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The Complete Black Friday 2021 Guide for Performance Marketers

Black Friday Marketing

Black Friday is just around the corner again, sending the Internet into a veritable state of emergency. This pre-Christmas discount battle is reflected above all in the sales: in 2020, 2.4 billion euros were earned in e-commerce on this day alone. In this article, I’ll show you what you should consider on this super shopping day, what preparations you need to make, and what pitfalls to avoid.

When is Black Friday?

This year, Black Friday falls on November 26 and, if you believe the forecasts, the ongoing pandemic could once again cause online sales in particular to skyrocket to record-breaking levels. After all, given the current situation, many avoid the crowded department stores on this day. In addition, the patent for the “Black Friday” brand has been revoked, so that every company is now allowed to advertise its products using this term.

How can I prepare for Black Friday?

“In all things, success depends on preparation”– Confucius may have preached this some 2500 years ago, but it’s still relevant to your preparations for Black Friday. In addition to recommendations and tricks for suitable marketing strategies, it is particularly important that you prepare yourself, your website, and your store well for the onslaught.

blackfriday infografik EN 2

Make a content plan

To achieve maximum success, you should start planning and targeting your marketing activities well ahead of time. This means: think about which products you want to promote (e.g. only a certain category) and which channels you want to use for this (social ads, PPC, email marketing). This will help you set the right focus and prioritise your actions accordingly.

When creating your content plan, it’s a good idea to take a look at last year’s Black Friday marketing and review what worked particularly well and what you’d rather not repeat this year. Once you have a basic overview, you can expand the content plan step by step and then use it for your stakeholder management or brief your design team to create suitable creative elements. With enough time to prepare, you can avoid unnecessary stress at the end of the year, and your colleagues will thank you for not having to rush through the work at the last minute.

Prepare your website for Black Friday

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make is to not prepare yourself for increased traffic. Especially if you have an extremely tempting offer, it’s important to make sure that frustrated customers aren’t leaving your website due to sluggish loading pages rather than the speedy, efficient service they’re used to. Black Friday is especially dangerous in this regard because consumers’ attention spans are very low due to the many offers, so the risk of abandoning the purchase increases disproportionately.

Pro Tip: Make sure that the estimated delivery time is directly visible to your website visitors.

Therefore, it is best to talk to your IT department and make sure that there is sufficient server capacity. It’s also a good idea to take a look at Google Analytics and find out how many users were on your site at peak times last year, so that you can factor in an appropriate safety margin.

Make sure your products are available on Black Friday

A study by UPS has shown that 86% of all users cancel their purchase during Black Friday and leave the site if the delivery time is longer than 5 days. Conversely, this means that you should make sure you have enough goods in stock to be able to send them out in time. Also, check with your suppliers to see if they can support you with a quick reorder in case of an emergency.

Pro Tip: Make sure that the estimated delivery time is directly visible to your website visitors.

Another pro tip: Make the purchase decision easier for your customers with a particularly generous return policy. In our experience, this plays an especially important role with undecided visitors. Make sure that this information is clearly visible on the promotion and product pages.

Always keep your website up to date

Our general recommendation is especially true on Black Friday: a good, conversion-optimised website is half the battle in e-commerce. Therefore, check the following things and upgrade if necessary:

  • Eliminate all 404s.
  • Check your redirects.
  • Check the layout of your website on a smartphone and optimise it for the mobile buying experience.
  • Plan touchpoints to your Black Friday offers on the site (e.g., a separate button in the navigation).
  • Test your entire tracking setup – ideally by placing a test order.

Gradually adjust your daily spend

If you have planned a larger budget than usual, this tip is especially important for you. Both the Google and Facebook algorithms are known for their fragile nature. Therefore, it is advisable to increase the Daily Spend gradually– NOT overnight. This method allows the algorithm and its campaigns to “acclimatise”. Your conversion rates will thank you. On our advalyze blog you can find more interesting Google Ads tricks and Facebook Ads hacks from our experts.

