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How to use the US holiday invasion and SMS marketing to boost your sales

Traditionally Boxing Day is the biggest shopping day in the UK. But last year, the US holiday shopping events on Black Friday and Cyber Monday were also huge events in the UK. If you start planning early, you can take advantage of the special days to boost your holiday sales in 2014.

Black Friday is the day after the American holiday Thanksgiving Day, which occurs on the last Thursday of November. The Friday after Thanksgiving is frequently a day off for many, so retail establishments have been offering specials to get shoppers into their stores since the mid-1920s. The term “Black Friday” first appeared in the 1960s and refers to the companies finally being “in the black” financially after the shopping day.

The much more recent Cyber Monday began back in 2005 as a marketing ploy to get shoppers to buy online, rather than fight through the crowds in brick and mortar stores on Black Friday. Both days however, have become shopping traditions for millions of Americans. And now, Brits as well.

In 2013, Black Friday in the UK saw 113 million online retail site visits. Cyber Monday topped 115 million. For comparison, Boxing Day led both, but just barely with 129 million visits. All these stats are great, but how can you use SMS marketing to make sure you get your share of visits in 2014?

Start an opt in campaign now. Even if you have a list of customers and are already using SMS marketing, you can be sure to add to it if you set up a campaign using the following guidelines.

  1. Decide on an exclusive deal you’ll offer just to those who sign up for your SMS marketing before Black Friday. This can be early notifications of items or sales, actual discounts or coupons, or perhaps even special in store or online shopping times to avoid the crowds (or slow connections due to surges in Internet traffic).
  2. Don’t offer these deals anywhere else. The most successful opt in campaigns use exclusivity to encourage people to sign up.
  3. Choose your keywords, virtual mobile number or short codes to use in the campaign. Set all this up with your SMS service provider. Note custom shortcodes are expensive and take months to set up. But most SMS service providers let you rent keywords on their shortcode.
  4. Post the sign up information with exclusive deals on your website, on social media sites, in your store, and any other adverts you’re placing. Think of it as being the same as including your phone number or website address on everything.
  5. Have a plan in place to offer everything you promised to those who signed up. What special offers will you send out and when? How often will you send them?
  6. To capitalise on the two American holidays, be prepared to offer something that coincides to one or both of the days. Perhaps the night before Black Friday you send out a text message with a special discount code to let your customers know they should visit you first before they make a purchase somewhere else. If you’re offering something for Cyber Monday, send a message letting your customers know about it just before Black Friday so they may choose to wait to purchase using your code. If you do the latter option, make sure it’s a deal they’ll be willing to wait for.

And of course you can use the same list for your Boxing Day deals. Just be careful not to over send during the holiday season. People want to get great deals, but they don’t want to be annoyed.

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