2020 US Search Award Winner
2020 US Search Award Winner – Best Use of Search – B2C (PPC)

2020 Holiday was an unprecedented time. Due to softer in-store sales throughout the year because of COVID, we expected companies to have really big discounts and deep pockets for the online holiday season. Shoppers were not disappointed! Below are a few findings and a recap of what we saw during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday holiday season.

Identify your main KPI pre-holiday time

Leading up to “The Big Dance”, during this time we expect brand to be willing to pay a little more for a new users. Users are ready to buy and now is the time to turn a potential customer into a lifer for your business. We worked closely with our partners to identify what our target goal is per day. For example, if all parties are aligned that $70 is the target cost to acquire a new customer, our team can, in real-time, proactively increase or decrease budgets & targets to maximize customer acquisition during this key holiday period.

Solidify Your Source of Truth

It’s a case-by-case basis, but when you work off-platform data (Google Ads and Facebook Ads) or have a custom attribution model in place, you must anticipate that there will be a significant lag in real-time conversions. Instead, in some instances we looked towards internal data via Google Analytics or your direct e-commerce platform as a proxy for mid-day successes. You cannot wait until the end of the day to determine if your efforts were a “success” or not. You need to be able to pivot strategy mid-day at times and using internal revenue data will be your greatest tool to measure the effectiveness of your marketing since it will be as close to real-time as possible.

Two Different Offers Worked Best

In 2020, we learned very clearly that one promo for Black Friday and one promo for Cyber Monday worked best. No need to run a “Pre” black Friday offer. That will only entice users to wait until the “real” Black Friday offer hits. Also, open to argument, but we believe there is no need to change copy during a Cyber Monday EXTENDED sale. By keeping your ads the same, you are mitigating the risk of Google/Facebook resetting your ad relevancy (and potential disapprovals) that can increase cost per click and reduce overall efficiency.

Best Time Frame for Offers:

  • Black Friday Offer: Thanksgiving Day through the Saturday
  • Cyber Monday Offer: Sunday through Tuesday

CPMs and CPCs for Black Friday and Cyber Monday were through the roof. Those two days should have ultimately been your strongest days; however, we learned that paid media will continue to stay super-efficient (sometimes even more efficient) on those “off days”. We measured that cost per click was 20%-25% lower on non-CM/BF days due to lower competition. Conversion rates remained as strong as ever on paid media.

Look at Hourly User Behavior

Historically, Black Friday e-commerce sales increased in the mid-afternoon. With this year being unprecedented with a fraction of consumers visiting in-store, mid-afternoon was slightly slower this year. Instead, early mornings and late nights were the big winners.

We anticipated the late-night rush. We measured in 2019 that roughly 30% of e-commerce revenue for Cyber Monday came between 9 pm and 11:59 pm. It is very important to make sure that our budgets were wide open so that we didn’t cap-out on spend during those crucial times.

Don’t be afraid to change your bidding algorithms mid-day to bid more aggressively/pull-back in different tactics. Like Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” All your hard work was necessary leading up to holiday time, but it didn’t change the fact that you’re now “in-it” and pivoting strategy towards what’s working and what’s not is crucial for success.

Get Ready for What’s Next

Black Friday/Cyber Monday was a whirlwind. As you transition away from the big sales, it is now time to focus your messaging on gifting and the New Year. While major sales for the season are done, there are still initiatives to focus on shipping cut-off dates, potential offers for expedited shipping on orders over $x. No need to share the specific cut-off date in your messaging. The user should be able to clearly identify that once they are on site. Instead, get your messaging in-line with Holiday Gift Guides and Gift Bundles. 

It was a tremendous holiday season. These different callouts will absolutely influence our strategy come Holiday 2021. Congratulations to all our e-commerce clients for a busy and successful holiday season!

Sam Sherman
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