For nearly 6 decades now, Black Friday has marked the onset of Christmas Shopping. It is an opportunity where sellers, as well as buyers, try to make the most of. Black Friday is observed on the last Friday of November every year, i.e., the day after the Thanksgiving. On a typical Black Friday, the streets are flooded with shoppers. But the significance of Black Friday is not the shoppers, it is what attracts them, the discounts.
It is a well-known fact that more than 45% of the world is connected via the internet now. And from the dawn of the internet, the shopping trend has shifted from brick and mortar stores to buying online. This pattern is evident from the increased traffic to websites and the numbers of online sales.
What can advertisers expect from Black Friday 2018?
With this brief introduction, let’s move on to the next phase of this Black Friday brush up. As a seller, what should you expect? Because, if we don’t estimate the numbers right, we can’t be prepared. Let’s break down the anticipated changes during the Black Friday into 3 categories.
- Boost in ad impressions
- Spike in traffic to your website
- Increase in sales numbers
In my opinion, increased traffic to your site is inevitable. And a majority of the traffic comes from Google search, and your AdWords ads can capture that traffic. We will talk about AdWords for Black Friday in detail later on in this blog. But for now, we will see how to be prepared to avoid any technical mishaps.
How can advertisers be prepared to handle Black Friday 2018?
The most critical requirement is to be able to handle all the traffic and multiple dynamic processes such as promotions, offers, cart additions, payments, etc. seamlessly. Your regular setup might not be able to handle all the heat. God forbid, in case your system goes down, you are going down with it too. The last thing you want is to keep the shoppers waiting. They would just jump onto a different website to make a purchase. And it would be awful to lose out customers, especially when the competition is very high.
Here are a few things you should consider to give shoppers a seamless experience.
Server upgrade –
Make sure you have updated your server capacity to handle the traffic and the multiple processes that would be running simultaneously. Please be warned that server crashes are prevalent, and better avoid it when you can. A server upgrade also helps in decreasing the load time on computers as well as mobile phones.
Lucid website functions –
Run tests to check the functionalities of your website. A/B testing is an excellent way to understand which features are appreciated by the visitors and those that aren’t. If the website functions aren’t lucid, shoppers might doubt your products as well. Add an “add to cart” function with all the products.
Mobile optimized website –
A majority of the shoppers are going to be using mobile phones to access your site. Hence, it is a must to have a mobile-optimized website to give the best user experience.
Easy navigation and checkout options –
Clear headers that help visitors navigate through the website with ease is always a winner. And multiple checkout options are also necessary to offer a healthy web experience. If you haven’t yet figured it out, you should do this exercise before the big day. You can enable autofill options by Chrome and other browsers to reduce the checkout time.
Payment processes and refund policies –
Check for bugs or errors during the payment processes. Payment gateways often return unexpected errors that might render in transaction failures. Ensure that the mobile compatibility of the payment gateways is met with. And in case of a failed transaction, predefine the refund policies for the benefit of the shoppers and you.
I have covered the basics of how to be prepared to handle the Black Friday rush. But, where does it all start? How do we get the visitors to our website? The answer is Google search. And when your ads show up when users search, you sure are going to get a lot of impressions all week long. But is that enough? You want those impressions to convert to clicks and the clicks to conversions. And there is no scope of error. I will try to help you make the most of AdWords this Black Friday to get your sales numbers soaring high.
Basic Google Ads (AdWords) tips for Black Friday 2018 –
AdWords, in general, is a very competitive niche. It gets even more competitive during the Black Friday bonanza. However, with a little precaution, you can get the best of this sales fest. Without wasting any more time, let’s learn some useful AdWords tips for the Black Friday.
Adjust your budget – higher the better
Before we get to go further, we first have to discuss the AdWords budget. Keeping budgets higher than regular days is a must. Using the data from last year, you can get an estimate of how your impression share, click-through rate, and conversion rate would be. You should continuously monitor the activity throughout the day, and we suggest you bid higher especially when your impression share is low. It is because if your ads don’t show up, you are missing out on a pool of would-be customers for sure. Additionally, we recommend you to allocate a bigger budget for your Black Friday campaigns than regular. We have seen that the web traffic increase significantly during this period. And this leave with an opportunity for you (advertisers/sellers) to capture these visitors and turn them into buyers. It would be a shame to lose on these potential leads for reasons like low budget or exhausted budgets.
PS: Know the secret of AdWords auctions for keywords and ad postions in our blog.
