2020 – What a year. The Coronavirus inspired more and more companies to move online, a process that was already well underway.
The result? Shopify CTO Jean-Michel Lemieux Tweeted out:
“As we help thousands of businesses move online, our platform is now handling Black Friday level traffic every day!”
So, whether this is your first Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) or one of many, here’s over 100 tips to help you make the most from the holiday season!
Black Friday Cyber Monday Coronavirus Considerations
There’s a lot of considerations this year for how coronavirus will impact BFCM. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Black Friday Vs Cyber Monday 2020
Whether Black Friday or Cyber Monday wins out this year will depend on a few factors.
Amazon Moving Prime Day to October
Another big consideration is that Amazon has decided to move Prime Day 2020 up to Oct. 13 – 14. From September 28th, 2020 to October 12th, 2020, Prime subscribers who spend $10 on particular goods from small businesses on Amazon get a $10 credit that can be used toward almost any purchase on Prime day. There’s even a dedicated page dedicated to the promotion.
Yearly Black Friday Cyber Monday Tips
Luckily, the coronavirus shouldn’t undermine a business that’s been prepping all year. Here are some measures you can take 24/7 365.
Promos are a great way to turn visitors into shoppers and shoppers into repeat customers. Whether you use them or not, and you should be, you might be surprised to learn that many businesses aren’t the top results for promos associated with their own shops. To remedy this situation, you can create a robust FAQ page about your own coupons. You can also just have a page where your promos live.
Types of Promos
Here are some common promo codes.
Types of Questions
Here are sample questions you can use for your promo page.
Year-Round Black Friday/Cyber Monday Pages
You can have a year-round BFCM page to make sure your search results for your brand plus BFCM leads people to your page.
This page can include:
This content can just live at YourCompanyName.com/BlackFriday.
Optimize for Mobile
By now you should know that mobile is here to stay, so your site should be optimized for mobile. It should be easy to browse, add to cart, and buy on your phone. You also don’t want to miss out on people who prefer to browse on their phones but buy on other devices.
Monthly Black Friday Cyber Monday Tips
September 2020: Planning
September is when you start putting together your attack strategy for the peak shopping season. This requires a holistic approach that pulls together marketing, customer service, suppliers, and SEO to maximize the customer experience. Here are 90 suggestions.
September is ideal for taking a bird’s eye view of things. Some things will become clearer with time while others you’ll understand from the get-go.
1. Q4 KPIs
The first thing you should do is nail down your key performance indicators (KPIs). These may include:
2. Get the Whole Gang Together
3. Customer Personas
Build customer personas so that you can more effectively target your ads on:
4. Year-on-Year (YOY) Analysis to Gauge Demand
Study your month-by-month performance from the preceding year. The goal is to determine what percentage of spend you’ll need to use to improve your return. Pay attention to:
5. Assemble a Robust Q4 eCommerce Dashboard
No more manually pulling reports! Use data visualization tools like Google Data Studio to make your data more digestible, saving you time and sparing you headaches. Track performance by
6. Examine Last Year’s Search Query Reports
Look over the previous year’s Google Ad campaigns using the search query report. Label all your seasonal priority keywords.
7. Conduct an Extensive Analytics Audit
Start on the right foot by making sure you have the most accurate data. Review:
8. Use Reviews to Write Product Descriptions
People trust reviews from strangers on the internet more than recommendations for their own family. For this reason, reviews are a great source of content. Use them to inspire:
9. Offer Subscriptions
Many people now buy everything from cleaning supplies and bathing products to food and underwear using subscription services. Give your customers the option to subscribe. You can even give them customers a discount for signing up. Just make sure you make canceling easy. Making canceling hard can hurt your reputation and discourage subscribers.
10. Study the Competition
11. Review Google Trends
Google Trends tells you how popular search terms are in Google. You can see if:
12. Don’t Forget Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Secularism
Both Hanukkah and Kwanzaa have gift giving components and should factor into your campaigns in some way. As should a secular approach to the holiday season.
13. Use Inclusive Stock Photos
Now more than ever people will be aware of how inclusive your stock photos are. A website that features only pictures of white people will be jarring.
