This is a guest post from Charlotte Haab, Account Lead at
As we get into the meat of Q4, there’s only one thing on advertiser’s minds—sales and how to maximize them. Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be the biggest sales days of the year, but it’s possible to extend that momentum and maximize your sales well into the New Year.
If you’re looking to keep sales strong even after the holidays, check out the tips below.
Use your first-party data from the holiday season
Just how huge were Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year? Black Friday raked in $6.2 billion in sales, while Cyber Monday set yet another record with $7.8 billion. It’s estimated that more than a third of the country—174 million people—hit the internet between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, presumably to shop for gifts.
So once all those people buy, what happens to them? This is where first-party data strategies come into play. All that online spending really fattens up customer lists! Tap your or your client’s CRM software to get lists of shoppers sent to the various search engines.
You can get as granular as your backend setup allows. Popular segments include people who:
- Purchased on Black Friday or Cyber Monday
- Purchased on Thanksgiving
- Spent a certain dollar amount
- Abandoned their carts
- Purchased certain products
The list could go on. You can use these segments to remarket down the line, or even create similar audiences or lookalikes on certain platforms going into the New Year.
For instance, if you’re able to create an audience of people who purchased Kitchen Aid Stand Mixers during a Cyber Monday sale, you can retarget them in the New Year with various attachments—maybe a veggie spiralizer to help them with their New Year’s resolution to eat healthier! Or, if you have a wider array of products for sale, you can create a list of users who had a higher than average order value, and retarget them more aggressively on your most expensive or luxury items.
Think about New Year’s resolutions
The New Year is a fresh start for many—why not capitalize on that mentality? In almost every industry there is a New Year’s resolution or related seasonality that applies to your vertical.
For example, for wedding purveyors, New Year’s Eve is a night of proposals—you can count on a spike in sales the next day. Most people resolve to get fit or healthier in the new year, and for retailers this means higher demand for activewear, kitchen, or food-prep supplies. Gyms see a sharp bump in memberships, and even banking institutions see increases in search volume as the population resolves to finally get their finances in order.
Think about which resolutions apply to your business, and be prepared with keyword expansions, increased inventory, or exclusive deals.
Make your job easier: embrace dynamic search and AI
Despite being “the most wonderful time of the year,” the holidays and surrounding dates can be among the most stressful for anyone who works in marketing. Make your life a lot easier by embracing dynamic capabilities and automation features that seem to be constantly rolling out.
Ensure total coverage and keyword mine with DSA campaigns.
Being prepared for the New Year may sometimes means a keyword expansion. For example, a retail client who typically sells beach gear wants to expand into activewear in anticipation of increased sales in the New Year.
While you can research and craft your own keyword lists, another great way to ensure coverage is to set up a Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) campaign in Google. Through these campaign types you can target broader categories based on your site structure or product categorization.
Once you set up the campaign you can really sit back and let Google do the keyword harvesting for you. Review queries on your DSA campaigns to find super high quality, longer tail, or unexpected new keywords to bid more aggressively on as the year progresses.
Use dynamic and responsive ad capabilities to target the most relevant customer with the most relevant language.
You can take even more work off your plate by embracing dynamic and responsive ad types in Google. You can use dynamic keyword insertion to make sure your headlines are totally tailored to each and every query that comes through. You can even take some of those first-party data lists and write specialized ad copy just for those people to be dynamically applied in-auction.
For instance, those stand mixer customers might respond well to, “Enjoying your new stand mixer? Check out this new attachment.” Or on Facebook, use the automated audience segments to target newly engaged couples with specific pointed language like, “Just engaged? Check out our wedding planning checklist!”
If you’re willing to surrender even more to Google’s algorithms you can stick some responsive search or responsive display ads into the mix. You can theoretically set and forget these ad types—Google will format them in each auction to serve in the most enticing way possible with the goal of driving clicks or conversions.
Use automated bid strategies tailored to your goals.
Make sure your account is set to “Optimize” for ad rotation to give Google full control over who gets served your ads in auction. Their robust algorithms serve your ads to the most qualified searchers in every auction, maximizing performance and eliminating the need to orchestrate clunky, antiquated A/B tests.
You can also test the waters with various bid strategies to achieve your specific performance goals, whether that’s a target ROAS, target CPA, certain impression share, or certain competitor you want to outrank.
Google is also constantly refining these bid strategies, so if you’ve tried them in the past to no avail, don’t be afraid to test them again! I would also encourage advertisers to stay up to date on new betas across all platforms.
For instance, this time of year can be difficult or slow for B2B companies—but implementing Google’s new pay-per-conversion beta allowed for one B2B client to finally find success through GDN acquisition and only pay for efficient conversions. The best part? The targeting is 100% in Google’s hands—barely any work for a very strong yield. Be sure to ask your account reps across all channels for updates on the latest and greatest performance tools/opportunities.
Don’t discount brick and mortar too quickly
This year has marked a shift in how Americans shop. For the first time, more than 50% of Americans say they prefer to shop online. It’s also no big secret that the industry in general is consistently moving in the direction of eCommerce over in-store shopping. Each year on Black Friday foot traffic falls by a few percentage points while online sales soar.
It’s important to note that brick and mortar stores are evolving into a valuable supplement to the ever-growing digital landscape. No matter how easy it is to shop online, humans love instant gratification. That’s why e-tailers and retailers alike are developing symbiotic relationships.
For example, this year Amazon partnered with Kohl’s to serve as a center for processing returns. Numerous big box and department stores are adapting a similar strategy by offering in-store or next-day pickup. This has the benefit of encouraging the online sale while also luring foot traffic to physical stores. In fact, this year in-store pickup on Black Friday increased nearly 75% from just one day before, that Thursday.
You can keep up with these trends digitally and still help your store business by taking advantage of some of the in-store-geared tools cropping up across online advertising platforms. For starters in Google, if your company meets certain requirements, you can set up tracking to measure store visits attributed to your digital efforts. This can help you best inform where/how to spend digitally to best support your in-store business. You can do something similar through Facebook by using their offline conversion API integration.
In addition to all of this, you can set up Google My Business and link to Google Merchant Center to prominently display in-store pickup where it’s available in your Google Shopping listings.
A note about in-store returns
Offering in-store returns after the holiday season is a great way to lure in customers. While it may be easier to buy online, returns are a pain, and customers are more likely to return in-store if it’s a possibility. Once they’re in your physical store, they’re more likely to buy something else or make an exchange rather than a full return.
Furthermore, when completing a transaction of any sort in the store, ask for an email address. Take email addresses captured from your POS system to retarget (or exclude) on digital platforms. Capitalize on the post-Christmas rush and get people through your doors!
In sum: Brick and mortar isn’t dying—it’s just evolving.
In short, the best way to extend your holiday momentum into the New Year is by taking the tips above, and thinking outside of the box to effectively use the massive influx of data from the cyber holidays to your advantage. Fuel your customer lists and get creative with seasonal targeting segmentation. Hit your customers with pointed ad copy and achieve success on a more granular level by embracing the new dynamic and automated tools available to us.
Lastly—while trending down—don’t discount your brick and mortar stores just yet! Take what they still have to offer and use them to your advantage. Work these tips into your strategy to keep your sales as strong as possible as 2019 approaches.