19 November, 2021

The best time to start advertising was yesterday, the second best time is now.

Don’t wait any longer to start ad campaigns and website optimisations. This year has flown by so quickly that we are rapidly approaching the holiday season. Retail grew 13.1% in November 2020 over the same month in 2019 – this year is forecasted to be far, far bigger! Are you ready to attract the huge influx of shoppers waiting to spend their money on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas deals?

With 2021 being such an uncertain year, it’s driven more and more consumers to change their usual shopping habits. This holiday season, Black Friday is forecasted to be one of the biggest sales periods of the year, so make sure you have a multi-channel digital marketing strategy in play that includes a strong promotion marketed via Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Bing Advertising to take full advantage.

What is Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Black Friday is a USA shopping tradition where physical retail stores heavily discount their products the first Friday after Thanksgiving which is the 4th Thursday of November. It’s usually stereotyped as a pandemonium sales event where people will knock each other over for a discount.

Cyber Monday was traditionally a huge online shopping day the Monday after Thanksgiving where online retailers offer discounts and promotions. Both of these shopping days became immensely popular in the US as they’re the perfect opportunity for people to buy the best deals for Christmas gifts.

This annual shopping event has grown massively over the years, with many countries around the world taking up the tradition, including Australia. Black Friday and Cyber Monday has now evolved into Cyber Weekend, with 49% of Australians buying products last year compared to 42% the previous year.

With competition so fierce, it is important to ensure that your website user experience and promotional strategy is up to the challenge!

Source: Google Holiday Retail 2021 Report

It’s not just Black Friday and Cyber Weekend that’s enjoying such growth. Year on year online shopping trends have been increasing at a very fast rate across Australia, encouraged in part by lockdowns and restrictions. Due to the pandemic, users who used to prefer in person shopping have been forced to buy online, changing shopping habits dramatically.

To illustrate how early shoppers really do start thinking about Christmas, we’ve provided 12 month Google Trend data below for for the search term “Best Christmas Gift”. It illustrates interest beginning around August -September and how search interest grows until shipping cut off dates a week or two before Christmas.

Source: Google Trends

This year we’ve seen brands start Black Friday far earlier than ever before – weeks before the actual day! Whilst savvy shoppers are likely to browse early, many will save their actual purchases until Cyber Weekend to ensure they don’t miss out on the best deal. Other shoppers that don’t want to wait are definitely appreciating the earlier offers!

At Nelson O’Neill we’ve seen a big surge in Christmas purchases beginning in August. Online sales dramatically increased in September and October, some industries delivering numbers we’d usually see only during the highest Christmas peak in November.

Apart from restrictions forcing consumers in many states to buy online, early Cyber deals and the uncertainty over Australia Post’s delivery times are main motivators for this trend.

Align your promotional messaging to who’s hunting for sales this season

Source: Google Peak Retail Snippets 2021

This Holiday season Gen Z will be heavily taking advantage of sales opportunities online. However, we’ll also see a larger proportion of older demographics buying online than ever before – if possible increase your potential target audience by creating a promotion that will resonate across multiple generations.

If you haven’t already prepared a Black Friday or Cyber Monday offer, there’s still time!

We’ve prepared a checklist below to assist you to gain visibility and sales during this peak shopping period.

Consider starting earlier
  • Raising awareness of deals early will keep your brand top of mind with consumers. Getting in front of the shopping curve can be helpful to capture a wider audience.
  • Cost per click across all advertising platforms is higher during major shopping events, as all of your competitors vie for visibility during peak times. Launching ads earlier can take advantage of early shoppers at a cheaper cost per click, delivering sales at a lower cost per acquisition compared to the peak period.
  • As we get into peak shopping periods your competitors generally discount more heavily. Profit margins shrink as promotions become more aggressive and cost per click increases. Front weight your advertising budget towards the earliest point in the shopping period to maximise your ROI.
Create a sense of urgency
  • Consider how you display your promotion during your sales period to create a sense of urgency and encourage a quicker sale. If users feel they have a lot of time to sit on a decision they’re likely to leave, shop around and potentially forget – or find a better offer! Ensure that promotion end dates are highly visible across all major entry points of your website.
  • To create a sense of urgency, put count down timers on your landing pages and ads to highlight how much time is left before the deal ends. This creates FOMO (fear of missing out) and can get the sale done far quicker!
  • Examples of key messaging that creates urgency can include “hurry, don’t miss out, ending soon, selling fast, XYZ days left”.
Tell everyone about your promotion – in all ways!
  • Creating a clear marketing strategy before your promotion will help you to optimise all aspects of your business during a key sales period. Consider all marketing assets you have available and plan a strategy to use each asset to its best advantage throughout the entire sales period. Examples of key assets you should use include your website, email lists, abandoned cart and exit offers, remarketing audiences in paid ad platforms, social media followers and cold audience targeting via Google Ads, Facebook, Bing and LinkedIn.
  • Promote your offer across all key landing pages on your website. Often at Nelson O’Neill we see brands making the mistake of throwing up a promo banner on their home page and sitting back to wait for the sales to come. A common misconception many business owners have is that your home page is seen by everyone who visits. This is not true – in fact often the majority of visitors enter your website via a key service, category or product page. If you don’t have your promotion clearly visible on these inner pages visitors won’t even be aware of your sale!
  • Consider a staged promotional rollout – early bird offers increase urgency to gain a better deal earlier on – this gives you the best opportunity to get as many sales early on as possible – at the greatest ROI. Update your promo messaging on your website and all platforms and assets as your promotion rolls out to keep urgency and interest high
  • Don’t forget your mailing lists and remarketing lists. Sending out emails and running remarketing display campaigns drive interest and build awareness throughout your campaign to users who are already qualified and aware of your brand.
Keep an eye on the competition – be agile
  • Be prepared to switch up your promotion during major shopping events to remain competitive. You don’t know what your competitors have planned! Keep a close eye on offers via your competitors during sale periods to ensure that your offer is competitive. Put yourself in the shoes of shoppers – is your offer really strong enough to cut through the noise?
  • Pay attention to competitor tactics including exit popups when users leave, abandoned cart emails, subscriber specific offers, offers via marketplaces (eBay, Catch, MyDeal etc) to get a true feel of where you’re positioning yourself in market.
  • Don’t forget that your competitors can be agile too – you need to monitor what’s in market often – even daily during peak periods like Cyber Weekend and Christmas to adapt quickly
  • Be prepared to change your thinking – and budget – to keep up! We’re seeing completely unprecedented times in digital marketing and online retail. If you consider yourself fixed within an annual marketing budget or plan that was created many months ago you will be left behind and you are leaving a ton sales on the table for your competitors
  • Innovative thinking, agility and the ability to keep on top of your numbers are allowing businesses big and small to take advantage of this incredible sales period. Don’t miss out – if you can’t measure your ROI quickly across your marketing campaigns, fix this now. Make sure you can validate the performance of your budget at a granular level so you can move it around (or allocate more!) to maximise your ROI and sales volumes.

Author: Alex Rodger