Black Friday has only grown into the phenomenon that it is today since the early 2000s in the USA, and only in more recent years in Europe. It’s become a huge opportunity for retailers to take advantage of that pre-holiday season consumer fever – and we’re going to show you exactly how you can create Black Friday marketing campaigns that drive up sales for your brand or business.
Starting early – a practical strategy for Black Friday campaigns
As with the majority if not all marketing campaigns, planning is the key to success. We usually start working with our clients to lay out the foundations of their holiday season campaigns from as early as June, with the intention to have campaigns signed off late July or early October for launch.
Don’t panic however, if you’ve been caught up in your existing campaigns and left Black Friday until last. There are always tried and tested techniques that will help you get back on track.
It’s likely you’ll have created marketing plans before, but let’s get you started with these five steps.
- Situation Analysis – define your overall goal for your campaign in relation to the product(s) you want to sell. This could be anything from a discount on kitchen appliances, to a special offer on a software package. This is NOT an excuse to say, ‘we want to sell more’. You need to be specific.
- Competition – once you’ve a good understanding of you what you want to achieve you will need to research your competition. It is of course likely that you won’t have seen their campaigns yet (unless you are late to the game, in which case a positive of your delay is that you can now undercut your competition). Nevertheless, do try to position your offer as unique.
- Target Audience – the next step is to define your audience in light of your campaign structure. You therefore need to address demographics, interests, location and behaviours. For Facebook and Instagram marketers, now is the time to consider how you wish to split your targeting (if at all) between Core Audiences, Customer Audiences and Lookalike Audiences. Here Facebook can be very useful as you can target people who have specific interests in discounts, coupons and even Black Friday itself!
- Plan realistic Key Performance Indicators – for example, you might decide that you want to achieve a Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA) of $15, or you want to sell 25% of this year’s stock. Be very specific and be realistic.
- Plan marketing communication strategies around the tried and tested traffic definitions of cold, warm and hot traffic. This will affect the campaign objectives you decide on, as well as open up retargeting options. For a Black Friday campaign, we strongly suggest a robust retargeting strategy for hot traffic (customers with whom you’ve had previous commercial transactions) as well as your warm traffic (those potential customers who’ve previously interacted with your brand). For cold traffic or cold prospects, we’d suggest broad targeting in light of the target audience you defined in step 3.
- Decide on your OVERALL campaign budget – this will essentially be defined by the ROI you expect and an analysis of what you are prepared to do to achieve the KPIs you laid out in Step 4. Next you will need to optimise your bidding and budgets to achieve ROI. If you missed our recent blog on exactly how to do that, you can check it out here.
- Create a campaign timeline – this will be important as it will help you control the budget you defined in Step 6. We recommend beginning your campaign at least 6 weeks prior to Black Friday, to give Facebook’s algorithm time to optimise your ads and for you to make critical data-driven decisions to ensure your ads are performing as well as possible for when you turn up the spend.
Using Facebook and Instagram for Black Friday Campaigns
We find Facebook to be a hugely versatile advertising platform, and we’ve not only had success in the B2C arena, but with some practical strategies (and a whole dollop of AI in Filed’s case) we’ve seen increases of 49% in CTR for B2B too.
This isn’t to say we don’t think Google is a hugely valuable tool, and the practices that we apply to Facebook will work on Google, but it’s too extensive a topic to add in here.
Likewise, LinkedIn is a good option for B2B businesses, but those of you who’ve used it extensively will know how costly campaigns can be in comparison to Facebook and Google. Nevertheless, it would be foolish to ignore LinkedIn, especially for Professional Services businesses.
What we love about Facebook is how creative you can be. Image ads and video ads are so much more powerful than text ads, especially on mobile devices and you’ve a lot of room to play with Facebook’s and Instagram’s Stories Ads and Carousel Ads features. If you don’t know the proportion of people visiting your site from mobile or desktop applications then:
- Open Google Analytics
- Enter the Audience tab on the left
- Click Mobile
- Click Overview
This will help you decide on your ad placements when setting up your campaigns on Facebook. If you realise that 80% of your traffic is on mobile then your focus should be of course on mobile placements. This means excluding right column ads as these will only be seen by people on desktop.
Planning a black Friday sales marketing campaign
You can start by dividing your marketing campaign into four phases.
Advance planning ensures that you build momentum and awareness before conversions. The later you start, the more likely you will likely need to push budget into conversion and consideration campaigns a little earlier than you’d like to.
Follow these high-level steps and remember to start with your objectives and KPIs and remember to work backwards from there.
Phase 1: Planning
Start Planning for the holidays – month by month. Firstly, you should consider optimising for mobile. With 39% of shoppers last year saying they identify new stores to buy from on their phones, this is key to the awareness stage.
Use Facebook IQ and the Audience Insights tool to explore your customer demographics, interest and purchase patterns. You should start with broad targeting and focus this down for the days around Black Friday.
Bear in mind that Black Friday campaigns are different to holiday campaigns in that there is no advanced purchase. It all happens on and around the date (23 November this year). This means that, on or around the day, you should stop all of your top funnel campaigns and route budget into conversion campaigns.
Plan your media to meet business objectives and do leverage the Campaign Planner to create, compare and share media plans for reach and frequency campaigns up until the run to Black Friday, but do slowly start shifting budgets to traffic campaigns in the two weeks before 23 Nov to get candidates involved in your websites.
