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This week’s PPCChat session was hosted by @NeptuneMoon where she sought PPCers view on managing e-commerce accounts over the Black Friday – Cyber Monday, What offers performed the best, Client expectations, Lessons to take into next year and more.

 

Q1: How many of you were managing e-commerce accounts over the Black Friday – Cyber Monday (BF/CM) period this year? What categories are your accounts in (i.e. apparel, toys, etc.)?

 

Women’s apparel, o2o furniture retailers, book subscription services. @jfryppc

Wasn’t managing any retail clients this year so lurk.com will be my jam today. @mindswanppc

YEP. Baby accessories and clothing (working in house) @zmste

We had one client this year in the Sustainable Fashion category. @adwordsgirl

Sorry, late as my call ran over. Yes, I was still putting up ads on Turkey day. Almost all of my clients are retail focused from clothing brands, food, home decor, and more. @lchasse

I only have B2B accounts so it was a slow week – I still feel bad for FB being down on Thursday morning – I could only think on my ecomm friends. @andreacruz92

Managing multiple ecomm brands over the weekend. I’ll sleep when I’m dead. @jessesem

I have eyewear space, shoes, meal kit. This weekend was extremely important this year because holiday season this year is very short @360vardi

All lead gen for me this holiday, so I’m excited to lend a different perspective to the chat (as someone trying to avoid the BF/CM competition) @akaEmmaLouise

B2B, so no BFCM or holiday shopping here. We’re entering our slow season. Favorite Thanksgiving food: pumpkin pie. Didn’t have any this year but it’s my favorite. @Mel66

We were managing one major one that was doing sales – an apparel client in the US. A unique experience to say the least! @amaliaefowler

I was helping manage a big box store. @SEMFlem

Raises hand in zombie mode (yet still functioning)* Electronics, Retail, Events. @RyBen3

I had an apparel client this year and it was wild over the holiday… @NeptuneMoon

Fun Fact, I had my first real thanksgiving meal this year with turkey and all that @andreacruz92

 

Q2: Overall, how did this year’s BF/CM go, generally for your accounts?

 

The worst one was up 40% YoY, the best one was up over 100% YoY. @amaliaefowler No brand campaigns? Pffft. @jessesem

Surpassed last year’s performance by about +40% and hit ROAS target. @SEMFlem

Really great year. Honestly felt like majority of BFCM was so back loaded, compared to last year. Had some budget scaling issues, but got into the pace of it by Wednesday. @zmste

Record breaking year. A lot of opportunity for greater revenue on Black Friday–biggest area of growth as people are wanting to shop online more and avoid stores/traffic. Cyber Monday was pretty consistent with last year’s numbers. @RyBen3

If we’re looking at ROAS, the campaigns performed pretty well but not as well as we were hoping for which seems like the consensus across a lot of accounts. @adwordsgirl

You can always tell how good things are going by your email / call volume after from clients. Clients have been incredibly happy with their revenue numbers this year. Very good BF/CM.@lchasse

Very well and overall better YoY for the month, but I think this might be a little masked by the fact the pre-holiday days did not do as well @360vardi

Prices got cray cray on FB so we paused almost all our campaigns (B2B) over the weekend. Twitter got it a little bit but not bad enough to pause. LinkedIn traffic was down as expected but conversion rates were relatively stable. @akaEmmaLouise

I’m going to go ahead and call this one a success – a jump in revenue and they don’t want us running any Branded campaigns, so Amazon was our biggest competitor @amaliaefowler

 

Q3: Did you notice anything different happening during BF/CM this year? How did it impact what you did (or did not do)?

 

The amount of emails received as a consumer was insane! Curious if people saw better performance @andreacruz92

Saw tons of emails. Clicked on some from companies I like. Took the opportunity to unsubscribe to lots of emails that I no longer want/need to get. @CJSlattery

Your audiences had better be built up before the weekend. Many brands pushed low roas prospecting campaigns months in advance to have an audience pool to dip into. Even with low-priced items, the cpms will be crazy high, so you’ll need to remarket. @jessesem

Organic social reach was less than last year (saw a dip early Nov). Email did well, until BF I think we just got gobbled up by other emails. SEM did well early and trailed off later. Would have planned for the weekend before to start with a big promo wed, BF, CM. @zmste

