The holiday shopping season from Black Friday to Christmas is a big deal for eCommerce websites. eCommerce sales have tripled since just 2014 to a projected $4.2 trillion in 2020.
The ongoing health crisis is also increasing everyone’s desire to shop online - a trend that could accelerate the growth of online sales even more.
It’s an opportunity most brands are trying to capitalize on, and many of those opportunities come in the form of paid acquisition channels. So how can you take advantage of that growth without losing your shirt?
Here are 10 tips to help you navigate paid media strategies this Black Friday / Cyber Monday (BFCM).
10 Paid Media Tips for eCommerce Brands this Holiday Season
1. Adjust Your Budgets
Networks: Google Ads, Bing Ads
Depending on what you’re selling, search volume can see a dramatic spike on BFCM. Searches for electronics, for example, can increase ten-fold. With that increased potential volume comes a proportional increased potential cost.
If you want to capture all that additional traffic, you’ll need to increase your budgets substantially. However, you should also monitor spend closely. Google allows themselves to spend up to double your daily budget in any day (no one is sure how that decision is made), so overspending your budget is very possible if you're not careful.
Adjust your budgets to a number you’re comfortable with, keep a close eye on performance and spend, and be ready to make changes throughout the day based on results.
2. Tighten Your Targeting
With more available ad inventory and advertisers aggressively promoting, it may make sense to focus on your best performing strategies if you have a limited budget. That budget can go further on your best keywords (for Google and Bing) and targeting strategies (Display Network, Facebook, Instagram, etc) due to the increased volume and perhaps increased costs.
This could mean tightening your Lookalike Audiences on Facebook, such as keeping it at 1-3% instead of expanding to 5% (assuming the closer matches perform better). On Google you may pause 10-25% of your lowest performing targets to allow additional spend on the more profitable campaigns.
Since less profitable strategies may experience temporary increased costs, and given the additional opportunities coming from your strongest campaigns, it may be best to take a few days off less targeted efforts and focus on what you do best during this very competitive advertising time.
3. Choose the Appropriate Bidding Strategy
Google is pushing automated bidding strategies HARD this year, and they’ve always been a major feature of Facebook’s advertising platform. Automated bidding can work well, but it requires data and a learning period to be able to really work effectively. Launching new campaigns with limited intelligence data during the most competitive time of the year can be a recipe for disaster.
While you can still save your special promotions for BFCM, running some targeted advertising earlier to collect data on what performs well for your company will put you in a much better position to promote and scale when traffic and opportunity is at its highest.
If you’re under the gun and don’t have time to collect data, then it’s better to use more manual bidding and advertising methods.
4. Use Extensive Negative Lists
Networks: Google Ads, Bing Ads
When you put the performance of your campaigns in the hands of automated bidding, you’re giving those algorithms a lot of license to expand bidding - potentially (and often, in our experience) to areas you shouldn’t be going. Be proactive about preventing this spread.
Using extensive negative lists not only speeds up testing by giving algorithms a narrower focus, but it also prevents you from spending your budget inefficiently on the most important days of the year. Not to mention the money you’d waste on poor quality traffic.
Negative keyword lists are great for search campaigns, while Display Network campaigns can use placement exclusions to avoid poor quality placements.
5. Reinforce with Remarketing Campaigns
As Richard mentions in tip #9 of 10 Musts for Maximum Conversions During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, retargeting cart abandons to maximize sales is important for holiday shoppers. That can be done with emails and exit popups, but you can also run remarketing campaigns on both Google Ads and Facebook Ads to cover these abandons too.
If you’re doing a lot of BFCM volume, it’s a good idea to create a separate remarketing list for those few days too. Depending on the kind of traffic you’re sending, you may find that quality is lower, or that once they finish their shopping they really don’t have much interest in your products. Remarketing creative can focus on BFCM promotions until they’re over, at which point you may even exclude them from other forms of advertising.
6. Understand Lifetime Value
Do purchasers on BFCM act differently than your typical customer? Are they more likely to be one-time gift purchasers, or is there a strong lifetime value component? The answer may depend on your store and industry, but it’s important to keep in mind when calculating ROAS for your campaigns.
7. Upsell During Your Checkout Funnel
Ads on Google Shopping and Facebook often advertise a specific product at a specific price. Try to drive more value with upsells, crossells, and add-ons throughout the checkout process to increase AOV (and thus overall campaign performance).
8. Improve Customer Service Response Times
Customer service and sales inquiries spike during the shopping season. Are you ready for these inquiries? If you aren’t ready to handle the volume, you’ll lose sales from customers calling, using chat features, or emailing if response time isn’t very fast. It’s an urgent time of the year, so if you’re not able to immediately respond (especially on BFCM), you may very well lose the sale.
This is especially important on social media channels. With more users preferring to communicate directly via Facebook Messenger, posting messages, or DMing businesses on-platform (it’s even encouraged by many Facebook ad formats), your social media team better be ready to respond, too.
9. Test Multiple Creatives
Networks: Facebook, Instagram, Display Campaigns
Just because you only have a short window of opportunity doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be testing multiple variations of ads. Launching an ad that Facebook’s algorithm doesn’t like could make a campaign difficult (or very expensive) to promote. It’s better to launch a couple different variations to allow for some basic testing and get the most bang for your buck.
10. Update Your Copy & Feeds
Use Promotion Extensions and update ad copy to make ads seem more relevant and urgent. Highlight special pricing and BFCM deals - people are looking for them, and attractive offers will generate more clicks.
These changes could include promo codes, a countdown, products you want to focus on selling, and even references to BFCM right in the ad copy and imagery.
On a similar note, consider updating your Product Feeds to include sale callouts. With Google Shopping and Facebook’s Product Ads being very competitive, anything you can do to stand out will give you an edge. “BF Special” products, descriptions, and pricing could do just that.
Wrapping Things Up
If you’re running an eCommerce business selling to consumers, you can’t sit idly by during the holiday shopping season. Large fluctuations in volume can happen very quickly, and as much as Google and Facebook love to tout their automated ability to manage performance, in our experience it isn’t sophisticated enough to handle situations like this effectively.
If you need a hand coming up with a plan to deal with increased volume, prepare effective creative and promotions, adjust campaigns on the fly, and be ready to respond to customers when they arrive on your store, schedule your last-minute BFCM consultation with us today.
Check out the rest of the BFCM Last-Min Strategies:
Rob's Quick Guide to BFCM: Our Head of eCom, Robert Befumo, gives unique insights on unprecedented holiday season to ensure you're prepped and ready.
Increase Your Subs By 7x: Yes. You read it right. Increase your subscribers 7x in the run up to BFCM with these copy and paste strategies for your pop-ups and fly-outs.
Smash Your Email ROI: 3 email templates that will up your email game during Black Friday Cyber Monday.
Maximize Your Site Conversions: Put your conversions into overdrive! 10 strategies you can use right now to build the foundation for a successful 2020 holiday season.
Grow Sales Thru Stellar Support: Turn your customer support experience into a revenue generating machine with key insights for your site and reps.
Crush Your Holiday Sales Targets: Use your customer reviews to drive sales this holiday season and beyond.
Grow Your Sales With Process Automation: See five areas where you can employ automation to simplify your operations, save time, and boost sales this holiday season.
High-Converting Templates for SMS, Facebook Messenger & More: Use these ten templates to craft engaging, high-converting messages for SMS marketing and Facebook Messenger during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.