It’s that time of year again where all major retailers are already well engrained into the busiest period of the retail calendar; Christmas. There are, of course, a few key dates in the calendar where retailers really have to be on their A game to take advantage of the festive season, one of those being Black Friday – Particularly after last year’s Black Friday madness took the UK by surprise with many online shoppers becoming subject to queuing situations and even site outages by some of the major retail players.

Whilst all marketing channels should be considered this Black Friday, paid search, as one of the more reactive channels, needs to be at the forefront of digital strategies. Here are a few tips to make sure you’re on top of your paid search strategy this year.

Black Friday

PLANNING & FLEXIBILITY

If you had PPC campaigns running for last year’s Black Friday, review the performance for ad copies and messaging – What worked well and what didn’t work? Learn from this and apply to this year’s campaigns. Whilst it’s important to keep your campaigns fresh and exciting, it’s more important to give your customer what they want. This is likewise with the actual offer you’re promoting. You should know your customer better than anyone else – What offers work best for them and the brand?

It’s important to agree on ad copies, extensions and landing pages weeks in advance – particularly when working with agencies who likely have a number of retailers all bombarding them with offers and promotions for this prevalent day. Contingency offers should also be agreed, should the planned offer not perform as expected when the day arrives. Paid search allows the flexibility for last minute strategy adjustments – This could be changing the offer at midday on Black Friday or ahead of Cyber Monday, so consider the eventualities should you experience poor sales performance.

On Black Friday itself, be sure to monitor site performance throughout the day – If the site goes down it should go without saying that all ads need to be paused immediately. If site capacity becomes dangerously low reduce bids and scale back activity, particularly generic campaigns as we wouldn’t expect these to perform at the same rate as brand campaigns. Also, consider shift working in your company or agency to remain flexible and reactive throughout the day – “Go to” people for different eventualities should be made clear to everyone involved in your Black Friday strategy.

LANDING PAGES

It’s a good idea to set-up specific landing pages for Black Friday so customers have somewhere to go if they’re specifically searching for your brand in conjunction with Black Friday. Tailored landing pages will earn their keep with PPC campaigns by helping keep quality scores up and CPC down, as well as helping SEO and UX campaigns. See Landing Page section of UX and SEO for Black Friday to help with optimising landing pages.

AVOID DISAPPROVED ADS

We’ve all been there when ads get disapproved. This can be extremely frustrating at the best of times, but when you’ve only got a few hours to take advantage of the rush of excited bargain hunters and bring in the sales, the impact of ad disapprovals can be far more costly than mere “frustration”.

• If you’re using offer codes, keep them short and simple
• Ensure final URLs for ad copies and sitelinks are landing pages that are already live, when uploading your campaigns to AdWords
• Check ad status 2-3 days before Black Friday and Cyber Monday

STRATEGIC USE OF GOOGLE PRODUCTS

Google regularly releases new products to improve the experience of the Google customer and improve sales for brands. It’s important to stay on top of betas and new products to keep up with competitors in the retail space. Here’s a few useful products to consider for Black Friday.

• Use RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) and Google Customer Match to target broader search terms more efficiently
• Use Gmail Sponsored Promotions and Customer Match to email offers to previous customers
• Use Demographics for Search to tailor ad copies to targeted age, gender and location demographics
• Include Black Friday offers in your PLA feed to bid more aggressively and increase reach. It’s also worth noting RLSA for Shopping is now out in beta!

STOCK LEVELS AND LOGISTICAL CONSIDERATIONS

It’s all very well driving tons of traffic to your website, but if stock levels don’t hold out you’ll be creating disgruntled customers as they’ll get to the site and won’t be able to purchase what they want. Keep a tab on stock levels and understand the website’s capabilities. If orders cannot be fulfilled, paid advertising needs to be pulled back.

Discuss delivery capacity prior to Black Friday. Forecast order uplift year on year and make sure resource is in place to meet extra delivery demand.

Finally, keep your customers happy. Once committed to Black Friday, make it count. Make sure the offer is value for money and user experience with the brand and the site is premium. New and existing relationships can be permanently damaged if brands cannot uphold their delivery and quality promises.