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Originally Posted On: https://www.halfpastnine.io/insights/ecommerce-black-friday-marketing-strategy-2022
Every eCommerce business needs a dedicated Black Friday + Cyber Monday Marketing Strategy. The two dates are essentially now merged to form a long-weekend bonanza of shopping.
The 2021 holidays were a record smasher, and despite further inflation, it’s unlikely that 2022 will disappoint. Especially with a growing preference for online shopping year-over-year.
In 2021, the highest grossing days for online sales were:
In 2022, Thanksgiving will land on November 24, Black Friday on November 25, and Cyber Monday on November 28.
Let’s start by covering top eCommerce trends, what holidays campaign activity you should do when, how to structure your offers, and finish with some example creatives!
Skip To What You Need:
- eCommerce Christmas Trends for 2022
- How To Build Your Christmas Holidays + Black Friday Marketing Strategy
- How To Plan Black Friday Offers
- Black Friday Campaign Creatives
eCommerce Christmas Trends for 2022
Don’t just copy + paste your old Christmas marketing campaigns. Elements of your previous holidays marketing strategies will still be applicable, including previous campaign data for actionable insights. However, some evolution is necessary given the shifts in consumer behavior over the last few years. And also to keep your campaign content fresh!
The top trends to be aware of are:
1. Shopping Starts Earlier
Both shoppers and retailers are starting earlier, with activity becoming more evenly spread out across October, November and December.
Given the shipping issues and shortages over the last couple of years, there’s also a big element of shoppers wanting to get in first while availability for the most sought after products lasts.
“With early deals in October, consumers were not waiting around for discounts on big shopping days like Cyber Monday and Black Friday.”
Taylor Schreiner, Director, Adobe Digital Insights, 2021, Adobe
2. Search Leads Social For Product Discovery
Search outranks social in popularity as an online product discovery channel. This reflects a growing preference for finding content ranked by quality.
For people who buy products through social media adverts, discounts are cited as the top reason (60%), followed by perceived brand trustworthiness (44%). Video and UGC content works best for social conversion rate optimization, boosting engagement and trust.
- Discover how to flip your brand into a media company and leverage the power of higher quality content.
3. Platform Diversification and Omnichannel Shopping Expand Opportunities
Amazon’s share of US eCommerce sales continues to grow and is now at an all time high of 56.7%. Selling on third-party platforms opens up additional audiences, from Walmart Marketplace to Etsy and Instacart.
In-platform purchasing on social media is also growing in popularity. It provides a more convenient shopping experience for consumers to rapidly move from discovery to instant gratification.
4. Decision Making Is Emotional and Influenced By Societal Norms
Tying into emotional triggers will give your campaigns more impact. Ads using emotional content perform twice as well as ads with factual content. 70% of people who experienced an intense emotional response to an advert were very likely to buy the product.
Additionally, if you can convey that the values of your brand are popular with other people, you’ll hold more influence. For example, telling online shoppers that other people were buying eco-friendly products led to a 65% increase in sustainable purchases. Apart from your own campaign messaging, tap into aligned content creators and influencers to share your messaging with their communities.
5. Shipping Is A Top CRO Consideration
People value eCommerce primarily for convenience. Your shipping service is crucial for Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), especially at Christmas when customers need to know they will receive gifts in time.
Research showed that when it comes to choosing where to buy gifts, consumers’ top 3 preferences were around shipping. They cared most about delivery notifications, shipping that’s free, and a choice of delivery time.
How To Build Your Christmas Holidays + Black Friday Marketing Strategy
So how do you get a more profitable holidays marketing strategy in place?
Let’s walk through the main building blocks of a 2022 Christmas and Black Friday marketing strategy. We’re starting off with where you want to be by the end of September, right through till January.
From September at the latest, make your preparations and get ready for Black Friday and Christmas marketing campaigns kicking off from October.
Top goals for September:
- Marketing Resource Planning – Line up agency or staff resources for content creation and campaign delivery. This includes SEO, channel management, paid campaign set-up and live campaign management.
- Marketing Content + Ad Creative Production – Design campaign landing pages and supporting creatives, approved and ready for publishing at the right time. If you produce content in-house, see our review of AI copywriting tools to help speed up content + ad copy production. It won’t replace human copywriters, but it can be a great aid!
- Vendor + Shipping Planning – Complete your seasonal planning with vendors and shipping providers. Festive stock purchasing should already be complete by now. Require all vendors to provide full visibility on warehouse locations for shipping logistics, especially those you would use for emergency restocks. Do negotiate any beneficial terms possible, such as setting stock aside, returning unused stock in January, or inclusion of value-added services like gift wrapping.
- Aligned Partnerships – Do your research and set up aligned, mutually beneficial Christmas marketing partnerships. Partnerships range from content creators + influencers to sponsorships and distribution or affiliate partnerships. Join forces with other brands who have relationships with your target audiences to expand your reach. Influencers are most impactful for reaching Millennials and Gen Z, plus online communities which increasingly drive consumer decision making. Discounts for your partners’ audiences’ first purchase is recommended!