I learned a lot about how shoppers are shopping by looking at me and the hubs (small sample size I know). I clicked on zero ads or emails. I went to brands I know and like to see what their sales were and shopped exclusively from there. @amaliaefowler

Black Friday was significantly better than CM when we compare YoY growth. However, CM trumps all with web purchases and online sales. @RyBen3

Tons of competition this year in some verticals. Some pretty aggressive ad budgets out there. @lchasse

Agree on the email bombardment. Also, I was getting BF sale offers ALL MONTH LONG. I don’t think the actual day is as impactful as it once was with companies doing sales for so long. Amazon had new deals every day in Nov. @NeptuneMoon

Spend and traffic increased started Wednesday for some of my clients vs. low traffic until BF last year. Competition has increased every year. Brand performance spiked vs. organic @360vardi

As a consumer, I didn’t see as many ads as I was hoping/expecting. Idk if Facebook knows I’m not a valuable ad viewer or the FB competition was less aggressive for my audience pool (everyone thinks millennials are just on IG now?). I probs would have bought if I did @akaEmmaLouise

 

Q4: What offers performed the best?

 

Increased discount on more you ordered was used more than flat discounts. Helped us really boost AOV compared to last year. @zmste

People still freaking love seeing % off that’s 20% or greater (depending on the spend) with free shipping  @360vardi

In some of the ads it was not offers, but just making sure we had what they actually wanted. The best offer, however, has been and still seems to be free shipping. Next would be simple $ or % off @lchasse

 

Q5: What were client expectations like for this year’s BF/CM timeframe? Did the accounts meet those expectations?

 

I feel like one piece that doesn’t get enough credit is how getting new customers with BF/CM sales builds your customer lists, which you can market directly to or use to make lookalike audiences. That has value that isn’t figured in to ROAS, etc. @NeptuneMoon

Different perspective, but for the B2B folks: I’m hearing more and more clients wanting to keep ads active over holiday periods like Thanksgiving when in the past people would push to pause/pull back on spend more often. Saw solid performance in B2B lead gen world over last weekend – lower volume, but steady leads. More people hanging out on their phones and still thinking about work in the process I guess @timothyjjensen

This was the client’s first time doing BFCM so I don’t think they expected a whole lot from it. I’d have to check to confirm, but we did 3x ROAS which isn’t too shabby. @adwordsgirl

We set expectations with our B2B clients ahead of time that we would pause campaigns if CPMs got too pricey. Aside from event promotion that *needed* to run over the weekend (events early this week), that’s was ended up happening almost universally for FB (& only FB) @akaEmmaLouise

Our clients largely expected worse results than last year due to increased competition in the auctions. But we (and they) were extremely happy with how things turned out @TravelinTweeter

Expectations are always reasonable right? lol, sorry… In most cases, because the lift was so high this year, we did hit expectations. But we all know, the CFOs are already penciling in the lift we had this year plus some % points for your goal next year. @lchasse

We exceeded projections. I was very surprised in Wed-Thu performance (typically it did badly for us). Clients ended up giving us extra budgets for December to maximize traffic @360vardi

 

Q6: Did anything weird happen in your accounts during the BF/CM period? If so, what? And what did you do in response to the weirdness?

 

Alright, 1. FB attribution shitting the bed. 2. Old site was cached for some browsers. 3. FB creation turned off a bunch of pixels. 4. Some budget scaling issues. Overall wasn’t as bad as the lead up to last year @zmste

Nothing out of the ordinary. Ads took waaaaay longer to get approved so we did miss a bit of the BF bump because of it, but aside from that, it was pretty normal. @adwordsgirl

Every year there’s something. 1. We had a client that couldn’t get their ads approved because their site was blocking international traffic. 2. automated rule failed 3. client changed the offer timing You gotta roll with the punches @360vardi

Saturday and Sunday were way better than last year. @SEMFlem

Email did considerably better for us than any other platform – likely due to the fact that we didn’t spam our customers and consistently only email with sales. A lot of our customers are repeat buyers (6 months or so) so it could be that they moved the purchase up. @amaliaefowler

 

Q7: If you could have done something differently this year, what would that have been and why?

