With more of the Australian population turning to online shopping post-pandemic, Cyber Weekend continues to claim the top spot as one of the most significant retail events of the year, not just for online but also omnichannel retailers.
According to Google’s Holiday Shopping Study, 80% of Aussies think about gifting before December, and 56% shop with at least one new retailer in the lead up to Christmas 2020. With fewer last-minute shoppers, retailers are also pressured to offer deals earlier as retail auction competition (number of ads, CPCs) is predicted to almost double in Q4 2021, undoubtedly the most competitive peak season ever.
Planning for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas and Boxing Day sales all at once can be overwhelming. Here are eight ways to get your paid performance channels prepared and ready to stand out from your competitors without blowing your marketing budget during the silly season.
1. Start Advertising Early And Build Traffic Before CPCs Skyrocket
Plan. Your. Promotions. Because as we all know, the early bird gets the worm. Speak to your agency and let them know what’s in the pipeline to get a headstart on your campaign. Ads should be established ahead of time so they aren’t held up in the review process come crunch time.
In a competitive environment, frequency of exposure is crucial to driving effective brand awareness and ad recall. Consider developing a presence on YouTube in the lead up to peak season as Google Ads research shows that 70% of YouTube viewers stated they bought from a brand after being exposed to it on YouTube.
2. Build Anticipation (and 1st Party Data) With Lead Generation
With the impending death of cookies, building a database of first-party customer data has become increasingly important. No one likes giving out information for free, especially new and potential customers. However, in the weeks leading up to Cyber Weekend, take the opportunity to offer an incentive in exchange for new customer data. Not all offers are created equal, so experiment early on with different hooks such as early access, exclusive deals, or steeper discounts to see what resonates best for your brand.
3. Audit Existing Keywords, Feeds & Pixel Tracking
If you’re an eCommerce retailer, don’t forget to check in on Google Merchant Centre/Facebook Commerce Manager to ensure your product feeds are updated with correct sale prices, individual titles and unique identifier values. Ensure conversion points are tagged correctly, and you can match data collected from tracking pixels back to relevant feeds for optimal dynamic remarketing. During peak season, the last thing you want is your ad tech failing and losing valuable customer signals and revenue.
During Search Query Reports to identify high performing Broad/Phrase keywords to be converted to Exact match, make sure you watch out for competitor keywords to be added as negative keywords if they’re driving up CPCs. If there are plans for several new product pages to be added during peak season, don’t forget that Dynamic Search Ads can capture these queries with minimal turnaround.
4. Update Audience Targeting For Relevance
Efficiency in capturing audiences ready to convert is vital, especially with significant CPC inflation expected. Knowing who your audience is is equally important. According to Google Academy Ads On Air, combining Custom Audiences with YouTube TrueView campaigns can increase up to 180% higher conversion rates. Across Google Ads, Black Friday and Christmas segments have officially been included as part of Seasonal Event In-Market Audiences for Search since October 2019. While audience intent is red hot, bear in mind it’s highly competitive.
With that in mind, don’t forget to refresh audiences in use to remain relevant. If you’re running cross-channel activity, using Search Auction Insights to inform Paid Social targeting is also a handy way to reach similar new audiences across competitors or partners.
5. Set The Algorithm Free (With Targets, Of Course)
If you’ve optimised your campaigns to death but are struggling to scale amidst heavy competition, then this is for you. Google Academy Ads On Air also claims that combining Broad match with Target ROAS Smart Bidding can drive up to a 12% increase in conversion value from entering a larger volume of auctions from wider query-matching. Giving the algorithm more free reign while holding it accountable to ROAS targets can’t hurt, and we’re equally keen to test this out for our clients.
6. Use Creative To Create Urgency & Spotlight Sale Items
The average person is estimated to encounter between 6,000 to 10,000 ads each day, which makes it even more critical that your ad messaging is relevant to the specific target audience you’re speaking to.
During peak season, consider housing discounted and on-sale products or best-sellers in separate dynamic campaigns across Google Shopping & Facebook Catalog campaigns to increase the visibility of these items. When used for prospecting, Facebook Collection ads have outperformed Carousel ads, so have your product lists and creative assets ready. Dynamic Ad Customisers such as a countdown in Search Ad text can also effectively create a sense of urgency for customers to complete the purchase before the sale ends.
Testing has shown that the most effective ads are simple Image or GIF ads for short sales. Video formats are also cost-effective to prospect and reach new audiences while generating a high intent audience for future retargeting. If combined with a product feed, video action campaigns can achieve over 60% more conversions at a lower cost on YouTube.
7. Stuff The Stockings On Your Ad Space With Extensions
Now that you’ve got some crackling creative, creative content and some advantageous ad copy ready to go, don’t forget the cherry on top – ad extensions. Promotion extensions offer an easy way to add value to your ad text by highlighting promotions in line with particular seasonal offers for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas in an eye-catching format.
8. Plan & Apply Seasonal Bid Adjustments
If you’re using Smart Bidding and anticipate conversion rate changes of more than 30% within a 3-7 day time frame, plan and schedule seasonality adjustments to scale up effectively during sale dates where conversion rates are higher. Don’t forget that you can also use Seasonal Adjustments post-sale to preserve ROAS and efficiency where there will be an expected decrease in performance.
Having a game plan with achievable milestones is crucial for success during a competitive season like Cyber Weekend. Make a list (and check it twice!). Ensure campaign hygiene is up-to-date using intelligent targeting, relevant creative messaging, and appropriate Smart Bidding strategies in place. Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to smashing those revenue targets for your clients in the most competitive retail season of 2021.