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8-step PPC checklist for Black Friday & Cyber Monday



PPC checklist
With the global pandemic dominating this year, it’s safe to say 2020 has been an unpredictable one. Now, just a few weeks away from Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM), we’re starting to think about what to expect.One of the many impacts of COVID-19 has been accelerated digital adoption. According to Google, physical shop footfall has dropped year on year (YoY), and consumers will continue to shop more and more online. But reports by Numerator showed that although Prime Day 2020 saw a 2.42x increase in sales, on average, consumers spent less compared to 2019.

So while in previous years we’ve talked about BFCM revenue growth expectations and setting accounts up to capitalise on this, this year it feels more important to discuss how to maximise BFCM, no matter the path it takes.

Want to make sure your ecommerce business is fully prepared for Friday 27th November? Follow this eight-step PPC checklist.

1. Plan, monitor and adapt

The key for 2020? Have a plan, but monitor the market and be ready to adapt.

In recent years, BFCM has ceased to only refer to the weekend period, with increased purchase intent spreading into the week before, creating an earlier, longer peak period. So, while it’s important to have a solid plan in place for the weekend itself, the key will be capitalising on traffic – and potentially lower costs-per-click (CPCs) – early on, making sure you don’t miss the boat.

Although right now things are unpredictable and tough to plan for, you can use tools like Google’s Rising Retail Categories report to spot changes in search interest and identify fast-rising retail categories and opportunities. You can also use tools such as Google’s COVID-19 Community Mobility ReportCOVID-19 Community Mobility Report to understand how people are responding to changes in policies and how this might impact your business over this time.

And as we approach Christmas, when deciding on your strategy and copy messaging, make sure you’ve factored in any changes to last postal dates this year compared to previous.

2. Budget and bids

Traffic and competition will increase considerably over BFCM weekend, so be prepared to adjust your budgets, and review your bidding strategy targets and performance.

Key points that can help you manage your budget efficiently:

  • Increase your budget. We recommend forecasting a 10-20% increase in overall budget from last year’s BFCM. This additional budget will allow you to increase your bids a few weeks before the actual event, catching the demand of users who like to get ahead of the game. It will also contribute to budget flexibility, and you should make sure you increase your campaign’s budget to avoid it running out early in the day.
  • Set campaign alerts. Budget alerts are key to avoid missed opportunities caused by budget constraint. Make sure your campaign settings are not ‘standard delivery’; this option works based on historical data – it can’t understand anything about a surge in traffic on a single day.
  • Use Smart Bidding in conjunction with seasonal adjustments. In 2019, we ran with auction-time bidding throughout peak and found that by using seasonal adjustments, bidding strategies were able to cope with the huge fluctuations in conversion rate and traffic we see in peak periods.

Don’t be tempted to change your bidding strategy targets too often. Bidding strategies require a learning phase, and making changes to them in this period disrupts their ability to learn and can cause you problems.

3. Keywords

Review last year’s performance and identify what bids got you into first position. Did any keywords turn out to be more or less competitive? Did generic terms add any benefit to your business? Optimise your PPC campaigns for the seasonal period by tunnelling deep into your keyword research. It’s essential for bringing more traffic to your site from the most relevant audience.

  • Use non-brand terms to build up awareness, but avoid overspending on them. According to Google research, users tend to search with generic terms in early November, then narrow down their query with branded terms just before Black Friday.
  • Don’t bid on generic terms like ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’. These terms can be very competitive and too broad. Add them as negatives to your campaigns instead.
  • Review your keywords and implement branded promo terms, e.g. branded + Black Friday, branded + sale, branded + deals. People will be searching for those Black Friday bargains, so nailing your keywords is important. Use Google Ads and Bing’s search query report to build a keyword portfolio of terms searched in the months up to BFCM.

In addition to your keyword targeted campaigns, you can use Dynamic Search Ads to make sure you don’t miss any extra or newly-trending relevant search queries. Just make sure you negative out your target search terms from your standard search campaigns.

4. Audiences

Understanding who is now searching and interacting with your brand is important. With changes in online search behaviour and new audiences going online in 2020, we recommend reviewing what your audience profile now looks like and how it compares to previous years. This will help you build your strategy.

