Your team plays a really important and big role in the success of Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales - and one of the areas that you mentioned is really important is actually putting the customer experience first. Could you tell us how your team came to this realization?
Let me take a step back and talk about my view on how to build a strong brand, and why the customer experience is an essential part of that. So 20 years ago you could put up a billboard with a celebrity and tell people that you are trustworthy and have a great product, but that doesn’t work anymore. Today you really have to prove it since you have so many touch points with the customer, both before and after the purchase decision.
So, as an example, majority of our customers have about 5 touch points before converting - so that’s a lot! And as a part of that journey they have access to other customer reviews, they see our content offsite, they might be reached by our remarketing efforts or emails. And if they do choose to place an order we have all of the communication tied to the order itself - with the delivery experience following and perhaps the experience of talking to customer service.
I think the amount of information about the product and your company that the customer digests before making a purchase today is amazing. And I think these touch points are opportunities, but they are also potential pitfalls, and as a Digital Marketer you can always use tools to increase the feeling of scarcity and urgency in the customer to increase your conversion; in the most basic form you show the customer a popup saying that there’s 3 products left and they have 5 minutes left to place the order, and I’m sure those tools will lead to an increase in your conversion, but it doesn’t lead to a better customer experience in the end.
How did you get buy-in from the rest of the company that this is an important element to focus on?
Black Friday is an amazing stress-test for your organizational capabilities. And creating Black Friday routines has been essential for us - it is, after all, the same event every year so it shouldn’t be a surprise for us. So, if you’re working with Black Friday in a cross-functional team my advice would be to document every small detail - every detail of your price collaboration across departments, and if it requires timelines down to the minute so be it if you need it. I would also say that incentive structures of all the departments should, in one way or another, be tied to your overall profit - I think then everyone will see the benefits of Black Friday in their own numbers as well.
How do you go about securing a great customer experience?
I think you should manage expectations, and especially managing expectations in the context of Black Friday. In the end you are responsible for the entire customer experience, you can never tell your customer that it was the logistic partner or the payment service provider that messed up - you are responsible for the customer experience.
And there are, of course, some obvious pitfalls you can avoid when it comes to marketing. For example, relabeling clearance items as Black Friday sales items, or putting out offers on items that you know you have very few quantities of.
Even with customer experience at top of mind, you still need to be focusing on and optimizing your ad spend and ensuring that you’re actually having a healthy ROAS. What’s your team’s overall Black Friday strategy?
I think there are 3 steps that you should take to secure a good ROAS and be confident in your profit at the end. First of all you need to have a fundamentally good understanding of where your profit comes from. So we talk about how important it is to collaborate across teams, and this is not only important for executing on your Black Friday plans but it’s also important for understanding where your profitability comes from. So it might sound silly, but when you work in a large organization you have to make an effort to understand all of the custom revenue streams that are in your gross margin. And, preferably, you would like to understand them on an order or even a product level. And I think you need to really understand this, and more, because your task is always to optimize towards the bottom line profit.
The second thing would be defining clear goals. Do you have customer intake as a goal, or is it data gathering that’s your primary goal? Or are you focused on volume or profit? It’s probably a combination of those, and it’s that combination that makes your Black Friday goals unique.
And then, finally, you should create a plan and stick to it and execute that plan.
What are you and your team measuring, and how did you decide on these metrics?
I think the purpose of measuring is always to learn. And I play a lot of tennis, so let me use a tennis metaphor here - when you’re on the court and you strike the ball, you immediately feel if it’s a clean hit or not and then you see the ball go over to the opponent's side, and see how they react and where it lands. And then 5 seconds later you get the opportunity to improve your swing. And those kinds of immediate feedback loops and that kind of constant improving, that’s also what we’re looking for in our performance marketing.
And that’s also what we’re looking for in our Performance Marketing when we’re putting together our KPIs and measurements.
We look at Cost of Sale, and Cost of Profit, Profit after Performance Costs, Customer Intake, Impression Share in the market and so on. And we do this for all the channels in all of our countries.
What’s your favorite KPI to measure Black Friday success?
If I were to pick one KPI it actually wouldn’t be performance marketing related - I would actually pick the beta for the business segment because that is the bottom line, you don’t get more bottom line than the beta. So that’s the KPI that I think encompasses all of the other KPIs. However, we can only report on it once per quarter.
Any other learnings from previous Black Fridays/Cyber Mondays you’d like to share?
I think it helps if you can show the rest of the organization what they can learn from Black Friday, and what they can take with them from Black Friday and use in their day-to-day work as well. If you’re a company that’s growing you can actually look at your Black Friday volumes today as normal volumes a few years down the line. So if you look at it that way Black Friday is actually an excellent opportunity for you to identify the bottlenecks you have today that you will encounter in the future.
And of course, have fun - It’s a great holiday and weekend in Ecommerce. And try to involve the whole company.