Black Friday Success 2018 – Your PPC Ecommerce Checklist

Emily Winter
Nov 12, 2018
Paid Media, Retail

It’s pretty much official at this point: Black Friday marks the beginning of the festive season. Although Christmas is just over a month away, the hype around Black Friday deals has fully taken over. Online holiday shoppers are eagerly awaiting their chance to ask how much you saved on the latest gadgets & goodies and which retailers you bought from.

“With £1.39bn being spent in the UK online over the weekend last year (an increase of +11.7% on 2016), with classic apparel brands & celebrity-backed products categories leading the way as firm favourites, it has never been more crucial to get your PPC campaigns up to scratch & ready for ultimate success.”

(Stats from: https://www.imrg.org/media-and-comment/press-releases/black-friday-2017-online-retail-sales-results)

We’ve rounded up some of the best ways to optimise your account to increase sales and breeze through the most important retail weekend of the year.

Are You Ready For Black Friday? How To Prepare Your PPC Campaigns

Preparation is key. Considering potential scenarios and planning for them will help you to stay one step ahead of the game when planning out your strategy. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will you have enough stock?
  • What offers are you planning to run?
  • Is there additional budget?
  • If you’ve spent all the budget but the campaigns are delivering revenue at a great ROI is there room to stretch the budget?
  • Is the site ready to handle a large volume of traffic?

In previous years, large retailers have struggled to handle high traffic levels on their site which led to lost customers. The biggest name UK casualty of Black Friday 2017 was high street department store Debenhams which was forced to implement an online queuing system as its resources struggled to cope.

Don’t Ignore YoY Data!

A lot can happen in a year. Many of us forget we’ve often been through all of this several times before and we’ve learn from it. Truth is, the trends and patterns that have emerged from the previous year are gold and can play a crucial part in shaping our new campaigns this year.

We wouldn’t recommend setting strict sales benchmarks or budgets based on last year’s performance data but you can definitely use historical campaign information to extract particular keywords, standout products & potential bid increases to help evaluate what to expect this year.
Specific areas to pay attention to when analysing YoY data:

  • What ad copy did you run? What did you learn from it?
  • Did your ads that focused on benefits/features perform better than those with price, shipping and other specific product info?
  • What was the avg. CPC that achieved first position?
  • Were there any particular categories or products that didn’t perform as well as you thought they would?
  • How much budget did you allocate? Were you capped out by your budget?

Top Tips For Black Friday Bid & Budget Management

Black Friday has now evolved to more than just a single day of slashed prices. Most retailers now participate across the entire weekend, including Cyber Monday. Some retailers have even gone that one step further with Black Friday deals being seen on Amazon from as early as the 12th November. From 16th-25th this year (2018) Amazon will be running Black Friday deals of the day, every day.

(Info from https://www.techradar.com/uk/black-friday/amazon-black-friday-and-cyber-monday-what-to-expect)

Cyber Monday Amazon

When it comes to pacing budgets & tackling bids, it’s imperative that we spread them out over the four day period to make the most of increased traffic volumes. Otherwise you risk maxing out your entire budget before Black Friday has properly begun.

Tuning in to TV Attribution

Are you one of the many brands using TV as a marketing channel? So you’ve created a great ad highlighting all of your Black Fridays deals that you’re now planning to push out on TV. But now you’re wondering about how you can align your TV ad schedule with your PPC campaign strategy.

Unfortunately, the success of your TV advert isn’t something you can easily track from your standard Google Analytics account. You might notice a spike in activity after an ad has been aired but you wouldn’t be able to prove if this interest came from the TV ad alone or whether another form of digital activity has contributed.

Attribution 360 TV Attribution credits each touchpoint in today’s complex customer journey so you can see real impacts and plan smarter cross channel campaigns”

You can then use this insight into TV-to-online behaviour to make smarter decisions around your online campaigns, helping you to identify when, where and how to best capture this TV driven audience. TV attribution will help you to identify the keyword searches that are prompted by your TV ads so that you can increase bidding on these terms during ad spot times as well as adding bid adjustments to the devices that are being used to carry out these search queries.

If you don’t have a Google Analytics 360 account then not to worry! You can add a unique Google Ads script within your account that allows you to coordinate the use of bid modifiers on your campaign bids with a predefined scheduled in a spreadsheet.

It’s not just before Black Friday you need to be adjusting your bids. If you’re a fan of automated bidding rules then you may want to resort back to manual bidding for at least 1 – 2 weeks after due to the influx data.

With the additional competition between retailers for who can get those all important top positions, fluctuations in our average cost per click are expected. So, how do we go about maintaining an affordable CPC? It all comes down to quality score, and your landing page experience is just one of the ways to help to reduce those expensive clicks before and during Black Friday.

Econsultancy wrote a great article on ‘the good, the bad & the ugly’ Black Friday landing pages of 2017 with AO.com as one of their favourites.

Good example of a Black Friday landing page

In order to capture those curious customers doing their early Black Friday comparison shopping, AO.com created a landing page featuring a bold and clear call to action asking consumers to sign up for 2017 ( a very clever way of collecting customer data to then use through remarketing) followed by another call to action directing users to other great deals non exclusive to Black Friday.

Trend Surge Around Black Friday

If you don’t have additional budget to allocate for Black Friday, don’t worry! Why not retain part of your budget at the start of the month whilst it’s slightly quieter and then ramp up the activity around the Black Friday weekend?

The reason as to why budget phasing & bid management is key is because search volume trends across a range of search terms pick up significantly. Take a look at just some of the examples below:

Black Friday Google Trends - Interest Over Time for Iphone Deals

The search term ‘iPhone Deals’ increased by +400% on the weekend of Black Friday.

