We are in the calm before the storm, also known as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Can you feel it?
In 2018, the ecommerce holidays resulted in over $126 billion in online sales with Black Friday revenues shooting up 51% YoY and Cyber Monday coming in hot with 32% YoY revenue growth. To alleviate some of the stress you may be feeling as these days approach, we gathered tips from cross-channel Account Managers here at Adlucent that will help you see measurable outcomes this holiday season. These pointers are relevant across paid search, paid social, programmatic, Amazon, and creative services. We break down what to do leading up to the holidays, how to take on the week with grace, and how to integrate your data afterward.
“You should expect Murphy’s Law to be operating at max power, especially during the week of the holidays.”- Tweet this.
What to Do Leading up to the Holidays?
As you prepare your campaign strategies, your top priority should be ensuring that key stakeholders are aware of all holiday season promotional plans. Outline upcoming promos, KPIs, budgets, messaging, CPCs, inventory, and other elements of your campaigns. For paid social, for example, agree upon spending caps, holiday evergreen ads, and site downtime action plans before moving into the busy week. See to it that everyone is on the same page before launching campaigns to avoid any mishaps or last-minute changes.
Understand your goals for the holidays and how each marketing channel can help you achieve them. You might want to use Facebook & Pinterest to help generate early demand, which you could then capture from paid search to gain more insights into promotional periods. Cross-channel check ins are beneficial because they can uncover trends and data to improve your strategy.
Example Adlucent Client Paid Social Ad
If you are running paid search campaigns, some things you may want to consider are:
Creating a schedule for your upcoming promotions
Scheduling holiday ads & extensions for pausing and unpausing
Checking that holiday keywords are active
Eliminating GMC disapprovals
Creating specific dayparting schemes for Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Cleaning up PLA structure and ensuring all SKUs are going to the correct places
Checking your campaign settings and budgets to make sure you’re not limiting yourself during the influx of online traffic
Leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s also a good idea to check your creative – and check it twice. Make sure your campaigns are consistent across channels, and you’re using a theme throughout your ads on the different key shopping days, but not repeating the same messaging or designs. You don’t want to elicit digital advertising fatigue or annoy your audience by repeating yourself without variation. If you have a brick-and-mortar presence, it’s essential to infuse the in-store experience with the same feeling you’re promoting in your ads and ensure that the customer service team is ready to handle any special holiday promotions.
How to Survive During the Retail Holidays?
Once all the planning and heavy lifting is complete from the week before, this week will mainly consist of monitoring the performance of your promotions. Have your plans A, B, and C in line for any adjustments that may need to be made so you can respond quickly. You should expect Murphy’s Law to be operating at max power, especially during the week of the holidays.
Amazon is no stranger to holiday surprises. There are moments when Amazon’s data may lag, so it’s important to prepare your account early in the week of Thanksgiving and Black Friday. A quick tip from our Amazon team is to look back at your historical data, and your current traffic patterns, to calculate budgets so you can capture any increases in traffic efficiently. In general, keeping a close eye on performance throughout the day, for any marketing channel, will help you make quick and necessary adjustments.
Creative-wise, you’ve hopefully gotten all your planned holiday campaigns in place with unique, on-brand messaging and designs. Keep breathing, and know that this is a week to have fun with your brand! In addition to working your holiday marketing plan, it’s also a good idea to be a little flexible this week, including updating creative as appropriate if something exciting and relevant occurs in your stores or in the world that makes sense to share with your audience. You can go live on social media if that fits within your strategy, and set yourself up to engage your customers creatively, rather than simply advertising at them.
Tip: Contingency plans will be your saving grace during this week, and everyone involved with running holiday promotions should be familiar in case any small fires arise.
What to Do in the Weeks after to Maintain Your Momentum and Take Key Learnings into the New Year?
After the ecommerce holidays have passed, your job is not entirely done. Collect, analyze, and learn, so you can gain insights into all the data you’ve gathered from the retail holidays. If you know stakeholder expectations going into the holiday period, you can use performance learnings from this time to evaluate what worked and what didn’t. Then ask yourself why. The answers to these questions will provide direction for future campaign improvements going into the new year.
For paid search, keep a record of what products sold successfully and which did not perform as strongly. Digging deeper into this data will show you what keywords performed well and which ad text drove high CTR. Similarly, for Amazon, you want to dive into the previous week’s metrics to see what happened at all levels, which will prepare you for the next holiday or peak season. Taking notes on trends will also inform your campaigns in the future.
Cyber Monday is always a big day in the world of digital marketing, but don’t forget about Retargeting Tuesday – and the days beyond. The holidays can be so hectic, so this is an excellent time to use creative (but not creepy) copy to re-engage cart abandoners and users who’ve otherwise bounced off your site in the frenzy of the prior weeks. A lot of your customers will be making returns and shopping into the new year, so see which of your campaigns resonated most throughout the month as you plan your creative for 2020. Tap into themes about getting what you really wanted for the holidays, and prepare to start the new year off right.
It’s a good time to extend your sales, but make sure your messaging feels genuine and not like your holiday promotion’s urgency was insincere. If you’ve tested out-of-the-box creative that’s been successful this holiday season, a new year is the perfect time to consider refreshing any stale brand guides or re-establish your creative identity to remain memorable for years to come.
Tip: To analyze efficiently, set a timeframe or deadlines for how long you should sift through data. Avoiding analysis paralysis is vital to moving forward in the new year.
Some Final Thoughts for the Holiday Week
During this time of year, it’s not uncommon for things to go wrong – even for the best brands. That is why it’s so important to plan. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Through strong communication and careful planning, you’re already setting your holiday promotions up to do well in the coming weeks. Observing performance closely the week of the holidays will allow you to catch any problems that come up so you can revise them quickly. And, after the ecommerce storm has calmed down, review all of your data and identify any trends that can improve your campaigns in the new year. From all of us here at Adlucent, we wish you a low-stress, high-revenue holiday season!
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