of consumer-focused content and media. E-commerce giant Amazon lends itself perfectly to this, thanks in part to its wealth of data and in part to its recently restructured advertising product ecosystem. By combining the media offerings of the e-tailer with a holistic marketing campaign across other platforms relevant to the intended audience, brands can optimise the shopper journey, maximising their returns.

Black Friday didn’t arrive in the UK until 2010, when e-commerce giant Amazon promoted a range of discounts to consumers. And it’s been getting bigger ever since. A mainstay in American culture for decades, it has now become a worldwide phenomenon, expanding to a four-day shopper extravaganza. In 2017, the UK spent an estimated £7.8 billion between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and thanks to the snowballing power of e-commerce, sales growth will only continue to increase. Retailers compete to offer the best discounts in order to attract the most shoppers, but with brands battling to capture shoppers’ attentions, activation is key.

The four-day weekend shopping event presents the perfect opportunity to raise brand awareness and generate significant sales in spite of the 96-hour window. Always keep in mind that just because the event is deal-driven doesn’t mean it’s that simple. Discounts have long-term impact, affecting ongoing pricing and profitability and are not necessarily helping brands make long-term gains. Running deals without an activation plan in place to boost them can backfire.

So how should brands go about conquering Black Friday?

Create a holistic activation plan that uses content and media targeted to shoppers to ensure objectives are delivered on.

But in order to go ahead with a plan, brands must first ask certain key questions. Why are they taking part in Black Friday to begin with? Will it help augment brand awareness and bring in new consumers? How will each deal be promoted and what are its objectives? Will they generate incremental sales? Can Black Friday be used to up-sell consumers into premium products? Can it help sweep the floor clean with products that haven’t performed well till then in order to maintain a listing?

Once the objectives have been set, brands need to investigate the audiences that are most likely to help them achieve these. They can then start to flesh out the shopper journey, identifying key touchpoints and barriers that may impact their ability to impact consumers’ purchasing decisions – whether it is for the category or even the brand itself.

Ready, set, then what?

Retailers thankfully offer a wide range of options that brands can reach shoppers with. Amazon is perhaps the best example of a retailer that offers media opportunities for brands to reach shoppers throughout the entire shopper journey. With its advertising product ecosystem only just recently restructured, Amazon provides brands with ample room to target shoppers in the lead up to, as well as during the four-day weekend shopping extravaganza.

Amazon’s Sponsored Ads aid in the discovery process, targeting consumers when they’re engaged and are searching for products. Amazon DSP assists brands in reaching their audience programmatically within the Amazon ecosystem, as well as through its publishing partners. The e-commerce giant assists brands in a variety of targeting goals, from those considered in-market, having previously browsed a particular category through to lifestyle segments for audiences that may be at the earliest stages of the shopper journey.

Amazon Stores meanwhile offers a fully branded shopping experience. Through the creation and curation of multi-page websites within Amazon’s own ecosystem, complete with customisable features and a branded URL, Amazon Stores helps propel a brand’s narrative through text, image and video. This is the perfect place to direct shoppers using media in the earlier stages of the shopper journey. The stores’ analytics suites monitor consumer behaviour, helping brands track ad performance both within and beyond Amazon.

It’s not all down to the retailers’ media offerings however. In order to deliver on their objectives, brands need to deploy a campaign across the platforms most relevant to their audience. Social media, thanks in part to the rise of mobile commerce, plays a pivotal part in the discovery and consideration stages of the shopper journey, especially for categories that lend themselves well to the visual nature of these platforms. According to Facebook IQ, 52% of UK consumers research products on Facebook and Instagram, seeking inspiration and recommendations. In addition, they also use social channels when considering a purchase, with the brand’s own channels affecting their decision process.

Consistency is key when it comes to unified creative across different platforms, as it ensures a brand is thought of at the point of purchase. This doesn’t mean that each individual touchpoint should be identical. Each touchpoint plays a unique role in the overall strategy underpinning the shopper journey, therefore the creative at each point will be directly influenced by what its role is. Brands can optimise the journey and deliver on their objectives by carefully planning all media and content assets that are to be utilised ahead of time.

Sales over the four-day weekend show no signs of slowing down, thanks largely to the growing prevalence of e-commerce. Black Friday has become a key date in the annual retail calendar, as it helps drive awareness and increase consumer engagement. But competition is now hotter than ever with millions of brands all aiming to capture consumers’ attentions at once. Offering discounts without an activation plan can have disastrous results. Brands need to therefore work out the strategy, audiences and channels that can help them deliver their objectives, broadcasting their unique narrative through content and media that cut through the noise.

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