Reconsider your keywords – simple yet specific
Keywords are at the heart of every AdWords campaign. And it holds true for your Black Friday campaigns too. Striking a balance keywords that highlight Black Friday while educating viewers about your products is the key. Your keywords need to be very simple, like what users might search for. And they need to be specific, saying they belong to the Black Friday campaign. Simplicity helps users understand and connects them with your product. Being particular adds to the relevance and clarity of the ad. It assures the users that they are viewing what they are looking for.
E.g., Imagine you are an iPhone dealer running AdWords campaign for the Black Friday sale. You want to advertise your discounts on iPhones and their accessories. What would your keywords be that are simple yet specific? Black Friday iPhone deals, iPhone deals Black Friday, Best deals on iPhone accessories, iPhone deals, etc. are some good options.
Strategize your bids – smarter and stronger
It is true that CPCs see over 20% hike during Black Friday, but this hike starts off almost by mid-October. And there is only one alternative to spending loads of money, i.e., running ads early. It indeed is necessary that you launch your Black Friday campaigns early, and have a higher budget to make the most. Instead of bidding on generic keywords like Black Friday, we suggest you invest on the long tail keywords such as Black Friday Electronics, Black Friday iPhone deals, etc. This way you will have a stronger hold of the available opportunities while spending smartly.
Define your KPIs – real and reliable
KPIs provide insights on where we stand at achieving our goals. Goals can either be target revenue, brand awareness, customer acquisition, etc. Using key performance indicators, we can assess the strategic strength and the monetary worth of campaigns. Here are a few must-have KPIs for your Black Friday campaigns especially –
Every time your ad is shown, you call it an impression. Impressions give us an idea of how many times your ads were triggered. If the number of impressions is low, it is evident that either the keywords or the ad copies aren’t right or the bids are too small.
New Visitors –
Attracting new visitors is as important as retaining the already existing ones. A low number of unique visitors is an alarming insight. It means that the ad copies aren’t engaging enough to persuade the user to click on the ad and visit the website.
Conversion Rate –
The conversion rate is the average number of conversions per click. Each industry has its own benchmark. However, we believe that if you are not happy with your conversion rate, then the industry benchmarks mean nothing. Retargeting campaigns are one of the best ways to improve the conversion rate as they help deliver your message to the right audiences.
Cost Per Conversion –
Setting up conversion tracking right from the start is a must as cost per conversion tells you how much you are spending for a conversion. If the cost per conversion is higher than your ticket size, you probably should re-adjust your campaign structure.
Return on Investment (ROI) –
Instead of working out the ROI for campaigns as a whole, we suggest you consider the ROIs for individual keywords. By being able to differentiate high ROI keywords from the low ROI keywords, you can push the high ROI keywords for better profits. You can either pause or alter low ROI keywords too.
Segment your audience – distinct, in-depth and detailed
Segmentation of audience is one of the easiest ways to deliver relevant messages to the audience. Audience segmentation can be based on the time they spent your website, products they browsed through, things they purchased, etc. It is essential to keep in mind that when segmenting the audience, you must consider taking a full-funnel approach. A full-funnel approach is one where customers at all stages (i.e., top, middle, and bottom) of the funnel are included. Below are few successful segmentation strategies followed by AdWords advertisers.
Studying the behavior of existing customers, you can target new customers with the similar practice who might be interested in your offerings. Google AdWords offers a Similar Audience tool for the same.
Pages Views –
If you see a significant number of visitors who have bounced off your home page, these visitors can be a right top of the funnel prospects for you. Similarly, someone who has visited more than one page, they can be mid-funnel prospects. And someone who attended five pages and was at the checkout page but didn’t go through with the purchase, a solid bottom-funnel prospect.
Product Views –
Based on the type of product a group of customers viewed, personalized ads targeting that group can be fabricated. If you want to push products that are underperforming or have a high ROI, this strategy can come in handy.
Cart Abandoners –
Interestingly, more 50% of your existing customers were once cart abandoners. This is true for most businesses. Customers get cold feet when they finally got to pay. This is a phase when they consider doing more research or prefer a different seller. If you haven’t done this before, do it now. Run campaigns for such customers in doubt. Show them ads that provide them with personalized discounts.
Using Remarketing Lists and data from your CRM, you can run campaigns to reward customers who made purchases previously. Such campaigns help you keep your customers loyal and persuade them to come back to you. Remarketing lists are available for Search as well as Shopping campaigns.
These are a few basic tips to make your Black Friday campaigns standout from the rest. But please be warned, you will need to improvise and tweak to suit your product offerings and business style.
Google Shopping tips for Black Friday 2018 –
Even though Google AdWords and Google Shopping are very similar, they hold significant contrasting features too. What stands true is that Product Listing Ads, without a doubt, are as competitive as AdWords Search and Display ads. And just like regular campaigns, shopping campaigns can also be optimized to render good results during the Black Friday sale.
