SEM Tips for Black Friday and Cyber Monday Success

Leaves are falling, the air is cooling down, and people are getting ready to scour the web for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals—and some have already started. It’s an exciting time for eCommerce brands to make their push to consumers, but it can be an anxious time if you don’t have your digital marketing strategy in order. 

This month, ADM has been providing our top tips for a successful Cyber Monday and Black Friday. We’ve already looked at Social Media and Programmatic tips so that brings us to Search Engine Marketing. Below, you’ll find deep guidance on 5 main areas to focus on across your sales funnel. Let’s dig in.

Top of Funnel: YouTube Ad Sequencing 

Using YouTube ad sequencing can give you a competitive edge during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping frenzy. Here are the steps to a comprehensive prospecting, branding, and remarketing efforts on YouTube.

“Tease, Amplify, Echo” (Prospecting)

Attract and direct viewers with this sequence. Begin with a 15-second video showcasing your product’s features, accompanied by music. Follow it up with a 60-second comprehensive explanation video. Finally, conclude with a 15-second “purchase now” video, potentially including price drop content.

“The Mini Series” (Prospecting)

Tell a captivating story with this sequence. Introduce your product, layer in a testimonial highlighting its success, and reemphasize the key features and benefits.

“The Direct Shot” (Remarketing)

Engage and differentiate your audience with this sequence. Create a series of existing accessory videos targeting current product owners, encouraging them to purchase additional accessories before new ones are released.

“The Follow Up” (Prospecting and Remarketing)

Introduce and reinforce your message with this sequence. For prospecting, start with an introductory video providing basic information about your product, followed by a shorter customer testimonial video. 

For remarketing, retarget users who added items to their cart but didn’t complete the purchase. Show them your introductory video, followed by a testimonial video to reinforce the messaging.

“The Lead In” (Prospecting/Remarketing)

Prompt and inspire your audience with this sequence. For prospecting, grab attention with a flashy 15-second video, then follow it up with an introductory or customer video. For remarketing, target users who added items to their cart but haven’t made a purchase. Start with a testimonial video, then provide a long-form introductory or customer video.

Top of Funnel: YouTube and Discovery Prospecting 

To support your top-of-funnel strategy, consider using certain middle-funnel campaigns that can augment your awareness efforts. YouTube and Discovery campaigns are a great way to capture users’ attention and stimulate interest in your product and brand.

Video Ads: Create a walkthrough showcasing your best-performing products, aiming for ads that are 30-60 seconds in length.

Image Ads: Add holiday discount overlays to your best-performing product ads. Images should be either 1200×628 px or 1200×1200 px.

Target audiences: Google provides specific gifting and Black Friday audiences, which can be a great basis for your targeting. You can also create custom intent audiences based on core categories, like “mens activewear” or “mens gym shirt” for an athletics brand.

It is important to exclude certain groups like all website visitors, past purchasers, and add to cart converters.

Top of Funnel: Embrace Demand Gen Campaigns

In October—just in time for your Black Friday and Cyber Monday push—Google rolled out its newest automated campaign type to all users globally. Demand Gen campaigns combine elements of Discovery and Video campaigns to create an audience-centric format that boosts brand awareness. Demand Gen campaigns serve ads across various platforms, including the Discovery Feed, Gmail, and YouTube—and they’ll be replacing Discovery campaigns full-time starting in early 2024. 

Similar to Discovery campaigns, Demand Gen campaigns can be optimized for conversions or value-based bidding strategies. For driving high-value customers to your website, you can optimize for site visits and actions with Max Clicks. 

With its extensive reach, Demand Gen is an excellent tool for targeting specific audiences and driving traffic to key landing pages during the holiday season. While it primarily serves upper funnel objectives, it offers flexibility in its application. Here are a few strategic ways to utilize Demand Gen during the holidays:

  1. Drive traffic to “sale” pages, “holiday collections,” or other crucial pages.
  2. Direct new traffic to regular landing pages and remarketing traffic to a sale page.
  3. Expand relevant audiences to promote specific collections. For example, for johnnie-O, we could create a custom-intent audience for users searching for “NCAA team gear” terms and drive traffic to collections related to specific teams.

Demand Gen adds substantially to the benefits that Discovery provides, but it’s also very new—so if you aren’t comfortable with setup or deployment yet, it’s perfectly fine to stick with the Discovery tactics outlined in the previous tip. Just be sure you get acclimated before the transition in Q1 2024!

