Pre-Black Friday deals and promotions are already live. Make sure your brands and products are getting found online so you are not missing out on key Q4 sales
It’s not a normal holiday season. Who knows what normality is anymore? Amazon blew the whistle on Q4 spending earlier than ever with the launch of a wide array of what it called “epic” pre-Black Friday deals at the start of October. By the beginning of November, most of the biggest retailers in the US and the UK, had launched their respective sales events to get ahead of potential availability issues and ramp up excitement for the biggest shopping festival of the year outside of China.
Last year, with the pandemic still raging and non-essential shops shut in the UK and parts of North America, ecommerce dominated Black Friday and Cyber Monday and the weeks leading up to it. This year, lockdowns are but a traumatic memory for many and high streets and shops are open for business - but the shift to online is expected to be a permanent feature of post-pandemic life and analysts are anticipating that in the US at least, holiday sales (between November and January) will grow between 8% and 15% punching through the $200 billion mark.
Listen: Edge by Ascential and Perpetua ecommerce specialists anticipate shopper behaviour this Cyber 5 and offer brands tips on how to optimise online demand
But caveats remain. It’s still unclear whether stock shortages could derail those forecasts, while consumer confidence remains fragile. Yes, those middle-to-upper earners that kept their jobs during the pandemic have extra savings, but continued economic uncertainty means shoppers may be hesitant to splurge.
Against that backdrop, consumer goods brands must take maximum advantage of more customers flocking to digital retail platforms to browse for bargains and gift inspiration in the weeks leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday - the so-called Cyber 5 weekend - as well as the mega-shopping days themselves when online traffic will peak.
Here’s 5 ways to stand out from the crowd this holiday season - even if advertising budgets are tight
Align page content with customer search behaviour
Evidence suggests that Cyber 5 bargain hunters come to retail websites to browse and be inspired by what they find, rather than with a product or brand in mind. So, your content must be as engaging as possible to make sure they end up clicking on your advert rather than a competitor’s and that your product ends up in the online checkout. One of the ways to do this is to keep a keen eye on what customers are searching for and optimise your product page accordingly. Amazon has a facility through Vendor Central that allows sellers access to top search trends in real-time. Monitor demand for specific and general terms daily that are relevant for your category as well as seasonal shopping and up date your product page accordingly. Take cues from user generated content on social media too, reflecting popular shopper language. If appropriate, emphasise gift verbiage during this time. Stay away from industry jargon. The text from your product page will typically feed into the platform’s search algorithm and could organically see you get bumped up the search rankings (a very good thing!)
Follow titles and product description best practice
Product titles are a key factor in findability. They are there to help the algorithm return relevant products for the shopper. There are good practices to follow. Include the full brand name and a sub-brand if relevant and top searched for category keywords. Don’t underestimate the significant sales loss potential of removing the keyword that people are searching for. Use title case where possible and use numerals for numbers instead of writing them out. If you can:
on the features of your product. While it’s tempting to stuff these with as many keywords as possible, less is more - five to six optimal. It’s worth noting that trending grammar, spelling and language nuances vary from one platform to another. Is eye shadow performing better than eyeshadow? Tshirts may be trumping T-shirts and ‘Jewelry’ trending, while ‘Jewellery’ much lower in the rankings. Common typos in spelling might be an opportunity to optimise for seasonal search and using alternate languages could be a strategy for reaching under-targeted audiences.
Bold, clear and mobile-friendly visuals are key
The images that you use on your product page essentially will be doing the job that packaging does on the physical shelf if it is going to remove any barriers from the purchase decision. It will quickly convey relevant meaning at a brand identity level, reassuring the customer that they will get exactly what they think they will be getting when they can’t taste, touch or see the physical product. Negative reviews are almost always because the customer’s expectations were not met. They thought the product would be bigger, or a different flavour to what they actually end up with. They are a great way of highlighting benefits and why your product is unique as people generally absorb information from visuals over text. Make sure they are optimised for mobile and tablet as most people shop and browse online in this way now. Where appropriate, consider incorporating holiday imagery into your product pages. In the health and beauty space, certain brands are already doing this through festive colors and holiday backdrops. Edge by Ascential analysis for clients shows that improving images for the mobile shopping experience leads to higher conversion.
Add internal links!
You want your customer to spend as much time as possible engaging with your content, which will then hopefully persuade them to make a purchase of your product rather than a competitor product. It’s very easy for a visitor to an ecommerce platform like Amazon to land on your site and then click away if they’re not immediately hooked because of the sheer volume of links. Internal linking - hyperlinks that connect the user with engaging and educational information about your brand and products - gives your brand a little bit of control over your browser’s purchase journey. Internal links
also help the retailer’s algorithm index your content and so put a rocket up your rankings. For the holiday season, consider adding internal linking to hero SKUs and items with upcoming promotions
Increased ad spend is a must to avoid going dark, even if you narrow your focus
A jump in traffic on ecommerce platforms, like Amazon, during Cyber 5 and in the weeks before means brands must increase their advertising spend compared to other times. Ecommerce advertising business Perpetua, which like Edge by Ascential is part of Ascential’s Digital Commerce Business Unit, says that if you are not spending more, your campaigns are likely to go dark, leaving sales on the table. Perpetua recommends an uplift of spend between 150% to 200% on Black Friday and Cyber Monday with an increase of 100% on the two days in between and if you are budget constrained, then consider being highly focused in your key term bids, only promoting products that have the best click through rates or the ones that are part of deal programmes. While you may want to be aggressive in bidding for banded terms to keep your competitors at bay, concentrate leftover budget on generic category keywords that have a lower Advertising Cost of Sale (ACoS) than competitor branded keywords but high traffic. Consider bidding on specific phrases that may be less in demand but will likely lead to better conversion due to increased shopper intent. Specific gift terms will likely be the best options for paid search investments, rather than generalised gift terms.