As eCommerce businesses approach the Superbowl of online sales this Black Friday & Cyber Monday, every brand is looking to get a leg up on the competition. To do that, our team has been actively reviewing account builds, testing new holiday marketing strategies, and reevaluating campaign objectives to exceed our client’s goals. With unpredictability being the constant factor, slight modifications to your approach can yield a massive variation in your anticipated windfall…or lack thereof. So make sure to keep your eye on the prize while the big game approaches.
Build on What’s Working
Before making any changes to your Black Friday or Cyber Monday marketing strategy, it’s important to take inventory of what’s been working (and more importantly, what’s not), in order to effectively modify your campaign structure to find more success this holiday shopping season.
Not only should you be looking for your strongest converting ads, but also, ensure that your tracking and analytics data is sound…because the best gift you can give yourself this year is accurate account data (more on that later). This seems straightforward, but it’s ultimately foundational to sustain returns for your account because stronger converting ads will have lower CPCs, helping you stay on track with your ROAS targets while CPCs rise with increased competition. Furthermore, in that review process, look for errors in the Google Merchant Center — disapproval can bring your whole data feed down and with bad timing, single-handedly ruin Cyber Week for your business. Full stop.
Defense is important, but you also need to score points to win. As such, our team recommends using all applicable ad types, but keep in mind that not all are created equal. Look to determine which ad types best resonate with your audience and which types are underutilized. It’s not just ad types either, test the accompanying ad copy and creatives, too! If you have a successful ad, don’t be complacent, iterate and innovate off of that. Take the same creative and test out 2 or 3 copy variations and vice-versa. If a particular copy and subsequent iterations perform well, incorporate that tone into your brand voice.
Exploring Full-Funnel Strategies
You’ve reviewed your account and cleaned out all the unnecessary clutter. Now it’s time to introduce new holiday marketing strategies to test on your audience(s). If you’re only running manual campaigns, try leveraging the algorithm to diversify spend across Google’s entire suite of advertising products and reach new audiences at scale. When it comes to top-of-funnel traffic, be innovative, and remember, if you’re not testing, you’re just guessing…
The best way to actually determine ad effectiveness, however, is by diving into the analytics. GA4 has several unique features that allow you to import your current audiences into the UI and find new prospects more likely to convert. To do this, explore the predictive audiences feature in GA4. Try combining holiday audiences with your existing remarketing audiences to better hone in on higher converting BFCM shoppers. Then, layer these results into your campaigns and use those audience signals to bid up and bid down on those demographic targets.
Once you have enough data, we recommend leveraging automated bidding strategies such as Max conversions with a target CPA or Max conversion value with a target ROAS, depending on your campaign KPIs. Use portfolio bidding to group campaigns together, share budgets, and leverage account insights to optimize your reach and engagement.
Things to Keep Testing:
- Keyword Expansion: Continuously explore the addition of new keywords based on shifts in relevance like product collaborations, endorsements, or viral content.
- Broad Match Usage: Consider expanding into broad match keywords, albeit cautiously, with well-defined targeting parameters to avoid irrelevant traffic.
- Dynamic Search Ads for Keyword Research: Utilize DSAs as a cost-effective keyword research tool, by simply providing Google with a website URL to generate headlines based on website content.
With your account cleaned and optimized, it’s time to shift focus to what happens next. Your website should arguably be the best sales channel for your business, so it’s imperative to prioritize improving conversion rates for those visiting your online storefront. One effective approach is to conduct landing page testing. This strategic process involves creating multiple variations of landing pages and assessing their performance to determine which one yields the highest conversion rates. By doing so, you ensure that your ads are directing visitors to the most effective and engaging landing page. Ultimately, when you channel peak traffic to your website, you can have confidence that you’re presenting the best user experience in conjunction with your ads, increasing the likelihood of successful conversions.
With more qualified traffic established, shift focus to increasing your average order value (AOV) per transaction. Product bundles are the best method for this and are a great opportunity to introduce new products to your customers via upsell opportunities. These Black Friday marketing tactics not only drive AOV but also entice customers to explore additional items, increasing sessions and providing your site with more authority. With larger orders in hand, you should reevaluate account expectations, as well.
We’ve unwrapped a lot of details into building out the perfect holiday strategy, but you must have the right goals in mind to win big. Two aspects to consider during this time are reviewing annual goals and aligning budgets accordingly.
Firstly, it’s essential to revisit your annual goals. As the fourth quarter begins, businesses often find themselves facing different objectives and approaches due to increased competition and shifts in consumer behavior. Thus, it becomes necessary to reevaluate your goals to ensure they remain realistic and attainable for the unique challenges presented during the holiday season.
Your budget plays a pivotal role in achieving your holiday targets. Careful planning ensures you don’t exhaust your budget within the first few weeks of November, allowing you to maintain a strong presence throughout the busy period. Use a flexible budget based on ROAS targets to manage your spend, but allow for more aggressive spending when there’s increased consumer demand during the big holiday rush. Note: it’s not just BFCM either. Shopping stays strong until last-ship-date and even rebounds on Boxing Day through early January.
Bend but Don’t Break
As we approach the holiday season, the key takeaway is to remain agile and adapt your strategy as needed. By combining these essential elements, you can position your eCommerce business for a successful BFCM and be prosperous beyond the holiday season. The game is on, and with the right strategy in place, you’re poised to score big in the world of holiday eCommerce.