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Holiday eCommerce Advertising Best Practices: 6 Ways to Stand Out During Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday

Warehousing & Fulfillment
November 15, 2021
7 min read
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It’s not too late to optimize your Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Small Business Saturday advertising strategy. These best practices will help you get the greatest return on your marketing dollars.

eCommerce merchants should incorporate Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Small Business Saturday advertising best practices into their holiday selling strategy to remain top-of-mind with the many consumers shopping early amid fears over shipping delays

This year’s holiday shopping rush certainly isn’t new. The National Retail Federation reports that 20% of annual retail sales, or aHoliday shopping is particularly important for small to mid-sized businesses (SMB’s). According to a merchant survey commissioned by UPS Capital, 44% of SMB’s say they generate more than one fifth of their annual sales from holiday deal days and holiday sales.

This year, an added layer of complexity is the big spike in consumer demand and non-stop news coverage of supply chain challenges serving as a constant reminder to buy early.  Shoppers aren’t making the same mistake they did last year ordering at the last minute and being forced to give gifts late. 

Already, 44% of merchants were at peak holiday shopping levels in September, according to a recent Ware2Go survey. Plus, big box retailers and ecommerce juggernauts like Walmart, Target, and Amazon have unveiled Black Friday and Cyber Mondays deals well before Thanksgiving

Q4 is known as the most expensive time for marketing as shops large and small compete for coveted holiday buyers. Traditionally, big spenders promoting Black Friday and holiday deals dominate because they can bid more to have display advertising shown across Google, Facebook and the other large ad platforms. Accordingly, ad costs can be 25% higher during the weeks surrounding Black Friday, according to the American Marketing Association. 

This gives the larger players with multi-million dollar advertising budgets a big advantage over smaller competitors. However, supply chain constraints have put SMBs in a beneficial situation – even outside of Small Business Saturday, when consumer support for shopping small rises. With shoppers concerned with gifts arriving on time, they’re more likely to prefer paying more for locally produced items with faster guaranteed shipping times over cheaper product made overseas. 

That’s why even if sellers didn’t frontload holiday advertising spend in September and October, there’s still time. 

Besides optimizing holiday fulfilment to meet consumers’ shipping expectations, below are six Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday advertising tips to get the most out of marketing budgets during the winter shopping season. 

  1. Advertise shipping guarantees – Instead of promoting discounts, create urgency around inventory availability and delivery guarantees. Remind customers repeatedly that not only is there a tight window for guaranteed delivery before the holidays – inventory is also limited. Unfortunately, if they do not order holiday gifts earlier, they run the risk of stockouts and shipping delays. Further, incentivize customers with free shipping offers earlier in autumn. They’d much rather receive gifts in time for the holidays than hold out for a better deal and potentially receive goods late.
  2. Prioritize Most Profitable Sales Channels – Accentuating sales channels with the highest average order value (AOV) and lowest costs ensures SMBs can wring out every ounce of profit available. This is especially important for sellers with limited inventory. Product shouldn’t be exposed to all channels simultaneously, which runs the risk of sales on lower-margin storefronts or marketplaces that limit customer interaction. Also known as ring-fencing, this strategy requires full visibility into inventory levels and the ability to move product seamlessly across sales channels. 
  3. Personalize Messaging by Customer Segment and Geography – In coordination with fencing inventory, sellers should incorporate geotargeted advertising. Also known as local pay-per-click (PPC), location data is tapped to reach consumers with messaging specific to their behavior and locality. This serves two benefits: first, ad dollars are allocated towards driving conversions from the most profitable customers. This guarantees that first dibs on limited inventory doesn’t go to lower value customers. Second, targeted promotions lead to optimal return on ad spend (ROAS) from cost-per-click (CPC) budgets. In short, a higher percentage of clicks lead to purchases. Don’t forget about employing targeted local campaigns and extending visibility with social media hashtags, as well. 
  4. Direct Customers to Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) Sales Channels: This is key for merchants working to grow their brand presence and collect the customer data required for retargeting ads and relationship building tactics, such as newsletters and loyalty programs. Also, with the right foundations in place, having full control over customer experience gives merchants an edge over rivals who over rely on less reliable external retail partners.
  5. Optimize Social Media for Word-of-Mouth and Direct Purchasing – Almost 60% of Internet users say they find out about products from friends or acquaintances – and more than 50% of consumers now have purchased a product directly from a social media platform. The power of social media in building brands and driving revenue can’t be denied any longer. During another stressful pandemic holiday season, find ways to surprise and delight customers while providing an optimum shopping experience. Then, encourage these shoppers to share their holiday happiness photos, videos, and stories across social media. This plethora of user-generated content (UGC) is trusted much more than expensive traditional advertising and creates highly profitable referral business. 
  6. Start an Online Community – Many communities host in-person Small Business Saturday events and festivals. Capitalizing on this authenticity, shops should extend community online as part of their word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) strategy. Create an online community so the fans you’re creating during another pandemic holiday season can connect with you and each other. Let them share content, invite friends, receive discounts, and contribute ideas and feedback. For starters, this ensures customer interactions aren’t overly dependent on 3rd party social media channels, where visibility can be limited and rules can change at any time outside of your control. 


    And, revenue aside, receiving direct customer feedback saves a fortune on R&D costs. For example, power tool manufacturer Dewalt says their customer insight community has led to more focused research and streamlined product developments that have saved millions of dollars

The Bottom Line

The fourth quarter of the year – including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Small Business Saturday – is always a huge opportunity to transition holiday buyers into year-round customers. And this year, SMBs can leverage consumers’ concerns about supply chain constraints to drive more repeat business and attract new buyers looking to shop small and local. 

Pairing holiday ecommerce advertising best practices with effective retention marketing tactics lets ecommerce merchants cost effectively increase brand awareness and conversion rates through the end of 2021 and beyond. 

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