Product feed management –
Shopping campaigns start with the product feed. It is mandatory that all the products in your product feed are eligible and approved by Google. Otherwise, your products won’t show up during searches and will lose out on a lot of potential customers. There are 3 things you can do to avoid product feed mismanagement:
Automatic item updates –
Google provides automatic item updates for products in your product inventory. This can come in very handy as the feed is frequently updated. The prices and availability will be accurate, which otherwise may cause shoppers bounce off your store. Instead, you can do this manually too. However, it is better to automate as the prices may fluctuate during the shopping season.
Diagnose the feed –
Using the diagnose option in Google Merchant Center, figure out why your products got disapproved in the past. Try to rectify the issues and get the products back to the auctions before the shopping season starts. Higher the number of products in auctions, more you can qualify for impressions. Thus, more shoppers get a chance to see your products.
Confirm contact information –
Update your technical and critical contact information in Merchant Center to respond quickly to any last minute feed update or data issues.
Campaigns, budgets, and reports –
A product feed is just the beginning. Once the feed is ready, it’s better to reach out to customers instead of waiting for them. If you don’t push, there is a high probability that your competitors are eating your customer share too. However, it is also essential to make sure that your core campaign and structure aren’t affected. Here are a few steps you can follow:
Campaigns and campaign priorities –
At AdNabu, we use campaign priorities to separate campaigns by the keywords. Campaigns for holiday, seasonal or strategic products that have targeted keywords can be set at higher priorities. This allows us to be more flexible with the budget optimization and promotions without hindering the core campaign.
Budget optimization –
It is undeniable that your budgets are going to shoot up this holiday season. Did you know that it is going to start a lot before the holiday season? Yes, more and more shoppers are now doing their research way ahead of the shopping season. In 2016, ~54% of the shopper started off their research a month before the holiday season. And the numbers went up to ~60% in 2017. In 2018, we are expecting a similar growth. Hence, it is better if you increase your budgets to match the search volume of your products.
Click share –
Click share gives you an idea of product groups that have a room for more clicks. Understanding this is important so that you can push those product groups to rank up. You will find the click share information under product groups tab.
Overlap rate and outranking –
From the auction insights report, get the data of overlap rate and exceeding to compare the performance of high-value products against competitors. With increased bids, you can show at the top of the results for holiday products. Thus, clickthrough rate and shopper engagement will improve too.
Target mobile users –
Statistics suggest that more and more shoppers are moving from desktops to mobile phones and tablets. This is evident from the rapidly declining desktop traffic. In 2018, around 5 billion people use mobile phones which is a 5% growth from 2017. And out of this 5 billion, more than 2.4 billion are smartphone users. So yes, mobile users are bigger and better targets this year. But how can you capture these customers on the go?
Location extension –
Take advantage of customer near you by increasing bid adjustments for targeting location extensions. This works best if you also have brick and mortar store along with an online store.
Mobile bid modifiers –
Always keep your mobile bid modifiers updated. Consider the estimated total conversion rates and the influence it has on your campaigns when placing bids.
Bid stimulators –
Bid stimulators use your historical performance data to recommend you mobile bid modifications. Taking those recommendations is wise.
AdWords search, display, and shopping campaigns are all going to be very competitive this holiday season. Every advertiser, retailer, and shopper are ready to make the most of it. But is it all about keywords, campaigns, and reports? Not really. There is another critical factor that can help you win the race, i.e., aesthetics or user experience. Having an appealing website layout and an optimized user experience is sure to add to the perfect campaign structure. In the next section, we will help you give your users an enthralling expertise on your stores this Black Friday season.
Optimizing user experience to boost Black Friday 2018 sales –
A soothing user experience can go a long way in attracting new customers, making a deal and in holding customers loyal. At AdNabu, we believe that a task half-done is a task undone. Similarly, getting everything right from keywords to campaign creation to tracking conversion is all undone if user experience (UX) isn’t optimized. In this section, we will learn how user experience can help reduce bounce rate, cart abandoners, etc.
Bounce rate reduction –
Which store would you walk into, a store with clothes piled up in a heap or a store that has them organized in shelves? This simple example which we all can relate to can explain to us why customers bounce in the first place. Similarly, a secure and easy-to-navigate website is better welcoming that a clumsy one. Customers would trust your ads, products, and promotions too. Here are a few things that can help reduce the bounce rate.
Title headers and headlines –
A vivid headline that addresses the needs of the customers and how your products can solve them is a must. Also, include the features and benefits of your products. Have a compelling copy that blends in well with the overall website.
