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How brands can optimise their digital campaigns for Black Friday before, during and after

By Alirio Alvarez, Director of paid search



The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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November 25, 2019 | 7 min read

Just like rock and roll, Black Friday is something imported from the USA that has gone from niche to consumer frenzy levels in a few short years. What originally started as a physical retail initiative has now morphed into a digital one, with offers pinging onto our phones as customers spend more of their lives in the digital, mobile-first realm.

Black Friday

With so many brand vying for customers attention, paid online activity is a necessity in developing a smart strategy to win customers not only at this time of year, but to also inform your strategy for the future. Here are some top tactics for before, during, and after Black Friday 2019.

Before Black Friday

In the lead up to Black Friday, a multi-channel approach to advised to gain customers in the market early for inspiration. It can also help gain the insight needed to shape your activity on the day.

Increase your spend on sponsored/promoted ads on retailers’ websites. With a tranche of expensive Christmas ads landing from big retailers, there will be witnessing a requisite increase in web traffic. Now is the time to book ads on their sites, helping you target the shoppers using established retailers to get inspiration..

Boost your spend on paid search on Black Friday terms. Obviously the more niche you can go here the more cost effective in terms of long tail searches and also more relevant potentially.

Allocate media spend to dynamic social ads on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. This is as a great way of narrowing down your customers’ preferences, meaning you can adapt your ads and the messaging used.

Build out audience lists. This will be based on website actions, critical for the task of remarketing when the day occurs. Key segments for potential buyers could include:

  • Consumers who added a product to the basket but abandoned it;
  • Visited a product page but did not add it to the basket;
  • Looked at multiple pages on your website.
  • Signed up to a newsletter or to receive special offers.

During the Black Friday week

With the research phase completed you are now in good shape to run the actual campaign with the knowledge to help you maximise your ROI. With more insight into where your customers are in the sales funnel you can adapt your messaging accordingly.

What is crucial to note is that this is when consumers will start to narrow down their options. As Black Friday approaches, the trend is for customers to use more specific brands and products (e.g. “Debenhams Furniture Black Friday”) rather than more generic potentially non-branded searches they were using at the start of the month (e.g. “Black Friday furniture sale”).

  • Increase spending on retailers’ sponsored ads. Online shoppers will by now be spending more time on retail websites. Avoid wastage by increasing your budgets specifically for products on sale during the week.
  • Invest in dynamic social media ads. This is the time the retargeting lists come into their own. Use dynamic product ads to display single or multi-product ads to customers who have interacted with you to maximise sales opportunities.
  • Focus on Shopping Ads campaigns

    Shopping Ads campaigns on Google really do make an impact at this time, because of their ability to drive potential buyers to the product directly. Ensure the user experience is optimised to win customers quickly.

  • Roll out sequential messaging

    With your audience lists ready, you now have the ability to follow potential buyers across the funnel with highly targeted messaging. However good your messaging in, buyers will need more than one and potentially several touch points before they will buy. It is crucial your messaging progresses from Thinking to Planning to Doing. This will help you move buyers through the funnel.

Shorten the path

With competition fierce, it is essential you smooth the path toward the outcome you want, more sales. In paid search, make sure site links and affiliate or location extensions are active so that customers can find you quickly; activate call extensions in case customers need to contact you with questions about the product.

In display ads, make sure now you have moved beyond awareness to engagement that you have a prominent Call to action (CTA.) If possible, link directly to a dedicated page for your promoted product.

Post Black Friday

It is important to not just switch off the campaign as midnight on the 30th strikes. After all there still be plenty of shoppers who haven’t tracked down the deal they wanted or may have thought they missed the boat. You can be a hero to these shoppers if - unlike other brands - you run your campaign for an extra couple of days, even at a lower level. You are also likely to be able to drive down your cost per lead since many competitors will have already ended their campaigns.

Beyond grabbing a few extra sales what is more fundamental is the deep analysis of your sales spike. This involves breaking down numbers into insights to inform your sales strategy going forward and for next year’s activity.

Channel performance

Determine which channel drove the most sales—and which was most cost effective. This will ensure you drive ROI in your budget for the next year.

Category/product performance

Of the categories and various products you promoted, which were preferred by buyers? This will garner insights into which categories and products are best suited to discounted promotions and which to leave at full price.

Audience performance

It is now the time to go very granular with your audience performance. Which group spent the most overall? Which represents the best return on ad spend? How did the different groups stack up against the different product lines? This will help you not only develop and target relevant paid search campaigns, but also inform your longer-term SEO ecommerce strategy for the same audiences.

Message/creative performance

You will also have a huge suite of data on how different messaging and creative resonates best with your customers. This can help not only future ad designs but shape the overall tone of your brand.

With savvy consumers in the driver’s seat promotion-driven events like Black Friday are no longer about a single day. By thinking long and using the full range of channels from enterprise down to hyperlocal you can win on the biggest discount retail event in the calendar.

Alirio Alvarez, director of paid search, DAC


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DAC is one of the largest independent digital media agencies in North America, with a growing international presence and offices in the US, Canada and Europe. We...

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