 

I would have pushed audiences more from our ESP to FB to have better segmentation earlier than November. Probably about 6-8 weeks out. People that were either not opening emails, opened emails, clicked emails etc. to keep them informed. @RyBen3

The client’s budget is really small (& didn’t have additional spend for BFCM) and after seeing the results, I wish I just put their entire monthly budget towards BFCM vs. continue to space it out. @adwordsgirl

1) Pushed more ATCs on FB for the 30 days leading up to BFCM at a low roas. 2) Tested out more bundle offers before BFCM. 3) Gotten app and SMS notifications live. @jessesem

Convinced my client that branded makes sense and new client acquisition matters. You win some, you lose some. @amaliaefowler

One of my clients was running into budget caps in FB on BF and we noticed a little later than I would have liked. We didn’t think it would do that well in direct return (measured in GA) @360vardi

 

Q8: What do you wish clients would do/not do for next year’s BF/CM?

 

Look at BF/CM as a “full-year” opportunity to build relationships with potential new customers, not just the 4-day period it’s OK to bombard existing retargeting lists until their eyes bleed. @SamRuchlewicz

START PLANNING EARLIER. Have a 3 month leading into BF/CM plan to work. Have creative ready and approved in late October, early November at the latest. Don’t change the offer at the last minute… ad approval takes longer during this week, period. @NeptuneMoon

I wish they would not wait until the beginning of November to get us stuff. @SEMFlem

And on a more pertinent (and actionable) note, your BF/CM purchasers are also a great cohort to leverage later THIS holiday season (i.e. these are people who like deals + are OK shopping online, so ideal for last-minute gifts). People don’t use cohorts enough. @SamRuchlewicz

1. Have ads ready a few days before. I found myself writing BFCM ads the night before because I managed my time poorly. 2. With clients with a limited spend, save a good bulk of the budget and put it towards BFCM. @adwordsgirl

Final note on this (in the spirit of @jdprater‘s 2019 @heroconf wisdom): BF/CM is when most marketers are zigging. Find ways to zag. Surplus value is effectively zero if everyone is advertising at the same moment in time – so figure out a way to be where they aren’t.@SamRuchlewicz

Agreed with everyone saying start earlier. This stuff needs to be planned in August. Start of November is not when you start planning. @CJSlattery

Have a clear timing of the offers. Maybe not switching the site at 1 AM PST lol. @360vardi

Can I selfishly say get me all the creative a couple days before Thanksgiving? @lchasse

I wish they would not wait until the beginning of November to get us stuff. @SEMFlem

 

Q9: What lessons from this year will you definitely take with you into next year’s BF/CM planning and execution?

 

I Almost Forgot (and I’d hate to the be the agency that “learned” this lesson): check your match types and negatives BEFORE BF/CM so you aren’t @verizon or @Kohls. Didn’t know Roombas were good children’s gifts. +Black +Friday +Deals is a BAD idea! @SamRuchlewicz

Even more prospecting and building lists before BF. We were pretty concerned about hitting ROAS targets, but ended up fine. @SEMFlem

Remind clients how calendars work in September + October, so that you can plan ahead & be ready. Make a plan. Trust yourself. Execute that plan. Don’t call audibles unless absolutely, positively necessary. @SamRuchlewicz

The platforms will be lagging behind what is actually happening, so data latency is real. Discuss this beforehand to avoid unnecessary freakouts over performance. Get ads built and approved AHEAD OF TIME. @NeptuneMoon

We spent ~70%-80% of budgets on retargeting to warm audiences during BF/CM this year. If the funnels are built out enough previous to Thanksgiving in regards to building up your audiences, you should do this or go even higher next year. We will be. @TravelinTweeter

I will be pushing harder (hopefully it helps) to get creative earlier. Also, since competition increased this year, it is safe to say next year it will again as more advertisers get more active. @lchasse

1. Keep that actual days that the holiday weekend is happening and plan a daily budget/revenue goal accordingly 2. use ad customizers 3. Use auto bids seasonal adjusters 4. don’t use automated rules unless you watch it like a hawk to make sure it ran right  @360vardi

 

Q10: What could the platforms do to make it better and easier for advertisers during this busy time?

 

Google, Facebook etc… could run specials of 25% off CPCs? I would say the platform messing up conversions right in front of the holiday shopping weekend was my biggest issue. @lchasse

Don’t make any changes in your backend so that it breaks. Stop that stuff by 11/1. And don’t start again until 1/15. Seriously. It’s unacceptable to have platforms not work during the most busy time for online sales of the entire year. @NeptuneMoon

*Channeling Inner Spicy @PPCKirk *Don’t screw upconversion data the week before. Just a thought. @SamRuchlewicz

 

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