Consumer brands already know how crucial the weekend of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is in determining financial results metrics for the entire fiscal year. One of the best things that brands can do as they prepare for one of the biggest online shopping events of the year is to nail down their performance targets, budgets, and strategy for this period.
This holiday event is going to move fast, and shoppers will move even faster and in ways that are different from the typical activity seen throughout the year. The typical Q4 sales rhythm has been thrown off by a number of wildcard factors in 2022, including an inflationary price environment, economic uncertainty, many retailers holding excess inventory, and an additional Amazon Prime event on October 11-12 which kicked off earlier discounting events.
Early and effective planning is key to helping brands see major success during Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Last year, Amazon reported up to 11.5k sales per minute during the holiday season on their platform alone. But brands should embrace an omnichannel approach to this holiday sales weekend as it is one of the biggest sales opportunities of the year on all platforms. The average amount of money spent by shoppers during Black Friday 2021 is over $300 across Amazon, Instacart, Walmart, and other large eCommerce platforms.
In fact, Black Friday/Cyber Monday broke records in 2021 by making over $275 billion globally, with the popularity of this event rising even amid the pandemic panic. The promise of free shipping during this event brings customers in droves to take advantage of limited-time offers.
In this short guide, we’ve curated a series of tips from each of our functional areas at Acadia for brands looking to get ahead this holiday season. From analytics to paid media, social media, and retail marketplaces, we hit up our internal subject matter experts to share what they are recommending to their clients. Read up to learn both time-tested and novel approaches that can help build sales momentum this holiday season - whether on your own DTC site or via retail marketplaces like Amazon.
Show, don’t just tell.
One of the biggest ways people decide what to buy for themselves or other people is through word of mouth, by seeing the product in use, or by hearing first-hand testimony of the product. Leverage influencers and creators during the holiday season. This creates high-quality informational posts that not only allow you to reach new audiences but may encourage further user-generated content around your products. More importantly, those posts have a longer lifespan. They'll exist on those creator/influencer pages, but can be funneled back into your organic and paid social content plans, where we're seeing authentic content garner more engagement and click-throughs.
Engaging with your audience assists in creating loyal customers.
Don't forget community management in the overall hustle and bustle of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Customers will direct message or leave comments on your feeds with questions about promos, hours, etc. Be there to answer those questions and move them into a purchase! You can take things one step further through proactive management too. Consumers may be creating their own sales roundup posts, or talking with their community about their shopping lists. These are great opportunities to comment on their content or reshare it with your own additional information to reach even broader audiences.
Know your goals, and budget accordingly.
When comparing your past year's performance and budget, consider the changing economic factors that may affect your ability to achieve those goals. Do you need to advertise earlier? Add additional budget?
Know your promotions and have assets, images and verbiage prepared and approved weeks in advance. Advertisers are starting earlier this year with economic changes. Even without the current economic environment, platforms are overloaded with an excess of ad approvals creating delays in approvals that are difficult for your agency to overcome. With that in mind, avoid changes during the sales period. Large budget changes can send systems back into learning phases hindering performance more than helping it.
Understand your audiences and prepare them in advance.
Black Friday/Cyber Monday is our Super Bowl and we only get one shot. We need to be prepared more than ever with the right message to the right customers at the right time. Dig into past years' data to determine who shops on each of these days. How does it compare to the rest of the holiday period and to our customers for the rest of the year? Many companies assume it will be the same, but this event draws out a new breed of shopper: gift-givers. Armed with that understanding, we can begin to create our plans to:
- Build audiences using 1P data to target existing customers. This can be done through email, SMS, Facebook custom audiences, and other types of multichannel programming.
- Build new target audiences using insights from customers who shop during this period versus non-holiday periods. It’s important not to use the same default audiences when comparing metrics across different parts of the year.
Decide how much you're willing to spend in a very competitive and noisy time.
We can't talk to everyone in every channel all at once - so we need to be selective. Just like some brands don't do much on Amazon prime day, make a conscious decision on what you're willing to invest and are you willing to sacrifice potential ROAS to maintain a voice during BFCM. Come prepared with highly targeted audiences for acquisition, retention, and reactivation efforts. We can't win with everyone but we can with our most important customers and prospects. Consider going all out on one of the two key days vs both, or maybe you invest more on Saturday or Sunday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Focus on specific geographies where you have an advantage.
Mobilize your seasonal promotions.
Lean into the omnichannel capabilities of programmatic channels. ConnectedTV ads are taking over as more users flock to stream their favorite holiday shows or movies. Incorporating interactive ads or mobile takeovers encourages your audience to shop while they stream their favorite holiday shows.
Up your end-of-year game with show-stopping media featuring product galleries, QR code activation, and retargeted ads featuring the last product viewed or abandoned cart items.
Focus on feedback loops.
Whether in-store or online, it pays to know which stores are on your nice list. The holidays present a great opportunity for brands to monitor how sales move. Feedback loops utilizing store-level data will allow marketers to better measure offline sales lift, understand media impact, and drive optimizations based on a store’s inventory or rate of sale.
Segment, Segment, Segment
With so many emails going out over the holidays, your subscribers are bound to get email fatigue and be a bit more selective with the emails they choose to interact with. They are more likely to open an email that features products or content they’ve already interacted with on your website. With most ESPs, you can create segments based on website behavior which creates a great customer experience. So before you schedule an email to send to your entire list, think about if the right people are receiving the right message about the right products. This will help keep subscribers engaged and unsubscribe rates low.
You can never go wrong with A/B testing each email or SMS you send out. A/B testing helps optimize messaging, understand your subscribers better, and prevent low KPIs. A/B testing doesn’t have to be limited to just subject line testing, you can test copy length, offers, CTAs, and images. Anytime you can learn from an email or SMS, it only helps with future email and SMS efforts.
Ensure that you have enough inventory to cover your Q4 sales, and have a backup plan.
This is especially important for Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) sellers where inventory needs to arrive at fulfillment centers way ahead of the events. With Amazon changing the maximum storage caps, make sure to monitor your restock limits daily to ensure you are not close to overstocking. If you have the capacity to do fulfillment by merchant offers, be prepared to activate your listings as a backup in case your inventory does not arrive on time or sells through quicker than expected.
Leverage data points and learnings from the Fall Prime Early Access Event for your Black Friday/Cyber Monday strategy.
This year we had the benefit of a Fall Prime day in between the main summer Prime Day event and Black Friday/Cyber Monday. This is a great opportunity to capitalize on learnings from both events and fine-tune your inventory needs.
In addition, if any of the promotions you ran for Fall Prime Day are not as successful as you planned, use this as an opportunity to double down on those specific products during the BFCM period and the lead-up, offer higher discounts if your margins allow and focus on optimizing your advertising efforts.
Want more Amazon-related BFCM tips? Listen to our podcast episode, Amazon Prime Fall Deal Event - How To Prepare.
Prepare for Black Friday/Cyber Monday with Help from Acadia
There are multiple opportunities for brands of all sizes to experience a huge spike in sales this BF/CM season. The easiest way for brands to understand and properly take advantage of these opportunities for success is to develop and execute a marketing strategy that leverages all available growth opportunities - both paid and organic.
Need more help? Contact us today to request a consultation with one of our experts.