Given supply chain issues (have you heard that toy manufacturers and sellers are anticipating many toys will sell out early this year?) and the increase in online shopping due to the pandemic, businesses should be honing their holiday sales strategies earlier than usual this year. For retailers, that means putting your Black Friday and Cyber Monday ecommerce strategies and tactics together as soon as possible.
Here at (un)Common Logic, we tell our clients to think about the following in putting together a cyber sale:
- Your business strategy as you decide on products and an offer
- Business planning with regard to needed resources: web developers, customer service, marketing, logistics
- The entire marketing ecosystem to get the word out: SEO, email, paid media
Let’s dig into the details!
What is Black Friday?
Retailers started using the term Black Friday in the 1960s to describe the Friday after Thanksgiving as the beginning of the holiday shopping season, or when many of them would go from being “in the red” to black in their account books. Over the decades, they began offering heavy discounts to entice shoppers. As shoppers moved online during the 2000s, Black Friday began to include Thanksgiving Day itself as well as a new “holiday,” Cyber Monday, and digital marketing Black Friday offers began to spread in popularity. During 2020, when many brick-and-mortar stores weren’t open due to the pandemic, online Black Friday shopping became even more important to retailers’ bottom lines. This year, we expect online shoppers to look for more deals earlier in the shopping season than ever before, so it’s crucial to plan ahead.
How to Develop an Effective Black Friday Marketing Strategy
As we’ve worked with our ecommerce clients over the years, we’ve developed a strategic blueprint and tactics to consider in developing a Black Friday marketing strategy that is customized for each individual business’ situation.
Step 1: Identifying the Right Products
The first step in putting together your black Friday marketing strategy (or any cyber sale strategy) is to determine which products to include in the sale. Take a look at your product sales up to this point in the year and then look at your annual revenue goal: where is there a gap in meeting your goals which might be closed by creating a special deal?
Then look at your products themselves. Do you want a site-wide offer, an offer on just a specific product line, or an offer on a select product only? Is there a low-performing product which might be lifted with a good deal? Could a good deal on an already high-performing product take you across the goal line?
- Depending on Cyber performance, you may consider extending your offer beyond the typical promotional cycle. First pro tip: when our clients extend an offer, we always include ad copy value propositions centered around “Cyber Deal Extended!…” to help maximize consumer purchase behavior
- Second pro tip: when our clients isolate a specific product for cyber promotion, remaining products are available at a lesser discount. We find this help prevents user friction within the buying cycle. For example, 20% off specific product + free shipping on remaining products. Not only will consumers of alternative products feel a similar excitement to see a sale available, you may be surprised at the amount of cross-sell opportunities
Step 2: Determining the Right Offers
After selecting the product(s) you’re including in your offer, the next step is to figure out what the offer itself should be. To do this, look at your product margins. Ask yourself:
- How much can you discount from the regular sales price and still make a profit?
- Does your discount/profit amount change based on volume?
- Is it worth it to lose profit on one product in order to get a lift from overall sales (i.e., a loss-leader strategy)?
- What do you anticipate your competitors may offer: what have they done in the past and what are they offering today vs. your current offers?
With this data, you can decide on an offer which will be compelling both to your customers and to your company.
In conjunction with the discount, consider the timeframe of the offer. Obviously, the longer the offer is in place, the more potential orders, but there is also something to be said for the excitement of a very limited time offer. Also think about the start and stop dates with regard to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other well-known sales dates. Would your product benefit from the increased overall traffic during those times or would it be better to stand out from the crowd with a pre-holiday sale? How about making your sale last after the holiday – how much additional revenue could you pick up if your sale is extended?
At this point, begin to think about your desired audience: who are they and how will you reach them? Which channels and what formats would be most effective?
Step 3: Creating a Solid Back-up Plan
As the final element in your offer strategy, think about some if-then scenarios and make plans for them ahead of time. For example, what if your product sells out before the end of the offer: will you end the offer early, substitute a similar product, or change the offer altogether? What if a competitor matches your offer or rolls out a similar offer: would you shift to an alternative offer and if so, what would it be? What if your offer doesn’t seem to be getting the attention you’d planned on: would you shift to an alternative and at what point?
