Q4 is not known as the 'Golden Quarter' in eCommerce for no reason.
Some businesses will make up to 50% of their annual revenue over this period so clearly, getting your strategy on point here is crucial and can make or even break a business.
Facebook Ads can play a huge part in this if done properly.
To be honest, if you're reading this as I write it and haven't taken action yet, you are well behind (you've already missed the first buying peak of 11/11 that I mention below) but there will still be a few quick wins you can take advantage of and then at least you can be better prepared for next year.
This is intended to be more of a bite-sized reference guide rather than a full 3,000 word blog, so if you need more detail or context about anything below feel free to shoot me a message or email. But please, bear in mind that if it's anywhere close to Black Friday, I will likely be a day or two getting back to you as it's also my busiest week of the year and I will be in a darkened bunker somewhere glued to my ad accounts.
WARNING: I will use quite a few acronyms below
DON'T WORRY: I will put a glossary at the end :-)
1. See what worked last year. Sounds obvious, doesn't it, but you'd be surprised how many advertisers forget this. Equally, see what didn't work last year.
Pull sales data from Shopify or whatever backend system you are using as well as ads manager data - are the products that smashed it last year still relevant and selling? Start moving them again from early in Q4 and also run some engagement campaigns with any old ads you plan on reviving to get more recent comments on (users will think it's weird if all the comments are from a year ago).
Also, see which audiences performed best and if any particular tactics did well last year and test these again.
2. Check which products sell together, build bundles and start soft-testing offers for these ASAP (if you didn't already do this in October).
These can also take the form of 'Mystery boxes/bags' with a nice high AOV or cute little 'gift sets' that you can theme around Black Friday, Christmas, Hanukkah, whatever you like!
3. Build your email list - run traffic to a landing page to join your 'VIP Priority list' with a competition or other incentive to enter.
Remember, you need a really enticing offer to get people's attention on Facebook & Instagram, a $30 gift voucher ain't gonna cut it, I'm afraid.
One of my clients this year is doing a $1,000 gift card, as an example.
Doing this will give you a 'hot' list to warm up via email before your sale starts and market to very cost-effectively off-Facebook, as well as the added bonus of getting more people to your site to retarget.
4. Run tiered discounts e.g spend $100 to get 30%, spend $150 to get 35%, spend $200 to get 40%.
On-site sales work better than discount codes and running any less than 25% off over Black Friday is unlikely to be much of an attraction to anyone who isn't already very keen.
Look at this as a time to acquire a ton of new customers CHEAP and monetize them down the line, especially if your product is something that naturally lends itself to repeat purchases.
Remember: ROAS is nice in the short-term but in the long-term you need to understand what your customer LTV looks like and how much you can spend to acquire them profitably.
Also note that Black Friday buyers are after a deal and so their LTV may actually be lower than your more long-term, regular customers.
5. Remember the 3 Peaks over Q4:
- 11/11 Singles Day/Veterans Day (bigger in the States and HUGE in Asia, although sadly with no Facebook in China that restricts things somewhat)
- BFCM (of course)
- Last shipping dates in Dec (very underrated as this creates a great, natural sense of urgency for buyers)
6. Check your best converting products in Google Analytics and focus spend on these. You can do this in Analytics by going to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages and (assuming you have ecommerce conversion tracking set up) there you will be able to see your best converters over your chosen time period.
As a rough guide in ecom, anything above 2% is good, 1% or below is bad.
7. If using manual bidding, be prepared to go significantly above/below your usual bid levels.
For example, if you are using minimum ROAS bidding, Facebook themselves advise to set this at least 25% below your historical average ROAS in order to get more delivery and make sure your ads are shown over the most competitive time of the whole year.
Running bid/cost caps or target cost? You'll need to bump those to make sure they spend.
8. Offer free gifts or shipping at a certain amount above your standard AOV. This will help bump your AOV and ROAS and help mitigate all the Black Friday bargain hunters who may plan on spending less than your usual customer.
9. Use 1-day click optimization in Black Friday Week. Most of the time, I recommend using a 7-day click/1-day view conversion window at adset level. But in BF week, you should have so many conversions flying in that hitting Facebook's 7 conversions per day threshold should not be a problem. This means you want to be optimized for the freshest data, hence the justification for using a 1-day click window because anything else is unnecessary.
10. Utilise objectives you wouldn't normally to build audiences at a cheaper cost than using conversion objectives. I often use Video Views and Engagement with small budgets to hit wider sections of an audience and build for retargeting/keep warm audiences engaged, but this is possibly the only time of year there is some justification for using objectives top of funnel like Traffic or Brand Awareness for businesses that don't have a large brand already.
This means you can hit audiences in your top regions cheaply and repeatedly to be top-of-mind when it comes to sale time and also 'warm up' your sale ads. You want to be fairly specific here rather than targeting too broad an audience and ideally this would be done in the 2-4 weeks before BFCM.
11. Run a pre-Black Friday stock clearance sale weekend before Black Week to take advantage of lower CPA's and get a quick jump in sales before all the big money starts getting thrown around.
12. Set up a Facebook event for the sale 7-10 days before. This is great because people get automated reminders for events they have responded to, giving you a free extra touchpoint with your audience. Promote this organically and you can also spend a small budget on getting your warmer audiences to respond to this.
13. Extend sales for as long as they are performing. Too often, people will set end dates on sales and potentially miss out on a lot of money. For example, I've still got some Halloween Sale ads running for a couple of clients (two weeks into November) because, for whatever reason, they are still performing well. So, why stop them just because Halloween is over?
14. Update all your video view custom audiences with any new videos, both just before and during Black Friday week so you are not missing anyone from your retargeting! This is something it's very easy to forget.
15. Target your shoppers in regions with long shipping times (e.g Australia) early on for a nice boost and also capitalise on the urgency their earlier-than-usual last shipping date creates by using copy and targeting specific to them over that period.
16. Use gift vouchers or digital product set ads to run with an offer AFTER your last shipping dates to catch any last minute shoppers and help bump your revenue even once the main sale period has ended. There's no shipping delays with a downloaded or emailed gift voucher!
17. Don't neglect the post-Christmas period to mitigate any big dropoff - use related offers and things like post-purchase only discounts to keep people coming back after they've already bought or shown an interest. You spent enough to acquire those customers in the first place so build that LTV too!
So, there you have it, 17 top tips that, even if you only implement a few of them, will help you get the most out of the most crucial time of year in eCommerce.
Good luck, and may the Facebook Ads odds be ever in your favour!
AOV = Average Order Value
LTV = Lifetime Value (of a customer)
BFCM = Black Friday Cyber Monday
ROAS = Return On Ad Spend
CPA = Cost Per Acquisition (or Purchase)
Gil is a Facebook Advertising specialist who consults on and manages accounts for businesses and agencies across the world, and is currently the only certified Facebook Marketing Partner for Technical Services in Ireland.
Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.