The biggest retail weekend of the year is quickly approaching, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday just a couple weeks away. While we encourage brands to begin their holiday marketing planning early (say, October), as we said in this webinar with BounceExchange, there is still time to incorporate some last-minute tactics to capitalize on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Listen to our webinar on creating a four-month holiday marketing plan.

We asked some of our strategists in holiday marketing’s biggest channels to share their tips for making the most of the holiday, and what trends they are seeing that will affect this year’s sales.

2016 black friday holiday tips_stock computer

Sarah Cucchiara, Senior E-commerce Strategist 

Making sure your site can keep up with the extra traffic is vital. Site speed impacts conversion rate.

Brands’ best offers are packaged for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but you should start putting together these offers for Veterans Day. And just because Cyber Monday ends doesn’t mean there aren’t a few big days you can take advantage of in December, most notably Green Monday and Free Shipping day. Promote your best offers across all of your marketing channels, while driving visitors to landing pages with relevant product messaging, and ensure the offers are easy to execute on your site.

Customers are constantly on the go the week of Thanksgiving, so your website, especially your shopping cart, has to be optimized for mobile. And of course, your deals are going to be so enticing that making sure your site can keep up with the extra traffic is vital. Site speed impacts conversion rate. The additional traffic also makes this time of year great for focusing on email acquisition and trying to maintain these customer relationships through the new year.

Chelsea McDonald, Social Media Strategist

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are all about action for brands, but this is also a great time for them to listen. Historically, we’ve seen spikes in conversation volume around both these retail days, and it’s mostly positive. Use this time to identify what items are most sought-after, what the best deals are, and how other brands are commanding attention during such a hectic time. And you can help by getting into the spirit by taking advantage of holiday-themed Snapchat filters or Facebook emojis.

Social is a great channel for brands to communicate their holiday hours and promoting deals, even if the brand is closed on Thanksgiving, either by driving customers to early access or encouraging email sign-ups. Social Sweepstakes, such as 2015’s #KohlsSweepstakes, also stand to make a huge impression while taking advantage of and leveraging an existing conversation around Black Friday.

Finally, customer service on channels like Twitter and Facebook will be immensely important. People are going to share their experiences, good or bad, on social while they’re waiting in line or looking for the items in the store or online, and they will expect someone to be there virtually to assist them. In addition, social customer service will serve as the source for some of the most immediate updates, such as a temporary site outage, and issue with adding items to their cart, etc.

2016 black friday holiday tips_shoppable social

Maybe the biggest trend we’re seeing for 2016 is shoppable social feeds.

Maybe the biggest trend we’re seeing for 2016 is shoppable social feeds. Instagram just announced a beta feature allowing a select number of brands – Kate Spade, J. Crew, and more – to include taggable products in their photos that when clicked on, lead directly to the brand’s e-commerce site for consumers to purchase the product. This is building on the already popular trend of shoppable Instagram feeds, such as Like2Buy and Tap2Shop. Shoppable video was introduced last year by Kate Spade, and I think we’ll see this become an important way to feature product for many retailers and brands, while other shoppable feeds, such as Shopify, will see increase as well.

Laura Madden, Email Marketing Strategist

Email always has the basic elements of e-commerce during the holidays – a focus on gift guides, where to buy, optimize for mobile, etc. – as well as other features (personalization) that can’t easily be executed in e-commerce.

While Black Friday is all about the deals, brands should also leverage goodwill messaging on Thanksgiving.

Brands can personalize by location and match users with their nearest store. But more than just the standard “here’s your closest store,” brands can take it a step further and leverage special holiday messaging to promote any in-store events, extended hours, or the idea that you can work with a salesperson (aka Santa’s helper) in person.

And while Black Friday and Cyber Monday are used to flood channels with deals and special offers, brands should also look to leverage feel-good, goodwill messaging on Thanksgiving with a sales messages being either a second message or complementary afternoon send. Don’t let people forget the spirit of the holiday they’re celebrating. 

Bethany Fief, Paid Media Manager

There are a number of emerging paid media strategies we’re seeing and using to help make the holidays successful. Here are five ways to take full advantage of paid media during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Promotion Extensions

Just in time for Black Friday is the launch of the promotion extension beta feature in Google AdWords, which allows users to schedule promotional ads for the holidays as an extension of their search ads, in addition to other ad extensions. This essentially provides more real estate, and the promotion-focused ads should lead to higher click-through and conversion rates. It also lets buyers enjoy more time with friends and family as this saves time from turning ads on and off.

2016 black friday holiday tips_promo extension

Google Customer Match

Another strategy I’d recommend is to ensure you are using Google Customer Match on paid search ads (and display and shopping campaigns if you have access to the beta) to bid aggressively on people who are going to be receiving emails during these promotions. For example, someone receives an email with a Black Friday offer on Frigidaire refrigerators. The user sees it, goes to Google, and performs a quick search to see what results populate. By using Customer Match, you’ll be able to bid more aggressively on this individual, than someone who is not included in your CRM data, and gain more exposure.

Facebook In-Store Visits

Facebook’s new in-store visit metric is a better way to track foot traffic after running brand-awareness campaigns.

A new metric in Facebook reporting is in-store visits, which is a better way to track foot traffic after running brand-awareness campaigns. You can now track how many people come into a store after seeing an awareness ad. Store locator is another new function within carousel ad formats for awareness campaigns that allows retailers to pinpoint their location and store hours, and once viewers click on the map, they can receive directions to the store within their native map app on their mobile device.

Holiday Gift Guides on Pinterest

Why just show consumers one product when you can show them multiple? Make sure you have a relevant landing page that offers all the products displayed on the gift guide.

Media Planning

From a media planning perspective, we advise e-commerce companies to ensure there is plenty of budget available for the holiday season to capture all the appetite and be competition in all strong-converting paid channels. Usually companies try to pace their media spend evenly over the month, however we recommend pulling back to 75 or 80 percent until Black Friday, where you can be more aggressive all the way through Cyber Monday.

Want more holiday tips? DEG Senior Email Strategist Lisa Graves discussed holiday marketing trends for BusinessNewsDaily.

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