24/10/19 // Written by Matthew Patterson

Black Friday & Cyber Monday: Is your eCommerce business ready?

Is your eCommerce business ready to take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Awareness and traction continues to increase year on year, and these seasonal events provides retailers with substantial opportunity to boost their annual sales revenue.  

Black Friday and Cyber Monday reign as two of the most heavily promoted shopping events in the UK. A 46 percent increase in online shopping was experienced during Black Friday 2018, but as the shift to online and mobile commerce continues, brands can expect to see tougher competition and busy shoppers overwhelmed by countless offers. Online businesses should leverage the instantaneous results paid media can provide to capitalise on eager shopper demand while their search intent is strong. Your PPC and Google Shopping campaigns are essential to ensure maximum ROI and success during this peak period.  

While the pressure is on to deliver impactful campaigns for Black Friday, businesses who leave it late will inevitably suffer from less effective efforts, less cost-efficiency and reduced impact. It’s important to prepare well in advance to navigate these retail events and ensure your online store is ready for this busy period. 

There are certain tasks which should be completed in advance of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Take a read of our recommendations to tackle this challenging time of year as effectively as possible.   

How can you prepare your paid media campaigns?

Prepare your website for increased traffic

It’s crucial that you don’t overlook your digital storefront to ensure your website can accommodate increased traffic during the peak period. Between 19 and 25 November 2018, there was a total of 1.2 billion eCommerce website visits, with 194 million of these visits made on Black Friday alone. The heightened traffic not only puts a strain on your website, slowing down your server and generating bottlenecks, but it can damage your sales too highlighting the importance of preparing your website for peak. We’ve collated some of our top considerations to do this effectively:

  • Check your site speed: Kissmetrics reported that 47 percent of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less, while 40 percent said they would abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. If your site is not able to handle the influx of traffic, you are at a much higher risk of users abandoning your website early in their purchase journey.
  • Think mobile-first: With Google now indexing websites mobile-first, it’s become more important than ever to ensure your website is equipped to deliver for mobile users. Track your site traffic on Google Analytics to understand what devices your customers use. If your audience is predominantly from mobile, then you should be preparing your website for mobile usage over desktop or tablet.
  • Provide secure payment processes: Customers expect a trusted, recognised payment option, especially when shopping during periods of increased traffic. Providing a trusted payment solution such as PayPal or Klarna ensures users will feel confident making a purchase via your online store. 
  • Monitor fraudulent signals: Understand what genuine customers look like and let them through your checkout.Monitoring and reacting to fraudulent issues fast such asmultiple high value transactions going to similar addresses or 3D Secure not being filled in will help you in keeping your eCommerce store protected throughout the busy shopping period. 
  • Use email and social media: Considering your paid media campaigns is crucial but building strong email and social media campaigns to announce promotions and limited offers are also an effective way of attracting users to your site.

If you think your online store would benefit from a helping hand on the run up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, reach out to our sister web development agency, Pinpoint. They have the expertise and experience to merchandise and optimise eCommerce businesses ready for peak.

Utilise Google Shopping

The urgency behind Black Friday and Cyber Monday makes Google Shopping a powerful tool. Ensure your Google Shopping Feed is managed effectively, maximise your product visibility by optimising your shopping feed, and ensure as many products as possible are available to increase your exposure. As a visual platform including images, price and individual product comparisons, Google Shopping is a convenient shopping method for users and is growing in use too. A report conducted by Adthena found that Google Shopping Ads amounted to 82% of retail ad spend, attracting 87.9% of clicks across shopping ads.

Ad content in Google Shopping is pulled directly from your feed, meaning it must match a user’s search query if it is compatible with the product. Whoever is in control of the data feed has the ability to manipulate it, making it more content rich and user friendly. When using Google Shopping Ads, the higher your bids are set, the more likely your ads will trigger for a generic query, but the CPC is usually, on average, four times lower than that for search campaigns. As a result, Google Shopping is an effective tool for increasing the volume of new users visiting your website.