October is a crucial month to:
- Build Product Awareness – Start by building more brand and product awareness with paid media.
- Capture Lead Data – Design paid campaigns with the primary goal of capturing Personally Identifiable Information (PII) data. So emails and phone numbers. Learn how to up your PII data capture game with first-party data strategies.
This has four main benefits:
1. Capture high intent early shoppers.
2. Get your messaging and offers out before promotional overwhelm and fatigue hit. Warming up your audiences with product awareness will increase purchase intent, boosting the effectiveness of campaigns delivered during the most competitive times.
3. Front-loading your paid campaigns into October means CPMs are less expensive than the November peak.
4. You’ll have a direct line of communication with more potential customers. Email marketing (and messaging) offers you much greater cost-efficiency, conversion rates and ROI than paid content.
If you have data on which ad platforms already work best for your target audience, stick to them. Google search optimized content and two social platforms are the bare minimum. Incorporating Google shopping results, in-platform eCommerce and the use of short videos is ideal.
You want to use two types of content in your October campaigns, designed to work together:
- CPM Campaigns With Product-led Messaging – Use display ads or promoted content to feature products with value-led messaging. Christmas-themed creatives aren’t necessary yet. Use a cost-per-mille (CPM) pricing model rather than cost-per-click (CPC) for greater reach. The creative focus should be on educating your target audience about your product. You want to stimulate intent to purchase just ahead of the upcoming offers that will drive action. You’ll drive higher intent traffic to your website, creating an audience that can be retargeted during the most competitive promotions period. This sets you up for higher Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) during November.
- Early Promotions for Data Capture – Use selected early offers in October to not only hook early-bird shoppers, but also capture customer data. Ask for emails in exchange for exclusive discount codes, ‘free’ shipping, and first dibs on your upcoming holidays offers. Giveaways are great for capturing emails, although this may attract a larger % of people who only want free products. You may attract better quality leads if you tie offers into your brand and product value.
For email marketing campaigns, begin teasing your upcoming promotions in November and create special October offers if you can.
Incentives like free shipping before December will help drive more conversions. And you don’t really need to give away free shipping – just add it onto the retail price and say shipping is free!
You can also play on scarcity and FOMO messaging given the shipping and supply issues triggered by Covid. Shoppers need to get the best products and offers while availability lasts, which has become a big driver for earlier purchasing.
Summarizing October’s top goals:
- Prospect hardest in October using outbound CPM campaigns to drive new + qualified users into your funnel before ad costs peak.
- Collect customer data, ready to leverage direct marketing in November.
Capitalizing on Black Friday and Cyber Monday is the goal, along with rising excitement for all things Christmas. You can start breaking out the Christmas-themed creatives. However, getting your offers to stand out amongst the noise is the obvious challenge. Here’s how:
- Direct Marketing – This is where your first-party customer data really pays off. Email and messaging allow you to deliver promotions directly to people already interested in your offering. Utilize any data you hold about them to provide more personalized content and offers. Consider providing incentives to fill in interest-based surveys ahead of November.
- More Focused CPC Campaigns – For paid media, switch to retargeting and CPC to prioritize clicks and conversions. Bid only the most high intent keywords for search. Your target is high intent traffic already interested in your offering or most likely to convert. This improves conversion rates and ROAS, saving you money on less selective ad targeting while competition/costs are high.
- Make Offers Available Throughout November – You don’t need to leave the best offers off the table until Black Friday + Cyber Monday. If shoppers know your best discounted prices are already available, they won’t hold off purchasing until the end of the month. Do ask for emails in exchange for early or VIP access.
For both organic + paid channels, use product-led and offer messaging combined to drive action.
Use tactics to maximize the basket value and conversion rate of your visitors; keep added shipping costs and checkout complexity low.
To boost cart sizes and AOV, you need the equivalent online mechanisms to in-store merchandising where seasonal display features boost impulse purchasing. Design landing pages especially for Christmas and Black Friday marketing campaigns, building them according to how visitors search and browse:
- Display festive offer site banners on all pages, especially the home page header.
- Use gifting category pages, optimized for search.
- Use a product recommendations engine to help you cross-merchandise, or manually create cross-merchandising connections for product pages.
- Use keywords that feed both SEO + paid media using high intent category keywords and product keywords on respective pages.
Summarizing November’s top goals:
- Leverage direct marketing and retargeting campaigns.
- Spread your Black Friday offers throughout the month rather than encouraging shoppers to wait.
Maintain a final push into December, continuing the same tactics from November but without the same intensity placed on offers. Late shoppers have less choices available in a more limited time period, which you can capitalize on. Push the messaging that there is still time to get free delivery before Christmas while limited availability lasts.
Stop your Christmas eCommerce campaigns as soon as you hit your shipping cut-offs, which could vary by your target geographies. Instead, use this window to review what stock is left over and how you can create offers to shift it. Switch over to build up for post-Christmas sales using teasers.
Summarizing December’s top goals:
- Capitalize on pressurized ‘last-minute’ buying without discounts.
- Stop location-based campaigns when you hit shipping cutoffs.
- Switch over to post-Christmas sale teasers.