Pre-Black Friday marketing activities

Now it’s getting exciting– we’re about to get to the fun part! To make sure you don’t forget anything, we’ll work our way chronologically and start with the most essential steps you should take before Black Friday.

Identify marketing channels

Think about the budget you have available and which channels you want to use in the marketing mix. 

  • For example, if you have a medium 5-digit budget for Black Friday, you can really go all out and consider GDN (Google Display Network), affiliate, PR and/or programmatic ads in addition to the standard social ads and PPC.
  • If your budget is rather limited, you can try out various growth hacking tricks and, for example, post a deal for your products on hotukdeals, DesiDime or a similar site depending on where you’re based and thus promote them for free.
  • Low-cost and yet high-reach channels such as TikTok are also a good option. Here the CPM (Cost per Mille, which describes the cost of your ads per 1000 impressions) is currently around 2 to 5 €, so you can achieve a lot even with a small budget.

But when choosing a channel, always think about your target group and which social media sites they frequent– because your sales will only increase if your ads reach the right people on Black Friday.

Tease your deals in advance

Let’s not kid ourselves: On Black Friday, you won’t be the only one vying for shoppers’ attention with your brand. To ensure that your Black Friday deals don’t get lost in the flood of offers, you should try to generate as much excitement and interest as possible in advance.

On social media, for example, you can present the highlights and thus trigger anticipation among your followers. The same goes for your newsletter, which you can send to your existing customers. I recommend including a live countdown that shows when deals will become available– this has proven to be very effective with our customers in the past. After all, it conveys a sense of urgency and boosts your customers’ FOMO.

Pro Tip: Add a calendar invitation to your mails for the start of your deals. This way you ensure that your customers are reminded of the promotions through another touchpoint.

Use the power of data

What’s even better than having increased site traffic on Black Friday, resulting in more purchases than usual? That’s right – keeping the Black Friday boom going even after the holiday is over. And that’s exactly what you can achieve with enough planning. All you have to do is define conversion groups in advance and fill remarketing lists with them. This is useful, for example, if you want to send an automatic reminder email to potential customers who have abandoned their shopping cart. Alternatively, during the Christmas season you might advertise products similar to those that Black Friday customers purchased for every order over 100€.

We help you set up your Black Friday campaign

Use your content plan and create assets

Now that you know what audience you need to reach, what types of campaigns you want to run, and what your budget is, you can start planning for the appropriate assets. For example, if you use Instagram for awareness, you should brief the creatives and write the texts. If you want to use other channels for your promotion, such as a newsletter, you can design an email stretch in parallel. As mentioned at the beginning, it’s all about timely planning, which will help you keep a cool head even during stressful phases.

Sustainable marketing strategies for Black Friday (literally)

Hand on heart: the first thing you think of when you consider “Black Friday” is surely the prospect of super lucrative deals, right? Did you know that it doesn’t have to be that way at all? For example, clothing label Patagonia didn’t sell its own products at a reduced price, but instead donated 1% of the day’s sales. This led to an enormous increase in sales that Patagonia could not have anticipated.

As you can see, if you are fundamentally critical of Black Friday or simply can’t decrease your margin, you still have the opportunity to increase your sales with creative ideas. And ideally, you’ll even do the world some good in the process!

Marketing activities during Black Friday

Now that I’ve shown you how to best prepare yourself and your business for Black Friday, the next section is about what actions you can take during the day itself and what your specific areas of focus should be to ensure a smooth holiday shopping experience for everyone.

Use cross-channel synergies

If you’ve already thought about your cross-channel marketing goals before Black Friday, you can easily implement them now. For example, you can point out on your landing page that there are exclusive discount codes available on your Instagram account. This will lead to higher engagement on your account and follower numbers will also increase.