Decide early on which KPIs you are working towards and then define a budget for your overall campaign.
Earlier planning will help you compete with giants like Amazon, who took a 55% share of the $5.03 billion in Black Friday sales made in the US last year.
Phase 2: Build momentum
Kick off branding and acquisition campaigns as early as you can. 49% of shoppers now start their holiday shopping in November and Black Friday offers the perfect opportunity to piggy-back on the holiday sales season and entice shoppers in with bargains.
Again, it’s not exclusive to retail. The great thing about Black Friday is it’s disassociation with the festive holidays in December, meaning it’s open season for any business or industry willing to take advantage of the excuse to offer potential customers a deal.
Here is where you start reinforcing your paid campaigns with organic content and especially emails. Experiment with countdown HTML timers, and use tactics that build up to a crescendo sale or offer for 23 November.
Phase 3: Maximise Sales
This phase is all about the conversion objective on Facebook. As is often the case, Facebook’s custom audiences are one of the most powerful tools available to help you generate revenue at this stage.
Those with large product ranges will want to be taking advantage of Facebook’s Catalog objective. This way you can create dynamic ads and retarget them to website or mobile app shoppers as well as remind them about purchases they didn’t complete.
Before you set up product catalog, ensure you have correctly categorised your products with the required fields. This includes product IDs, availability, condition, description, links and pricing amongst others. It’s vital you get this right before integrating your catalog with Facebook rather than trying to fix mistakes afterwards. Facebook provides comprehensive guidance on this and a quick Google search will reveal what you need.
If the catalog isn’t suitable for your business, you can still achieve similar results retargeting to custom audiences. You can build these from customer lists, website visitors, app users, or potential customers who’ve engaged with your business in the past.
When it comes to Black Friday itself, you should know which of your ad sets are performing best. Pause the weakest ones and focus your budget on those that deliver results.
You will also want to fire out email reminders during the day that showcase your offering, as well as support this across other social media you use. This is a great opportunity to get your coupons and discounts noticed.
Don’t be shy, it’s the one day of the year where customers won’t be at all surprised to hear from you multiple times.
Case in point: last year, Mailchimps’s email volume increased 57% from 800,000,000 emails sent on 21 November to over 1,400,000,000 sent on Black Friday.
Phase 4: Black Friday Extended Sale
Far too many people ignore this part, but not you, not this year.
Think of all those customers who missed out on offers, or who received gift vouchers, or who are returning for more.
This is your opportunity to upsell. Be ready to retarget those who added to basket but never purchased, and if you’re offering a service, wait until the Monday to give people another chance to buy.
Do create lookalike audiences from quality seeds of high-value customers you gained from recent sales and set up two campaigns, one consideration and one conversion campaign. This way you warm up newer leads in advance of the festive holiday purchases and get more immediate ROI on the fallout from Black Friday.
With lookalike audiences, it’s better to have 500 quality customers in your seed audience than 10000 customers in your seed who might not have actually bought something. In other words, don’t use an ‘added to basket’ audience for example as a seed audience. Where possible try to use customers who’ve purchased the highest value products or the most regularly if not.
As potential customers use their mobile phones to make their holiday purchase decisions, you also have an incredible opportunity to give them inspiration, assist them with their research and help them complete their purchases online or in stores.
Give your Social Media pages a makeover to get your offer across
As with any large campaign, do make sure you’ve got clear design briefs to update your Social Media page headers and branding. It’s standard practice to coincide your Social Media graphics with your campaigns.
You might also want to update your bios with links to your offers and landing pages.
Retargeting to Black Friday Customers
Lastly, set up retargeting campaigns in advance. This helps retain customers who aren’t happy with their initial purchases.
For example, you might consider something along the lines of:
Not happy with your Black Friday purchase from X?! Why not check out our store NOW?! We offer SUPER competitive prices, free delivery and free returns.
Creating Landing Pages that convert
The success of your ads depends on the follow through and results you achieve with your landing pages.
We recently wrote about exactly how to do this in a detailed blog on creating landing pages.
For now, here is a handy checklist to get you started:
- Make your hero images stand out! Black Friday is extremely competitive so don’t beat around the bush. Make your offer apparent and eye catching and follow up with an above the fold call-to-action (CTA).
- Your headline should communicate value. Like with most ads, number work here. If a potential customer sees there is 40% off to be had on their favourite shoe brand, they will keep strolling.
- Take this opportunity to grow your social following. You might consider putting in a banner ad that offers people a 10% discount for following one of your social media pages. This helps create engagement and gives you a bank of customers for next year.
- A big obvious CTA! Your call to action really needs to stand out. Shy and retiring won’t cut it here. You need to draw people’s attention in and make it easy for them to get what they want. People react well to imperative commands, so don’t be afraid to tell them, ‘BUY NOW’.
- An exit popup: We’re more than aware of some people’s distaste for popups, but used carefully they can deliver results. Consider adding an exit popul that encourage people to convert as they are leaving the page. FOMO works well here, ‘Are you sure you want to leave? We won’t have another 40% off sale for 12 months!’
We look forward to seeing how creative marketers can be with this years campaigns and will be following closely to see how the stats have shifted to mobile purchases for the 2018 Black Holiday sales period.