As with any paid search campaign, make sure your audience depth (the percentage of spend running through a pre-defined audience bucket) is as high as possible. To reach the right people…

  • Retarget past visitors and customers through remarketing lists, especially basket abandoners and past converters.
  • Upweight bids for returning users. Create a budget hierarchy and bid higher on the most valuable customer.
  • Use customer relationship management (CRM). Review your VIP customers who purchased high-value products on Black Friday last year and give them the chance to access the sale earlier or offer exclusive discounts.
  • Build lookalike audiences to the above user groups. This will help you find users searching in the same way as your existing ones.
  • Use in-market and affinity audiences to reach the people your brand is most likely to resonate with.
  • Get prepared for 2021 by creating separate audiences of consumers who visited your site in key periods throughout 2020. You can remarket to them over the same period next year. Just remember to close your audience after the event, so you have audiences built of visitors you know interacted with your website over those key times this year. For example, try creating a BFCM 2020 ‘website visit’ audience in your audience library which you open to collect visitors on the 23rd of November and then close on the 1st of December.

5. Ad copy

Maximise your search engine result page (SERP) impact by making use of the third headline and second description line in expanded text ads and responsive search ads, to capitalise on Google’s machine-learning. They’re a great way to show tailored ad copy to your audience.

Your ad copy is key, so make it as appealing and visible as possible by doing the following…

  • Plan your strategy early. Confirm promotions, write the ad copy and get it signed off with weeks to spare. Focus all traffic through BFCM offer ads and switch off all other ad copy.
  • Align your PPC ads with on-site messaging and emphasise the seasonal offer or promotion by adding BFCM references.
  • Count down. Create a sense of urgency with your ad copy, making it clear that your Black Friday offers are only valid for a limited time over the weekend. Shoppers won’t want to miss out!

Top tip: Why not create ad copy which is tailored not only to the search term but to an audience as well? With so much data available to enrich your targeting beyond just the keyword, you can make your ad copy more engaging by using language or USPs that resonate with a particular audience. 

  • Set up ad copy extensions including price, sitelinks, callouts and structured snippets. Ad extensions are crucial in determining your adverts’ ad rank, but also encourage additional clicks to the site through the extra information displayed.
  • Set up automated rules to activate/pause your ads at certain times. This will help you be more efficient. Just make sure you double check that all the rules are reflecting the promotions offered on site and for the correct times.

6. Shopping

Maximise your product visibility and implement all features and product launches within Google Ads and Bing. These are the four most important steps:

  • Optimise your shopping feed. Make sure you have as many products available as possible by fixing disapprovals.
  • Look at increasing bids based on priority labels like seasonal (bestsellers), stock, price (competitive price against resellers) and margin (focus on profit against revenue).
  • Showcase offers and promotions to shoppers for standard shopping campaigns (on Google and Bing) by taking advantage of the 45-character promotional text field.
  • Implement Smart Shopping campaigns if you’re not already (only available on Google Ads). Test running them alongside your standard shopping campaigns. Smart shopping gains retailers more product inventory exposure across three different networks – Google search, Google Display Network, Gmail and YouTube – driving traffic to your online shop.

7. Landing page experience

Make sure your landing pages are consistent with your PPC ads, providing the best user experience on site. Landing page optimisation is crucial for special offers and deals, making it obvious that customers are in the right place and that you’re actually offering what you advertise.

  • Optimise your site to improve conversion rates. Create a sense of urgency by adding a countdown banner for when specific sales will end.
  • Prepare for lots of traffic. As expected during this period, ecommerce sites will experience a huge increase in traffic – especially from mobile devices. So, make sure your site is ready to deal with this surge.
  • Minimise the user journey to product pages (it should involve as few clicks as possible) and optimise your site’s checkout process. This will lead to an increase in sales.

Remember: online visitors are impatient, and competition will be high, so make sure the increase in traffic won’t slow down or crash your site. Any interruption can result in unhappy customers, a negative opinion of your business and a loss of revenue.

8. Monitor, analyse and optimise

It’s important to track all metrics on your ecommerce site.

