We’re mere hours away until Black Friday, the busiest day in the global online shopping calendar. Last year, UK online shoppers spent an astounding £1.3bn on Black Friday alone, with research indicating that 54% of respondents in the UK had participated in Black Friday shopping last year.  

The opportunity for retailers is growing every year, with the potential online spend for Black Friday 2018 heading towards an astonishing £2.2bn, according to a recent study by Salmon. So, the importance of solid Shopping campaigns is ever more important: your customers are poised to purchase and it’s your job to show them the way.  

In our time in the industry, we’ve done our fair share of Shopping campaigns, so ahead of the biggest shopping weekend of the year, we wanted to provide five tips to help you ace your Shopping campaigns. 

1. Audit, assess and amend 

At this point, it’s time to look over your past performance from Black Friday 2017, along with any other promotional periods over the course of this year, such as summer or mid-season sales.  To understand where you’re (hopefully!) going, it’s useful to assess how customers have responded to your ads in the past.  

By looking at past budgets, conversion rates, wastage, the route to customers finding your ads and the types of ads that performed well, you should be able to spot a few opportunities and give yourself a to-do list of things to action before the main event. 

It’s also very worthwhile to audit your product feed. This doesn’t need to be a time-consuming process for you, and we provide a free and comprehensive Product Feed Audit to highlight any issues and things you need to action before the big weekend! 

2. Do your competitor research 

Now is a good time to get to grips with your competitor’s products, product feed and pricing. 

Naturally, with Shopping campaigns, pricing is key, and Black Friday/Cyber Weekend is all about the savings. Google’s algorithm gives perks to those showing cheaper products by way of better placement, so having an ad that shows a product at a lower price could work wonders for your impressions, clicks and conversions. 

There is, of course, a quicker way of doing your competitor research, and we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t tell you about our Price Comparison software. This gives retailers and agencies the ability to monitor prices, create price rules and export data, giving your teams visibility where it’s needed. 

Using a Price Comparison tool will give you up-to-date information on your competitors’ prices, and allow you to set custom labels to your most competitive and expensive products, so you can assign an intelligent bidding structure that can help maximise your return on investment on Black Friday – and beyond.  

3. Optimise, optimise, optimise! 

The headlines, description text and imagery you use on your ads all indicate to a customer whether your ad is worth clicking. Don’t waste this valuable real estate. To get Black Friday shopping campaigns right, you’ve got to keep your finger on the pulse. 

That means continuously assessing performance (you can do this by the hour within AdWords through an hour by day report) and optimising as you go, ensuring your product titles, images, stock availability and descriptions are up to date. 

Effective product feed optimisation makes up 50% of the management process for getting the best out of your shopping campaigns – and like the first two points in this post, we found a simpler, slicker, easier way of getting to grips with optimisation. 

Our tool recently won the ‘Best SaaS platform at the International Performance Marketing Awards, being lauded as “a genius idea”, thanks to our Product Feed optimisation capabilities. 

At a busy time like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, why make life harder for yourself? 

4. Use negative keywords 

A lengthy, laborious task – but an important one. 

If you’re not yet optimising your product feeds, pretty much the only way you’re going to control the search terms that your products show up for is by utilising negative keywords, in order to filter out traffic that isn’t looking for what you’re offering. 

Negative keywords aren’t imperative to a Shopping campaign, however, they’re an ideal way to avoid spending your budget on users who aren’t going to purchase, allowing you to plough your resources into those who will.  It’s pretty essential to keep track of your converting and non-converting search terms, so you can continuously add those non-converting terms to your negative keywords list. 

5. Keep an eye on performance and wastage 

Reporting is absolutely fundamental to ensuring that your ads continuously perform and to minimise budget waste. Keep a keen eye on your search term query report to discover how users are coming to you (and essentially how your budget is being spent). As before, look at the terms that aren’t converting and get those added to your negative keywords. 

It’s also worth monitoring your disapproved products (we definitely recommend making this a priority in the weeks and days leading up to Black Friday!). If the volume is high, it could be worth focusing on your most competitive or expensive products, so you’re not losing out on that valuable traffic. 

Keep a check on feed diagnostics to understand what’s being disallowed and why, so you can act fast on getting them approved. 

Whilst Black Friday is no doubt a stressful time for retailers and agencies, there are always opportunities if you’re following best practice with your Shopping campaigns and are on top of your stock levels to ensure no ad spend is wasted. 

There are also a few things you can do to maximise conversions over the weekend, including:

  • Setting rules around budget: This will help enormously if a campaign takes off and you want to maximise the time by plunging extra budget into it. Set your budget in line with your objectives and ensure that you have approval from your client/boss to up the spend if necessary! 
  • Add urgency to your campaigns by introducing a countdown timer, adding ‘Black Friday’ to your ad and show an inventory counter, so your potential customers can understand how great your deal is and its limitations! 
  • It might also be worth creating an entirely new Shopping campaign for your most in-demand/high-ticket/worthwhile products and adopting a single product ad group structure to this. 
  • It doesn’t even matter if you’re running a storewide promotion this Black Friday, not all products are created equal and there are some you’ll want to keep a closer eye on than others. Separating these out into another campaign/group will help you stay on top of the tips above much easier.