Step 4: Finding the Right Resources
Once you have the offer’s strategic pieces (product, discount, timeframe, alternatives) in place, figure out logistically who and what you need for the offer to be successful. No one wants to be the store whose site crashes because it can’t handle all the extra Cyber Monday traffic! So, work with your stakeholders with plenty of time in advance to ensure that they are available and have what they need to be sure your offer is a success, especially during peak periods.
- Does your web developer have what they need if the site crashes or if you need to rotate offers?
- Is your marketing team ready to track sales, evaluate trends, and pivot to capitalize on any changes?
- Do you need additional customer service staff during this time?
- Can your logistics staff handle the additional demand for order fulfillment?
Step 5: Developing the Offer Creatives
Next comes the development of the creatives for the offer. Give the design team the specs with enough time in advance to go through the appropriate revisions and company approvals. Remember that the final assets also have to be approved by the channel(s) you’ve selected to run your offer so you need to include time for their review process(es) as well. For example, the Facebook review process can take as long as three business days. And your ad needs to be uploaded at least one day before launch – do not expect that you can upload ads the same day your offer begins, as they may not run.
Step 6: Time to Get Tactical
Who’s your audience and what’s the most effective way to reach them? Even a limited-time offer will benefit from a multi-channel approach.
Let’s start with search engine optimization: can you prime the pump in advance for your offer by, for example, publishing a gift guide beforehand which might increase ranking signals and provide relevant content to users? How else might your content help point buyers toward your offer?
Every digital marketing effort’s success depends upon conversions. How can you increase your conversion rate? What landing page or banner modifications can you experiment with to streamline your user experience?
Do you have a subscriber email list? Include email marketing to build excitement and drive additional traffic to your offer.
Step 7: Consider What’s Different About Paid Efforts for Black Friday vs. the Rest of the Year
Once you have all your strategic ducks in a row, it’s time to factor some extra considerations into your paid media tactics. Will you include keywords such as discount, sale, coupon, or code? Remember that many others will be bidding on those keywords, so be prepared for a different CPC than you might otherwise expect. Additionally, it’s important to consider available bidding strategies – there are a variety of options available, from maximize conversions or conversion value to absolute impression share and more! Regardless of the bidding strategy you select, you must be prepared to adjust by taking into account the sudden surge in conversions during your peak cyber period offer.For example, maximize conversion value relies on revenue per conversion in order to bid keywords according to their likelihood to generate the most revenue from your given ad budget. While automated bidding can save time compared to manual-based bidding, it’s important to closely monitor performance surges and bidding adjustments. For example, if the week leading up to your offer generates a 90% return on ad spend (ROAS), automated bidding will bid less aggressively than if your ROAS is 200%.
Other considerations when using automated bidding strategies:
- When you’re using Maximize conversion value without a Target CPA set, Google will aim to spend your budget to maximize conversion value for your campaigns
- When you’re using Maximize conversion value with a Target CPA set, Google will help get as much conversion value as possible at the target ROAS
- Seasonality adjustments are an advanced tool that can be used to inform Smart Bidding of expected changes in conversion rates for future events like promotions or sales
- Seasonality adjustments are currently available for Search, Shopping, and Display campaigns and are only compatible with Target ROAS, Target CPA bid strategies, and Smart Shopping campaigns
- Note: Use seasonality adjustments only if you expect major changes to conversion rates, because Smart Bidding already manages seasonal events. Seasonal adjustments are ideal for short events of 1—7 days. They may not work as well if you use them for extended periods (more than 14 days at a time)
Outside of bidding strategy, in terms of ad copy one thing we at (un)Common Logic have found very helpful during cyber sales is to use the countdown option to create urgency. Depending on how long your offer will be good for, you might choose to count down 3 days before, then 2 days before, then 1 day before – choose a countdown option that builds a sense of urgency without stretching it out too far. Google makes this relatively easy – after you upload your ads, Google will automatically “countdown” the days remaining in the sale, as shown below:
Finally, keep in mind that your additional traffic can be captured and retargeted throughout the holiday season and even in the following year in remarketing efforts. Done right, the benefits of your cyber holiday offer will not only boost this year’s holiday revenue but also last far into the future.
Contact us to learn more about the (un)Common Logic approach to digital marketing, including our cyber offer best practices, setting up a bidding strategy, and more.