Gather useful insights from Google Analytics and other real-time tracking tools. The data will help you to understand the performance of your business through the BFCM period, giving you the chance to learn what worked and what needs to be improved for the next year. It’s worth setting up automated trackers in advance, giving you the data and insights you need to make quick decisions over BFCM, not just retrospectively. More time should be spent optimising your activity than pulling reports.

In summary: prepare, plan, monitor and adapt, organising your strategy as early as possible to deliver a successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaign. But be prepared to move with a market that’s responding to uncertainty. Discounts are clearly important, but delivering an exceptional customer experience is key to retaining your existing audience and gaining new users.

Need help with your PPC activity? Please get in touch at [email protected] – we’d love to help!

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HubSpot to cut around 7% of workforce by end of Q1



HubSpot to cut around 7% of workforce by end of Q1

This afternoon, HubSpot announced it would be making cuts in its workforce during Q1 2023. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing it put the scale of the cuts at 7%. This would mean losing around 500 employees from its workforce of over 7,000.

The reasons cited were a downward trend in business and a “faster deceleration” than expected following positive growth during the pandemic.

Layoffs follow swift growth. Indeed, the layoffs need to be seen against the background of very rapid growth at the company. The size of the workforce at HubSpot grew over 40% between the end of 2020 and today.

In 2022 it announced a major expansion of its international presence with new operations in Spain and the Netherlands and a plan to expand its Canadian presence in 2023.

Why we care. The current cool down in the martech space, and in tech generally, does need to be seen in the context of startling leaps forward made under pandemic conditions. As the importance of digital marketing and the digital environment in general grew at an unprecedented rate, vendors saw opportunities for growth.

The world is re-adjusting. We may not be seeing a bubble burst, but we are seeing a bubble undergoing some slight but predictable deflation.

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About the author

Kim Davis

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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Advocate | DigitalMarketer



Advocate | DigitalMarketer

Happy customers love to share their experience, but sometimes they need some encouragement to do so. The cool thing is, once they do, they become even more loyal to your brand.

So, at this stage of the Customer Value Journey, ask people to share their positive experience with your brand by writing a review or sharing a social media post.

Once you get to stage seven, the Customer Value Journey is going to get a whole lot easier for you. This stage is all about learning your customer’s experience, and building up your testimonial database. 

The most important part of this step is asking these four questions. 

What Was Your Life Like Before Finding Our Solutions? What Challenges Were You Facing That Caused You to Consider Us? 

These questions are great not only because it gives you some really good stories, but because it gives you some insight on how you can provide similar prospects with that AHA moment. Understanding the average day of your clients is important in reflecting on your Customer Value Journey, and helps you understand what really set you apart from your competitors.

What Key Features Had the Biggest and/or Fastest Impact?

Not only is this going to get you to really specific stories, you will understand the specific things you provided that gave the biggest impact. The answers to these questions will not only give you great insight and testimonials, it will provide you with ideas for new lead magnets. This part is a new Entry Point Offer goldmine! 

What Has Been the Impact or Results in Your Life or Business Since Using Our Product or Service? 

This is a fairly broad question, and that’s why we put it after the others. You will have already gotten all of the specifics out of the way with #1 & #2. But when you ask this question, this is where you get the most valuable stories. You can use this part as testimonials, as an order form, as a sales page, this part is testimonial gold. 

If You Were Asked to Justify this Purchase to Your Boss or a Friend, What Would You Say? 

This is our favorite question by far. If you had to go back in time and justify this purchase, what would you say? I promise you what we’re going to find is a lot of great ideas for the jobs that your product or service has done. You’ll get a lot of great ideas for your core message canvas. This question is about backfilling all of the assets that you may not have. Here you’re going directly to the customer who are already happy, and using their justifications to help you sell to new customers. 

Hopefully you now understand just how valuable the Advocate stage could be, as well as the key questions you need to ask to get your customers talking. Here’s how it works for our example companies.

When it comes to fashion we all love to show off our outfits. So a good example for Hazel & Hems would be to have customers write reviews for a discount code or points towards their next purchase. 

Better yet, follow up with the customers to ask them to share and tag themselves wearing the items in a social media post and providing them with something valuable as a reward.

