Black Friday will be a hell of a ride – make sure to plan accordingly (+Video)

Check out our PPC experts’ tips from our panel discussion which will help you reach your goals during Black Friday and beyond. 

We can all agree that this year’s holiday season will be massive in terms of traffic and conversions. We expect a lot of first-time online shoppers due to the ongoing health regulations and their ramifications for brick-and-mortar stores. So high volume will still be a thing this season, even more than last year (I will elaborate on that later on). But how to cope with the upcoming tide of shoppers? How to prepare to get the most out of these peak days?

Proper preparation will play an even bigger role this year. Retailers are already in prep mode for Black Friday and the shopping frenzy that lies ahead. Planning needs to be done early so let’s get into it.

TL;DR: Jump right to the checklist at the bottom

What should merchants be doing now in order to be ready when it matters?

1. Improve customer experience and gather data

From a strategic point of view it’s important to make sure that everything is set up correctly but it’s not all about logistics and full warehouses (of course still important). 

According to Stefan Stopper, Account Strategist at smec, you need to consider the customer experience, what you do with the data which will come in, and how to reactivate people who already bought before on previous sales.

You could, for instance, consider utilising header banners several days before Black Friday to announce an upcoming offer. Volume will be high – so you could put everyone who clicked on your ads in a remarketing list and reactivate them with upper funnel measures (e.g. banners, videos, email) shortly before Black Friday. This way you reappear on shoppers’ radar again with the right offer at the right time. 

Another thing to consider is to create a guest checkout on your website. Checking out should be as frictionless as possible for your customers. Time is critical on Black Friday and similar events – so make sure to remove as many barriers as possible and provide an easy and fast way for your customers to buy your goods. Don’t worry too much about lost data – as you will still collect plenty of email data which you can use in future sales via remarketing. 

Make sure to grab the data of first-time shoppers on Black Friday!
Make sure to grab the data of first-time shoppers!

We cannot stress this enough: Volume will be high and a lot of new customers will show up, so make sure to make the buying experience as seamless as possible, collect their data and use it for retargeting in future promotions. 

So in terms of an improved customer experience and retargeting we recommend the following:

  • Create a guest checkout
  • Set up remarketing lists
  • Use the Tag Manager on your website

2. Adjust your budget during Black Friday

To be frank, no one knows exactly how the sale period in your vertical will play out. But regarding your budget there are a few things to consider:

Pick KPIs which can be viewed in real time (impressions, clicks) and focus on them during the day. You have plenty of time afterwards to view the delayed data but when it comes to Black Friday, flexibility is key.

Make sure to have a real time system in place to track your impressions and clicks. If let’s say your volume is higher than expected, you can respond quickly by adjusting your budget. Regarding ROAS you should pick a goal you are comfortable with and stick to it – data showed us that the ROAS will improve as time passes. 

Another viable approach to allocate your budget efficiently is to exclude items which are expected to convert less from your Shopping feed (e.g. niche items – XXL shirts ) – this way you have more available budget for items which will be in higher demand. 

And speaking of efficient budgeting – why not use the new free Shopping tab listings? At the time of publishing this blogpost they should have gone live in EMEA as well. Using this offer will up your visibility at no additional cost. Just opt in to the “surfaces across Google” programme (for Merchant Center accounts created before May 2020 this is done automatically) – link your CSS account where you want to use free listings and benefit from it. If you have further questions how to do it, check out this PDF where the process is explained in further detail.   

Long story short, here are our recommendations regarding budgeting:

  • Pick your KPIs and stick to them
  • Having direct access to live data during Black Friday is key
  • Adjust your budget if necessary – stay flexible in that regard
  • Consider excluding certain items from the Shopping feed
  • Use free Shopping tab listings to free up budget and improve visibility

In addition to the strategic advice mentioned above we have compiled a comprehensive checklist which you can use for your prep work:

General advice

  • Define non-objectives/worst case scenarios
  • Prepare a robust supply chain for increased demand
  • Ensure a holistic online presence (Showcase ads, Facebook, newsletters etc.)
  • Check & optimize website speed

Shopping Ads

  • Feed optimizations: enrich short product titles with additional info
  • Take advantage of Merchant Center promotions

Search Ads

  • Check eCPC settings in the Google Ads account – select “Optimize for conversion value”
  • Check audiences: all relevant target groups in there? Push for a specific target group?

Whoop! specific

  • Prepare your ABS structure: which products should be advertised more intensively? 
  • Use ABS scheduling if your budget is limited
  • Treat low funnel search queries accordingly – by setting up an independent campaign (Query Sculpting)

These are our recommendations for Black Friday. If you have any questions about how to tackle a specific matter, feel free to get in touch with us. We wish you all a smooth ride through the season!