Top mistakes eCommerce businesses make in their PPC strategies during the build-up to Black Friday/Christmas - ClickZ

For many eCommerce businesses, the Black Friday/Christmas season is the most lucrative and can even make or break the year’s trading. However, with so much riding on this period, it’s easy to neglect some of the most essential steps that maximize profitability.

Whether you’re a seasoned Black Friday seller or gearing up your business for the holiday season for the first time, there are a number of considerations and processes that can have a big payoff should you devote some of your time and energy in advance.

So, we’ve asked Peter Marshall, Chief Marketing Officer at Add People to highlight some of the most common mistakes he and his team see time and time again to make sure your holiday PPC strategy this year is iron-clad.

Top 9 Mistakes eCommerce Businesses Make During Black Friday & Christmas

1. Anticipating a single peak

Though Black Friday is historically the day after Thanksgiving, it’s become an international sales holiday that contributes to a huge increase in sales for businesses of all kinds. However, as Black Friday has expanded across eCommerce and physical retail, sales typically run throughout the build-up period (7-14 days prior) or the whole of November. If this is the case, you will need your PPC strategy to be prepared for the entire period in advance.

On Black Friday, the cost per click (CPC) of your ads typically surges dramatically, so we have observed that by extending deals on either side of the holiday itself, we ensure our clients benefit from lower average level CPCs and pull in more sales over an extended period.

You’ll also want to consider your strategy across the whole (Read more...) period and how you can maximize sales all the way up to Christmas.

2. Overcomplicating discounts 

Our clients from the UK and the US bring their Black Friday strategies to us with multiple discount codes across different brands or ranges, the complexity of which can result in customers dropping off or abandoning cart. Given that sales during the holiday period provide the opportunity to ramp up sales to accommodate the drop in price, it’s essential that converting is as straightforward as possible.

A unified strategy that carries from Black Friday through to Christmas will help you streamline your purchasing process and entice shoppers to return at different points during the holiday season.

Scaling discounts is a strategy we sometimes use with our clients, such as 10% off over £100, 20% off over £200 but any more complexity may start to deter customers by adding barriers to conversion.

3. Having unclear goals for sales periods

The best businesses will capitalize on sales periods like Black Friday or Christmas to achieve multiple business goals. While high-traffic events are the perfect time to boost revenue, you should also be considering the broader consequences of these activities.

Black Friday and Christmas provide businesses with an opportunity to entice new customers who have never shopped with you before and build up your audiences for repeat purchases. Our clients are able to combine their PPC strategy with other channels such as email and paid social to extend profits later down the line where the original sale may have been undertaken at a lower than typical margin.

To capitalize on the holiday, it’s a good idea to define how your activity fits into your long-term objectives ahead of time. For example, if your Black Friday campaign involves running loss leaders, forecast the revenue you’ll need to generate on your other marketing activities to make this profitable in the long term.

4. Making changes on the day

Google Ads is good, but it’s not perfect. Changes made on the platform cause the algorithm to adjust and some changes can take hours or days to settle down. If you’re making bid adjustments on the day, you may cause the algorithm to react sub-optimally, resulting in a disruption in your performance.

This is why forward planning is essential and why we start organizing Black Friday sales for our PPC clients well in advance. Changes you can make include increasing your budget, activating your campaigns on the day, or enabling promotional ad copy, but any other changes could put your Black Friday campaign performance at serious risk.

When making any changes throughout the period, consider how this fits into your forecast and any other dates before Christmas that you’ll need to be prepared for to avoid destabilizing your ads at any time.

5. Falling foul of Google policy

Google Merchant Centre can be very strict about promotions on your product feed, especially relating to the promotional title and feed labeling. While it’s best to set up your promotions as early as possible, you should give yourself at least five days to ensure they can be tested and improved before they’re set up.

If you haven’t already, setting up GMC promotions through the opportunities tab can take a few days to be added to your account. Particularly for new businesses, forward planning when it comes to the restrictions Google expects you to adhere to will help everything run smoothly throughout the Christmas period.

6. Mixed messaging across platforms

Similar to the pitfall of complicated discounts, a lack of consistency across your sales channels can put your profits at risk. Using different codes and different messages across social, PPC and your site will create additional hurdles in the buying process which must be reduced throughout the Black Friday period.

Whether our clients use us for multiple services or just their PPC, we ensure everyone involved in the process is aligned on the goals and strategy so that the message to the customer is as clear as it can be.

7. Ensuring your web server can handle your expected traffic

If your ads bring in a level of traffic that you’re not accustomed to, it could test the limits of your hosting provider. To avoid the chance of your site crashing, plan ahead and ensure your provider has a bandwidth provision for expansion if things get busy.

You can also find tools to check web down times which you can run throughout the holiday period. These tools will send notifications if your site happens to go down and can be configured to notify you more frequently during busy periods, helping you fix the problem quickly and prevent disruption to your shopping process.

8. Missing chances for remarketing 

While Black Friday and Christmas present the ideal opportunity to appeal to new customers, neglecting your opportunities for remarketing is a major pitfall you should avoid. Thinking of your holiday PPC strategy holistically will ensure no chances to win sales are missed.

Within Google ads, functions like Google Display Network and Remarketing Lists for Search Ads can help you establish your strategy for customers who have visited your site before. Other remarketing channels like Facebook and YouTube can all be factored into your holiday strategy to maximize your share of voice to several audiences at once.

9. Leaving data behind

The holidays come around at the same time every year so whether you’re a new Black Friday seller or a veteran of Christmas eCommerce, the data you accrue during this period is invaluable.

You can start planning your next Black Friday sale plan as soon as the holidays are over by analyzing what the data from the current year shows. This will help you understand how to improve, where you might want to spend more of your budget or opportunities you may have missed.

This data can also inform your marketing strategy throughout the rest of the year outside of sales, giving you an idea of what products and services brought you a new audience and where remarketing efforts may be best spent.

Get ready for Black Friday & Christmas

Peter’s final piece of advice is “You’ll need to consider how this period fits in with the rest of your sales strategy, to make sure everyone involved knows exactly what you’re trying to achieve and make the right decisions to maximise sales for as long as possible. Even considering your January strategy and stock control for the early phase of the next year is important.”

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