Use simple graphics and images to explain the product, its installation, and applications. It adds to the aesthetics of the website while improving the chances of making a sale.
Content placement –
Content and its placement must be strategized too. A lengthy paragraph around the products is a major turn down. Likewise, content-heavy checkout pages often kill customers purchase mood. Hence, keep your blogs and other content away from customers who are at the bottom funnel.
Product page optimization –
As mentioned earlier, content placement done wrong can cause a customer to bounce. Content on your homepage needs to be descriptive, provoking and graphic. Whereas, the content on your product page should be informative, persuasive and crisp. Below mentioned are a few must-have things you should include on the product page:
Product description –
A new description containing information about the product such as availability, manufacturing date, size, color, material, tech specifications, etc.
Display multiple photos of the product, preferably with a white background. Google specifies using a white background when you upload product feed to merchant center.
User-generated content –
Research suggests that user-generated content or user reviews help improve your sales by up to 161%. It really doesn’t matter if the reports are 5-star or 2-star. Just the fact that they exist, it adds credibility to the products. Including a FAQ section or forum for discussion could also be of great help.
CTA buttons –
CTAs could be as modest as “learn more,” or persuasive as “buy now.” We can’t guarantee which one would work for you, but what we can promise is that these buttons do impact your sales. We recommend you to split test different CTA buttons to determine which one best appeals to your customers.
Check out page optimization –
At the end of the day, a sale is all that matters. You might be under the impression that a customer who has made it all the way to the checkout is less likely to bounce. But that isn’t true. No matter what stage the customer is, the probability of bounce is still significantly high. And a bounce from the checkout page is far more costly than a homepage bounce for apparent reasons. Hence, check out page optimization is necessary to be ready for the big Black Friday sales. Here are a few things you should consider including on the checkout page:
Shipping and tax –
Research suggests that more than 90% of the shoppers take action when shipping is free. This doesn’t mean you should provide free shipping burning your wallets. But, we recommend you to be transparent about the shipping charges. Honestly is always appreciated. Similarly, a detailed breakdown of taxes applicable is also necessary. Even if a customer doesn’t make the purchase, they got no reason to blame you. You weren’t wrong on your part.
Progress meter –
Even though it is not necessary, a well-designed progress meter can encourage customers to finish the transaction. You can be very creative here. Maybe a gift at the end of the final step can be a real surprise. And a word of caution, be sure to A/B test before you finalize on the design of the meter. A timer for each step through the progress can also be helpful to push the sale.
This section is a gist of why and how to optimize user experience to improve your Black Friday 2018 sales. We suggest you consider your previous year data to chalk out a foolproof optimization plan for this year.
AdWords tools and features to enhance Black Friday campaigns –
And last but not the least, AdWords offers different features and tools ranging from keyword planner to retargeting to help advertisers plan and execute campaigns seamlessly. I am sure most of you are well aware of these. But I would like to highlight three tools and features that have a direct impact on Black Friday campaigns.
Price extension –
There would be no argument when I say that the price is the first consideration of shoppers. If it is good, everything else will follow up right. Showing the amount distinctly on your ad copy catches the attention shoppers. And this price extension by AdWords can help you do that better.
Looks great, right? You can make your ads look this cool too. Price extension is not only informative, but it also adds to the aesthetics of your ad too. Not many advertisers have adopted this new feature, but from those who have, we have seen an increase in click-through rate. You can add price extensions to your ads following these simple steps.
Callout extension –
While price is the topmost concern of shoppers, special offers and discounts are the next. While price extension does its part of attracting the shoppers, callout extensions capture them. You can use up to 6 callouts on an ad. Callouts can be about your working hours, shipping, return policies, customer support, etc.
Callout extensions give a brief of your business and offering to the shoppers while they skim through your ad. You can update the callouts when needed without actually changing your ad copy. You can add callout at ad group level, campaign or account level as per your requirement. Most importantly, you can schedule them to push Black Friday related callouts. AdWords also provides a detailed report of clicks on your ads when callouts appeared and when they didn’t. You can add callouts to your ads in just a few simple steps.
Keyword tool –
Even though it is a primary tool which I shouldn’t bother mentioning again, it’s importance commands space in this article. No campaign is successful without a solid keywords foundation. More the effort you put in choosing the right keywords, the better returns your campaigns bring.
AdNabu keyword planner tool suggests you keywords that best suit your interests. The tool suggests keywords based on your historical data, current bidding statistics and optimization requirements. You can make use of it for your Black Friday campaigns for free! And to generate long tail variations of your keywords, AdNabu long tail keyword tool is a good bet.