For Cyrus & Clark Media, hopping on zoom meetings or a streaming service for live talks about them and their business could generate valuable awareness for them, and a live case study for the agency. They can use the questions Ryan provided during this lesson to conduct the interview.

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Drive Conversions and Generate Engagement With Instacart Promotions



Drive Conversions and Generate Engagement With Instacart Promotions

Through deals and coupons, Instacart has saved consumers more than $700 million in 2022. As we dive into 2023, the leading grocery technology company in North America has big plans to help consumers save even more while also helping CPGs generate sales. Instacart recently announced an advertising solution that helps both sellers and consumers called Instacart Promotions. This exciting feature is designed to help drive conversions, boost sales, and generate overall engagement on the app.

Interested in this feature and how it can help your business on Instacart? Read on as we dive into everything you need to know about this ad solution including benefits, how to get started, and more.


What are Instacart Promotions?


Instacart Promotions is an advertising feature that’s now available to all brand partners, including emerging brands, within their open beta program. Promotions give CPGs the opportunity to offer new deal structures, promotions, and incentives with Instacart Ad campaigns. With this feature in place, consumers will have access to more promotions, coupons, and deals that are tailored to them within the Instacart Marketplace.

“With the launch of our new Instacart Promotions, all of our brand partners now have the ability to set up coupons and promotions that can drive meaningful business results while also passing on more savings opportunities to consumers. We’re proud to continue expanding our portfolio with additional self-service capabilities, ad formats that drive results, and measurement that brands need to understand the true impact of their campaigns on Instacart.”


– Ali Miller, VP of Ads Product at Instacart


Source: Instacart


How Do Instacart Promotions Work?


Promotions, now available in Ads Manager, gives consumers the ability to discover more promotions and savings opportunities within the Instacart app. These promotions now show up directly on product item cards before checkout for easy accessibility. Promotions allow advertisers to customize their campaigns to sync with their goals and objectives whether that be driving sales, building baskets, or boosting trials.

Instacart shared a recent example of a brand successfully utilizing Promotions… 

Athletic Brewing, General Mills, Sola Company, and Wells Enterprises (maker of Halo Top) are strengthening campaign performance by pairing Instacart Promotions with ad formats such as Sponsored Product and Display. Instacart Promotions include two new flexible and customizable structures: Coupons (“buy X units, save $Y”) and Stock Up & Save (“Spend $X, Save $Y”). 

According to Instacart, in the coming months, the company “will work to further enhance the new offering with new deal structures such as Free Gifts and Buy One, Get One (“BOGO”). The new deal structures will help brand partners run “Free Sample” programs that can win new customers and serve personalized discounts for different customer segments, such as “new to brand” and “new to category.”  


Example of Instacart Promotions

Source: Instacart


Instacart Promotions Benefits


Deliver Value and Savings to Consumers


With Instacart Promotions, you have the opportunity to deliver value and savings that will have consumers coming back for more. With this savings feature, your brand can stand out among the competition and offer a variety of deals to shoppers ie: “Buy X units, Save $Y”.


Hot tip: Ensure you are selecting products for your promotion that are well-stocked and widely available.  


Tailor Your Campaigns to Specific Objectives


With a variety of savings options available, your brand can structure deals to fit specific business goals and objectives. 


Hot tip: If you’re looking to drive visibility and awareness, try pairing promotions with Sponsored Product campaigns. 


Access Real-Time Performance Insights 


The Promotions beta program is live and can be accessed within Instacart Ads Manager. Within Ads Manager, advertisers can access real-time insights to maximize performance and adjust campaigns as needed.


Hot tip: Make sure your budget matches your discount and objectives.


“As an advertiser, Instacart’s unique offering to self-manage promotions is so exciting! Historically, making adjustments to offer values and other promotion parameters was a more manual process, but now we’ll be able to easily make optimizations in real-time based on redemption performance.”

Emily Choate

Emily Choate, Senior Specialist, Marketplace Search at Tinuiti


Interested in Instacart Promotions?


With Instacart Promotions, you have the opportunity to reach new customers, build bigger baskets, and drive sales. Interested in testing out the beta program or looking to get started with advertising on the app? Drop us a line – we’d love to help elevate your CPG brand on Instacart.


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