14. Consider a Charitable Component
People are constantly bombarded with negative imagery these days. Coronavirus, racial injustice, human rights violations, unemployment, the threat of eviction, and more. Check out our explainer of and best practices for . Some options include:
15. Taking Anti-Racist Action Without Broadcast
A renewed interest in the Black Lives Matter movement swept across America in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. BFCM is not the time to publicly broadcast support of BLM unless another tragedy occurs. Otherwise, the action would appear self serving. Instead, quietly so that if and when your company does make public commentary, there’s a history of good deeds to back up your claims. Some steps to take include:
Not doing the above can have a significant adverse impact if a company publicizes positive action only to have their PR undermined by employees reporting the existence of racism within the company.
16. Be Prepared to Pause BFCM Campaigns in the Wake of Nationwide Tragedies
If there’s anything that 2020 has taught us is that tragedy can occur at any moment. When they do occur, weigh the pros and cons of temporarily pausing your scheduled blog, social media, and email campaigns so as not to appear insensitive or to be ignored. You can always unpause when it’s fair to do so again. You can even consider having posts already written in anticipation of the sorts of events that have befallen the United States in 2020:
17. Conduct an Extensive Analytics Audit
Start on the right foot by making sure you have the most accurate data. Review:
18. Turn On Google Ads Status Alerts
Critical performance issues are easier to keep track of if you have Google Ads performance notifications activated. Get your alerts running before peak season to get ahead of any issues like:
19. Shop With the Competition
A great way to study the competition is to act like a customer:
Do this regularly and you should have a good idea of what their peak
season plan is.
September 2020: Focusing
Solid focus is key to a successful performance marketing strategy. Once you know who your key demographics are, you can see if they use any of the following social media platforms:
September is when you’ll be doing most of your audience calibration so
that you can get your message to your would-be customers.
20. Correct Google Merchant Center Disapprovals
Long before the peak period arrives you should fix all critical issues
within Google Merchant Center to maximize your shopping campaign impressions.
21. Use In-Market & Affinity Audiences With Google Ads
Audience targeting lets you reach customers based on their interests and
what they’re researching. With this information you can get a better idea of
how different demographics interact with your ads.
22. Connect Your Customer Relationship (CRM) Software With Your Ad Platforms
First-part data is an indispensable facet of your targeting campaign, so keep it up to date by syncing your CRM with your ad platforms.
23. Update Your Product Data Feeds
Get improved traffic by updating your product data feed. Focus on:
24. Solidify Your Google Ads Bid Game Plan
Lay the foundation for your Google Ads Bids strategy and avoid tweaking it. Focus on:
25. Use Dynamic Search Ads
Dynamic Search Ads are fueled by your website’s content. They help plug holes in your keyword based campaigns. Their headlines and landing pages are created using content from your website, which keeps your ads timely and makes things easier for you. All you need is a creative description. If you target category page URLS and use exact match keywords as negatives you’ll reduce the likelihood of your own ads competing for your audience’s attention.
26. Break Up Your Facebook Product Ads By Type
It’s easier to study return on investment (ROI) by product type, so break up your product catalogue into smaller groups. This way you can retarget audiences more effectively as well.
27. Sync Google Ads and Bing Ads Daily
It’s easier than ever to sync your PPC campaigns across both Google and Bing. Do so on a daily basis for maximized results.
28. Ditch Bad Placement in Google Smart Shopping
See how your ads are doing across different placements in Google Smart Shopping. To do so, follow these steps:
29. Use Top-Performing Affinity & In-Market Audiences to Create Combined Audiences in Google Ads
If you want to unleash the power of an audience-led approach, combine affinity audiences and in-market audiences across all your search campaigns.
30. Use Custom Intent Audiences For YouTube & Google Display
Using Custom Intent audiences to target your audience using:
This way you can more effectively target your audience on both YouTube and Google.
31. Don’t Include Products With High Benchmark Pricing
If your product is just a bit pricier than the competition on Google Shopping, you could be dunzo. So, make sure to exclude any expensive items from your product groups, and keep an eye out on this situation for the entirety of Q4.
