Why preparation is key to a successful Black Friday sales weekend

With Black Friday behind us, the post-holiday report from Adobe Analytics has revealed that consumers spent $6.22 billion online last Friday — a 23.6% increase on last year’s previous record high of $5 billion. Alongside these sales comes a massive spike in website visitors, with Clicktale reporting traffic increases for our customers (already many of the biggest sites in the world) ranging from 100% to 549%.

Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday are becoming bigger by the year, with year-over-year traffic growth at 20%. A major part of this increase has been credited to retailers choosing to announce discounts days in advance of the holiday weekend. So, as our customers look to get a head-start on their competitors, Clicktale has been helping them prepare earlier and earlier.

Preparing before the holiday weekend

At Clicktale we’re committed to helping our customers maintain a competitive advantage by optimizing their digital experiences ahead of this crucial period. But the key to a successful sales strategy is not just about having access to data, it’s about knowing which data does and doesn’t matter. This meant putting in place an operation that allows us to provide proactive consultancy, insight and recommendations, which our customers could test and implement in real-time.

For most retailers, sales growth across multiple channels is mission-critical. This year, Clicktale worked directly with its key customers, in many cases staffing their established ‘war rooms’ – joining together their marketers, operations staff and our own behavioral experts to identify opportunities to optimize, correct critical issues and maximize experiences in real-time. With one of our leading customers — a global clothing and accessories retailer — we even started analyzing and assessing their site’s readiness on the Monday before Black Friday.

Improved voice of customer (VoC) insights

Using Clicktale’s unique algorithm to detect behavior indicative of customer friction, we monitored activity on all the pages on our retail customers’ websites in the build-up to the holiday. As a result, we uncovered more than 30 areas that were negatively impacting the consumer experience before Black Friday had even begun.

In the case of one global clothing retailer, this process uncovered unresponsive calls to action on product details pages, promotional coupons not being applied, JavaScript errors, credit card data being wiped at checkout and valid cards being declined. Starting 5 days prior to Black Friday, Clicktale was able to send daily morning update emails, providing a unique Clicktale ‘friction score’ and outlining the key issues that needed to be addressed.

Through the combination of Clicktale’s experience analytics platform and Clicktale’s on-site experts interpreting the data, our customers had access to both proactive and reactive insights into their shoppers. Rather than having to search through hundreds of Voice Of Customer (VoC) feedback forms in order for usability issues to surface, we were able to deliver the top issues affecting the customer experience almost immediately.

In fact, the VoC process our customers had in place served simply to validate the insights already provided by Clicktale’s team. And by the time the customer teams went over feedback, our experts had already quantified the issues and provided updates. At peak hours, Clicktale was handling over 170,000 sessions per second, quickly making it the go-to solution and true prism of the “truth” for those customers looking to make rapid, informed decisions on the day.

Quantifying issues in real-time

Unsurprisingly, over the Black Friday weekend our customers saw massive spikes in traffic that inevitably put their websites under strain. But with Clicktale, not only could they easily manage such high volumes of traffic during peak periods, potential issues could also be quantified, managed and resolved in real-time.  

On the day, we weren’t only handling technical and performance problems, but also identifying and isolating issues that required further investigation. In the case of one major US retailer of homeware supplies, the decision to incorporate (and actually launch to the market that day) a ‘buy-online-pick-up-in-store’ function was causing major complications and adding another layer of complexity to their online operation.

Using the Clicktale Experience Cloud, the brand was able to locate a high number of visitors — 1.2% of all checkout pageviews — who were unable to complete their purchase due to their credit cards being declined. As we had identified this specific error in the weeks before, we had created an event to deal with it — monitoring it closely and comparing it with historical data in real-time.

The brand also experienced technical problems with its PayPal payment page. Some visitors were experiencing a ‘greyed out’ CTA, which was not releasing when the purchase was being put through PayPal. Having spotted the increase in rage clicks on this page, Clicktale’s team isolated the issue to 4.7% of users — with 2.8% trying twice and only 1% being left unable to purchase at all via PayPal. By quantifying these issues as they were happening, Clicktale was able to provide recommendations to the retailer as to how best to prioritize its actions and solve the issues that mattered.

Working as part of the ecosystem

On a retail holiday as important as Black Friday, it’s vital that brands work with all available data sources to maximize their customer experiences. As a result, it was no surprise to find Clicktale sharing the war room floor with numerous collaborators, partners and other consultants.

By integrating closely with our customers’ Martech ecosystems, Clicktale was able to provide the best possible insights for our customers, reviewing the work of their other data tools and helping to spot vital missing details.

One example that surfaced, and prompted concern, was an alarm raised over a 0% report regarding international conversions. This data was handed over to the Clicktale team, which quickly uncovered that the 0% conversion rate was a false alarm. By applying our expertise to data produced outside of Clicktale, we were able to guarantee that our customers were not wasting time on false positives.

These are just a few examples of how the combination of data, insights and strategy can help guarantee a successful Black Friday weekend. Across a huge number of Clicktale’s retail clients, we witnessed significant growth in digital sales, and – using Clicktale – helped brands to recapture hundreds of millions of dollars in otherwise unrealized and unrecognized revenue.

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