Black Friday 2022: Email Marketing in Worrying Economic Times
Written by Philip Storey
3 Minute Read
Black Friday in 2022 is going to be...different. Not slightly different, but very, very different. And I'm concerned that many marketers aren't prepared in the slightest for what's coming.
In this blog, we've outlined everything that email marketers need to know about how to leverage Black Friday when the economy is unstable. Then we've detailed what you need to do about it, as well as how to speak to your peers about what's inevitably on the horizon...
The downturn is well underway in retail and D2C
This is what economists call the sunflower stage. This is when everyone is broadly carrying on, as usual, planning as we've always planned and forecasting how we've always forecasted. But this is not like any other year. Here's what you need to know:
Black Friday falls just after these energy price increases, which is highly likely to further negatively impact consumer spend and behaviour
That makes for worrying trading conditions.
In marketing, we call all of the above macro factors. Macro factors are particularly concerning for marketers because they significantly impact your activities and performance. The problem with macros factors, is there's only limited ability for marketers to influence or change outcomes. But there's a lot that we can do to ensure that your email marketing is impacted as little as possible.
What we think marketers are most likely to do...
Change and especially uncertainty, means that there are winners and there are losers. Winners are those that can predict change before it hits and quickly pivot. Or they respond extremely quickly to what Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls a Black Swan event. A black swan is an unpredictable event that is beyond what is normally expected of a situation and has potentially severe consequences. Losers in these times, are those that are highly impacted by the black swan, but fail to adapt quickly or deeply enough to survive or thrive.
What we are all about to go through in marketing, is a black swan event. Here's what I think will happen:
Most marketers will not predict or accept that change is inevitable. This is because we generally don't proactively respond to incoming change - we tend to respond to change once it's already happened. This is too late
Most marketers will not pivot, based on macro factors. This behaviour is often described as cognitive dissonance or desirability bias - the rejecting, debunking, or avoiding of new information because it is not of preference or is disbelieved, even in circumstance where the probability of the outcome is extremely high (this is why it's so important to form your own opinions). This is also linked to an innate response - similar to fight or flight. Standing still is an irrational response, yet we are hard-wired to avoid change, no matter how big the threat is
Marketers in brands with a start-up mentality will land-grab from competitors. Uncertain times can mean that consumers increase brand-hopping. This means that if you are in an organisation that is able to be proactive in times of adversity, you'll gain massive market share. These are the winners - the minority.
The email marketers' action plan for Black Friday during turbulent economic times
Following the crowd right now, is the last thing you want to do. Form your own perspective and don't fall victim to the social norms bias where people do what the majority do. This is a normal behavioural response because we generally survive better in bigger groups, so it's an innate response to adversity. But it's unlikely to help you with email marketing in turbulent economic times
Communicate with your peers and tell them your perspective now to get them aligned with your thinking. Be prepared for challenging conversations and make sure that your perspective is heard
Forecast sensibly, be realistic and don't lean on previous performance patterns to inform what might happen next
Avoid looking at increasing frequency of sends as a cheap way to improve engagement and sales through email - go deeper and think about how you can nurture with empathy
Plan strategies that connect with people's hearts and minds, rather than just trying to push what your brand sells
Plan tactically to be empathetic to segments, based on what they think and feel
We're still in what is hopefully the tail-end of a global pandemic that's lasted over two years and dramatically changed consumer behaviour. Some called this the new normal, which in itself hoodwinked many. This insatiable human desire for perspective and normalisation is where the biggest disasters can form in business and marketing. There is no new normal and we'll all need to get better at proactively adapting to better email marketing in worrying economic times. You've got this.