For all eCommerce businesses, this is an important part of preparing for Black Friday and one we have proven experience in. Last year, we successfully rebuilt Aquascutum’s shopping feed to drive record revenue during Black Friday 2018. In the few weeks before Black Friday, the team at Ingenuity Digital took over the management and optimisation of Aquascutum’s problematic feed, building an entirely new shopping feed from scratch and generating a 248% increase in revenue!

Capture customer data

Businesses should capitalise on this influx of encouraging them to subscribe, for example, through a 10% discount when they sign up. Capturing this data is beneficial for building your email marketing list, it can be used for cross-selling and upselling opportunities to make consumers notice a product which they may not have seen or considered. This process also helps to effectively increase your Average Order Value (AOV). When the optimum time comes to set up remarketing campaigns, this customer data will be a valuable asset to implement these campaigns effectively.

Learn from historical performance

To create a solid foundation and optimise your paid media campaigns, it can be worthwhile analysing your product and ad performance to inform your 2019 decisions. Merchants will benefit from assessing which products sold well, identify trends, you can use this information to optimise ad spend and increase sales potential. Analysis of this data ensures retailers have a detailed understanding of popular items, expected traffic and the best platforms to advertise on to maximise revenue.

Budgets and bids

As traffic and competition increases, your bids and budgets need to be continuously adjusted to take advantage of the higher demand. Managing your budget effectively could have a significant impact on your ad spend return, and there are a few key points that need to be considered:

  • Amplify ad budgets: Research conducted by Microsoft found that searches ramp up two weeks prior to Black Friday, highlighting the opportunity to influence conversions throughout November. We recommend forecasting a budget increase to allow for more bids on the weeks leading up to these retail events. This will allow you to capture the demand of users who are searching ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
  • Maximise mobile bids: According to Adobe, over a third of UK sales were made via mobile during Black Friday 2018, with this trend forecasted to increase year on year. If your website and your bids aren’t optimised for mobile shoppers, you will be at an instant disadvantage to other retailers. If you’re not already, it’s time to start thinking mobile-first.
  • Set up campaign alerts: Budget alerts are a crucial part of peak period. Using them can help maximise campaign effectiveness by avoiding missed opportunities.

Set up remarketing

Many people visit a website but aren’t ready to make a purchase at that moment. Remarketing ads allow you to target previous website visitors encouraging them to return and convert. Subscribers and past visitors, particularly basket abandoners or previous converters, can be targeted through remarketing lists, while bids can be upweighted for valuable customers.

Buying behaviour tends to change dramatically on the build up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as a result, businesses are likely to see a spike in their website traffic 2-3 weeks prior. This is due to buying behaviour switching from top of the funnel ‘ready-to-buy’ to lower funnel ‘research phase’ or ‘window shoppers’. Remarketing to these individuals over the Black Friday period with an aggressive modifier will help capture and re-engage them.

When Black Friday arrives, remarketing campaigns can be launched with accompanying discount messages. Remarketing display is usually cost-effective as you already have a list of leads and there is a higher available volume of impressions. Purchase intent is also higher, and, with a lower CPC, messaging can be directed to the right users at the right time when they are further down the conversion funnel.

Remarketing is also a great opportunity to utilise your CRM, identifying your VIP customers who purchased during Black Friday 2018. Why not provide them with the opportunity to access exclusive offers or discounts earlier? This will not only improve sales but also increase trust and brand loyalty between you and your customers.

Monitor, analyse and optimise

It’s important to track all relevant metrics on your eCommerce site by gathering valuable insight from real-time tracking tools such as Google Analytics. This data can help you understand your business’s performance during the peak period, meaning you can instantly respond to changing customer needs and maximise your ROI. Major retail events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday create an excellent opportunity for your business to learn what has worked well and what may need changing for 2020.

The peak period signifies one of the most rewarding yet challenging times of the year for eCommerce businesses. Marking your presence as early as possible has become more important than ever. Consumers have a higher incentive to purchase during shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but to deal with the increased demand, you must be prepared in advance. If advice is needed to help you prepare your eCommerce digital marketing for peak season activity, contact our team of paid media experts today.