Tyler Durden’s guide to Black Friday marketing
5 minutes read time | 27 November 2019
The first rule of Black Friday marketing is: you do not talk about Black Friday.
Do you know what the second rule of Black Friday marketing is? YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT BLACK FRIDAY!
As for the rest of Black Friday? There are no rules. This discounting race-to-the-bottom economic madhouse has been picking up steam for the better part of a decade and has now become one of the premiere events in the year’s retail calendar.
For retailers, it’s a golden opportunity to clear out old stock and pump up revenue numbers in the run up to the lucrative holiday shopping season. For consumers, it’s a day when, as Tyler Durden once put it, “We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like” (and maybe to snag a few good deals along the way). And for marketers, it’s time to roll out the carefully conceived and executed Black Friday campaigns we’ve been working on for weeks (if not months).
But in marketing, as is so often the case with such things, there’s a catch. It’s rules #1 and #2 of Black Friday marketing. Remember them? You do not talk about Black Friday. If you already are, you should probably stop, and if you aren’t yet, you probably shouldn’t start.
“You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake”
Do you know what’s going to happen in the days and weeks leading up to Black Friday? Everybody – EVERYBODY – is going to be launching Black Friday marketing campaigns. Ask yourself: what makes your campaign so special?
To say that the modern marketing landscape is a crowded one would be to put it mildly. Digital marketing experts estimate that the average American is exposed to somewhere between 4,000 and 10,000 advertising messages during an average day. Sounding like everyone else simply doesn’t cut the marketing mustard anymore. Finding ways to stand out from the crowd, cut through the noise, and engage modern digital audiences has become digital marketing’s most acute problem.
Using unique language in your brand’s marketing is no longer a luxury, it’s become an absolute marketing necessity. Need proof? Well, you’re in luck…
“On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero”
Here at Phrasee, we’ve always suspected that the use of Black Friday language in marketing campaigns at the same time as everybody else risks being a fool’s errand. So, being the stats nerds that we are, we decided to run the numbers at scale.
Our extensive analysis of Black Friday email campaigns looks at the performance of subject lines that include the words “Black Friday” and subject lines that make no mention of Black Friday at all.
Here are some examples of the subject lines we tested:
Guess what our tests revealed? In almost half of the split tests we analyzed, the subject line which didn’t include the words “Black Friday” generated more email opens than the one which did. Our conclusion: while language variants that mention Black Friday might have an edge in some cases, the non-Black Friday subject lines win often enough that you shouldn’t ignore them. The data we collected flies in the face of conventional Black Friday marketing wisdom that says that having a Black Friday sale and advertising it as such are retail imperatives at this time of year.
“How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?”
Does this mean that the audience engagement data we collected will hold true for every single brand and retailer on earth? Probably not. But that’s kind of the point.
Everyone knows that Black Friday is an important day for discount marketing. Brands know it, consumers know it, and retailers know it. That’s why we all invest time and effort into executing the best Black Friday marketing we can come up with each and every year.
But what if the things we “know” are wrong? What if the strategies we are deploying in our marketing efforts aren’t making our campaigns perform better? What if, like the Black Friday marketing language most brands are broadcasting to their audiences right this very minute, they are actually having just the opposite effect? What if doing exactly the opposite would do more to help us accomplish our marketing goals?
These are all valid questions, and only rigorous testing at scale can answer them definitively. Every brand is different, and every brand’s audience is different. What works for one brand might not work for another, and what works today might fall completely flat tomorrow.
If the same old, same old and sounding like everybody else approach hasn’t been working for you and your brand, isn’t it time you tried something different?
“I say never be complete. I say stop being perfect. I say let’s evolve. Let the chips fall where they may.”
In the homogeneity of the KPI-driven modern digital marketing landscape, risk-taking is at an all-time low. In all likelihood, this Black Friday season will largely resemble last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. Your timelines and email inboxes will be filled to bursting with Black Friday marketing campaigns, the vast majority of which will amount to little more than white noise in our digital days.
As the data has shown, there is an opportunity here for those brands willing to buck the trend and approach this strange holiday from a different angle.
And here’s an idea: the brands that successfully differentiate themselves should celebrate by beating each other senseless in the parking lot at the end of the day. Because isn’t that what Black Friday is really all about?
Fight Club is the intellectual property of 20th Century Fox.