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Guest host Duane Brown led this week’s PPCChat discussion. Experts shared their views on eCommerce strategies, How are they preparing for Q4, What are their thoughts on the impact this year can have on the eCommerce industry, and more.

Q1. When did you start to prepare for Black Friday/Q4 this year? 

Worked through the weekend for a prospect, but I am thankful for Canada showing an example how a north american country can behave with civility. @360vardi

We’ve been talking about it since early August, tho in the context of media generally turned off and making plans for Fall. @JuliaVyse

I started in August. Many of our DTC clients STILL haven’t done anything though, despite a month and a half of trying to get them to get going. @CJSlattery

Some key clients we have been talking about it since June/July because we wanted to take this up a level this year. Plus we knew if the 2nd lockdown or delays in shipping happened. We would need to implement our plan ASAP. @duanebrown

Discussions were happening last month, but most clients are still in the now. @360vardi

We started discussing with clients August/September. With prime day being today and shipping times & supply chain issues being unknown can easily see the rush being way earlier this year than last. Would have like to start discussing even earlier in hindsight. @selley2134

I started prepping for BFCM right before Labor Day. @DenneyDara

We started…yesterday @JonKagan

We’ve started these conversations in June-ish (right after everything stabilized from COVID), but really started to prioritize it in August. Now it’s model development and campaign planning time. @DigitalSamIAm

This year stressing even more about channel diversity. Google and Facebook are going to be a blood bath. Even if it’s getting an FB only client on Google and Microsoft. Or getting someone on Snap. Plus our Snap Ads Guide: takesomerisk.com/snap-ads-guide/ @duanebrown

Q2. What have you been doing differently this year to prepare? 

I think this comes in (at least) three parts: (1) Stuff we’re doing differently b/c Presidential election (2) Stuff we’re doing differently b/c COVID (3) Stuff we’re doing differently b/c people + platforms have changed/evolved since last year. @DigitalSamIAm

Definitely been trying to be earlier in discussions. Really talking about inventory with clients. What are they trying to push vs what could be an opportunity that usually isn’t. Try to capture new traffic/users that would usually be the black Friday (in-store) crowd. @selley2134

Fully stand-alone budget flighting, bid strategy, and messaging, all 3 of which that end up changing almost daily. @JonKagan

The main difference this year is budgets. I don’t have as much cash to work with as I did last year, so we’re trying to make it as efficient as possible. @JuliaVyse

I’m telling my clients to DIVERSIFY: diversify your platforms (SMS + Snapchat), diversify your content (no more images with 25% overlay), and diversify your offers (more than just one!). @DenneyDara

1: To the (1) – it’s region-dependent; costs in swing states are higher, and honestly, partisanship is throwing creative in weird ways. There’s also how platforms are reacting to it (i.e. random disapprovals) has forced us to build in more time on campaigns. @DigitalSamIAm

2: The covid thing is (all things being equal) helpful for some eComm clients — definitely making some attribution problems easier b/c online->offline journeys are less common. But convincing clients that more $ should go online has been challenging at times. @DigitalSamIAm

The conversations with our clients was about hedging bets and diversifying. US Q4 also has the election which spiked YouTube CPCs for example, so planning what platforms we’ll try and what amount of budgets. in prior years we tried things sooner. @360vardi

3: Then there’s platform changes. I think 2020 will be the first BFCM where there’s multiple viable eComm platforms outside of Amazon + FB/IG (Snap, TikTok, etc). That’s pushing budgets in weird ways, and complicating models a bit more. @DigitalSamIAm

Q3. Have you taken into account Q2 sales? i.e if something sold during Q2 lockdown but is not something you normally sell in Q2 2019. Would you feature that again during Q4 2020/this current lockdown.

That sounds like a good strategy, but our sales are based on what products are planned for the Fall, and covid related supply chain mayhem. @JuliaVyse

Depending on the item. We sold a lot of ppe / cleaning supplies during q2 but wouldn’t feature those in q4 now that there is more supply. but some toys/activity books did well in q2 that we are planning to push in q4. @selley2134

Trying to push Q2 out of mind. Q4 is a revenue run, Q3 was the ROI run. @JonKagan

This year, I think agility (FFS I hate that word) is the most important thing – how quickly are you willing to adjust your plans + shift spend? How rapidly will you react to things going boom in one market? It’s definitely a balancing act. @DigitalSamIAm

Yep. it’s mostly a blessing, but this year, a curse! I hope we don’t have to pull spend based on product availability. @JuliaVyse

Q4. Are you taking shipping delays into account?

Yes. I mean there’s no much we can do about it besides warn in the creative/landing page, work in delay offers. @JuliaVyse

We do try to centralize creative & preformance with clients to avoid some of those delays, as well as moving up creative deadlines by a week or two for clients with their own creative teams. @DigitalSamIAm

Yes, asking a lot about shipping/inventory. Been hit with some issues I hadn’t even thought of. One client had a covid outbreak in their warehouse & had to quarantine & then staff down so they told us to slow down. @selley2134

Absolutely — working with clients on staffing up to respond to angry customers, as well as proactive communication and clear updates on creative and LPs. @DigitalSamIAm

Q5. Anything we didn’t talk about that will impact Q4? What should your peers think about to thrive this year?

Spiderwolves? at this point, whatever else can happen probably will! @JuliaVyse

So this is difficult but one thing I’ve been mentioning is trying to consider lower cost / higher-margin options. With no stimulus, I think folks will be very price-conscious and if you can get a better margin % at a lower AOV it’ll be huge. @CJSlattery

I’m actually really curious to see how some of our COVID audiences perform for BFCM. Also making sure data capture works for all platforms now… IMO it is more important now than ever before. @DigitalSamIAm

State side, election is/is going to wreak havoc on your says in search/GDN/YouTube. Only real salvation: @MSFTAdvertising banned political ads. @JonKagan

Facebook is announcing all kinds of things that they are finally banning – you know other ads will get caught up in these new nets. Not just e-comm either… @NeptuneMoon

With 2020 being so 2020, I’m sure there are a million things I haven’t thought of. Right now my focus is mainly on new customer acquisition and supply chain/inventory issues. @selley2134

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