Digital Marketing

How to Advertise During Black Friday and Cyber Monday: an E-commerce Marketer’s Guide

November 18, 2019
4 minutes read
By Nick Shackelford
November 18, 2019
4 minutes read

If you didn’t have a fully planned out advertising campaign for the holidays already, now is the time to do that-- and if you did, take a moment to evaluate it before heading into the weekend. You don’t want to leave the turkey and mash because there was an issue getting your ad set approved, right? After all, you don’t want to treat your Black Friday ads as if they were a part of a regular campaign.

When scoping out your #AdGoals for Black Friday, stay on the ball with these 3 musts for e-commerce and direct-to-consumer brands.

1. Go Early.

Don’t miss out on the chance to maximize your exposure, engagement and sales-- because chances are, your competitors aren’t. The ad budgets for e-commerce for this weekend can range anywhere from $20,000 to $400,000 just on the 3-4 days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday-- it’s significant. To maximize on the buyers being ready and inclined to spend, make sure your Black Friday offer is live at least 5 days before, ideally, an entire week. While a doorbuster deal may seem fun and festive, you’ll miss out on a huge chunk of your customers who simply can’t take action on an ad immediately. And for a potential buyer to lose out on an offer that they were interested in is a customer service nightmare.

These offers need to be significant. Forget the 20% that’s offered to customers just for having an idle online cart-- the deals shouldn’t be anything less than 30% sitewide. Promo codes, with the help of Shopify tools, should be applied automatically, making the customer journey as smooth as possible, from the moment they see your ad, to the moment they check out. Since you’ll be attracting everyone from first-timers to your brand, to loyal restockers, it’s important that the discount is deep enough to blow everyone away. As for the ad creative itself…

2. Make it simple, but significant.

Customers and e-mail subscribers are going to be bombarded by every single retailer out there. Now is not the time to be creative or clever with your ads- get to the point, and make any screen time that you get from your audience worthwhile. The ad itself should communicate the offer. Not just in the body copy, but in the actual image or video. Don’t even dream of making the rookie mistake of not having creative in the specs that you need- if you’re running Instagram/Facebook Ads, make sure your assets fit that placement.

Most of all, your ad and your website needs to communicate the offer clearly and throughout the entire process. There should be no question as to what you’re offering.

3. Don’t turn off evergreen creative.

Any ads that don’t say anything about the Black Friday offer itself might seem redundant to run during this time, but it’s not. Keep your evergreen ads running during this weekend, especially if they’ve been performing well and have already produced results. There’s loads of social proof in these posts, and platforms like Facebook will view well-performing ads as favorable content. Keep the content rolling, because conversions from that ad will land the customer on your website where, if you followed the above steps, they’ll see a special offer, and be able to take advantage.

BONUS: Building a Facebook Ad Campaign? Do it at 3-4x your actual budget.

The idea here is to “trim the fat” of your ads come the crucial weekend of Black Friday/Cyber Monday. For example, if you’re budgeting to spend $10,00 on a campaign, budget the ads for $30-40,000. Of course, keep an eye and closely monitor the performance of these ads over the next few days, and begin killing the ones that are underperforming.

By assuming either all of your ads are going to win, or all of them are going to lose, you’ll be able to get “perfect mix” in time for Black Friday itself, all within your actual budget. If you build a singular or very few campaigns that don’t end up performing at all, you won’t be able to create a new one that will be improved in time to capture sales. After all, it is a 24 hour window that creates the Black Friday madness.

Don’t drop the ball on Black Friday (and Christmas shopping right after) by making these advertising mistakes. With $7.9 billion being spent nationwide on Black Friday alone, and another $6.6 billion on Cyber Monday, your ads have the potential to be a gold mine.

Nick Shackelford
about the author

Nick Shackelford is a Growth and Paid Social Media Marketer who has spent the last 6 years managing over $100m in paid acquisition. He's built campaigns for global companies like Pepsico, and digital brands like Pupsocks and Diff Eyewear.

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