32. Create More Specific Retargeting Audiences for Facebook Dynamic Product Ads
When creating your retargeting audiences, the last 30 days is too broad of a category. Instead, create categories out of your visitors in the last 0 to 3 days, 4 to 14 days, and 15 to 30 days. This way you’ll spend your money more wisely.
33. Use Similar Audience Prospecting to Improve Facebook Campaigns
You can use similar audience prospecting to target a more niche audience. Create your categories out of your best and highest-value first-party audiences.
34. Remove Poor-Selling Products from Google Smart Shopping
Manually find the worst selling items in your Google Smart Shopping and exclude them.
September 2020: Ads
September is when you can experiment with your ads. Moving forward, though, you’ll want to use ads that have been shown to provide clicks.
35. Test Search Ads
Test your ads by playing with:
36. Incorporate Video Into Your BFCM Campaigns
Video does the following:
Include closed captioning because videos are often watched without sound. People decide quickly if they’ll watch the video, so make it engaging right away.
37. Make Ad Mock-Ups For Different Platforms
Create ad variations that pivot around the following to determine the best fit:
38. Coordinate Your Social Ads with Email Campaigns
Make sure your email campaigns and social ads go out at the same time and that they’re complimentary.
Using these techniques your user experience may become more branded and functional, which may lead to increased conversions.
39. Create Channel-Specific Landing Pages
Individual product pages based on variation and size can increase traffic. So, make sure your pages fit your target audience.
40. Set-Up RSA and ETAs For Google Ads
Google’s recommendation is one RSA and two ETAs per ad group. Remember to pin the most relevant headlines to increase quality click-through.
41. Create a Google Ads Group For High-ROI Audiences
If you discover a particular audience is doing exceptionally well, create a specific ad group for it. Then experiment with custom ads and landing pages to increase conversions.
42. Apply Google Ad Extensions
Activate the full complement of Google ad extension at the ad group level, including:
43. Roll-Out Sequenced Youtube Video Ads
Create video ad sequences upwards of 4 videos in length. For best results, merge:
October 2020: Planning
With Q4 right around the corner, it’s time to implement your tried and tested campaigns both old and new. By this point, your campaigns should be good-to-go. While not set in stone, October is about continually studying your efforts with the intention of polishing them as much as possible.
44. Look For Related Breakouts in October’s Google Trends
Use Google trends to study your most important search terms. Pay extra attention to related breakout terms, which are terms that increased by 5,000% at minimum during the analyzed time period.
45. Target Best Performing Audiences When Running Non-Brand Google Ads Campaigns
To save money when running non-brand search campaigns, target:
46. Don’t Run Out of Popular Variations
One reason why someone may not complete a purchase is if you don’t have the version of the item they want. Make sure you’re stock never runs low based on best selling:
An automated costume inventory analysis can alert you when you run low on supplies.
47. Study Product Returns
Study product returns, particularly when in the arena of peak sales. Start at the category-level, then get granular by looking at stock-keeping units (SKU). Use custom labels to highlight products that are being returned at a disproportionately high rate.
48. Revise Your Budget if 2020 CPMs Exceed 2019 CPMs
If your CPMs are higher in October 2020 than they were in October 2019 in key platforms, then revise as necessary.
49. Use Your Google Analytics Shopping Behavior Report to Retarget Audiences Who Don’t Complete Purchases
You can use your Google Analytics Shopping Behavior report to sort average basket abandonment by country or campaigns. You can then use this info to create a retargeting campaign with a cart abandonment survey. This will help you remedy the situation. Likely, if you have repeat visitors not turning into customers, it’s because of several things you’re not doing right than one big thing you’re doing wrong..
October 2020: Focusing
Narrowing your focus in Q4 so as to maximize the efficacy of your campaigns can mean the difference between a bust and a success. This is your foundation, so a mistake will end up with systemic consequences. So, study key indicators, including conversion rates, shopping cart abandonment, dwell time, click-thru-rates (CTR), and social shares.