Bottom of Funnel: Focus on Non-Brand Search

Some holiday shoppers know exactly what they’re seeking to buy for their loved ones. Many more, however, are approaching their Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping without specific products in mind—meaning this time of year presents a huge opportunity for your non-brand search campaigns.

Ad Copy & Creative Suggestions:

Update your ad copy specifically for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, highlighting your current sales, special holiday offerings, or seasonal themes. Utilize countdowns to create a sense of urgency during the holiday season (e.g., “Hurry, Sale Ends In 3 Hours”).

To enhance holiday promotions, incorporate sale and offer language across different types of assets. Utilize sitelinks to direct traffic to gift guides, promotions, or special offers. Refresh callouts and structured snippets to align with holiday themes. Where feasible, update product/service images to reflect the holiday season.’

To make the transition to holiday messaging and creative seamless, you can create your holiday ad copy in advance and use labels and rules to activate and deactivate copy from Black Friday to Cyber Week—that way you don’t need anyone to take time away from their family holiday events to go turn ads on and off in your account.

Holiday Keyword Expansion Ideas

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are top sales events every year, bringing with them search behaviors that users don’t display any other time. It’s a great time to implement additional non-brand keyword verticals that can take advantage of unique seasonal search behavior and increase visibility for your promotions and products.

For those searching non-specifically for certain types of products, expand keywords by adding deal or sale terms (“Black Friday deals, discounts, Cyber Week, etc.”) to core category keywords (“cookware,” “bakeware”).

To capture users searching for interest-related gifts without a specific product in mind, you can expand to gift-related keywords based on who or what your products are intended for. For example, the same cookware brand could add keyword sets around things like “gifts for the kitchen” or “gifts for the cook.”

Case Study
Caraway Home
Case Study

Case Study: Holiday Sales Success

Learn how ADM helped Caraway dominate the holiday season despite inventory limitations and a competitive search environment.

Bottom of Funnel: Make Timely Performance Max Optimizations

Performance Max has become a genuine force in eCommerce SEM advertising, so it’s crucial to make seasonal updates to your Performance Max campaigns in advance of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Here are some key areas to focus on:

Google Merchant Center Updates

To ensure your ads receive Sale and Promotion badges on the search engine results page, make sure to add appropriate fields to your Shopping feed or update fields in GMC. This will help improve click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate (CVR) for your shopping campaigns. Highlight offerings like free shipping and returns to enhance convenience for your customers.

Asset Group Updates

To create compelling ad copy and engage your audience, consider using Black Friday and Cyber Monday-themed messages such as “Black Friday Sale,” “Biggest Sale of the Year,” “20% Off Sitewide,” “Gift Comfort & Quality,” “Free Shipping & Returns,” and “Buy Before December 16.” Additionally, upload new creative assets such as holiday or sale-related videos to activate your campaigns effectively.

Audiences and Audience Signals

Utilize custom-intent audiences based on gifting and holiday shopping to target the right customers. Consider adding new in-market audiences and employing open demographic targeting strategies to expand your reach.

Create holiday-specific asset groups with sales-related audience signals layered with existing evergreen audiences. Segmented by general and holiday-specific categories, these asset groups can be tailored for different holiday periods, allowing you to customize your ad copy to each audience:

General Sales Audiences

  • In-Market: Other > Sales
  • In-Market: Other > Shopping Deals
  • In-Market: Other > One Day Deals
  • In-Market: Other > Online Shopping Deals
  • In-Market: Other > Discount Deals
  • Affinity: Shoppers > Bargain Hunters, Value Shoppers

Holiday Specific Sales Audiences

  • In-Market: Seasonal Shopping > Black Friday Shopping
  • In-Market: Other > Black Friday Deals
  • In-Market: Other > Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals
  • In-Market: Other > Cyber Monday Sales
  • In-Market: Seasonal Shopping > Christmas Shopping

These audience signals can help you target the right customers and drive better results during the holiday season. Consider combining different audience groups or building separate asset groups for each audience to customize your ad copy and optimize your campaigns for different weeks of the season.

Sustained eCommerce Success for the New Year

Implementing the above strategies can help you make the most of the busiest sales week of the year. Proper implementation of new campaign types like Demand Gen, as well as maintenance done to Performance Max campaigns and video funnel structure, can also help set you up for continued success once the calendar turns over to the New Year. For advice on building sustained, scaleable SEM strategies the deliver results no matter the season, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at ADM today!