Black Friday – Cyber Monday Checklist

*Check out our updated checklist: How We Prepare Our Clients for Google Shopping in Q4 2016!

According to Google’s Holiday Calendar, Black Friday in-store pick-ups rose 40% last year and Cyber Monday became the biggest day in U.S. online shopping history. This year, they anticipate at least a 14% increase in sales for online retail.

lewis-brannon“Black Friday and Cyber Monday are huge retail days. It’s a very high volume time where everyone is searching to find deals. Typically, this could be the highest order volume for retailers in the next couple weeks. But, it can also be a time that’s very volatile in terms of ROAS because your spend goes up as well,”  Lewis Brannon, Paid Search Manager at CPC Strategy said.

Aside from raising bids, retailers want to know what practices work best to capture the influx of traffic. We sat down with the ecommerce experts to discuss innovative selling strategies to be aware of as we approach Black Friday.

Be Cautious of Ad Copy Changes

As a retailer or marketer,  you might be debating whether to highlight your holiday sales by creating a new batch of ads with updated ad copy featuring “Cyber Monday / Black Friday” or simply utilize ad extensions to highlight your sale.

An example of an ad copy change would be to include Cyber Monday in your title and/ or description such as “Nike Shoes – Cyber Monday Sale” & “20% Off This Cyber Monday Only”.

It can be risky to completely update your ad copy (especially if it’s just a one day sale) because when you change ad copy, especially headlines (to include “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday”) you run the risk of decreasing your quality score. 

It’s important to remember that ad rank (a combination of bid, ad quality, and the expected impact of extensions and other formats) is greatly impacted by quality score changes.

“If you change your headline, you might lose a little bit of your quality score and could be fighting an uphill battle from the beginning of that day – trying to get your quality score back up,” Brannon said.

The silver lining is even if retailers lose some ad authority in the beginning of the day – they can still close out the day with good volume.

If retailers have access to a quality score tracker (a custom, javascript-based technology) – they should be able to track their quality score through Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the ad copy vs. ad extensions debate, there isn’t a one size fits all type of answer, but this is definitely something retailers and marketers should be aware of.

If you do decide to go ahead and update your ad copy- we recommend monitoring your quality score closely so you can be better informed when making this decision next year.

“In my opinion, I would probably stay away from changing the ad copy headline because the headline has the most impact on quality score. Unless, you’re average position is really low and your site links don’t normally show – then I would probably default to using fresh ad copy to make sure your message gets some visibility,” Brannon said.

“But, if you are brand with a solidified quality score and high ad rank, you might want to rely solely on ad extensions to highlight your offers, and avoid sacrificing quality score / ad rank on your top performing ads.”

Schedule Your Ad Extensions

According to Roman Fitch, Retail Search Manager at CPC Strategy, ad extensions such as sitelinks, call outs and structured snippets can be an effective way to feature Cyber Monday / Black Friday specials about your business.roman-fitch

  • Sitelinks are clickable and can direct shoppers to a specific Black Friday page or a top-seller product page.

 

  • Structured Snippets are not clickable but allow retailers to feature their styles, product types, or brands. For example, a retailer could feature “Brands: Nike, Adidas, New Balance”. Google introduced new specialized snippet extensions for the Cyber Sales, including a “Black Friday” sale snippet and one for “Cyber Monday” which retailers can leverage to highlight their offers.

 

Pro-Tip: Retailers should be mindful of the scheduling (structured snippets for Cyber Monday / Black Friday can only run Nov 20-27th & the 30th)

    • Call outs are not clickable but include attractive offers such as “Free Shipping – Black Friday Only”.

 

“Scheduling your call outs is really important because it ensures they’ll only run at specified times and eliminates the possibility of sending conflicting messaging, not to mention it saves time,” Fitch said.

Retailers can create custom scheduling (by the day / hour) to cater to each of the upcoming sales including Black Friday, Pre-Cyber Monday, and Cyber Monday.

Also, it’s important to remember the custom scheduling time default is set to the retailer’s time zone. Marketers should take that into consideration when setting up their custom schedules. (For example, if you are managing an account in the U.S. that is based in Australia).

Make Sure Your Ads are Approved in Advance

Retailers should also make sure their ads are 100% approved before they turn them on. You don’t want to go through the trouble of optimizing all your ads for Black Friday and Cyber Monday – only to find out they have been disapproved by Google the day of the sale.

According to Google, all ads, whether loaded in an active or paused state, will be reviewed within 1 business day. Specially during cyber week, Google will be bulking up their work force to get these ads reviewed as quickly as possible.

Pro-Tip: The only exception to this rule is Google Shopping special offers, which is reviewed on the actual start of the promotion. 

Check Your Sales History

When it comes to buying ‘cyber monday’ and ‘black friday’ keywords, retailers should reference their sales history before investing.

A good place to start is to run a search query report on the data from last year’s Black Friday & Cyber Week.

From that report, retailers will be able to gauge how many shoppers were actually searching for the term “Cyber Monday” or “Black Friday” which can help them decide whether to invest in those keywords again this year.

Pro-Tip: If both terms (Cyber Monday & Black Friday) are not showing up in your search query results – it’s likely you didn’t have those search terms available in your account last year.

Set Aside Budget For Top Performers Campaign

Another useful tip for promoting Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials is to set up a budget campaign for top performing products / categories that are guaranteed to do well.

For example, “ugly holiday sweaters” are likely to perform pretty well thanks to an influx of holiday parties during this time of the year. For those types of items, it might be worth investing in Black Friday & Cyber Monday terms.

“To me, it makes sense to set up a budget campaign for your top performing campaigns. Create a campaign for holiday deals with ad groups for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, where you can customize call out extensions, ad copy, etc. for those campaigns,” Brannon said.

“I wouldn’t add it across the board for every item (as a keyword modifier) – since that would require way to much work for not enough return – but I would definitely try to isolate your top campaigns.”

Pro-Tip: Retailers should also check their ad schedules in advance to make sure they are not decreasing bids on Fridays / Mondays and as always, be aware of your daily budgets.

Special Offers & Categories

Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday are known to increase search volume – this doesn’t necessarily translate to an increase in sales for every business.

Logically, if you think about it – how likely is it that a business who sells car parts going to fair in comparison with a popular apparel company on Cyber Monday?

Unless mufflers becomes the number one holiday gift for 2015 – it’s not likely that Cyber Monday and Black Friday are going to be the biggest shopping day of the year for a car parts seller.

“It really goes back to understanding the impact that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have on certain accounts. For businesses that sell electronics or apparel – it’s going to fly but not so much for a company that sells curtain drapes or light fixtures,” Anthony Artuso, Retail Search Manager at CPC Strategy said.

“Unfortunately a lot of people fool themselves into thinking that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are going to be a mecca for sales – because not everybody is buying a $600 chandelier at this time of year.”

anthonyThe verticals that typically experience high volume for Black Friday / Cyber Monday and are likely to benefit from Special Offers include (but are not limited to):

  • Apparel
  • Shoes
  • Electronics
  • Sporting goods
  • Jewelry
  • Video games / software
  • Appliances
  • Brand names (Patagonia, Columbia, etc.)

 

Additional Resources

Anticipate Sales Traffic With 2015 Google Shopping Holiday Calendar

 

 

The Google Shopping Guide: 2017 Edition

Next-Level Implementations in 2017 for Advertisers on Google
 

About the AuthorTara graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.S. in Journalism / Business. Her passion for creative publishing and quality reporting landed her work opportunities at several companies in Massachusetts, New York and California. She is a leading voice behind CPC Strategy’s Blog. See all posts by this author here.