50. Add New Ad Groups When Using Dynamic Search Ads
Build out new ad groups based on new keyword opportunities. You should be conducting this sort of research on a semi-regular basis. Add new keywords to your regular search campaigns to see how they perform.
51. Revisit Google Ads Big Strategies
You need to hit the perfect cadence for Google Ad bid optimization. Re-visit your bid strategy every 7 to 10 days during peak season using your most current analytics.
52. Study Google Ads Audience Insights
Google Ads Audience Manager can provide insights based on converted users and high-value audiences. If you spot trends within particular in-market and affinity audiences, then you can add those groups to existing campaigns to discover more potential customers.
53. Experiment With Custom Intent Audiences Using Competitor Keywords
Consider creating custom intent audiences around competitor keywords. Go as far as making product comparison pages.
54. Create Landing Pages and Ad Groups Around High-Performing Queries
Build out specific ad groups and landing pages based on high-performing queries like:
55. Have a Flash Sale
You can whet your customer’s appetite with a two to three hour flash sale with super high discounts. Some things to keep in mind for your flash sale.
56. Create a BFCM Chat Bot
Your customer can talk about what they want to buy and the bot can guide them through their options. At the end, the bot can even offer a promo code.
57. Incrementally Increase Your Budget
By mid-October, you should incrementally up your bid strategies and campaign budgets by as much as 20%.
58. Create New Google Smart Shopping Campaigns Out of High Performing Product Categories
If particular product categories are driving 20 transactions at a minimum per week with above average ROAS, set create new Smart Shopping campaigns with increased budget caps.
59. Make a Facebook Ads Lookalike Campaign Around 5 Star Reviews
Create a Facebook lookalike audience around customers who leave 5-star reviews. If there’s enough shared traits within this audience you’ll be able successfully prospect to find more buyers.
October 2020: Ads
October is when you put into play all of the new ideas you tested in September along with your proven successes.
60. Use Carousel and Collection Ad Formats In Facebook Dynamic Product Ads
A collection ad allows customers to further investigate your products without leaving Facebook or Instagram. When combined with Dynamic Product Ads, Collection Ads are a great way to attract users and hold their attention.
61. Deploy Display Ads for Core Audiences
Use unique Google Display campaigns to target the following audiences:
62. Schedule Your Campaigns
Schedule tactical campaigns using the previously made audiences, ad creatives, and landing pages.
63. Apply New Landing Pages And Watch For Changes
Apply your landing pages, then look for the following early metric of efficacy:
64. Use Google Showcase Shopping Ads
If you want to feature specific products, then product shopping ads are one of the go-to tools in your arsenal. Using Showcase Shopping ads you can share related products together.
While these ads aren’t usually used as product ads, they do appear in category searches, most often those conducted on mobile devices. The closer you get to BFCM the more you’ll want to increase visibility.
65. Use Google Discovery Ads to Affordably Expand Your Reach With Custom Intent Audience Targeting
Discovery Ads uses Cost-Per-Action (CPA) based bid strategies to get engagement down to the lowest possible amount. It’s particularly effective for retargeting, in-market, and custom intent audiences. A custom intent audience is created using metrics like search queries and competitor URLs to find customers who are already interested in your type of business. Ads are then delivered across the Google display network.
66. Run Facebook Lead Ads For One Final Pre-BFCM Mailing List Campaign
Run a campaign with promo codes and other offers to get new mailing list subscribers before BFCM.
67. Conduct a Drip Campaign Using Facebook Ads
Consider a drip sequence of ads. If you’re an artisanal homegood store, try highlighting different pieces of kitchen ware on each day of the week. Create an audience of those who interact with your ads, and get your ads in front of that audience as often as possible the week leading up to BFCM.
68. Use Pre-Roll Video Ads to Target Youtube Reviewers and Competition
If people have been rating and commenting on your brand on YouTube, target those viewers with product-focused pre-roll ads. If you have competition on YouTube, you can target their audience with competitor-focused pre-roll ads that highlight your differences.