Extend your end-of-season promotions from the 26th through to mid January, focused on stock clearance.
Email and organic search are the best channels to drive these sales, along with retargeting. However, it depends on what ad budget is warranted given your average cost per action and product margins.
How To Plan Black Friday Offers
Your offers are the key to eCommerce campaign success. Here are best practice tips for creating offers:
- Simple – All offers should be immediately understandable and applicable to as many customers as possible. Ideally avoid coupon codes during November, and especially on Black Friday + Cyber Monday.
- Valuable – Stingy offers won’t drive action as effectively. Offer 20% off as a minimum.
- Profitable – Make sure you still achieve an acceptable margin after discounts are applied, whether for selected products or site wide.
To balance offers against profitability, you’ll need to know your Average Order Value (AOV) minus costs. Then set a target Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) for deciding campaign budgets. When you’ve got your remaining margin, you can decide how much of that you are willing to discount.
Check out our breakdown of the most important eCommerce KPIs you need to be tracking.
The most popular types of offers are:
- Fixed – Offer a fixed percentage or value off every order.
- Free Gifts – A threshold offer, set criteria for receiving a set free gift, or free gift options.
- Paired – Buy X, Get Y, like buy a pair of trainers and get $50 off.
- Stacked – Bundle complimentary products into gift sets, or use tiered discounts which increase with purchase values.
- Exclusive – Your best offers go to email & messaging subscribers.
- Rewards – Offer VIP & loyalty programs for repeat customers also encourages new customers into a deeper relationship.
- Subscription – A small upfront fee for discounted members prices.
Here’s are examples of how to shift promotional focus by month:
- October – Use email forms and VIP subscriber lists for early access to exclusive holiday offers. You can narrow early offers down to selected SKUs ahead of Black Friday. Aim to tie offers into your brand story or values in unique ways that make you memorable with emotional appeal. Examples include an eco-friendly free gift choice, charity donation for orders over a specified value, or discounts for first orders through values-aligned influencer partnerships.
- November – If possible, gamify some of your offers building up to Black Friday + Cyber Monday. Include fun and engaging features like countdown trackers, giveaways and surprise gifts. Check out Voucherly’s great guide to gamification. Keep selectively creating offers across categories and SKUs for email subscribers, teasing for the site-wide offers still to come over cyber weekend.
- Black Friday + Cyber Monday – Offers need to be generous and simple enough to stand out. Say 20% or 30% off across your entire site, or BOGO on everything. Don’t use coupon codes on the day. Build up for at least 2 weeks so your customers know the offers are coming, but not so early as to delay purchases in October.
Here are the Black Friday FAQs our clients typically have, and our answers!
Q: “Does a percent discount or a cash discount convert better during Black Friday?”
A: It usually depends on how expensive the product is and how complicated the math is. 20% off $40 is easier to figure out than 20% off $375. It’s all about making an offer instantly understandable and valuable. So $50 off could work better than 20% off if it’s instantly perceived as being a good deal. If you do decide to use fixed discount values, you’ll need to be very comfortable with your AOV metric first in order to set an appropriate discount.
Q: “When should my Black Friday deal start (On Black Friday or November 1st)?”
A: CPMs are the highest in November and early December. Start a Black Friday promotion as early as possible to take advantage of the lower CPMs and jump-start product awareness before Black Friday actually comes. With shoppers ready to purchase gifts earlier than ever before, there’s no point encouraging them to delay purchasing. Let them know your Black Friday sale is already live. However, ask for emails in exchange for early access to discounts and then un-gate your sale on the big discount days.
Q: “Is it best to have a Black Friday discount code, or do a site-wide promotion that is already implemented on each product?”
A: Adding the extra step of entering a coupon code causes friction and can result in more abandoned carts or bounces. Having discounts hard-marked across your website makes it easier to capture sales and hopefully net new customers. This holds most true on the days of Black Friday + Cyber Monday when urgency and competition are highest, so it’s recommended to remove any codes or gates to your discounts on these specific days.
Black Friday Campaign Creatives
Perhaps it’s stating the obvious, but your seasonal creatives should aim to capture attention and trigger excitement. Use holiday-themed or on-brand designs.
Here are a selection of Black Friday and holiday campaign creatives that either leverage their brand or the seasonal theme.
Brand + Product Led
Interactive / Gamified
General Black Friday Offers
(Not all of these creatives follow best-practice by removing discount codes, but you should now you have the inside track!)
Do remember when designing your campaigns to produce at least two creatives per touchpoint for initial split testing with smaller groups. This applies for organic, direct and paid content. Monitor results for live optimization during campaign delivery; fine-tuning will always positively impact the results.
Each month building up to Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas has a different focus for your eCommerce campaign activity.
As the holiday purchasing period elongates, operators can leverage earlier shopping and extend the promotional period for greater cost efficiency. Capturing contact data in the build up will reduce reliance on paid strategies during the most frenzied shopping days.
Half Past Nine have deep eCommerce and paid media expertise. We help our clients build profitable campaigns with the use of advanced analytics, creative briefing, split testing and CRO. Just drop us a note if you’d like to find out how we can help!
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