Black Friday Google Trends - Interest Over Time for Smart TVs

‘Smart TV’ went up 5x

Google Ad Copy Best Practices

Writing ads for Black Friday should follow the same best practises for your standard ads throughout the year.

1. Make your ads relevant to the users search term or query

By including target keywords in your ad copy, it increases the relevance to what people search. If you’re offering deals on ‘4K TVs’, your headline should include that specific search term as shown in the below screenshot. To boost the ad’s click-through rate (CTR), pair your target keyword with a strong call to action.

2. Use call to actions

A strong call to action will prompt users to click when they read your ad which results in a better CTR and conversion rate. Somewhere in your ad copy, you need to tell visitors what to do, such as “Buy Now” or “Shop Now“.

Make sure your call to action is strong and clear. Use an action verb and include any (legitimate) time constraints, e.g.“Shop today! Sale ends Monday.”

3. Get Personal

When writing a great ad you want to try and understand things from the user’s perspective. What problems are they experiencing? How does your product or service help solve their problems? Use the word “you” instead of “us” or “ours”. This helps to personalise your ad in the eyes of the reader, and can help your ad performance.

4. Describe how you’re better than the competition

If you’re bidding competitively on search terms with high competition and your ad displays next to a competitor ad, how does it compare? It’s never a bad idea to research competitor ads to find out. The key to creating a winning offer is to analyse what your competition is doing and then do it better!

There are some specific elements that you need to take into consideration for Black Friday when it comes to creating new ads.

Set up the promotion extension

One of the newest additions to the ad extension family, promotion extensions should definitely be incorporated into your ad writing strategy for Black Friday.

Google Ads Promotion Extension

These extensions can make you stand out from your competitors by allowing an extra line of ad text as well as clearly highlighting that you are an active retailer participating in Black Friday deals. You can also use this to set a specific time frame to add a sense of urgency to your offer.

Consider adding a countdown

Following on from adding a sense of urgency, you can also add a countdown timer highlighting exactly when your offer or promotion ends. These ad extensions are particularly effective at Christmas and on Black Friday.

Google ads countdown timer

Reference Black Friday in your ads

If you’re running some great deals this Black Friday then you’re going to want to shout about it! One of the main components of quality score is ad relevance which can lower your cost-per-click, so by including current events like Black Friday within your ad headline or description will increase the relevancy to the users search query.

Let’s go Google Shopping This Black Friday!

Black Friday Google Shopping management

If you’re an ecommerce retailer then you’ll know full well just how important your shopping campaigns are when it comes to generating sales & revenue. In fact, shopping campaigns still account for more than 50% of the revenue in most e-commerce Google ads accounts so it’s important to prepare your campaigns accordingly.

For 5 quick top tips on how you can make an impact with your shopping campaigns, read our latest blog post on key shopping tactics.

Keyword Strategy – Should I include “Black Friday + my keyword”?

Short answer is yes. Yes you should include Black Friday keyword variations within your account.

Black Friday Mobile Searches - Google Trends

(From https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/data/black-friday-search-trends)

The earlier you can add these keyword variations, the better. Retailers are sharing Black Friday deals earlier and earlier meaning that shoppers now have a bigger opportunity to make more informed decisions about their purchases.

According to Google, mobile searches containing “black friday” increased by 80% over the past 2 years (e.g. “when is black friday,” “best black friday deals”, “john lewis black friday”).

Users are also researching into brands over the holidays. In early November, we see generic, non-branded searches for Black Friday outpacing branded searches (e.g., “black friday furniture sale” and “black friday makeup deals 2016”).

Then, about two and a half weeks before the four-day weekend, there is a switch to searches for Black Friday becoming mostly branded (e.g., “ashley furniture black friday” and “sephora black friday 2016”) as shoppers narrow down their options and begin laser-focusing their research on the specific items they want to buy.

Black Friday Branded vs. Non-Branded Searches Trend

Now I wouldn’t recommend spending too much time tailoring your campaigns to focus too heavily on this as you’ll already show up when someone searches for your keyword. However, you can have more control by adding Black Friday to some of your keywords and might convert much higher than your regular keywords.

Black Friday Remarketing Strategy

It’s easy to put all your focus into driving new customers to your site on Black Friday. But let’s not forget about those users who are already familiar with your brand and have been looking at products in the weeks and months leading up to Black Friday, waiting for the right deal. Show them some love and increase your bids for these users.

We would recommend creating product and/or category lists so that you can target users with highly relevant ads based on the products that they have already been researching, as well as creating specific Black Friday promotion ads/banners.

It’s all about mobile!

Chances are, when you take a look at your device breakdown, mobile traffic comes out on top. IMRG reported that 39% of sales that occurred over the Black Friday weekend in 2017 happened on a mobile device.

In moments where people need to know, go, do, and buy, relying on our phones has become second nature. So when your customers are searching for your products or services this Black Friday, you want to make sure that you’re in top position and ready to offer them a great mobile shopping experience.

In order to reach mobile users, consider adding the following to your Google Ads account:

  • Create mobile targeted ads
  • Add mobile specific keywords (including voice searches)
  • Add location & click to call extensions – These should only be used if you’re targeting localised business as these types of ad extensions can encourage increase foot flow to your physical store.
  • Add specific mobile bid adjustments
  • Remove time of day bid optimisers – Don’t limit yourself!
  • Black Friday chucks all existing data out of the window, users will shop at all time of the day throughout Black Friday and the holiday weekend.

At the beginning of this article I asked ‘Are you ready for Black Friday?’ – Following the above advice, you’ll be ready to handle whatever Black Friday throws your way. It’s time to step out of your comfort zone and start making changes to your Google Ads account now before it’s too late.

For any further support in getting your business ready then get in touch with our PPC team today.



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