Speaking of social media: make sure you’ve budgeted enough resources for community management. Experience shows that the support volume in the form of inquiries and the like increases significantly during the course of the day. If you can quickly provide answers to questions – e.g. whether the shoes are made from recycled materials or one of your products is vegan – this will help visitors enormously in their purchase decision. That’s why it’s also a good idea to include an FAQ section on your landing page, so that the most basic questions are answered already.

KPI monitoring on Black Friday

Keep an eye on your relevant KPIs at all times. Nothing is more annoying than losing sales and new customers due to bugs or errors in the customer journey. Even if you have already checked everything in the test run, you should still check your campaigns meticulously, because sometimes problems simply occur, which you can then at least solve in good time.

Also, keep an eye on your campaigns– if the performance is really good, you might want to increase your budget.

Turn non-buyers into future new customers

Not every visitor to your website or store will end up as your customer. You should expect this and it is perfectly normal. However, so that this traffic is not lost, it is advisable, for example, to offer a registration for your newsletter, in which you advertise relevant tips or future promotions. This way you can at least expand your newsletter list, and hopefully capitalise on that later when expanding your customer base.

Post-Black Friday advice for marketing managers

Phew, you made it! The last deals have just expired and your customers are already looking forward to their orders. Now it’s time to relax for a few days and forget about your exertions. However, in this section I’ll show you why you shouldn’t wait until a year from now to think about Black Friday and start preparing again.

Use learnings from Black Friday

After you have hopefully survived one of the most stressful days of the year, you should definitely focus your attention on the evaluation of your individual measures in order to be able to draw important learnings for the future.
In concrete terms, this means:

  • How did my campaigns perform?
  • Did I reach my sales target?
  • Which measures worked best?
  • How many newsletter registrations and new followers could I generate?
  • What did the DOI rate (Double-Opt-In for e.g. newsletter subscription), open rate and conversion rate of my emails look like?
  • How did my KPIs develop? Were my campaigns ROAS (Return On Ad Spend) positive?
  • Which channel performed best?
  • Was there anything that didn’t work? Do I need to be more careful about certain things next year?

If you ask yourself these questions afterwards and internalise your answers, you will already have a good roadmap for the coming year and know which measures are best to focus on and which measures you should still fine-tune.

Pro Tip: Many learnings or important KPIs can only be identified at a later point in time. A prime example is the cohort analysis. Be sure to look at performance a few weeks out and analyse metrics like churn rate, return rate, repurchase order and frequency, and document this knowledge for next year. With these insights, you’ll be able to optimise your campaigns even better in 2022.

Leverage your remarketing lists for the upcoming holiday season

Hopefully you have been able to grow your audiences in addition to having a successful sale. These form the basis for your advertising measures in the coming days and weeks, because Black Friday is generally only the start of the extremely lucrative Christmas business season. So, use your audiences to make your advertising even more efficient. For this, you can rely on classic remarketing.

First time making remarketing lists?

Popular remarketing campaign targets:

  • Potential customers who ended up abandoning their carts
  • Remarketing on shopping carts that exceed a threshold relevant to you
  • Remarketing for similar products (in the style of Amazon’s “Customers also bought”)
  • Remarketing on pageview of a specific product

Set up lookalike audiences

In addition, you also have the option of setting up a look-a-like audience (LAL). This term basically means developing is an algorithm that forms statistical twins based on the information, interests and demographic data points of your customers. These “tick” in a similar way to your existing customers, to use a colloquial expression. You can then use the LALs to directly target people who, based on their behaviour, are likely to be significantly more interested in your products than people from other target groups. If you want to learn more about lookalike audiences, I highly recommend this detailed article on Customer Match by my colleague James Holder.

Conclusion

As you can see, there is a lot to consider when planning a marketing strategy for Black Friday. The right preparation and a well-structured planning of this shopping event are the be-all and end-all in order to achieve the best possible outcome. If you have built up a solid foundation and also come up with an exciting promotion for your product, you can generate a notable increase in sales on just one day of the year. If you need help with this, you can always contact us. We wish you every success for Black Friday!

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The Author

Jan Steg @ advalyze

Jan Steg

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