69. Launch a Thank You Campaign for New Buyers
Create an ad campaign that sends a Thank You message to new customers. Make sure your list is always updated and that ads are delivered as soon as a visitor becomes a buyer.
November 2020: Planning
November is the main event for many eCommerce marketers. Winning requires knowing YOY category patterns, reacting to intra-week changes, and tweaking your focus and marketing to meet increased demand.
By this point, your data should be consistent, so you should stick the course established in October while keeping an eye on any patterns that emerge in newer data.
70. Study October Amazon Performance Metrics
Amazon analytics are a smorgasbord of data. You can discern:
71. Check-in on Google Trends to Spot Breakouts
Look back on Google Trends to see if any of your keywords are breakouts, or if related terms have become breakouts.
72. Check Inventory Levels in Google Shopping
Don’t forget to regularly check your inventory levels. If you don’t have enough inventory then you’ll lose significant customers to well stocked competition
73. Study Current Google Ads Search Query Report Analytics
Experiment with new keywords and negatives based on recent search patterns. Be on the lookout for search terms that are high CPA or low CTR first.
74. Pin November 2020 CPMs Against 2019
After conducting this study, adjust your Q4 budget if need be.
November 2020: Focus
November is when you can implement season dependent marketing strategies. You should also be looking into how you can increase your gains and exposure.
75. Study Cart Abandonment
When you study why people abandon their carts, do so from the perspective of the customer. Some reasons include:
BFCM is an ideal time to create an audience of cart abandoners and survey them to discover why they didn’t finish their buys. You can use incentives to encourage participation.
76. Design Facebook Ads Informed by Location Based Reviews
People are more likely to trust reviews written by strangers on the internet than people they know. For this reason, using reviews written by other people based on their location is advantageous. You can also incorporate these reviews into your content marketing. For example, use questions posed by reviewers as the subject of FAQs or posts.
77. Write Dynamic Search Ads Pivoting Around BFCM Oriented Content
When BFCM rolls around, shoppers often scramble for gift ideas. Use these ideas as inspirations for blog posts. Even free content marketing tools like Ubersuggest can provide inspiration (). Dynamic Search Ads can drive engagement for this content. For optimized results, overlay in-market audience targeting to ensnare high-intent visitors.
78. Increase Spend on Strategic Foci and Campaigns
Engagement can be an indicator that you need to up your budgets to capture heightened demand. Successful campaigns can be undermined by something as deceptively simple as too low of a budget. Move funds around if necessary. The conversions will be worth it!
79. Make Seasonal Changes to Google Ads
If you check previous years’ metrics, you can identify when you’re expecting an increase in sales or engagement and adjust your bid strategies accordingly.
80. Let Google Display Network Inform Your Campaign
Use your most effective display placements from the previous years to focus on in-market users across various platforms and search engines. Data from Google Display Network should help you make more intelligent decisions.
81. Create A Google Shopping Campaign For Underperforming Products
Poor performing products may be down but they’re not out! Create a manual campaign with a closer eye on bids and budgets. Increase spend if you see any increases in sales.
November 2020: Ads
Your ads will face their harshest critics in November. Appeal to the following strategies:
82. Temporarily Halt Non-BFCM Campaigns
Just as you would if the national dialogue were suddenly gripped by a singular political issue, all scheduled ads and social media posts should be paused. Your BFCM campaigns demand your full attention! Some always-on campaigns may remain, but, for the most part, this is BFCM time.
83. Pit Yourself Against the Competition in Your Ad Copy
A unique selling proposition (USP) AKA unique selling point AKA unique value proposition (UVP) is a campaign oriented around why your brand, service, or goods are better than the other guys’. When used in conjunction with Google in-market audiences and specific landing pages, USP can be an effective marketing technique.
84. Use Viral Loop Referrals
A viral loop campaign is when your customers can share unique referral links with others. This may be done to accrue points that can be exchanged for discounts or to bank on good will buyers may have for the brand.
85. Use Google Merchant Centre Promotions
With Google Merchant Centre promotions, you can use shopping ads to deliver promos. With a simple click, potential buyers can get promo links such as:
86. Use Google Merchant Centre Promotion Extensions
While Google Merchant Center promotions allow you to promote using Shopping Ads, Google promotion extensions allow you to promote using text ads. Both types of ads can rev-up engagement.
87. Run a Reminder Campaign for 2019 BFCM Visitors
Run a special promotion for those who bought from and heavily engaged with your brand during the previous year’s BFCM. Promote across various platforms, but focus on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
88. Share Black Friday, Then Change to Cyber Monday
Pause your Black Friday ads by a pre-scheduled date and turn on your Cyber Monday ads soon after. This way you avoid forgetting or any delays. Make sure that your ads are truly paused and running after the transition.
December 2020: Planning
With BFCM behind you, it’s time to study the past to inform your campaigns for DecemberJust because BFCM is over doesn’t mean the peak season is gone. Study your November results to inform how you’ll tackle December.
89. Prepare for and Contain Returns
How you handle product returns is a big deal. How you handle returns can make a big difference. Make yourself available in as many ways as possible, including channels, including Slack and WhatsApp. You don’t want people’s complaints to end up publicly shared on social media! And don’t forget dark social in general. You should be making it easy to share on all social media platforms with widgets.
90. Encourage Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and even LinkedIn Stories
500 million people use Instagram stories daily and 300 million use Facebook stories daily. No wonder LinkedIn just got into the stories game! Encourage users to share stories about:
You can encourage this by:
91. Study Amazon Performance Analytics From November
Go over how November went down to see what you should do in December.
92. Don’t Forget Post-Christmas Ad Spend
Just because Christmas has passed doesn’t mean the conversions are over. In the UK, there’s still Boxing Day. Elsewhere, there’s potential buyers hoping to snag a deal because they believe much of the shopping is done and there’s also returned goods to be purchased at a discount.
December 2020: Focus
Slowly reduce the scope of your spend and look over what’s been accomplished.
93. Scale Back to Spend to Pre-BFCM Rates
Once December is underway, you’ll notice a downturn in conversion rates. Respond by reducing spend at a roughly 20% rate so as not to affect bidding algorithms detrimentally.
94. Create a Google Shopping Campaign for Low Inventory Items
Create a new Smart Shopping campaign oriented around low inventory products using unique labels to highlight items that will probably sell-out. This can also be incorporated into the campaign itself.
95. Create an Item Bundle Campaign in Google Shopping
If you’re having a hard time selling low inventory items, consider bundling them with other products. Just remember to use the is_bundle modifier in your product feed so Google knows items are being sold together. Products that are complimentary or targeted toward gift-givers work particularly well for this approach.
96. Make a Campaign for Last-Minute Shoppers
Create a retargeting audience for last-minute shoppers, and then send them last-minute shopping promotions.
97. Pause Ads When Final Ship-By Dates Are Reached
Set your ads to correspond with the final pre-Christmas shipping dates. Make sure it’s clear in your ads when those dates are, and have your ads transition to other campaigns accordingly.
December 2020: Ads
Given how crowded December tends to be, try a creative approach and appeal to particular sets of potential buyers given your analytics.
98. Product Bundling on Facebook
Use Facebook Dynamic Product Ads for your product bundles as well.
99. Include Final Ship-By Dates In Your Campaign
Foster engagement by mentioning last guaranteed delivery dates to your core audiences. Roll out significant ads during the first half of December.
100. Target the Previous Years Last-Minute Shoppers
Send last-minute purchase ads to your audience of last-minute purchasers from the previous year. Use promos and consistent ads during the week preceding the mail-by cut-off.
101. Run Post-Christmas Ads
Once you’ve scheduled the launch of your post-Christmas ads, you can enjoy the holidays just like everyone else.
BFCM is a time for your business to earn record profits. Ample preparation can make such a significant difference that it can even outweigh the impact of coronavirus. And since many of the effects of coronavirus are here to stay, you can keep those changes in mind as you plan for BFCM 2021. Your BFCM 2020 successes and adaptations can even appear in your newsletter, blog, and as part of your seasonal content. A great way to ring in the New Year!